One of the things I'm going to repeatedly post about next year is the importance of bigness. I feel we live in era that sees big things (banks, industry, corporations, government) as bad. Smallness is viewed and championed as the ideal state that an entity should be. Smallness is more down-to-earth, more communal, more Main Street. Big is bad old Wall Street. But here is the problem with this thinking: Nothing serious can be done without bigness. For one, bigness has a wealth of what the economist Ha-Joon Chang calls "institutional memory." This is why a small firm or enterprise in the Third World cannot compete with a corporation like Boeing—its memory is too tiny. A developing country will never fully develop if its memories are small. Bigness is ultimately about cooperation, and cooperation (coordinated by central planning) is much more useful and social than scattered networks.
Before I go any deeper into this, lets dip into this passage from a wonderful essay by Matthew Stadler, "I Think I'm Dumb."
I THOUGHT THE Rem Koolhaas manifesto 'Bigness' was not only intriguing and infuriating, but also would likely be common-ground for everyone involved with the 'Bliss' conference. My notes on the manifesto were as follows: First I wrote, 'I live next to the biggest building in the world' which is true, and I'll make a drawing of it here so you can see how huge it is. It's about thirty miles from my home in Seattle. I'm not sure how they calculate its bigness, I think it's the cubic footage inside, but there are postcards all over Seattle and Everett, the city where this building is, saying that it's the biggest. It's part of Boeing's factory for making airplanes. It really is huge, and thirty miles isn't far from my house, because the freeway goes there directly. Everett is actually a kind-of northern extension of Seattle, I mean it's hard to tell where one ends and the next one starts.This is just beginning.