Radial Versus Cartesian People

This write-up by Clay Shirky at Many 2 Many on why he sees the never-ending debate about Wikipedia to be a matter of fundamental differences in thinking is just brilliant, and it probably has a much broader scope than just technology innovations. Here’s a couple of choice quotes:

When thinking about technological change, there are two kinds of people, or rather, people with two kinds of maps of the world — radial, and Cartesian. Radial maps are circular, and express position in relative coordinates — angle and distance — from the center. Cartesian maps are grids, and express position in absolute coordinates.

Anything that was bad at Point A and is still bad at Point B gets factored out of the radialist critique. Any change where most of the bad things are still bad but a few of the bad things are somewhat less bad seems like a good thing to us, and if it can happen in a way that requires less energy, or better harnesses individual motivation, that seems like a great thing.