We stand on the shoulders of too many giants to give them all credit

Should the neighbor who had a cross-fence conversation about a process she uses at work that sparked the realization that led to the invention capture some value? She was certainly instrumental to its success. What about the technician who knew how to twist the wire in just the right way to get the first proof-of-concept to work?

And what about all the failed projects that left a pile of skeletons indicating where the traps were?

It might be possible for software companies to go through their tech stacks and enumerate the open source projects that they use and who contributed to those, there is still a ton of illegibility around what fraction of the value each project contributes, how much each contributor to the project contributed, etc. And outside of software it gets even more absurdly gnarly.

The multiplicity of people involved in creation leads to a contradiction: On the one hand One person or class of people do not deserve credit for an innovation - on the other hand credit is really important for motivating people and enabling us to wrap our human brains around the world. Credit actually matters a lot because its the difference between someone writing a blog on the side and getting to do it as their job. In this way it’s a subset of Individuals vs Collectives.


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