Yochai Benkler dubs it 'the wealth of networks." Howard Rheingold's term is "smart mobs." It's the idea of technology-enabled collaboration … and it's making us all smarter.
Of the many experts weighing in on this subject, I wanted to take a comment by Seamus McGrenery, technical manager at Riverdocs Bureau Service:
Arguably mass human activity is more like the migration of Mormon crickets, driven by extreme competition, than the planned cooperation of an ant colony. If we look at technological progress over that Twentieth Century it is hard to make the case that cooperation has been the main driver of progress. Extreme competition was involved in the rapid adoption of motor transport and flight in World War 1. World War 2 saw the introduction of jet engines, rockets, radar and atomic bombs. Developments in early space flight, computers and even the genesis of the internet were as a result of Cold War competition. None of these achievements could have come about without humans working together - in many cases with individual contributors having no sight of the overall goal. But the driving force behind these developments was not cooperation.