Almost all our decisions are based on copying. We give an idea a tweak of our own and a new idea emerges. This keeps up freshness and flexibility, in fact, it is the most undervalued way of innovation. This blog, organised by Thomas Petzold and John Hartley, serves as a platform for everyone interested in lifting copying out of its shockingly poor image by developing a much needed zeitgeist, that is, copying as innovation.

Why humans are copiers (and innovators, too)

Evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel argues in an interview with edge.org that social evolution has not formed us to be innovators but copiers:

"Evolutionary history will have selected for less and less and less innovation in individuals, because a little bit of innovation goes a long way. If we imagine that there's some small probability that someone is a creator or an innovator, and the rest of us are followers, we can see that one or two people in a band is enough for the rest of us to copy, and so we can get on fine. And, because social learning is so efficient and so rapid, we don't need all to be innovators. We can copy the best innovations, and all of us benefit from those."

We agree with Mark Pagel that it is important to relabel copying as social learning (see this MIT talk by John Hartley). And we go one step further. In a digitally enabled and socially networked system where people share ideas and draw on them to create micro-inventions, copying can be seen as innovation. We'll have more on this soon ...