But while the Web and related telecommunications portals are, as Pagel says, explosively expanding the universe of “docile copiers,” these same networks are also explosively expanding the linkages among what you might call “engaged edge pushers.” The variety of experimentation is mind boggling, ranging from the group-created, and modified, mashup of music, video and art of the Johnny Cash Project to an entire new Journal of Visualized Experiments. Both offer not only new ways to publish work, but to experience information.

That can only raise the odds of achieving the kinds of social, scientific, pedagogical and technological innovations that will be needed for a smooth ride as human numbers and appetites crest in coming decades. After all, while there are plenty of lone geniuses whose ideas have triggered momentous leaps in the human condition, there are many other such leaps — the Internet among them — that have come from the collision of, and competition among, ideas generated through discourse and exchange.

Andrew Revkin, responding to Mark Pagel.