It’s good to feel part of something big – so here’s the latest 15 minute inspirational TED talk – from popular science author Matt Ridley (The Red Queen, The Origins of Virtue, Genome, The Rational Optimist) at Oxford University – on “When Ideas Have Sex.”

So what does ‘the sex life of ideas’, whatever that is, have to do social commerce? Well, Ridley argues convincingly that the more trade-based interactions a society makes, the smarter, more advanced, and prosperous it gets.  When commerce happens, it’s not just products and money that get exchanged, but ideas embedded in those products get exchanged too. And as these ideas get exchanged, they get recombined and evolve, like cultural genes – driving technology, innovation and even knowledge forward.  And with digital technology democratizing trade – allowing more people that ever to trade online on social commerce platforms such as Etsy, Ebay and Amazon, more people are contributing to the collective brain, and participating in the evolution of humankind. Cool.

If sex is about exchanging bodily fluids to drive biological evolution, then social commerce is about exchanging ideas to drive social evolution.

For further reading, check out Ridley’s Wall Street Journal Saturday essay – Humans: Why They Triumphed