Looking at this view (Russian Hill, San Francisco), I have been thinking about what makes things beautiful and how great achievements are built.
By definition, anything that is built monolithically top-down must be built by one man. He can use technology to build something bigger than what any individual has built before, and that itself can be called great. His work can be such a pure form of profound self-expression that it resonates with people, and that can be called beauty.
However, as soon as a project requires more than one person, it inherently becomes a bottoms-up collaboration, even if there is a clearly defined leader. Every human being is a rationale actor, even a slave can ultimately choose punishment over servitude. A leader can co-opt others by aligning their interests with his, through coercion, incentive, or reason, to create the appearance of top-down. But each individual contributor is constantly deciding whether or not to follow orders and their abilities and willingness to execute those orders are unique. When a collaboration produces something great, it is a testament to the leader’s ability to choose and motivate the contributors. When it produces beauty, it is because the self-expression of the contributors has shown through.
So, what I guess I am trying to say is that you can’t have your cake and eat it too: there is an inherent trade-off between the scope of a project and a leader’s ability to control it.
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