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Society 2.x

18 March 2013, 15:02

Society 2.x – Principals for a new society?

What would our ideal society look like? What principals would it be based on? What problems would it solve? How would it better? Is it possible to systematize?

The challenges facing globalised society are immense! Where do we start and what do we do?

Well, the internet is a system… it is a system run by human will effected through engineering and ultimately by the “free” or “open” exchange of ideas. The system is agnostic by nature; it is ultimately just a collection of elements that in themselves are but component parts of a greater whole. The “system” can be used to do anything… but what is it being used for …?

Technology and society are intertwined in a dance that can lead to either tighter and more restrictive control or greater freedom. Which will it be…? Well, if one looks at the underlying technological “components” or “sub-systems” comprising the internet you will see that while they are governed by protocol they are by necessity committed to open data exchange. Similarly, the social fabric of the internet is committed to “openness” which is a natural property of the system.

These sentiments are expressed well by Don Tapscott’s  in his TED talk on “Four Principals for the open world” - http://www.ted.com/talks/don_tapscott_four_principles_for_the_open_world_1.html .

Tapscott talks about the meaning of Openness in our globalised society. Openness is evidenced by:

1.       Collaboration

Collaboration is taking place through the “machine” which is the Internet. Each upload of “data” helps to define and program this machine. The first “NET” generation is growing up with technology embedded within their communication paradigm. They are technologically “fearless”. Opaque institutions from the “industrial area” are in a crisis. Global capitalism is in crisis because of lack of transparency.

Openness means a “blurring” of the boundaries separating organizations. Crowd sourcing is allowing individuals and co-operations to operate in an entirely new way. Institutional memory or “capital” can be sourced from the global context. For example, a company can crowd source a solution to an internal problem using a competition thereby benefiting from external advice for potentially a fraction of the cost of recreating that source pool of ideas locally or internally. If you are not open and collaborating you probably will not be able to compete effectively.

 There is now an effective new means of social production, a new capital and it is collaboration underlying it.

 2.       Transparency

Communication of information to the stakeholders in society i.e. us requires transparency. Why? Because the technological tools available to the public (US) are sophisticated enough to determine what it is you are up to! Look at the rise of the collective (for good or ill) in examples such as “Anonymous” the hacker group.

The currency of the new society is in effect “trust”. In the new society, you must be “open” and “transparent” in-order for people to rely on your “integrity”. If you are not transparent you will slowly but surely atrophy.  

3.    3.      Sharing

Sharing is not just the communication of information i.e. transparency. Sharing is the “giving up” of intellectual capital for the benefit of the whole. If corporations are to survive they need to “share” their intellectual capital to some extent. There should be a creative commons knowledge bank which allows information to be used by the public for uplifting “humanity” rather than just benefiting the single corporation. The basic principles of science require sharing, science uplifts humanity through sharing, not exclusive ownership.

4.      4.    Empowerment

The dissemination of knowledge inevitably means the dissemination of power. Knowledge is power and the distribution of that power to the masses is bringing freedom! Social media (technology in general) was / is the “tool” of the revolution; it does not define the revolution! The revolution is defined by the “people” using the technology – collaborating. Technology has dropped the “cost” of revolution. There is also danger here, as these disruptive technologies generate “leadership vacuums” which may be exploited by unsavoury forces.

The genie is out the bottle and there is no putting it back. We cannot return to the past, our society is marching steadily on. Our governance structures will need to “adapt or die”. The forces of control cannot be completely centralized anymore, there cannot be only one hand on the reigns any longer. As long as our system of governance is relying on the exclusive judgement of a single person e.g. the president it will not be able to function effectively. The presidency will go the way of monarchy eventually - it will become what it should be, a ceremonial post.  Something to remind us of the past - so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past.

 The future is here and its open – well almost.

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