1 Comment The great transition plan to take back control of the economy

  1. AvatarTom Crowl

    Technology & The Decision Landscape

    Some general thoughts on how the Internet is changing our relationship to secrecy, privacy… and each other:

    HOW the Web evolves… how WE determine its evolution is critical for the future of civilization.

    There are NO issues more important than those revolving around the development… the evolution of this new LANDSCAPE.

    And that’s vital to remember. We are constructing a landscape which then shapes everything that comes after it… and is built upon it.

    Its more akin to the air, water and sunshine than it is to the invention of the printing press.

    And it may well be the first human created artifact to assume that level of evolutionary importance.
    That’s a pretty bold statement.

    And I’m spinning with some tentative ideas here in early stages. But let’s consider the history of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for a moment.

    Let’s look at its beginnings! No, that’s not with the telegraph or telephone… not even the printing press or clay tablets…

    The first ICT was perhaps a bird call constructed out of a leaf made by a hunter to notify his mates of where the prey was…

    And the first journalism was Ooga running into camp and announcing she’d just seen the first spring sprout on a favorite berry bush.

    There was no gatekeeper, no intermediary… ICT AND journalism were BOTH strictly peer-to-peer.

    And if the message was false, misleading or dangerous… the onus certainly didn’t fall upon the air through which the information was transmitted!

    Everything changed with the move to settled agriculture and the need for structures to accommodate ’social organisms’ larger than Dunbar’s Number (natural human community size).

    Both the technical limits of then available ICT as well as natural cognitive limits were actually triggers for a problematic and still continuing disconnection (and tension) between the individual’s functional social network and the social organism of which he was a part.

    I believe these were the critical social/technical factors enabling the rise of Authoritarianism and class structures.

    How Would Hunter-gatherers Run the World? (Psst… They DO!)

    On Creating Communities (Part 1)

    ICT has made a lot of progress since then… but it’s never been able to completely overcome those problems associated with the rise of Authoritarianism:

    1. Loss of proximity (physical, social, psychological) allowing the class isolation essential to its existence.

    2. Cognitive limits associated with Dunbar’s Number facilitating rationalization by all sides of the intractability and/or desirability of the situation.

    And in many cases ICT has actually assisted the Authoritarian impulse (controlled media access, propaganda, etc.)

    The progress that we’ve made in governance to date has largely been the result of technologies to address these issues… e.g. legislatures and juries to introduce horizontally structured power centers to counter-balance hierarchical structures, etc.


    In many ways its a direct challenge to the premise of government itself… that of empowered association for mutual benefit…

    There’s a potential in that to bypass existing structures completely and/or construct competing mechanisms for the same purposes.

    While other innovations have vastly improved our ability to communicate… this is the only one that offers the potential to re-establish this fundamental peer-to-peer empowerment and directly confronts the proximity problem (not only physical, but also social, psychological proximity).

    In my piece “On the Birth of the Global Social Organism”…

    I make the remarkably presumptuous statement:

    “Only when the gap in wealth and status approaches that level which would be considered fair within a Dunbar’s number-sized social network in daily contact… only then can we consider the possibility of a healthy, scaled social organism*.

    (*A self-recognized and internally governed economic/political grouping organized for basic survival decisions and actions.)

    Moreover, it may be that the rapid expansion of ICT and the nature of the Ultimatum Game (e.g. terrorism and complex civilizational vulnerabilities generally) makes this first assertion no longer just a nice ideal but a survival necessity.”

    It could be considered a meaningless statement with fuzzy terms like “fair” and “healthy”… but I’m ready to try and defend it…

    This very definitely does NOT suggest NO stratification as a workable goal! That doesn’t work. And frankly reward for innovation, hard work, etc… are keys to a successful civilization.

    But it does imply several things…

    1.We are moving through a period where governments are going to have to deal with some fundamental alterations to the assumptions under which they’ve so long been able to operate… or ultimately they’ll be bypassed (this isn’t a threat… its an observation.)

    2.We can count on an increasingly urgent ‘Justice Imperative’ with teeth coming from multiple, sometimes unexpected places and peoples.

    3. We must address (and empower) fundamental mechanisms of interaction and counter power imbalances between the individual and large institutions both public and private… the citizen’s role as a stakeholder becomes more urgent over time not less.

    4. We must face up to the realities of a fundamental change in the nature of privacy and the futility of (most) secrecy… both never much use to hunter-gatherers. See David Brin’s “The Transparent Society” for more on this.

    5. We MUST provide an environment and tools that encourage a CAPABLE electorate. Don’t fool yourself that current mechanisms of political marketing and the simplifications urged by party identifications are good for governance. THEY ARE NOT! They are good for Parties and candidates.Technology and the Social Sciences have provided powerful tools for ‘decision manipulation’ (lizard-brain targeted advertising). These must be exposed and countered… at least in the area of political decision. We cannot afford an electorate whose critical faculties are intentionally de-based.

    6. Some institutions need to shrink. Especially those involved with capital allocation (financial services, banking and credit creation)

    see: On Social Energy, Enterprise and Expanding the Technology of Money

    7. And finally, of course, we need the catalyzation of the Commons-dedicated Account Network. A fundamental of speech and association in a peer-to-peer landscape. (its the ‘trickle-up’ path to better governance.)

    BTW, this network has important implications for the future of journalism… its a tool for restoring that direct peer-to-peer connection between the content creator and his/her consumer… its the pragmatic and necessary path to Kevin Kelly’s “1000 True Fans”…


    These are just quick speculations which undoubtedly need editing and refinement. But no time like the present to start the process.

    LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/culturalengineer

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.