Just back from reboot. Fantastic conference. Truly participative. Over 20 nationalities, incredible energy. Thomas and Nikolaj and team have really made something special happen. Thanks for inviting me, guys.
I learnt some things, was exposed to different ways of looking at things I thought familiar, met some old friends, made some new ones; even met a few people I’d conversed with for a while, but only electronically. A blogger’s rite of passage.
I’ve known for some time that there are three “I” words that need resolving before I-T can become We-T, before social softwareÂ truly socialises information and infrastructure and ideas:
- The Internet as a real “commons” infrastructure rather than a battleground (and graveyard) for dinosaurs; empowering, not restricting
- Identity as something personal, yet allowing participation in community and collective activity; empowering, not restricting
- Intellectual Property Rights transformed into something that enables creativity and innovation rather than stifling life; empowering, not restricting
What I realised is how much these Blefuscudian arguments have themselves morphed, to become similar to modern-day politics and elections. That they are all about memes and anchors and frames first and everything else later. That like elections and politics, hey are influenced, almost owned, by traditional media models and lobbies and incumbents.
The words we use have power. More power than we had before, because of the empowering nature of the web, the sheer impact of globalisation, the fuzzying of distinctions between production and consumption, the lowering of barriers to entry as a result of the laws of Moore and Metcalfe and even Gilder.
There’s something poetic, yet ironic, in how this battle is being fought.
Those that want the new renaissance of the digital age to happen are armed with the analogue, the grey, the weapons of words and ideas.
Those that want the status quo to remain arm themselves with the digital, the polemic and polarised debate, the black and white, the weapons of ones and zeros.
I’ll be posting something longer soon; in the meantime, it’s worth thinking about why so many good things are happening in this space in Scandinavia.
I can think of three reasons.
- One, that affordable internet and broadband penetration and connectivity is very high in these parts;
- two, that the lingua franca of this movement just happens to be English, and Scandinavians put us to shame with the command they show in what is essentially a second language; and
- three, they are culturally inclined to believe in freedom of the individual and in the freedom of the community.
These are challenging times. But don’t lose heart. Good things do happen…..take a look below:
I’m currently reading an unusual book called Telegraph and Travel : A Narrative of the Formation and Development of Telegraphic Communication between England and India, Under the Orders of Her Majesty’s Government, with Incidental Notices of the Countries Traversed by The Lines. It was written by Colonel Sir Frederic John Goldsmid, CB, KCSI, in 1874 [Note to self: Don’t need to worry about copyright infringement on this one].
Fascinating book. And hidden in the Appendix, the author reveals:
The tariff in force between England and India from 1865 to the end of 1868 was Â£5 for a message of twenty words.
Look what happened to the telegraph, despite the way infrastructure used to be owned then. Look what happened to the telegraph, despite the nature of patent and copyright law then. Look what happened to the telegraph, despite the restrictions on personal freedom then.
Even SMS looks cheap when I allow for 140 years of inflation. Â£5 for 20 words. Wow.