We expect to lead our lives.
We struggle since we are aware of it, and before that it’s our parents, and grand-parents, and so on, that made their best to provide us, their descendants, with the best opportunities. We tend to study at the best school, graduate in the best university, get the best jobs, get masters, so we make a career, while at the same time are also trying to save part of our income, to build some wealth for (now downstream), our descendants.
We have every day, in every hour and at every minute, a mixture of individual issues that collide or blend, with collective ones. We make our own decisions based in our own interests but also taking into account the context: being it society, your country, globalization, you name it. So, up to which point are we actually deciding our lives, in terms of these two approaches, ie.: individually and collectively?
All throughout history, man had to explain himself twists of fate in different ways: God’s will, being it a reward or a punishment was probably the first one. After that stage, we added nature forces, enemies, plagues, etc. to the list of causes that determine at some point, the course of our lives.
Within Society, we are regularly summoned to vote, in order to “decide” who will run a presidency, a congress, a town hall, and that’s the opportunity we have to build Democracy. But I feel we should explore this concept more deeply.
The first thing is to check what kind of decision an election means. Because, it’s not a decision itself. Society as a whole does not “express” its will (though it sounds really poetic), but an election throws an uncertain result: it is an outcome actually, more than a voluntary decision. This is the first splitting point between the individual and society. Because you don’t really know when you vote, if that vote is deciding or not, who will be elected. You are just opting for your preference, which might be or not, the winning candidate.
The other aspect to bear in mind, is change. Almost every single shop, gives you today the option of changing almost anything, not only because of breakage, but even in the case you didn’t like what you bought on your own decision. It sounds a bit worrying when you vote for a list or a candidate, that you will have to live with your decision, depending on the country you live in, maybe at least two years before you can vote for new congressmen, and four years for a new president, no matter what. There is no Tippex yet for political errors.
It’s also remarkable there are a bunch of things that usually happen to us:
– You’ve studied the party platform, and although you agree 80% with it, you don’t feel comfortable with the remaining 20% (let’s say: its proposals for withdrawing armed forces from far away territories, abortion, tax policy, etc.).
– You have the certainty that from the 80% you agree with, probably there is a 25% that has been increased only for election purposes.
– You have a strong suspicion that from the 55% remaining of your favourite party’s programme, maybe a 15/20% will be unachievable due to context and circumstances.
– Another 15/20% will be resigned just because priorities will shift to other issues, new ones, that were not included in the forecast at the time of the campaign.
– There is a 40% of possibilities that “your” candidate, might consider much more comfortable switching on the Autopilot, and fly through his/her 4 year period, without any difficulties, or conflicts of any kind.
So, after all these years, with all your previous experience, you start feeling deceived by your FAVOURITE CANDIDATE!!!!! Even before you actually introduced the envelope in the ballot box, or pressed the button!!!!! Not to say, how it goes with those you will never think of voting.
Finally, and awfully, it’s more that usual that any government starts to drift in directions anyone could foresee: starting a war, exceptional financial crisis with the consequent social benefits cut down, relations with new “allied” countries, etc.
I’m aware that all of this is well-known to everybody, but what I’m trying to get at is that we are now, more than in any other time in history, and thanks to technology, in the verge of developing a completely new way of governance.
Is it my purpose to take control in every single detail of society?
Not exactly. At this point it is more that we shouldn’t allow our governments to oblige us bearing with decisions we haven’t voted. But if any new procedure proves suitable for rejecting policies and acts with which we disagree, it’s not very difficult to imagine a following stage, where we can almost vote to decide at least, everything we are interested in. And not anymore representatives.
In 2001 85% of use of Internet was email, and most of it related to work (1). There has also been a period when Internet was a “virtual” escape to have a “second life”. There are extensive studies about the use and development of Internet.
There have been experiences already, obviously not so long ago, of people participation through technology.
In Amsterdam the “Digital City” (De Digitale Stad – DDS) was created in 1994 and it was primarily conceived as an experiment to last only ten (10) weeks. It was design as a channel for electronic dialog between Amsterdam City council and the citizens. It was so successful that it had to change completely after a short time, to become a full network replicating the real city in the “virtual” space.(2)
But yet, this experiment was still within the context of Internet 1.0, so it was basically accessing content and exchange of emails.
We can see that in terms of technology, this project was visionary, however, the crucial issues are not subject to people’s opinion in real-time. Now in 2011, handsets will enable us to do things we couldn’t even imagine, only 10 years ago. So let’s just think for a minute, where technology will be in 5 years time. It’s not so difficult to consider the possibility of influencing on our governments decisions in real-time.
It’s amazing the way Internet and Internet 2.0 changed our lives. We can almost do anything from our pc’s and soon from our mobile/cellular phones.
So it’s not only about the process between people voting and politicians doing. There is a vast field now to be conquered through technology: information first and interaction next (already). We will not depend anymore on a few media to know what’s really happening in the world, because there will be more people and more sources each day, issuing fresh news into the web, that at least, will give another point of view, than the “official”.
Having undergone through several economic and financial crisis, having seen governments escaping in helicopters, witnessing a global lie to find an excuse to start a war, I became ambitious. I want Internet not just to see movies online, buy remotely or pay bills electronically, but mostly to link us all, to make us think and to make us act, demanding information, controlling corporations, surveying governments.
To me, that is the true potential of Internet.
This is how we could gain control on our lives collectively and individually, maybe for the first time.
(1) “La Galaxia Internet” Manuel Castells. Ed. Areté 2001 – Ch. 4 “Comunidades virtuales o sociedad red”. P. 138
(2) Ib. (1), Ch. 5 “La política de Internet I” – P. 168