Who builds the future?
When i am in Europe i ask different questions because i collide with different types of people.
Despite have some roots in the silicon valley, my real “hacker” friends are here. Marc came thru Casa Robino/Gabi/Novi space and spoke enthusiastically about the hacker space they were creating. Part of what was cool about this fast growing group in Am*dam, is that it also consisted of experienced hackers who were holding back from directing the forming of the group, giving space for the new generation to frame the collective culture. It had only been open a few months but there were already successful collaborations to point at. There are over 50 contributing member and their own space. Support is coming in on a tripartite basis from the members – you contribute time, money, and stuff depending on what you have. This week Marc is bringing home a laser cutter, part of the collectives increasing collection of powerful toys.
Kasper is also one of these polyglot* open source hackers (i am avoiding using the current jargon “hackivist” but it would fit). He recently posted an insightful NYT piece on Who built the internet? And when the dichotomy is proposed “Was it government or was it big business?” The surprising answer (for many) is “none of the above”.
Neither the government (as Obama recently claimed) nor big business (as Romeny likely does) are the core of the internet, instead the soul of the software guts are a collaborative effort of people working largely without pay, to make something really marvelous and potentially democratizing.
Like many of the bedrock technologies that have come to define the digital age, the Internet was created by — and continues to be shaped by — decentralized groups of scientists and programmers and hobbyists (and more than a few entrepreneurs) freely sharing the fruits of their intellectual labor with the entire world. Yes, government financing supported much of the early research, and private corporations enhanced and commercialized the platforms. But the institutions responsible for the technology itself were neither governments nor private start-ups. They were much closer to the loose, collaborative organizations of academic research. They were networks of peers. Steven Johnson, NY Times
But let’s forget history and the internet for the moment (while clinging to core wisdom here, of course) and let’s talk about the future. What is the decentralized network of people who are going to change the cultural game with respect to pollution, war or the corrupt banking system? What accessible self organizing education clusters will we create and where will be the wikis holding their content? And how do these networks work together to help manifest these noble and whimsical goals? Before you under estimate the capacity of these self organizing volunteer groups, recall that you may have been surprised by the answer to the internet creators question above.
What the open source folks and hacker kids (young and old) are showing us is a way to change the world by organizing clever directed communicative people to do it. And you dont have to pay them, they want this to happen and so they will volunteer or donate to make it happen, just like many of you will.
Kasper speaks Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Swedish, Russian, Limburgs, Português, Bambara, Hebrew, Slavic and Spanish (These links will help you learn to speak each of these languages for free on this innovative online program Memrise)