now THIS is a conversation

25Feb03

let me catch you up on things, and then let me encourage you to jump right in…

joi ito isn’t just the partron saint of mobilized social systems, he (yes, HE) is also hard at work trying to change(ok, overthrow) the elitist political and business heirarchy overshadowing japan (but not alone, mind you). he (rightfully) suspects that japan’s respect for and indoctrination in the classical power hierarchy are holding back its progress economically and politically.

however he is caught in the midst of the classic anarchic paradox. you can’t overthrow power without taking power. though his cause is just, he’s got guilt pangs about whether by wanting to lead the revolution, he is lusting after the same type of power that he despises. There is one major difference, where previously power was control of information, joi is on the cluetrain– he knows that power is access to information, and believes that online social systems enable access to that power.

people can post comments in joi’s blog and therein this dude named richard bennett, this dude who i don’t know from adam but doesnt seem stupid or evil, post to a piece he’s written (scroll down to “emergence fantasies). it’s all about how geeks tend to believe technology will be used for good and not evil because of some altruistic nature that doesn’t necessarily exist. he basically says blogs or online social systems cannot cause change outside of themselves. and that they certainly wouldn’t be a good method for governing since mob rule often leads to emotional instead of intellectual decisions. points i can’t argue.

i have two things to counter, neither of which are my own, but both of which support joi.

1. clay shirky has been talking alot about blog popularity and power curves. basically the blogs with the most vistors will get even MORE visitors. there was a lot of self flaggelation among the most popular bloggers at first, but i say GOOD! since everyone has access to the same tools, it’s not technology, but content that are attracting these crowds. these bloggers are leading in a meritocracy. we vote for them because of what they do and say, not because they look cool or have money.

2. completely unprovoked, a hiptop user writes about how the always on, unlimited data connection and friendly user interface of his sidekick/hiptop thingy makes him feel powerful. it helps him solve real problems in real time. access makes him a valuable commodity and enhances his reputation amongst his peers. access to information is power.

do you smell a theme here? a meme here? mobile technology is more affordable and more desirable than pcs. because of it’s lower price, the hiptop represents a new generation of mobile devices that put access to the internet (i.e. information) in the hands of more citizens. in other countries this may be true of other devices. when all of citizens have the hardware, and access to the servers/software to find or create information at any given time, without penalties or heavy charges or censorship then the power lies (or lays) in their hands.

joi’s emergent democracy doesn’t just lie in the blog, it lies in the always on, information at any time democracy of mobile blogs and the mobile internet that supports them.

now it’s your turn to participate in the meritocratizing of the world. don’t wanna blog? go comment on someone else’s. i’ve given you plenty of links here to get started. this isn’t tv or the newspaper. this is your chance to make some tiny contribution to the future.

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