Citizen Publishing – increasing the rate of change?

Sing3This graph illustrates The Singularity — technological change so rapid and profound it supposedly represents a rupture in the fabric of human history.

I am not going to bore you with the details of The Singularity, because many bright people have been writing furiously about this upcoming event and I think they are mostly wrong.

Their implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light, blah, blah, blah. (Cue the important-sounding music.)

For what it’s worth, I am sure that this acceleration of technological and social change is coming and it is coming sooner than anyone can predict, but I think that it will occur as a result of the same incredible process that has driven change for centuries:

Like-minded people finding and talking to each other
and then doing something about it

Let’s take an example that almost anyone can get their wits around. What do you think you could accomplish if you found a hundred people with your breadth of experience and intelligence, and you all had a common interest in solving some problem, AND you could easily communicate without stepping on each others lines? You could probably make an anchorman vanish without working up a sweat… 🙂

What if 8000 people share your dream and you could be as loosely or tightly joined as you wanted to be? You could probably accomplish something really useful if you communicated openly and honestly. You might be able to resolve conflicts of great magnitude. There are a lot of well-intentioned people in the world and only a few who are determined that we can’t talk to each other and find out that we all have a lot in common.

We would see changes occurring at incredible speeds. The only reason that this hasn’t happen yet on a regular basis is that we cannot find other bloggers like ourselves easily enough. In fact most of us cannot even define what we are being when we blog!

We find each other now through the links of friends of friends. This is slow, but it definitely works. As time goes on, there may be social software that actually facilitates the self-linking of like minded people while limiting the proliferation of spam-driven relationships.

I don’t think blogs are fast enough and responsive enough to handle the traffic of a group of thousands of people on the same wavelength. I don’t think Instant Messaging is the answer either, but I am sure that there are hundreds of people working on technical solutions to the problem of allowing a like-minded group to stay in touch on a continuing basis without overloading recipients with a constant barrage of interruptions for incoming messages.

Let us consider how innovation works. Someone has a unique idea and either works on it alone or discusses it with a trusted friend or group. If the group is smart and does the right kind of research, they will find that several other groups have magically started thinking the same idea on the other side of the world. If they work together in harmony, the ideas become realities in a very short time. If they don’t work together, we get some weird zero-sum result like VHS vs Betamax.

When the means exist to locate all other bloggers in the world who share our goals in a critical number of areas, we will have the ability to create and participate in an aligned team which can function on a 24 x 7 basis and can accomplish miracles in short order.

These may be spontaneously organized teams which disappear after a desired effect is created, or they may be teams of long duration with tight internal organizations and a means to ensure that the team is not disrupted by "gate-crashers" who hope to piggy-back on the team’s reputation to achieve their own ends.

Until the means exist to instantly find and converse with kindred spirits, blogging will have to suffice. Since everyone with ideas can publish them freely today without interfering with anyone else’s ability to publish, we have the seeds of a social and technical revolution in our hands today.

All we have to do is improve our ability to help each other link up with kindred souls. It actually doesn’t take much effort at all. We just have to get the idea that it a good thing to introduce friends to other friends who have common interests! Rosa Say does it every day. We could do likewise.

Once conversations start, mutual action takes place if there is a proper balance of common interests. The next thing you know, you are linked up with other people who you like and changes start occurring in your life and in theirs.

There is a lot more to this, but I’m not going to beat it to death. When everyone can write freely about what is important to them, and can easily find others who share their views, things are going to change very rapidly indeed. That graph at the top of this article will be created by people publishing blogs until something better comes along.

Thanks to Tim Chmielewski, I learned that Robert Murdoch thinks along similar lines.

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0 Responses to Citizen Publishing – increasing the rate of change?

  1. David Robarts says:

    While I agree that the ability to share ideas is the greatest catalyst for change, I don’t know how rapidly the signal to noise ratio will improve in allowing like minded people to find each other. Such a system would have massive amounts of data to process on a regular basis. There is also risk that the control of such systems will become a basis for power. The closest we have right now I Google and blogs. Voices are out there and search engines help us find them. I doubt we’ll ever get to the point where I want a system to actively suggest new voices for me to listen to; however, I wouldn’t mind if somehow I could give the search engine a topic I’m interested in and have the results be custom fitted to me (not just my search terms).

    Besides the potential for abuse of power by those controlling systems that connect people there is also the risk that the connections will develop into group-think. I wonder if anyone has yet studied group-think in “virtual” communities.
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