Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Wandering, Wondering Mind

*WARNING: The following post is a bit rambling. The gears in my head are making too much noise for me to think straight. I'm undergoing something of a paradigm shift. Historically, those can be messy.

In re-reading my review of Radical Evolution, I got to thinking.....The Future is a whole industry nowadays. People with differing visions of where we are going, where we should go, are all competing with one another for our attention and presumably, our allegiance. These are the visionaries, the trendsetters. They are necessary and powerful, but that last part has always been true, hasn’t it? What distinguishes this time & place, is that the masses have the ability to respond back in kind through weblogs, on-line communities and message boards. While the bigwigs debate policy, trying to determine what’s best for us, is standing around listening really carefully the best we’re capable of? Are we to use all this hard-earned technology to become nothing more than a peanut gallery with a megaphone?

Instead of trying to prevent the bad effects of technologically empowered individuals through oppressive control schemes modeled after historical failures at suppression, shouldn’t we instead be focused on making ourselves better able to handle, wield and make use of that power? To modify our systems to be better able to counter and react to the threat posed by malicious or short-sighted individuals? Having read science-fiction my whole life, having read about the history of science & technology, having read weblogs since around 9/11/2001, I wonder, does Bill Whittle have the right idea?

Because Mr. Whittle calls them, The Remnant. Those average everyday people who, when a crisis arises, they appear out of the woodwork, do “the right thing” and then, they return to being average everyday people. Or, rather, they continue to be the people they have always been, only they continue to do it when no one is looks or cares anymore. Currently, people like Bill Joy worry about what crazy individuals empowered by technology could do. It occurs to me that reading “Radical Evolution” & Mr. Whittle’s essay one right after the other, stirred something up in my head. Drew a line between two things that I would not ordinarily put together. Maybe, in order for the Prevail scenario to work what we need to do is empower and strengthen the Remnant?

You know, use random individuals with sound judgement and situational expertise to counter randomly dangerous individuals with malicious intent? Fight fire with fire.

Whittle recommended creating something called “Ejectia” which although it sounds like a bad sci-fi movie is instead a proposed community to link up people, to spread knowledge & know-how, to prepare them. And from reading the follow-up posts, from seeing the enthusiasm of his readers, this will actually happen. Perhaps, by dedicating ourselves to self-improvement before a crisis we can each be ready to do our part when the time comes? Hmmmm…..Isn’t it interesting when an old idea becomes new again?

In the comments to his essay, people have been posting what they could bring to this venture. There’s person after person who opens with “Well, I don’t really know much” and then lists 8 skills or talents that blow me away. People who’ve built their own houses, home-schooled their children, had 4-5 careers, know five languages or served in the military. These people make me feel deeply lazy, make me want to tidy up my computer desk or something. And they make me want to learn…..

Reading the comments to Mr. Whittle’s essay reminded me of something I came across a few weeks ago. It was a rant by one my favorite authors in which he responds to reviewers who find some of his characters unbelievable. The punchline is that the characters in question were modeled after people the author in fact knew quite well.

We now live in a society that does not question superpowers, alien invasion or wild conspiracy theories on the basis of ridiculous conjecture, BUT what stops people in their tracks, what brings them out of a story is that people, with no superpowers/alienDNA/handwavium, can be capable, competent and able to defend the planet because of it. That is unacceptable if we are to Prevail.

I have no idea what kind of contribution I could make to Whittle's grand experiment but too often in the past, I’ve let that type of thinking stop me. This blog was created to help me get over such tendencies. To provide me a place to record, to organize and (in some instances) to correct. Because it is not enough for me to say “Prevail sounds Lovely this time of year”.

There are some who say nothing can be done, that it has gone beyond even the abilities of the powerful to control. There are some who say, that it is not our place, that there are others, “experts” who will determine the future. Both of these groups believe, that in a crisis, this Remnant is hopelessly outclassed. If the experts cannot respond effectively, then these people surely cannot. Both of these groups are, in my opinion, utterly wrong. Now, (somehow) Bill Whittle and many others (including me) have to prove it.

…More to follow.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Ok, I’m putting this in the comments to ensure whoever reads this post also reads this.

I realized something is not clear from this post. The idea of empowering individuals is not new. “A pack not a herd.” I have been aware of this idea and always nodded supportively when I heard it. “Makes sense,” I thought. But it didn’t click, unzip and explode, like it did for this post.

There is a difference between intellectual acceptance & emotional acceptance. This post records me crossing over the line between the two. It is about outlining and assembling multiple ideas (not my own) because I more fully understand what the purpose of that assembly is.

Imagine, playing with building blocks, thinking you’re pretty clever because you know where all the pieces go. One day, you watch someone else play with those very same blocks, do everything you’ve seen done before, do everything you’ve done yourself. And yet it’s utterly different. Because when he finishes, instead of taking the pieces apart, you watch him use what he’s built. Because he just pointed out the glaringly obvious. These blocks are not an intellectual diversion, toys. These blocks have a meaning and purpose you’ve never truly faced. And they can one day save your life...Holy crap.