The arrival of my hard copies of More Space the book I’ve co-authored with eight other bloggers, has prompted to me re-read what others have written there. Today, I’m going to do a little trailer on Rob Paterson‘s chapter, Going Home. (You can read his essay online free, or order the book, at the More Space site.)
Rob’s chapter is a great polemic and rousing stuff. I think some of us bloggers have learnt to tone down our rhetoric so as not to alarm the uninitiated – and it’s fun to be reminded of the idealism that actually motivates some of us to keep this up.
Rob reckons that we’ve seen a version of the internet revolution before. He looks at how the world was changed by Martin Luther, Galileo and Gutenberg, and asks,
Who would have known then that a priest with a big idea, a man with a telescope, and a man with a new communication tool would come together to shake the world?
Rob’s point is that this is being repeated today:
Is this idea of going direct the same for us as Luther’s big idea that man could talk directly to God?
Is not the new doctrine for organizations based on the observable working laws and designs of nature the same as Galileo’s observations?
Is not the enabling vector a new type of communication device that is so simple and so inexpensive that it will give voice and hence power back to individuals and to their communities? Are we not standing at the beginning of a new reformation? Has the wheel of history turned full circle?
He goes on to look at examples of the sort of communities which are now possible, and which challenge conventional top-down notions of dealing with issues. One is an online health community for seniors on Prince Edward Island, where Rob lives:
Within two years, there were more than three thousand members and more than fifty groups on PEI alone, and the network is spreading all over North America.
Initially, the most popular groups were in health. The health groups grew up at first as support groups. The ?rst was for people who had severe arthritis. Within months this group had become very expert. They were on top of the leading research and had lots of practical advice for each other. They provided not only moral support but also expert help. For a group for whom mobility was a challenge, the online aspect was a perfect fit. Many broke though their fears of the Web by taking lessons from other seniors in the Blogging 101 group.
Here’s Rob’s optimistic prognosis:
Just as people at the end of the Middle Ages rediscovered the wisdom of the Classic world, so we are rediscovering the experience of tribal life. I don’t mean by this that we will have to take up hunting and live in caves. For we have made a Great Return before and we know how it will play out. Renaissance men did not put on togas. What they did was to remember the wisdom of the Classic world that had been forgotten in a millennium-long dark age and applied this wisdom to the world of their time. So we too will begin to experience a new way of living and of being and apply this experience to our own time and to our own challenges.