Why this Manifesto ?

Citizens of societies everywhere on the planet are sensing that those societies are in the midst of major, epochal change. In an important sense, all of us are like explorers seeking a new continent, but without any maps to guide us.

We understand that it's the wealthy who are now managing the planet, not those we have elected; and that it is the economic model of that rich elite (.. profit at all costs ...) which is making our societies so dysfunctional. We also realize that the television, which the rich and their corporations control, is being used to tell us all sorts of stories rather than for informing us fully on the important issues.

We no longer have complete confidence in our political and economic elite, and we know that they are leading us into a dangerous cul-de-sac.  Those who are trying to foresee strategies for the future are doing so with the mentality and the tools of the industrial era whereas in fact we are tumbling quickly into a post-industrial era. We realize today that we cannot pass on to our future generations that which we were fortunate to receive .. a future holding out hope and the promise of a better quality of life.

The current wave of techno-scientific optimism promises marvels (for example, interactive cities, homes controlled by software, or wearable computing).  However, the true changes which will define the post-industrial society will be the creation of a new model of access to knowledge using information as the fundamental element of development for an emergent world. That's the real revolution (in the sense of an accelerated evolution) to come.

In two or three years or so, when the current conditions (wherein each individual experiences her or his own messy transition to a post-industrial society) become experienced and felt on a much more collective and widespread basis, we will have to make choices.  But, what mechanisms will we have available ?

Societies progress from one era to the next

During all epochs of the past, societies adapted to their political, economic, and climactic challenges by developing new tools for communications.  For example, the alphabet permitted the birth of the first cities and the first empires, printing, the unfolding of the Renaissance, television and the cinema, and the arrival of the Industrial Age.

Today our societies are facing a collection of inter-related crises because our societies are essentially globalized. Many of the key elements of each society depend upon the effective functioning and goodwill of other people in other societies. 

Also, we are beginning to develop a new global tool, the Internet, which integrates the written word, sound and images .. or in other words, the existing networks of computers, telephones and television.

For the first time in history Internet 2 (or Web 2.0) will permit citizens to exercise and amplify their voices.  So, they are able (if willing) to create a participative democracy with which to respond to the series of current and sure-to-come crises.  Internet 2 will become a place where we will battle with each other (with ideas, opinions, facts and organized activities) in order to change the word.

At this point in time, we are living in new situations that are difficult to evaluate :

  • The solutions to our problems will not be technical or economic (as the media suggests to us) but mainly cultural. The changes in behaviour which will required of all people will be very difficult to accept for most, and even more difficult to carry out and sustain.
  • We are not facing several isolated crises but rather an ensemble of interrelated crises. To date, we have not responded to these crises with effective tools or developmental initiatives. 
  • But if these situations seem full of threats and general menace they also offer much opportunity for new and inovative solutions.

    What are the mechanisms that we must learn and use if we want to create and live in a society which is becoming much more complex that the industrial society which preceeded it ?

In other words, our societies evolve at the speed at which the behaviors of its citizens change, which is clearly too slow to respond effectively to the series of rolling crises we are experiencing. That observation has caused several important thinkers to believe that we are enrolled in a race between catastrophe and education.

The tools and dynamics of educating citizens and communicating effectively with them will make all the difference with respect to our collective future. That is why this document is concentrated on the tools and information that make up Internet 2.

 

Recently, the complete text has been published in France :

La société émergente du XXIe siècle
(The Forces and Choices Shaping the 21st Century)
Michel Cartier et Jon Husband,
Dangles Éditions, 2010.  (208 pages,  18 euros)

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