This is not about conspiracies. Nor is it about a Zuckerberg-esque doctrine of more openness .. or not exactly.
The Open Conspiracy refers to H. G. Wells’ 1933 text of the same name. It’s largely a text on his Utopian ideals – flawed and sometimes a little wrong-headed, as most such visionary pieces are. Here’s the core idea in the words of Wells :
“It seemed to me that all over the world intelligent people were waking up to the indignity and absurdity of being endangered, restrained, and impoverished, by a mere uncritical adhesion to traditional governments, traditional ideas of economic life, and traditional forms of behaviour, and that these awaking intelligent people must constitute first a protest and then a creative resistance to the inertia that was stifling and threatening us. These people I imagined would say first, “We are drifting; we are doing nothing worth while with our lives. Our lives are dull and stupid and not good enough.”
Then they would say, “What are we to do with our lives?”
And then, “Let us get together with other people of our sort and make over the world into a great world-civilization that will enable us to realize the promises and avoid the dangers of this new time.”
It seemed to me that as, one after another, we woke up, that is what we would be saying. It amounted to a protest, first mental and then practical, it amounted to a sort of unpremeditated and unorganized conspiracy, against the fragmentary and insufficient governments and the wide-spread greed, appropriation, clumsiness, and waste that are now going on. But unlike conspiracies in general this widening protest and conspiracy against established things would, by its very nature, go on in the daylight, and it would be willing to accept participation and help from every quarter. It would, in fact, become an “Open Conspiracy,” a necessary, naturally evolved conspiracy, to adjust our dislocated world.”
Very Clay Shirky.
Unfortunately, the internet wasn’t around in H.G. Wells’ day – although, arguably, his concept for a ‘World Brain‘ comes pretty close. But a lot of the concepts and ideas and issues we’re now struggling to get to grips with will be familiar to any of his readers.
If this proves anything, it’s that innovation, understanding and the cultural impact of technology has very little to do with the availability or access to that technology. It’s a cultural thing, not a technological thing. And that’s what this blog is about.
It’s about foresight.