Gathering Clouds of Top-Down Control

Part of the reason why I’ve been off… line, for the last month or so is that… erm… the nature of the war that we may or may not be in, is shifting focus. I feel like The Internet is being attacked… globally on so many fronts (in basically the same way) that we possibly do need to call it something like war now.

I mean in the bronze age, Iron age, industrial-era… wars were fought in bronze, iron, industrial ways – so I guess in the information era (or whatever it is we’re currently in) this pattern will continue – but things will be different because we’re also going through a Gutenberg Shift – and one of the things that happens in Gutenberg Shifts, is that it becomes a lot clearer to people that their biggest problems are top-down problems.

So we’ve got highly dubious 3-strikes laws being plotted/snuck through in New Zealand, the UK, Spain, France, Sweden?… there’s the ACTA negotiations which are secret because (according to one of the players) if people knew what they were, they’d walk away from the table. Relentless corporate attacks on net-neutrality… There are censorship moves afoot not just in China and Iran but also Australia… and all of the above is just the stuff I know about. There seems to be this broad-based top down attack going on. The end of 2009 feels like the end of Empire Strikes Back.

We seem to have skipped the part where we look at evidence as to whether sharing culture actually hurts the culture, and instead we (or our elected leaders at least) are just blandly accepting the idea that “a file shared, is a sale lost” and have moved on to discussing the punishment.

Well we’ve been here before, and I’m more than happy to fight for this. Seriously.

Anyway, vaguely apropos of that… here’s an interesting video of a beautiful bit of paleo-futurism – Salvador Allende’s hi-tech panopticon.

Free As In Beer: Cybernetic Science Fictions from Greg Borenstein on Vimeo.


2 Comments » for Gathering Clouds of Top-Down Control
  1. Shelley Noble says:

    “I mean in the bronze age, Iron age, industrial-era… wars were fought in bronze, iron, industrial ways – so I guess in the information era (or whatever it is we’re currently in) this pattern will continue”

    I love a good big picture. Fabulous observation again, Nick.

    My thoughts are that I’m amazed they’ve let it get this far?! It’s been fantastic. Cosmically consciousness shifting, it’s far gone by a Gutenberg. It’s been exponentially huge-r. I can’t figure out why the money mongers have let it get this far?! How could they possibly have been this slow on the take?

    It’ll be censored. It’ll cost money. It’ll be tamed. Make hay.

  2. admin says:

    Dunno about that – it’s not what happened last time.

    What happened last time was that there was a period where censorship was attempted – and people like William Tyndale were burned for trying to bypass the Church’s monopoly…

    … but then competing power-structures coalesced around and/or exploited this amassed upswell of public feeling – against top-down control, and towards a more democratic way of communicating with each other, and God.

    And this inevitably enough cut right across one of the moral axes that divides populations more or less evenly, and people burned, murdered and fought each other all across Europe for at least the next 200 hundred years. There are still remnants of it today. It’s an “us and them” thing that happens to divide along religious lines, and is exploited by power-structures on each side. Scotland weirdly enough, has Catholic and Protestant football teams.

    So… If we’re going to follow the same pattern, then we’ll see lines drawn between open and closed systems, with big players fighting on either side. And the biggest player on the open-system front at the moment is Google.

    I’m not sure if this will ever become a national/governmental thing… I’m not sure if nationhood is even relevant any more – but if it does, I’d be looking towards upstarts like Brazil (or the entire South-American region) and India to mobilize random humanity on the side of open-systems. These are countries punching well below their weight, who have absolutely nothing to gain from Western corporate IP monopolies.