Internet is the Disruptive Technology in capital letters, so we should prevent it from being privatized or controlled. The Network is an entity in its own right. There is one problem only: who controls it?
The solution is based on the creation of concepts based on added-value services brought about by multidisciplinary teams and public-private partnerships, joining ideas and efforts to reach a result made up of the addition of collective intelligence.
When Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, little could he imagine that his highly disruptive technology would end up being the main vehicle for communication and knowledge transmission to be used by human beings for centuries to come. Until then, lithographs, parchment and hand-made copies by monks and friars limited information and education to select groups of people who had an exclusive access to such precious sources. The printing press did not only bring about the democratization of knowledge, but it also became a fully-fledged cultural revolution because it made information available to oppressed strata of the population that were forced to ignorance, which consequently found themselves when facing the learned social classes that would enslave and control them at will.
The printing press was one of the first disruptive technologies provided by mankind. But others did exist, before and after the printing press: stockbreeding and herding took the place of hunting and gathering; transistors came after valves; cell phones came after fixed lines… Throughout history, there has been a long list of technologies that could be regarded as disruptive: radio/carrier pigeons; television/radio; computer/television; smartphones and tablets/computer… Even though some of them did not finish the previous ones off, they became (and remain) real advances for society, and brought about a substantial change in the way human beings interact. They actually were outstanding advances that played their part in the creation of our current technological society.
Gutenbergs’s printing press enabled mankind to access information; nevertheless, those who held the power soon realized its potential, and they soon created mass media, which were again managed by power groups that know how to communicate information in the way that suits their interests best, or else when not to communicate at all, using education as a weapon. Once again, society is at the mercy of those who have access to information and decide when and how to communicate.
Plugged in the Network
Right from the moment it was available, Internet (the Network) has become a way out, an open, pervasive way to transfer knowledge to the remotest places in the world. Network access and knowing how to find the relevant information are the only requisities. Once again, as happened with the printing press, power groups were at the mercy of a disruptive technology that rocked their global control systems. They then started to analyzed new ways to get back the influence they had lost. But it is not the same this time: other disruptive technologies may already be in the hands of citizens to challenge corporations and political interests.
Therefore, such technologies should be identified and adopted; they should be made available to everybody and public, so that there is no option to privatize new ways of communication or knowledge access. These are social technologies, Open Source technologies, crowdsourcing technologies, individual initiatives at the community service with free, unlimited information, supported by individual contributions in exchange for several different compensations.
It is legitimate to advertise one’s own products and services, and using advertising as a way to pay for development costs devoted to a common good is legitimate as well. We all understand that a search engine like Google need not be for free: in this case, it is available in exchange for the advertisements included in our searches. It seems obvious that free services may not be available if nobody is to take care of the maintenance of infrastructure on which such services are based. Nevertheless, SaaS (Software as a Service), cloud computing, ubiquity, public maps, social networks and all systems that enable information exchange turn the network into an entity in its own right. There is just one problem: who controls it?
The new Network should be guaranteed as a public service; any attempt at control, even if it is for the best possible reasons, should be avoided. It is precisely the freedom offered by the Internet what makes it a Disruptive Technology in capital letters; thus, we should prevent it from being privatized or controlled by the very same powers that in another time in history controlled mankind’s access to information all over history.
The new Network should be guaranteed as a public service; any attempt at control, even if it is for the best possible reasons, should be avoided
Mass-distributed educational systems and resources, MooC (Massive Open Online Courses), content management systems (CMS), social networks and open street maps (OSM) are some examples for the options available to anybody to create their own educational contents; spread out education in a democratical manner; generate and distribute news; make worldwide geography accessible and essentially bring each and every collaboration for a common good, for information access and for a real global democracy where people help people by means of technology.
An uneven fight
Likewise, small enterprises may neither fight nor take part in the contest against large corporations; the latter usually identify the start-up potential and gobble them up implacably by offering them more and more money. In order to avoid such situations, no more “canned” products should be produced, and patent-depending products should not be created either. We should focus on developing concepts based on added-value services provided by multidisciplinary teams and public-private partnerships, joining ideas and efforts so that the results achieved are the addition of collective intelligence. This reminds me of the “parable of the stones” mentioned by Steve Jobs in an interview on PBS back in 1996. He said the following:
“(…) We had many great ideas when we started (with Mac). But I always felt that a group of people doing something they really believe in is like something that happened to me when I was a young boy and a widower lived in the same street I used to live. One day he said to me: ‘Come to my garage, there’s something I want to show you’. He took out his old, dust-filled polishing machine, we went behind the house and took some stones: ugly, common, ordinary stones. We put them in a can with some liquid, we closed the can and he turned on the engine. He told me ‘come tomorrow’. I went there the following day and we opened the can. We found a bunch of extremely beautiful polished rocks. The common stones we had put inside had been rubbing against each other, creating friction and some noise, and the beautiful polished rocks were obtained.
This has always been on my mind when I think of a team working on something they are passionate about. It is by means of the team, through an extraordinary talented group of people, by conflicting against each other, with arguments, even with fights some times, with noise and work, how they polish off each other and how they polish their ideas. And beautiful rocks are obtained (…)”.
Small enterprises may neither fight nor take part in the contest against large corporations
The difference is what these ideas are used for: they may be monopolized or opened to the world; they may be used to control or conversely be set free in the world, given up and shared to generate richness in a somewhat more equal manner. This is why I believe in the big projects where people come first, groups of them, specialized talents that get together to create common dreams that are finally brought back to the community so that the cycle may be started back again. This is why I founded UBIKUA.
Being disruptive means dreaming and believing that the future is in our hands, never mind how far away it seems to be. Somebody once dreamed of flying and eventually managed it, why cannot why make our own dream come true?
Let’s be disruptive!
by Francis Ortiz
Creative Art & Design Studios, Founder of UBIKUA
Evolución cultural; Evolución tecnológica; Historia de la tecnología; Eliademy; MooC; OpenStreerMap
*UBIKUA is the joining together of a group of companies made up of a balanced group of professionals including advertising designers, programmers, designers and computer engineers who love their work and belong to the digital age. It offers geo-location, apps and Augmented Reality Services.