People Will Fight You Down When You See Jah Light

by | Dec 9, 2005

Ethan Zuckerman on Ben Hammersley’s talk at Les Blogs:

Ben Hammersley has the afternoon keynote which is, predictably, both thought provoking and a standup comedy routine. It’s titled “Eight Big Ideas of the 21st Century (And Why Blogging Isn’t One of Them)”.

I’ll skip to the punch line and mention that blogging isn’t one of the big ideas, but the conjunction of all the eight ideas. (These eight big ideas are the focus of Ben’s new book.) They are as follows:

information wants to be free
zero distance
mass amateurization
more is much more
true names
viral behavior
everything is personal
ubiquitous computing

Ben believes that blogging, and other forms of content creation, signal the beginning of a period of huge change that, in retrospect, will be seen as “the first days of the Renaissance…you were the flatmate of Leonardo DaVinci.” Driving the analogy further, he argues that 1991 – when Tim Berners-Lee brought the web to life – may prove to be a more revolutionary year than 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell.

It’s a funny, hopeful, incredibly optimistic talk and Ben closes by trying to get us to take some responsibility for ensuring that the good guys win over the bad guys. I’m less convinced than he that there’s nowhere to go but up, but hopeful that the ability for people to speak to a global audience through these technologies really does help change society for the better.

Rebecca MacKinnon, a “recovering TV reporter-turned-blogger,” ain’t buyin’ it.

Ben Hammersley gave a very provocative talk about the future. (Provocative not only because he was wearing a kilt!) He believes “We are on the tipping point of the next step in the evolution of human society.”

I must admit, I don’t believe that technology – or anything else for that matter – is going to enable human beings to transcend our fundamentally flawed human nature. I tend to feel that we’re better off if we plan for the future based on the assumption that human capacity for evil and stupidity will remain pretty much constant, and then make sure to build in the requisite institutions and systems to protect ourselves from the dark side of our own nature.