What do Trump supporters, Catalan separatists, the French political movement En Marche and Brexit voters have in common? If I’m making such a shocking comparison, it’s because, however different, these movements are evidence of one unique phenomenon: they all express rejection. Rejection of the establishment, of old mainstream ideas. At the same time, they are also the expression of a strong desire to build something new.
We live in a new world. Technological innovations have a profound impact on our lifestyles since the early 2000s. Yet our institutions have barely changed: governments come and go but governance remains the same, as well as politicians and “experts” on mainstream media. We need to break through the old divide and bring new ideas, new ways of looking at the world outside of the echo chamber of social media. That’s the reason why I’m starting to publish my posts as opinion pieces in old mainstream media (if you are interested to publish them in the media of your own country, please feel free. It’s all copyleft. You can also reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Every day, current events show that there is a deepening gap between institutions and civil society. Why have recent elections shown the rise of a so called anti-establishment vote? Simply because we don’t endorse the system anymore. It doesn’t resonate with us. We don’t fit in. The usual reaction is to protest and demonstrate — against a president, a government, a political agenda or social measures. All valid battles, but they have become mostly ineffective. And they don’t necessarily provide new solutions. In other words, old recipes don’t work anymore: strikes and demonstrations have become useless.
Social media and other new technologies (AI, automation, blockchain, FabLabs, crowdfunding, …) are creating new opportunities. They give us the tools to communicate, form new associations and work together to build a new world. It’s not about fighting the system anymore. That system is beyond repair.
Let’s take Microsoft as an example: 2 decades ago, it was public enemy number one because of its monopolistic behavior. Fast-forward to 2017: are we still talking about Microsoft in these terms? No, why? Since 2000, many actors have emerged and invented new things. The internet revolution created new giants. They didn’t defeat Microsoft by trying to fix Windows. They won by focusing on creating new environments.
Stop talking, start doing
Likewise, our nations are broken. And they can’t be fixed by focusing on fixing them. We need to put our focus elsewhere, where we can actually have an impact. Where we can do something.
Each of us are passionate about different topics and issues. From immigration to renewable energy, veganism, local production, open data, etc. Whatever it is, we should focus our energy and attention on building that future. All the rest is a distraction.
If we all do that, we will end up building the next stage of the Internet. Not an Internet of just information, but an Internet of action.
This would be a world where everyone is invited to create and experiment. A world in which it is possible to fail without shame because every experiment done in an transparent environment is an opportunity for the community to learn. In this new world, there is no president. Anyone is able to act and start an initiative without having to ask for permission. Exactly like on the Internet of information where no one needs to ask for permission to start a website.
This would be a world where everyone is invited to create and experiment. A world in which it is possible to fail without shame because every experiment done in an transparent environment is an opportunity for the community to learn.
For the first time in history, each of us as individuals have the opportunity to question the existing order, and to do this in a peaceful way, by exchanging ideas, by creating new movements, and most importantly by acting not against an old system, but for a new system.
We can’t change people and we can’t change institutions. They have to decide to change for themselves. Microsoft is now one of the top contributors to open source because we showed them that it’s a better model to build the future. So that’s what we have to do. We need to act locally in our own communities and share globally our learnings (that’s what we are trying to do with #BrusselsTogether). Let’s fight our institutions by showing them a better model to build the world that we want. Long live the Internet of actions.
Let’s do this. 💪