News From Nowhere: Update
Pollard riffs off the article's themes, much as he did with those in the Dyson interview. In fact, his summary of Patterson's ideas is (in my opinion) better organized and easier to assimilate than the original article itself:
[Patterson] sees social networking as the means to achieve all three elements of Dyson's Dream: Free information, community-based renewable energy self-sufficiency, and peer-to-peer Ag-Bio innovation. He sees it as the means to achieve a media which accepts that its job is to make interesting what is important. He sees it as the mechanism to unleash the Power of Ideas. In his future state scenario he sees virtual communities, formed and connected and collaborating by means of social networking tools that will:
* allow consumers to connect and transact directly with front-line farmers and makers of clothing and other essentials -- on the consumers' terms
* allow learners to connect and transact directly with front-line teachers, enablers, demonstrators, and real learning environments -- on the learners' terms
* allow patients to connect and transact directly with front-line healers, preventative health providers, self-treatment information sources -- on the patients' terms
* allow readers and viewers to connect and transact directly with front-line journalists, investigative reporters, researchers, analysts, philosophers, interpreters of events, actors, artists, and entertainers -- on the readers' and viewers' terms....
In Rob's brave new world, what each of us has to offer, and at what price, and what each of us needs or wants, and at what price, will all be "out there", in a perfectly connected and disintermediated market, with no agents skimming most of the money and blocking the way. The access to information about what's available and what's needed will allow innovation to flourish, as creative minds rush to fill clearly unmet needs, and will allow prices to crash to nearly zero, as the enormous supply of ideas and more-with-less products and infinitely customized, 'virtual' service overwhelms the demand. Commons, community activities and enterprises, collaboration, and free sharing will explode as horrific scarcity and outrageous prices for crap give way to astonishing abundance and affordability. The consequence will not be a rush to buy more but a rush to work less, to take time for important things -- a volunteering epidemic will ensue, and people will learn how to make and do things for themselves, and in community with others. GDP will crash and so will stock markets and housing markets while big corporations will slide into colossal bankruptcy and take the banks with them, but everything will get so much better for everyone else that no one will care. Governments will no longer have the revenues to wage war or accumulate debts, but well-being will have risen with abundance so there will be no need for either, people will be looking after each other, voluntarily, free, to the delight of both progressives and conservatives. The people will have taken back the power, the control over their lives, their local resources and their time, and they will know how to use them wisely.
And all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.