Roiling around in my head these days are thoughts about:
1) the profound global connectedness that expansion and convergence of computing and communications networks will bring in the next 10-15 years;
2) the growing recognition of individuals and institutions alike that fundamental changes are occurring in the way we work, learn, play, and live, and that those changes will become steadily more frequent and potentially more disruptive as time goes by;
4) the virtually certain probability that existing political and social structures will not remain intact in the midst of all this change.
I wonder, can we -- all of us, together -- influence the direction of these emerging paradigm shifts? Or are we in truth impotent and at the mercy of forces beyond our control?
During the recent World Future Society conference in Chicago, I spent some time conferring with a few CRN associates about the challenge of effective governance as we confront an uncertain (but certainly different) future. One of the topics we discussed was network democracy.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, network democracy is a proposed new way for diverse elements of society, represented by three stakeholder groups, to seek consensus on major policy issues. Jim Garrison, president of the State of the World Forum, envisions a non-binding deliberative and negotiating collection of nations, corporations, NGOs, and perhaps other stakeholders. (Non-binding because they would not have power to enforce their decisions except through persuasion and peer pressure.)
This might be something like the United Nations, but with other entities involved, so it would be more representative of the way the modern world really operates. Nation-states are still important, of course, but other organizations have grown to have far more influence than when the UN was created. A balance would be sought between political interests (nations), economic interests (corporations), and humanitarian interests (NGOs).
If you've been paying attention, you'll also recall that this three-way balance fits nicely with CRN's analysis of three underlying Systems of Action: Guardian (government), Commercial (business), and Information (free distribution).
Network democracy may not be the final answer, of course, but it's worth thinking about. The breadth and depth of changes rushing toward us could demand new ways of thinking and acting if we are to avoid disaster and instead enjoy a future of abundance, freedom, and the full flowering of human potential.