Its all too easy as 2017 draws to a close to simply call the whole civilization thing a failed experiment and plan to hibernate for 2018 (at least). The world, it appears, is coming apart at the seams. In politics, we seem more divided than at any time in the past few generations. This is true here in the US, of course, but also abroad in Brexit, the Russian “liberation” of Crimea, and the flaring up of feelings of independence in Catalonia. The structures that held people together at least since the end of the cold war, and arguably since WWII are splintering and its too early to say yet what might be happening in its place.
In commerce, capitalism has run amok. Comporate consolidation and the decades-long campaign to strip consumer protecting regulation have led to massive companies pushing out smaller locally-owned businesses, paying workers not even enough to make the poverty line and using their power to fight against worker welfare laws such as paid leave or a raise to the minimum wage. The internet space, which was supposed to be the wellspring of “disruptive innovation” aimed at “disintermediating” communication, has predictably turned into a few large corporations more interested in buying up small competitors and inserting themselves as the very intermediaries they sought to replace.
For all that things seem grim, 2017 has also seen an explosion of discussion about politics, technology, and economics that might just make it worthwhile staying awake for the next 18 months. Alternatives to the massive conglomerations brough about by unregulated capitalism have arisen; everything from cooperative arrangements and benefit corporations to a new focus on competition regulation are topics of discussion. Socialism is no longer a dirty word in the U.S. In the tech space, decentralization is providing an escape route away from the huge platform monopolies and toward self-sovereign technology that services people rather than spying on them.
This blog will seek to catalog these movements and particular technologies or social structures that enable them as well as offer my own thoughts on how to move forward in 2018 and beyond.