Precipitating change

I talked with some friends at DrupalCampNYC this weekend and a few common themes kept coming up:

  • Technology is not the problem with adoption or creation of new things
  • Infrastructure and bureaucracy are increasingly the barriers to technology adoption
  • Technology adoption is increasingly a political tightrope walk across the board
  • Simply complaining about problems and pointing to a “them” or “those people” or “The man” is not the solution

The answer as a passing by colleague said at an after party is the exact opposite of that last thread: Sell out.

What is “Selling out” anyway? It’s when you give in and do what everyone else is doing. Get a job in “the system” and obey “the man”. The opposite of Occupy movements (on the surface). But where those movements may have gotten things wrong (we’ll know in about 10-20 years) is that it’s easy to protest (and an important start to any social movement); but after getting together, rising up and saying “no something is wrong here”… it’s time to take action.

There are 2 forms of action, violent and non-violent. Obviously violent is never the way to go, destruction begets destruction. You see movements that get overly aggressive or violent rejected outright, overwhelmingly throughout history (and those that don’t devolve often into more violence and chaos ala french revolution). Violence is never the answer. But what do those others do? Where do they go if not back home to sleep and forget about the movement. They sell out the rest of the group….Or do they?

Selling out is only if you actually abandon your ideals. What if instead, you get into the organizations that you see as the problem, infiltrate, and spread (positively) your ideas throughout them. The way to change is not through direct confrontation, but through consensus and changing that notion of consensus from within.

I would argue your seeing that today in the US Government via the offshoots of protest movements in the late 60s. Yeah, some got violent (and their voices lost to history, no one wants that) but the truly “insidious” ones “sold out”. They “dropped the radical means for the radical ends”.

There are a few tactics / concepts in this tool belt that we won’t go into but you should definitely read into further:

  • Nudge – get people to make the choice you want through elimination of the “wrong ones”
  • Overton window – the sliding window of society and its political acceptance of ideas as more or less free.
  • Hacktivism – using technology to change society, usually has a negative / destructive connotation though (re Anonymous / actual hacking of systems)
  • Information Altruism – Using the liberation of information to transform payment based industries.

If you want radical change, you need first to ensure it is no longer perceived as radical. You need to Nudge society to a place where it is acceptable within the eyes of the Overton windowSo wake up, stop complaining about the problems you see around you and get involved with them. The organizations of today were built by the mindsets of yesterday. Become part of the problem, and you can resolve it… unless you just sell out 🙂

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