Last night, while having a wonderful conversation with Ruth Kalinka, design geek girl extraordinaire, I realized something significant: We are living in significantly good times.
Ruth, just like myself, just like many of my other friends, have held the same principles for years:
- Cooperation and collaboration
- Transparency and openness
- Empathy, kindness and care towards others
These are pretty much all of the values underpinning the Web 2.0 era. And it IS an era...not a technology. It just happens to be spread by technology and those of us who share these values are able to connect around the world.
In the 90's and early 2000's, I was constantly frustrated...as was Ruth. No matter where we turned, the lesson seemed to be that the only way to success was to be extremely competitive...dog eat dog sort of competitive. In fact, the assholes always seemed to win. The good guys did, in fact, finish last. Now, the tables have turned. Because of the ability for anyone to publish their experiences, the assholes are being called out more often and people are taking them to task...strengthened by the fact that we can gather in great numbers now to fight the 800 lb gorilla.
It sort of feels like one of those happy endings on a movie like Revenge of the Nerds or the like. Only, instead of fighting fire with fire, we've risen up because of our values, wielding our social capital. We're killing the gorilla with kindness....for one another (we're still not nice to the gorilla, though...and I haven't figured out whether we should be or not.)
Now, I know it's not all utopic and the entire world isn't there yet, but the more I travel, the more I see it growing. Cory Doctorow's whuffie of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom isn't science fiction any longer. It's all around us. A world in which the capital exchanged only grows when given away and others are treated well sounds to me a helluvalot nicer than a world in which people do awful things to one another for the gain of capital.
I do think we are rapidly moving toward that world and some of us are already enjoying the fruits of that world as if it is ubiquitous. There will be downsides, of course. Harder work. Less security. Less hedonism. And with transparency comes a loss of privacy. Of course, many are also facing the troubles of having this epiphany, then discovering their loved ones haven't quite yet, creating the natural tension that occurs when one person changes and the other doesn't.
But I do think we are now living in good times. Generous times. And technological as well as political changes in the next couple of years will help catapult more and more people into this brave, new value system...for personal and business life.