I spent yesterday morning drinking amazing coffee out of a sparkle cup, sitting at kitchen table with a Pirate Parliamentarian. We talked about motorcycles (he’s getting ready to ride along the coast of Italy for the weekend), the SOPA/PIPA blackout (it hadn’t started yet, as it was still pre-midnight in America), and me moving to Berlin. Oh man, do I want to. I mean, as much as I care to move anywhere besides Seattle. And then the nail in the coffin – if I only have bases from which I travel, why not just add Berlin into the mix of those bases? Seattle and Berlin. As the plane comes in over these fair cities, I look down and think “I could stay here.”
And then the SOPA blackout unfolded, and I saw my friends laugh and pontificate and fight. Seeing @herderpepedia did it for me the most – the people for whom information has been democratized to such a degree that they don’t even think about it, how they freak out when their oxygen is removed. It made me think about the fights my parents have been a part of, and what sorts of impacts were made. Dad as one of the main organizers against the Vietnam “War.” Mom fighting for feminism. Both fighting for Unions, and Sex Ed in schools, and for alien rights. They did huge, amazing things in Ann Arbor and in Chicago. And then, when those fights were “won,” they went back to the town my father grew up in and are still fighting there. Often for the same things, the news that those fights had been won never reached these “pockets” which are actually most of America.
I began to wonder where I would be most useful in life. Is it better to do great things with the choir, or teach the people who don’t get it yet? The hacker scene in Berlin is amazing. They have a fucking Pirate Party, for fuck’s sake. They have a massive hackerspace community. They have grass-roots ISPs and are actively working on getting Satellites into space so everyone can have free internet. I have dreams here about a (not so strange) future where Berliners wage information wars against other countries while the city is bombed for ensuring everyone has a voice. (I’m wary of using the term “information war” here, as communication is both a human right but also a political act. Bombing is certainly an act of war.) I would do great things here, be amongst amazing people, and completely fail to reach all but the most involved. Sure, our combined impact might create ripples that reach far and wide. But I’m wary of the assumption that things will “get there” without direct involvement.
So I’m going to continue what I do, for now, traveling and evangelizing and throwing my brain and my charm at a Past that is Broken, dragging the Future kicking and screaming into the fray. But later in life. When there are people who are crazier and more energentic and smarter than I am… then I will move to a tiny town (maybe the same one I grew up in – the same place my father was raised and he and my mother live now) and become a teacher. Corrupt the children. Teach them that It Gets Better, because they will make it Better.
Now, let’s extrapolate this idea a bit more. What about organizations? What about groups of people that are from The Past, who are Fat Cats, who are disconnected from reality and humanity? Are they worth talking to, or do we distain them, leave them to wither and die in the dregs of their own morals? Do we talk to them, influence them, bring the Future with open hands and hearts to them? We forget, in our Bubbles of Awesome, that many folk listen to what is said by these (non-awesome-kind-of) Dinosaur Leaders. If we can influence them, we do create ripple effects. Gaining status and the trust associated with it, and Having Things to Say means you are listened to, not just by your own choir. And isn’t that the point?
Think about this in regards to SOPA, and Dan talking to Congress. Think about this in terms of Telecomix talking to Guttenberg. Think about this in regards to DARPA wanting to fund hackerspace projects. These lines are blurry, but it is irresponsible of us to simply take the people who already “get it” and leave the rest in the cold. That is intellectual class war. It is also a more standard class war, as it assumes access to computers, an environment which encourages breaking and learning, and the free time to participate in this culture. No one knows you’re a dog on the internet, but you have to 1) have a computer 2) know how to type 3) know how to get on a social platform 4) know how to not be a dog.
I end this entry sitting with my laptop, listening to music from a member of my Post Geographic Tribe. Stickers are strewn across the floor, shadows are cast on the walls, and tomorrow is full of adventure. Selfishly, I know I’ll enjoy this fight, whether or not we win. But I hope we do. Are you fighting?