In her first book, futurist Gorbis offers a compelling yet somewhat unconvincing manifesto on how new technologies are facilitating a nascent revolution in which hierarchical institutions will be replaced by self-directing, online, social networking communities.
In the past, the economy, education and other societal institutions were directed and controlled by large, undemocratic institutions. Today, writes the author, older forms of organization are beginning to be replaced by “steadily building village-like networks on a global scale,” which are “empowered by communication and communication technologies.” She calls this process “socialstructing.” This new world is filled with “amplified individuals” who contribute their expertise to the collective intelligence of the social network, producing knowledge and value in a democratic process, without the dehumanizing effects of bureaucracy and a market economy based on the commodification of everything. Gorbis offers a series of possible scenarios in which, for instance, money and material reward are replaced by the nonmonetary rewards of sharing and contribution, where alternative currencies facilitate rather than negate social connections. She envisions similar socialstructing revolutions in education, governance, science and health care. While offering much food for thought on where we are heading, too often Gorbis’ work fails to adequately grapple with complex current social problems. For instance, while she acknowledges that there is a current crisis in funding public education, rather than address this crisis, she too readily assumes that socialstructing—learning via social networks—will simply replace public education. Still, the possibilities she suggests are intriguing and useful precisely because they are provocative.
Flawed but challenging, and well worth reading and considering.