Today I was reading an amazing article entitled Iceland Moves Towards Direct Democracy. It’s a great read that explains how Iceland used democracy to help engage people during the financial crisis, and ultimately put the power back in the hands of the people. One of the key features discussed is the importance of the internet in helping to facilitate the democratic process. The internet is perhaps the greatest and most poorly utilized tool in history. We have access to this vast communication network for experiencing stories, learning new things about the world, and the future. Instead we use it for pictures of cats (which I will admit are hilarious on occasion)
But, that does not mean that the internet is not the coolest tool ever! Seriously, just fathom the network of information you now have access to! We can learn new things, read old books for free, and constantly expand our minds. It is not wonder that Timothy Leary thought the internet would be the psychedelic of the future. In a sense, the internet is mind manifest. It is the digital creation of our imagined world, a way of meeting a diverse group of people that you might not meet in every day life. I meet very few people who share my interests in my everyday life, but on the internet, we are a community of Jason Silva loving pop-philosophers, staring into our everyday social lives, and proliferating our sociological knowledge to whoever will listen. Niche beliefs and boundless optimism find a home, and we can help create the world we want to see.
I normally hate lists, but here is a list of awesome things you can do because of the internet.
1. Create your own blog (like this one)!People can talk about their lives, and we can read about them across the world! I am always happy when I see people not from North America reading my blog! Blogs/vlogs and any other online means of documenting our lives demystify the lives of other people. We can “Find the Others“!
2. Access Online Academic Works for Free! This is not just for students like myself. Most high schools and larger library systems have access EBSCO Host, where you can sign in an access a lot of academic work for free! Not to mention, that you can access online course through groups like EdX, or Code Academy. We now have the ability to access lots of information for free. Open Culture is also a good open source site with lots of freebies. I also recommend Ideapod, if you want to learn what others think about the world.
3. Learn about Cultures All Over the World! As a student of anthropology, I always love being able to learn about people from vast places and cultures. Documentaries are great when borrowing from the library, but can be hard to get a hold of. With websites like youtube, and Twitter, and so many news sites (see below) we now have the ability to learn about so many different ways of life. Learning about other people is the first step in becoming more self aware of how weird our society is, and combating ethnocentrism.
4. We know more about what is going on in the world now! Activism on social media, as well as a variety of news sources now allow us to be better informed on what is going on in the world. Consider the wealth of information that just cannot be hidden anymore, with whistleblowers like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden releasing information across the web. There is a reason that China blocks google and facebook. If they do not block them, social change could occur.
5. We can collaborate! Academics no longer work alone. They collaborate online. We can find people interested in our projects online, who are willing to help us achieve our goals in life.
6. Start-Up’s can challenge the status quo! Kickstarter, Indiegogo, you name it. We can now create the projects we want to see without big business coming in and ruining our projects. We can find inspiration from those innovators and creators who have great projects but lack the capital to do so. It also gives artists more control of the things they want to create, and it also allows us to skip the big owners of industry, and donate directly to those constructing real life versions of our dreams.
Really the internet is awesome for 101 reasons. Can you think of any?