There’s a new puppy headed to the White House. Unites States President-Elect, Barack Obama has promised his children this.
Al Gore, made reference to Barack’s promise in his closing keynote at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco yesterday. He reflected upon his earlier days as a reporter and how he had been in the process of choosing a puppy for his kids.
He brought in someone to help him and his wife choose the type of puppy and the first question he was asked was, “What’s the purpose of the puppy?”
“You see”, said former US Vice President, Al Gore, “a puppy’s got to have a purpose.”
And so it is with our current puppy – the Internet. I was both fortunate enough to be around when this puppy was born, and to have been at the Palace Hotel yesterday and a part of the crowd that gave Al two standing ovations as he made it crystal clear to all of us: the Internet puppy now needs to be given a purpose.
Gone are the endless summer days when you could tweet about your innermost whimsies. Gone are the halycon days when you could simply garner a user base for the sake of doing so.
This puppy needs to be harnessed and made the most of.
As Barack proved with his campaign – a clear purpose, a driven determination and the power of the network can achieve what may appear unachievable at the outset.
Al has predictably urged us all to use the web for the higher purpose of setting the balance right with mother nature. I agree, but I also think this is not enough.
I believe if we keep the status quo, our silo’d nation states based on geographical boundaries and our us/them ideologies and try to solve our environmental problems then we will fail.
We need to change how we view our relationships with one another and with the planet as a whole. We need a true World 2.0.
Al used another analogy in his talk. He spoke about the retrofitting of factories during the industrial age with dynamos. Because these factories had been set up to work optimally based on an outmoded technology these upgrades had minimal impact. It was only when the factories were replaced with more modern ones specifically fashioned to work with dynamos that there was an order of magnitude improvement.
Similarly, while there have been some benefits since the launch of the Internet we have not seen an order of magnitude improvement to date. Instead we have numerous countries censoring web traffic, while others create monopolies for their own benefit to the detriment of the rest of the world.
What we need is to move beyond our current retrofit and architect a whole new way of operating as one world. If we truly want to move beyond, what Elon Musk called yesterday at the Summit, the “market armageddon”, if we truly want to tackle our pressing environmental issues then we need World 2.0.
How can we rely on nationalistic governments to get us out of the mess we are in? Many would argue they got us there in the first place. But this is not a blame game. We don’t have time for that.
We need to recognize that the current systems are an anachronism and that we need a step change now or we will truly be plunged into a time of true darkness.
In a talk he is giving tomorrow, Rupert Murdoch will point out that “we are in an era of unprecedented creative destruction”. He will call on all of us to embrace new technologies. His take is that “technology is ushering in a new golden age for humankind”.
I agree with him. We are at a critical point in our history as a planet. A point when we have but one true path ahead of us, a path that will require us to coalesce into one world and collectively tackle the hugely destructive forces that are all around us.
It is time for World 2.0 – how will you play a part? Will you sit back on your couch and wait to read about it in the New York Times? Or will you seize the moment and drive this forward?
Look at the change that “recovering politician” Al Gore has been able to achieve in a limited time and on a limited budget.
Isn’t it time we took this one giant step further! Let’s give this puppy a real purpose.