World 2.0: Al Gore’s Purpose-Driven Web And Rupert Murdoch’s Maelstrom

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.

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5 thoughts on “World 2.0: Al Gore’s Purpose-Driven Web And Rupert Murdoch’s Maelstrom

  1. I would say we are in era that requires a massive de-frag before we can come together as one and tackle the destructive forces.

    Taking a green leaf from what Al Gore has done and the way that he has gone about it would be starting point for all to consider.

    It really is case for urgency if we want to tackle the issue at hand will the new puppy step up an shine to be a world class hunting dog, or will its only trick be to get its master yesterdays news!

    A concerned puppy

  2. This struck a chord, Thank you. From my experiences with people in different parts of the world, there is the willingness and excitement to move forward on this, but what’s missing is a common unifying purpose and a sense that each one has a stake in that purpose. Barack’s run was the closest I came to seeing such a shared sense of identity and ownership of outcome. From New York to Bangalore to Laos, everyone will have an opinion and stake in that puppy. We need to extend that to the Amazon, education and economic & political freedom.

  3. Well, as much as I’m a dreamer and ideologist, there is a fundamental flaw with the theories of Mr.Gore and other wise men. That one flaw which will never ever allow a unity of the whole world is the following: humanity. By nature (the very same we’re trying to protect) our the biggest drives for advancement are

    1. Sex (I can speak at least on behalf of men here)
    2. Sense of achievement (which is largely driven by #1)

    We’ll never be able to throw away our wants just for the greater good. The communists tried it and failed (quite miserably). I think we should all take a lesson from that. The biggest breakthroughs, technological or sociological never came from goodwill, but good ole’ egoism. I think the sooner people accept this, the sooner we can actually come up with a strategy that will work on the long term.

    Don’t misunderstand me, I would be the happiest person if humanity could unite under a single cause of making this earth a better place for us and our children. However, that flegmatic discordian in me says that until we remove humans from the equation, that’s not going to happen.

    Then comes the pragmatic part of me which shivers whenever somebody wants to centralize something and impose a global governance. One government for the whole world will never work. Take the EU for example, I think we all know that the EU is not only not doing a good job, they are not doing their job at all. It is an army of bureaucrats sitting in Brussels raking in quite nice salaries. Every now and then they come up with a new row of nonsense regulations. The citizens of member states don’t want them, they are just tired and have no energy to remove them. The EU was based on a wonderful and simple principle of the free movement of capital, goods and people. Everything else is arbitrary. However, this just shows how an extremely simple and effective idea is corrupted into a behemoth that is by its design incapable of making effective decisions for everyone.

    Just by taking the internet as a principle, we should be decentralizing and not vice versa! The internet strives because there is no single purpose of its existence. The internet has no purpose at all on its own. It strives on the fact that entropy is flexible enough that everyone can bring their own sense of order into it. Every creative idea has a chance and information flows largely unrestricted. If we were to remove localized or ‘nationalist’ governments in favor of a central ideal/leadership, the whole structure would become extremely rigid and prone to abuse. Let us not forget that any idea that claims it is the only good idea, is by definition a bad idea! Fixing environmental concerns seems to be the best thing to do today, but who knows what will happen tomorrow. In a world that is ever more unpredictable and fast paced, a slow central governance is the very worst that can happen to us. By all means we should do what makes sense to slow the global warming (we won’t be able to stop it), but lets not force it upon everyone and lets not restrict the whole world to a single dimension of ideas. Let’s help nature the way nature would do it, by the natural evolution/selection of ideas created independently of each other on fundamentally ‘egoistic’ principles. If we let everyone work independently, cooperation will happen naturally and in the end the best/most effective idea will emerge as the victorious.

  4. Tom, you make some interesting points. I am less in favor of centralization, and more in favor of breaking us out of the current geographically-based constraints we have in place – like nation states, like the EU, like passports and barriers based in where you are – these are anachronistic in our world-accessible and pervasively digital age.

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