Technology Will Change Politics From Top Down To Bottom Up
from the but-it-won't-be-pleasant-in-the-meantime dept
Sometimes people wonder why so many people in the tech industry tend to fall into more of a “libertarian” viewpoint on things. Perhaps it’s because they realize the empowering nature of technology to do away with the need for many more centralized top down structures. The reason that we often have big top down structures is because there was no efficient way to spread the control outwards, so you consolidate power at the top allowing someone else to make decisions for a large group of people as their “representative.” However, technology erodes some of that, by creating more efficient means of communication, breaking down the need for such top down control. We see it many different aspects. Companies today are more fluid, with a much more bottom up approach. Products and services that involve a bottom up approach are becoming more popular (and more useful) every day. So it’s only a matter of time until the same thing happens to the government.
It’s almost surprising to find out that there’s a high ranking politician who recognizes this. Apparently the UK’s Tory leader David Cameron made exactly that point, noting that politicians need to let go, and let the technology distribute tasks out to citizens, rather than trying to control everything centrally. Of course, it’s one thing to say it and another thing altogether to do it. Those who came up through the “old” way, which grants more power and control at the top freak out at the idea of giving up that control. You see it today with the way Microsoft reacts to open source, the way the RIAA reacts to Napster, to the way newspapers react to citizen journalism. They close up, circle the wagons and talk about how important that control is — though, not in those terms exactly. Instead, they trash the quality of the more chaotic bottom up system, missing the point that it’s not about the average quality, but the the abundance of options that make quality more personalized. The same thing will happen in politics as well. Many people get into politics (or get hooked on politics) because of the power that comes with it. Getting them to give up that power won’t be easy by any means. But it will happen. It’ll just mean a period of rather painful adjustment.