Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Bram Cohen and International Law

It occurs to me, having read this piece on the Wired website, that an interesting situation is developing. Where previously content has been controlled by a few companies within the legal system, a trans-global network is contravening this dominant system. It is precisely because this network is trans-global that it is impossible to control - as soon as law is altered in one country an outbreak of illegal activity moves to another country. The only way this can realistically be stopped is with a trans-global set of rules - a lack of which is precisely the situation that companies have been exploiting to their benefit and everyone else's detriment for so long now (division of labour and the competition excuse for a lack of environmental controls). Will this encourage companies to start seeing the benefits of trans-global legal stipulations - particularly seeing as having at least one large media conglomerate in your organisation is a corporate requirement, for the correspending media control? Herein lies a conundrum that may lead to interesting effects - If organisations allow that there should be meaningful international law, perhaps it will not be so difficult to make them pay attention to other areas that require it! Perhaps this will eventually lead to Simultaneous Policy. One can always hope.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The right hand vs.the left hand. TONIGHT, LIVE. SOLD OUT.

I wanted to move on to the endless fight that seems to characterise and cannibalise the modern world - that of right vs. left. These shallow interpretations of political movements which almost no-one outside the political establishment recognises, let alone understands.
The right seems to consist of the ideas that the the market always knows best - regardless of who benefits most from it, and the patriotic nation-state should be all powerful - regardless of who controls it. Two ideas which seem, at least superficially, incompatible as far as I can see. Also central is the idea that an individual has the right to do whatever he wants regardless of how it affects other people.
The left, on the other hand, idolises government as the fount of all wisdom and sees 'the people' as sovereign. Two more ideas which would appear to have quite serious confrontations. Finally, it holds the opinion that there are limits on a persons right to action brought about by his/her responsibility to others.
Except it's all bull***t. The only common denominator between these visions is the presence of people - that is all there really is and if you think the other things are real you're chasing an illusion. People form all kinds of relationships - of course they do, I wouldn't even begin to deny that. But all these are, are relationships. They do not really exist except in peoples heads. There are certain modes of behaviour that are implicit in the functioning of these, such as the bargaining impulse in a market relationship and the authoritarian behaviour constituting government. However, those who start to beleive that these institutions are real (which is surprisingly easy - every culture demands adherence to it's beleifs) are in severe danger of shutting themselves off from other types of relationships which are just as important and rewarding.
This is the problem when it comes to getting people to take another view of a situation. The company director who is indoctrinated into a certain way of thinking about the world, finds it very hard to suddenly consider the needs of the environment or of employees. He (or occasionally she) is used to finding ways of bending rules to their advantage; the idea that they should suddenly adhere to some or even - God forbid - make some is completely contrary to their learned behaviour and so feels intrinsically wrong, even like they are betraying themselves.
This concept of different inherently lived behaviour needs to be the starting point for the evaluation of how to rebuild our culture. It's all like a tug of war that no-one can ever win, and if anyone ever does then they've screwed themself as well as everyone else. Without teaching people that their ways of acting in relation to the world are not who they are, and that other ways of acting can be just as valid, we are never going to escape this eternal phoney war.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Power moves

Just looked at all the other Aberdeen bloggers - dissapointed to find I don't know any of them! Can almost hear the echo as I write - does anybody ever look at these things? Guess I'll find out soon.
As I already mentioned I'm fascinated by energy creation at the moment - particularly our current reliance on fossil fuels. Every time I even switch on a light I see burning oil used to keep it going. Not that anybody else seems bothered (sorry I'm a bit grumpy today). It's just that we have to do something about it. It's not really hugely surprising that taking matter from deep beneath the earth and using energy captured in it's creation is going to seriously alter the way the planet works - it's like burning the bodies of every thing that ever lived all at once (alright I'm exaggerating). However this bounty of cheap energy is about to come to an end, as oil peaks and the environment starts to show ill-effects. So what are we going to do? Well the big companies (particularly in America) are hoping against hope that all the experts are wrong about everything and it's all just going to carry on the way it has for the last century. And who knows? It might. Remember the Millennium Bug? I think it has a lot to answer for - if all the experts were wrong then, perhaps they're wrong again.
But unfortunately the data seems pretty conclusive - graphs showing the heating of the planet - ice-shelves breaking off - oil prices reaching a new level. I think it's gonna be a rough ride and the sooner we begin to get to grips with it, the better.
I have an idea, actually. An idea that gives me a little shiver every time I think about it - a little plan to help remedy the situation but I don't know what to do with it. It seems plausible to me but how do I find out. Do I start a company? How? Where do I get money from? Do I have to be an expert or can I get R&D done with just a good idea? If anybody can help please give me a shout. Maybe next time I'll even tell you what it is!

My blurry face Posted by Hello


I'm not sure how all this will turn out, but that's not going to stop me! I've got quite a few areas of interest - currently energy production in particular but also global democracy and human rights. I want to see a transition to a long term centred world - people have accused me of wanting to save the world, but really I just don't want to destroy it - and it seems to me that much of humanity's current activity is orientated to do just that! For this reason William McDonough is my hero (along with Ghandi), which may be an unfashionable thing to have - I don't care. His (and Michael Braungart's) vision of a world where all life matters seems to me an inspiring and extraordinary one and also possible, if not currently seeming likely. Most of the people who make important decisions in the world may seem geared to destroying it in as complete and utter a way as possible but I like to think that somehow we will eventually choose another way.