...as i see it today (27th june 2007)... before a colloquium on metadesign... the idea of creative democracy is confused, or too difficult to grasp... it's beyond me...
...reading the fragments below (from various pages i wrote in the internet and everyone, 1995 to 2000) i find its central part to be absent, or as yet unborn, but strongly gestating in our thoughts... and in the public mind... in our dissatisfactions with design and with life as it is... in the evident threat to the earth by the technologies we inherit... which keep us alive in such numbers... for
'we have chosen the meaning of being numerous'(George Oppen, in his poem of 1967)...
...and this is one result, a wish to abandon what is imposed... by ourselves as specialists, as experts, and as consumers... and to act with the adaptiveness of nature... and not as people paid to think narrowly...
...ah!... but where is the birds eye view, that can raise us above our confusions and enable us to see what can be seen (of the unknowable totality)... and what can we do about it?
but then i remembered a dream:
the wheelchair of my aunt
to design researchers and everyone:Reading your request for the names of wheelchair designers (so that you can study how they take account of users) I dreamt of asking my Aunt Elizabeth* (who uses a wheelchair) if she would like to design a better one than she has? *(she is 93 and highly intelligent, she ran a large business for many years)
Her first reaction is the same as everyone's: she assumes that she can't, she has no idea how to go about it, etc. Design is the business of professionals, she says.
But then I point out to her that this is a dream in which she can do whatever she likes. She can design everything because there are the wonderful design researchers who have made a website which she can contact from her chair and which will do all the technical bits while she becomes the actual designer and says exactly what kind of wheelchair she would like.
At this point the dream changes to virtual reality and yes Aunt Elizabeth is able to try out her first ideas (which she quickly sees are not as good as she expected) and then her second, third, and fourth versions until finally she gets the hang of it and finds that she has made a far better wheelchair, and even a special car to go with it, than any designer (except for the wonderful design researchers ) had ever thought possible. She has plenty of money so she is able to pay for a super prototype.
and now, with this dream in mind, to complete this description of creative democracy:
Imagine, if you can, the extension of creative democracy from my aunt and her wheelchair, to every kind of prosthesis, not only wheelchairs and hearing aids and spectacles and artificial legs and hearts to every other addition to nature... cars and roads and telephones and broadcasting, and everything else including the government, the banks, the schools, the health service... and yes the internet...
and as soon as i think of that i remember the spontenaiety in the use of mobile phones, the unexpected appearance of texting, of open source software, and of google, the wikipedia, and yes many other such decentralised developments... all that becoming possible when the power of computing is married to the connectivity of the telephone system (what i call computernet).. ...and what is the essential part, the critical element of all this?...
to me it is the possibility (evident in the dream of my aunt becoming able to design her own wheelchair) of every professional skill being distributed in several ways:
1. the conscious part (describable in textbooks or computer programs available to all of us!)
2. the bodily skill, which everyone can learn (given a suitably designed context)...
3. the third element (not yet present) of professionals ceasing to operate and determine the form and material of every aspect of life... ceasing to do paid work... and instead becoming full-time active citizens (we need a new name for this) sharing, via computernet, the shaping and operating of all aspects of life now controlled by government and management and specialisation and hierarchy... (this could become 'designing without a product', for the sake of living the process, as it can be in any unpaid activity)...
4. the fourth element (which i think requires meta skills we are discussing at this meeting): the perhaps indescibable actions of re-creating specialised work as decentralised collective sharing of the design function (and all other professional roles) by everyone... and much more than that...
(these things can as yet be spoken of only in discreet whispers... for they are the stuff of political revolutions and can be deeply disturbing to any of us... )
...to map out in some detail the idea of 'creative democracy' - the despecialisation of industrial living to the point where professional jobs are deconstructed into new families of intelligent software enabling anyone and everyone to take over the continuous re-forming of the culture in every act and every thought.
The central point of this view of things is that specialisation is no longer the right form for living in industrial culture ... As I see it the presence of accessible computing power embedded in everything will turn the technical knowhow of experts into accessible software and their manual skills and intuitions into the normal abilities of everyone else. Thus users could become designers and designers could become facilitators (the designers of contexts and software in which each of these changes can happen).
...what does this mean or imply for the internet ... as an instrument or a means to democracy, de-specialised, made into a sharing of invention, of government, of management, of profession, of skill, and of power, and of money even, and yes of power power power... ?
How long will it be before every kind of professional information is available on screens and keyboards open to everyone, and what will be the result?
My two-word answer is creative democracy, a vision of the future in which the controlling roles and functions of modern life could be shared with everyone ... a virtual planet earth ... an expanded version of the internet through which 'universal despecialisation' and 'creative democracy' and other such unexpected conditions are already implicit if not active.
If this new planet is to succeed there will I guess have to be a changed consciousness, in which neither god nor man nor devil is the object of belief. Instead there is a new belief or myth in which goodevil, or undivided self-creating nature, is taken as moral reality, the sacred presence of everything, just as it is. ...(see political, cultural and theological annotations on page 407)
The writer wonders where this is leading. The characters are already drifting away from what he was hoping they would say about despecialisation and direct democracy. I suppose this is the nature of creative democracy he thinks. The writer becomes a reader, or the organiser of contexts, but his own thoughts are no longer the controllers of what happens.
Numeroso: I've been waiting to eat my bacon and egg before speaking...
the rebirth of Doctor E
Dr E forgets the surname she bears in London and becomes Doctor Everyone, the medical intelligence of anyone who is educated to creative democracy and citizenship...
...Yes, she becomes the software itself, the new ethical professionalism, that comes alive in each person who learns what it is to take responsibility for maintaining good health, both public and individual, and deciding and administering all forms of medicine - in collaboration with intelligent robots or agents, avatars of oneself, (masquerading as doctors and nurses) ... and of course via the direct democracy of the council of everyone.
(see pages 498 to 501 for practical details of what can be done now - before the arrival of unborn generations who may be able realise creative democracy more extensively.)
(referring to everyone's membership of the legislature as well as to creative democracy:)
We believe that if you once take this step you will find that everything else you need to do becomes 'not easy but obvious' as we used to say on j-921. The pattern of everything will change and the impossible and the inconceivable will become the order of the day, as they used to call it before decentralised order was recognised as good. This new principle will soon become as automatic as is a market-place, which of course makes some of us wonder. But whatever you may think, the new culture is here, respecting and depending on everyone, and this principle of putting all people at the centre is applicable to anything, even to a transnational corporation with its strategic alliances. But I leave that to you.
And what about the universal veto, you may ask?(inserted pause)
Everyone becomes a politician and creative democracy begins.
Yes, the unspecialised morality of the Gita, with the Upanishads behind it, is now reappearing through the software itself.
(annotation: ...the historic turning point that replaces the systemics of nationality and statehood with the new manifestation of all this ... The robotic manifestation of creative democracy for everyone ... Yes, the jump's unimaginable to yesterday's mind... )
For the moment, says Krishna, as he expands into this electronic presence, I'll stay with you while you find the new way. Without some new values you will not be able to suspend the mechanised communal greediness that, in the era that is over, was the only effective way to make things work collectively ... for these are the conditions of mortals.
And the people outside shake their heads.
(extracts from this have yet to be written here)
and now someone is smiling...
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