reflecting on freedom and democracy

Today marks my 13th anniversary of freelancing. It was a situation I was forced into, getting pushed out of the company where I worked, but I do not regret. The only downside to freelancing, in my experience, is the uncertain financial situation. Perhaps that’s a small price to pay for freedom.

I have been traveling these past few weeks and not blogging much. This will continue through June with more travel planned. A few ideas have been percolating in my ‘to be blogged’ notes and I plan to expand upon them over the Summer.

The essence that humans are not computers, and should never be compared to them is something I want to discuss more. Big data is nothing without human insight and empathy to interpret it. Robert Epstein, senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology in California, says that, “Humans, on the other hand, do not – never did, never will” be guided by algorithms. Networked computers can be used to enable human creativity, or control it. This is why we need an aggressively engaged citizenry.

The traditional guardians of our democracy, such as the Fourth Estate and our legislators, are in the thrall of the new platform monopolists. Interconnected and engaged citizens are our hope for a better future. We need to learn how to navigate the emerging network era. People have to take control of their learning: being connected, mobile, and global while conversely contractual, part-time, and local.

After 13 years, I continue to be directed by a vision of democratic workplaces for everyone. There is still a long way to go but the conversation is being advanced on many fronts. This is what happens when you connect 3 billion people to each other. I intend to continue to be engaged, for at least another 13 years 🙂

Related Reading:

Hierarchies in perpetual beta

Turmoil and Transition

11 Responses to “reflecting on freedom and democracy”

  1. Bill Ryan

    Congratulations on 13 years and may your next 13 be filled with more fun, more learning, and more joy. I find strength in your path as I am now following it, thanks for trailblazing! – bill

  2. Esther

    I think this is so deep. We have allowed ourselves (humans) to be driven by algorithms that we (humans) have come up with. It is scary. but like you, I tend to stay connected too. I like the freelancing attitude you got going.

  3. Gabu

    ‘Big data is nothing without human insight and empathy to interpret it’ this kinda summarise it all… i cant agree more with you.

  4. David Bennett

    Congrats on the anniversary! Which reminds me that I was pushed into freelancing 13 years ago as well…

    In order to consider democratic workplaces, I think we need to consider what democracy is, both in civil society and in the workplace.

    I read this piece ( about democracy and elections today. While it pertains to civil society, the application of the proposed solution to workplaces is interesting.

    If we follow the reasoning that randomly selected groups of co-workers (sortition) could contribute to executive/departmental/group (or something less hierarchical) decisions that benefit the whole then decisions must also benefit the parts. By benefiting the parts, you benefit the whole. Therefore by seeing to my own needs AND the needs of those around me we grow together.

    So what is democracy in the work place? Because it certainly isn’t elections. I’ll give it a stab: self determination in learning and development while creating value for the common good. Something for me, something for you and something for the planet. This is radically different from the shareholder centric view currenlty held by most large corporations.

    Since democracy leads thoughts to elections which aren’t really relevant maybe it’s a misleading epithet for the actual goal at hand?


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