understanding the shift

“If you want a natively digital nation, or a state, or a city, or whatever, my message today is you actually need to be bold enough to create some new institutions; institutions that are of the internet, not on the internet.” —Making Government as a Platform Real

None of our institutions, and not even our markets were designed for the network age. This is the major tension of our times. We are between a societal form where markets, and to a lesser degree institutions, are the dominant way of organizing and now we are evolving into a network-centric society. What type of network society will be up to us — centralized or distributed?

As we make this transition, the confusion of post-modernism [background on societal forms] clouds our vision of a positive future. It seems the traditional Left is focused on the Modern era, while the traditional Right yearns for a time even further back to the Pre-modern era. Few have a coherent vision for an emerging meta-modernity based on the network form. Understanding networks is the first step for governments to become ‘digital nations’. I would say it’s not a digital, but a networked society that should be government’s focus.

Finding ways to transform government was the focus of RESET18 here in Helsinki yesterday. The theme was continuous learning, leadership, new economy, rotating economics, and experimental culture. Attendees came from all sectors with significant attendance from the government, who sponsored the event. Today I discussed a number of ways that public servants could be more networked in their learning and their work. These interviews were recorded and a short series of five topics will be available for the Finnish public sector. I discussed similar themes in an interview with Anna Neves last month.

In 2004, just as I was starting this blog, we already saw the work ahead of us.

“I am beginning to think that this may be the great work – to build the alternatives rather than to try and reform the existing system.” —Rob Paterson

In 2007 I wrote that the great work of our time is to design, build, and test new organizational models that reflect our democratic values and can function in an inter-connected world. Failure by our generation to do so will leave the next one to deal with the reactionary forces of corporatism — something our children are already facing.

It is now 2018. It’s about time we started building alternative ways of governing, working, learning, and living together.

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