ROBERT BRENNAN HART, FOUNDER AND CEO OF THE CANADIAN CLOUD COUNCIL
“You want it to be one way. And, it’s always the other.”
– The Wire
There is a reason that HBO’s The Wire is often considered the finest hour in the history of television.
Though the human race stares into an abyss of environmental disaster, digital and spiritual nothingness and an ever widening gap between the rich and the poor, cultural change is simply not practical. It requires too much commitment from too many people.
Free market economics and the relentless pursuit of increased shareholder value always win. And so, as we all waited for the city of Baltimore to collapse and reinvent itself in The Wire’s final episode, it doesn’t. Nothing ever really changes.
Or does it?
Through a weary fog of David Simon level cynicism, the fact remains that we are in the early stages of a new economic system that fundamentally thrives on the sharing and open distribution of physical, intellectual and artistic resources. The proliferation of closed and privately held intellectual property no longer provides the greatest value to any conceivable group of stakeholders.
Political and economic power is rapidly shifting from century old centralized entities to more agile, adaptable and distributed socio-economic frameworks.
The largest taxi company in the world, Uber, owns no taxis. The largest hotel company in the world, AirBnB owns no hotels. And, the largest content company in the world, Facebook, has never created a word of content.
BitGold, the fastest growing IPO in the history of the Toronto Venture Exchange, swallowed the second largest competitive incumbent within a week of launch date and have almost single-handily liquidated a commodity only available to the very-very rich until a couple of weeks ago.
“The largest taxi company in the world, Uber, owns no taxis. The largest hotel company in the world, AirBnB owns no hotels. And, the largest content company in the world, Facebook, has never created a word of content.”
The control of our economies and societies is quickly slipping away from the old oligarchies, and increasingly into the hands of insurgent technology entrepreneurs. Money is no longer the exclusive preserve of central banks, the stock markets no longer the private playgrounds of the already wealthy, the economy no longer managed by scary old men trying to renew their annual membership with the Bilderberg’s.
We are living in Year Zero. 0000 AI—After Internet. But, will the utopia of democratized technologies drive equality and opportunity, or will it merely be the case of a ruling class of nerds replacing a ruling class of oil barons?
Naomi Klein, very possibly the Greatest living Canadian once said, “you actually cannot sell the idea of freedom, democracy, diversity, as if it were a brand attribute and not reality—not at the same time as you’re bombing people, you can’t.”
The Internet has created, for the first time in history, something so massive and powerful, that it really could rewrite the ending of The Wire. Will it have a happy ending or not? Well, that will depend on where we stop the story.