May 25, 2009

if you're reading this, you're a socialist

At least, as Kevin Kelly defines the term.
Instead of gathering on collective farms, we gather in collective worlds. Instead of state factories, we have desktop factories connected to virtual co-ops. Instead of sharing drill bits, picks, and shovels, we share apps, scripts, and APIs. Instead of faceless politburos, we have faceless meritocracies, where the only thing that matters is getting things done. Instead of national production, we have peer production. Instead of government rations and subsidies, we have a bounty of free goods.

I recognize that the word socialism is bound to make many readers twitch. It carries tremendous cultural baggage, as do the related terms communal, communitarian, and collective. I use socialism because technically it is the best word to indicate a range of technologies that rely for their power on social interactions. Broadly, collective action is what Web sites and Net-connected apps generate when they harness input from the global audience. Of course, there's rhetorical danger in lumping so many types of organization under such an inflammatory heading. But there are no unsoiled terms available, so we might as well redeem this one.
The movement is organic rather than organized, and cooperative rather than collectivist. You're already a part of it.

But it needs a better name. "Socialism" is too fraught with connotation. "Collaborism" is a little unwieldy. "Synergism" is too corporate--and "corporate" is already taken.

There has to be a better, fresher noun.

Update: Jesse Walker for the counterpoint.

Update II: Jason Kuznicki on the closest approximation to utopia.

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