When we join forces, we are stronger and more effective. Self organisation is how we exercise our independence and creates greater diversity of thought.
Teach each other, learn from each other
There’s a concept in software development called pair programming, whereby two programmers work together on one machine – one writes code while the other reviews and troubleshoots as they go, and the two switch roles frequently. This offers a different perspective and allows the programmers to learn from each other. And sometimes the fastest way to learn something is to teach someone else.
Understand Digital Democracy
We can take the lead of self organisation from open source software communities whereby a group of people all contribute code to a single project. We can take the lead from the web, which was initially envisioned as a democratic medium to share information. Invented in 1989 by Tim Berners Lee, the ethos of the web is in decentralisation, accessibility and bottom-up design (1).
Today when we talk about the web, it is less democratic than it was envisioned to be – today, companies like Google and Facebook control a lot of what we access on the web via their sheer market dominance and the power they have in controlling the content algorithms.
In a world where the world’s biggest tech companies have more power than government and the number of winners is getting smaller, we need grassroots communities to make sure that smaller voices don’t go unheard. The web is something we can all learn. It’s a bunch of software written by a bunch of people.
See the humanity in technology
We can look to the story of the Opportunity Rover, fondly known as Oppy – a robotic rover that was active on Mars from 2004 until 2018, originally on a 90 day mission but ended up working on Mars for 14 years. Early in 2019, NASA officials declared that Opportunity’s mission was complete, after Oppy had failed to respond to over 1,000 signals (2). This saw a huge outpouring of grief on social media. This robot was anthropomorphised, so the human response of sadness here is natural, but this robot was so much more than the sum of all its parts – it was all of the people ho wrote the code, engineered components, designed the systems and did what was needed to do to put a robot on Mars.
What better place to celebrate the convergence of humanity and technology than public libraries? Libraries can be community hubs for interest groups, clubs, workshops and meetups. Libraries can provide access to computers and WiFi so people can access education materials free online, and connect to resources that may improve their quality of life. Libraries have become vital for the marginalised, such as the homeless, to access essential government services such as Centrelink, and libraries have become default providers of basic digital literacy training – such as how to use email, and government accounts.
So self organise, and use this conference community as a starting point. You have a great opportunity to connect with people who share the same values as you, so connect with each other, connect with the speakers, the organisers, the industry partners, and those following along online.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”Margaret Mead
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