Excerpt from No Straight Lines
Chapter Five: The big P and little p of transformation: once you have stormed the Bastille, you don’t go back to your day job
As the shape of our world evolves, we are also in political transformation, both in terms of the political relationship between the individual and commercial organisations and the large Politics of how we organise and run our societies. What should government look like in a non-linear world? Are we creating and running the right systems in the right way? How does data change/impact the process of democracy and civil organisation? Refined data is the black gold of the 21st Century.
Data, democracy and identity: Where to start on this particular part of the journey through our non-linear world? The first step must address the issue of data; who would have thought even in 2005, that consumer politics and societal politics would revolve around data, who has it, who owns it and how it is used, combined with the legal frameworks that protect us as citizens.
Data is integral to what comes next, thinking from a perspective of openness and aesthetics of design in that only ugly thoughts bring to bear ugly realities. It may not at first seem a clear connection between data, individual sovereignty and democracy. However once we understand that at high level the commercial world seeks to influence and in some cases coerce political institutions then we have to see them as linked. Or indeed that political ideology seeks to direct the course of political outcomes as is the case in Pennsylvania at the moment and elsewhere where Republicans seeks to make it much harder for various sections of the African-American community to vote in the hope they weaken Obama’s chances of re-election.
In Britain there are attempts by the Government of the day to legislate so that they can access and extract comprehensive, fine-grained covert surveillance of entire populations. All our digital activity: voice, text, Google searches, a level of surveillance that is unprecedented and perhaps pernicious.