October 28, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Auto-Biography, Society, Web

In 1999 when I was winding up two years of research on human evolution, beginning to put in the hours to launch a new profession (web design), I was frequently frustrated by the number of papers unavailable on the web.

I could do abstract overviews and note the papers that I sought and go to the library and retrieve them.  I’d visit the University of Illinois Medical Library or a Northwestern University library (there are five) and spend a day pulling journals off the shelves and copying them.  I’d walk out with over 80 papers some evenings after spending hours pushing down on journal bindings against copier glass.  I have tens of thousands of these 8.5 X 11 sheets of papers that I paid top dollar for.

Things have improved in eight years.  Still, walls are up.  A professor friend lent me her password so I could jump in and out of her university access, and then I could engage in relatively unimpeded research.  Not the case.  Though things have improved, much of the research I crave is unavailable unless I make that journey to the library.

Conducting research across disciplines I still run into the barriers that exist among disciplines.  Evolutionary biology, anthropology and neuropsychology could be different worlds.

Visitors reading this entry, share with me your experiences if you’re observing these academic barriers coming down.

The acceleration evident in current society is not obvious in academia.  Not with the professors.  Societal acceleration is evident in the behavior of the students.  Almost anything to do with music is knocking down doors and speeding things up.  The web, while destroying the music production and delivery business, is building up a whole new way of creating, delivering and experiencing not just music, but experience itself.  Music is on the front lines of the acceleration of social change as hundreds of millions of young users ignore established/conventional forms of delivery, choosing instead to share.

Sharing is destroying our society.

No single act is as destructive of a society based upon hierarchy, stratification and control by elites than the act of not paying money for a product or service.  Sharing is the engine behind this societal transformation.  In other words, cooperation is back.  Yet, it’s different.  With the web mediating communications, sharing or cooperation is transparent.

Share goods and services.  Buying is the old paradigm.

Walk, bike or take public transportation.  Autos are the old paradigm.

Grow your own food and share or buy locally.  Buying processed food is the old paradigm.

Open-source programming nurtures human productivity and creativity.  Copyrights are the old paradigm.

The acceleration is happening all around us.  Government and business characterized by no transparency and no accountability, with mostly white men in control, are coming down.  They are being replaced at increasing rates of speed by a transparent, diverse and horizontal paradigm as hundreds of millions of users cooperate with one another to achieve common goals.

Consider the repercussions when the universities stop segregating knowledge.

Sharing is not just for children anymore.


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