Long ago, when we started using technology, we lacked the collective cognizance to define the limits we wanted to exercise control within, so we tried controlling everything. The notion of technological advancement was about the degree of control exercised over nature. However, the modern trend indicates an inversion of that philosophy. According to sci-fi author Karl Schroeder, the world is now reaching a point where we are learning when to let go, and that, he says, is working well.
There is evidence now that it is sometimes possible to get things done more efficiently by relinquishing the traditional methods of control. Open source, democracy, government 2.0, and the invisible hand of the free market, to name a few, are mechanisms that demonstrate of the success of this inversion. He refers to the handing over of control to the self-willed as "rewilding." The original definition of the word "wild" was "self-willed." To "rewild," therefore, is to subscribe to the surrender of control, albeit a conditional renunciation.
Open source is an example of organizational rewilding that eliminates top-down, hierarchical, carrot and stick control and replaces it with a different system of incentives. Wikinomics, slashdot, wikipedia, where knowledge organizes itself from the ground-up, crowdsourcing, open government, government 2.0 -- all involve the idea of relinquishing traditional control in favor of knowing when to control and when to leave alone. The value of open source is an example of the value of self-willed.
Karl foresees a time when we understand ourselves and our world well enough that we'll know when to trust, and learn when to control. Open source is a part of that process.
Karl Schroeder is the author of ten science fiction novels and numerous short stories, as well as The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Science Fiction, which he wrote with Cory Doctorow. He divides his time between writing fiction and consulting in the area of Strategic Foresight (technology foresight, chiefly in scenario design).
Mr. Schroeder lives in Toronto with his wife and daughter.
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