The following thoughts were inspired by one of Zeynep Tufekci’s recent posts entitled “Faster is Different” on her Technosociology blog. Zeynep argues “against the misconception that acceleration in the information cycle means would simply mean same things will happen as would have before, but merely at a more rapid pace. So, you can’t just say, hey, people communicated before, it was just slower. That is wrong. Faster is different.”
I think she’s spot on and the reason why goes to the heart of complex systems behavior and network science. “Combined with the reshaping of networks of connectivity from one/few-to-one/few (interpersonal) and one-to-many (broadcast) into many-to-many, we encounter qualitatively different dynamics,” writes Zeynep. In a very neat move, she draws upon “epidemiology and quarantine models to explain why resource-constrained actors, states, can deal with slower diffusion of protests using ‘whack-a-protest’ method whereas they can be overwhelmed by simultaneous and multi-channel uprisings which spread rapidly and ‘virally.’
Phi Beta Iota: Concentrations of power create preconditions for revolution. Precipitants (such as burning monks or fruit vendors) ignite masses. The public is a power no government can repress forever. Howard Zinn (RIP) knew the public is a power government cannot repress; Vaclav Havel spoke to this (power of the powerless); Jonathan Schell documented it most ably (unconquerable world). Bottom line: With a tiny handful of exceptions, all governments have lost legitimacy and capability at the same time that the public is increasingly aware of the shocking injustices by banks and predatory corporations that have been legalized by governments. Patrick Meier’s discussion is a significant contribution to our understanding of why a global revolution is inevitable and panarchy will replace “sovereignty” as the primary operating principle for Earth.