We can learn from etymology. A few years ago, during a
conversation with some Spanish friends, I noticed that development
in their language is desarrollo and desarrollar
means to unroll. The thread of thought led me to
understand that the meaning is not very different in English
(or in other languages, such as French and Italian). To
de-velop is to open something that was rolled up or
enveloped. To break ties, to overcome
limitations, to untangle. In one short word, to free.
Its appropriate, I think, to consider that now. In
general for the state of our culture and civilization. And
especially in the case of the internet. More than ever,
information and communication want to be free.
The net needs to be allowed indeed encouraged to
develop, to unfold. To grow according to its
nature, nourished by the desires and the feelings of the people
who use it, in its infinite, spontaneous diversity and humanity.
There is no end to the attempts to envelop
it, to channel it into pre-determined formulas and
directions, to centralize, to condition, to constrict. Many
of the solutions that are offered as developments
are the opposite. They are traps, limitations, cages.
There is no development without freedom. There is no
marketing without an open, competitive market. If the
internet isnt human culture, open debate, free exchange of
opinions and information, there is no ground for free
enterprise or useful business. This is the reason why many
e-business attempts were unsuccessful and more will fail if
they continue to believe that money can be made by dealing in
appearances, making false promises or offering things that
nobody really needs. Customers can be gained only when people
have a good reason to buy and then are satisfied with what
they get. This elementary notion seems forgotten by many
so-called marketers (on line or off). That doesnt just lead
them to failure. It spreads distrust and misunderstanding
and so it ruins the marketplace for everyone.
Its unfortunately true that in the world of new
technologies some suppliers and dealers have been able to
sell all sorts of useless devices, of unnecessary
complications, of artificial innovations. And
they are continuing to do so. To such an extreme that many
pseudo-innovations and fake improvements are
standing in the way of an efficient, smooth, natural use of
the internet. Its important to understand that such
distortions may make a few rich, for a while and maybe
one or two very rich for an extended period but
they are harmful for everyone else. This is the opposite of anything
that can be called evolution or development.
Restriction, concentration, centralization are the death
of the internet. That doesnt mean that the net can be
killed. Its alive and growing, with more and more people
finding their own way and building their own net of
relationships. But there are too may attempts to warp it, too
many organizations trying so use it without understanding it.
The time has come to step back for a while, to stop and
think, to forget pre-conceived ideas and do much more
listening. With greater attention, genuine curiosity, human
passion. We all need to spend as much time as we can
understanding people. To discover how much we can learn from
each person, how every experience (even if apparently small)
can help us to improve our thinking.
There are more and more attempts to curtail freedom. To
channel, deviate, condition and censure. And, in addition to
all that, we cant ignore the consequences of recent events.
Is it true that the horrible threats of terrorism justify
more controls, that can make life uncomfortable for us in
some ways? Yes, unfortunately it is true. We must live with the
fact that someone has to be spying, controlling, inquiring
more than would be acceptable under normal circumstances.
But there is no reason why we should allow that to become
an excuse for all sorts of abuses. There is no need to add to
the already exaggerated powers of intrusion and repression
(often dictated by private interests or other motives that
have nothing to do with the prevention of crime). Its not
justified, and its not civilized, that in order to fight a
hideous evil we should accept any sacrifice of our freedom or
In the enormous debate about the tragedies and threats,
and about the general state of the world, the voices of
freedom and privacy are far too subdued. Are concern and fear
going to make us submit to limitations of free speech and
free information? That would not solve any problem, but would
add to the injuries.
We should never forget that there is no civilized society
without freedom. Without society there is no market, without
a market there is no economy, but only a deeply warped
playing field for a few oppressive, greedy and nearsighted
interests. In trading and business, as well as in the
exchange of opinions and information, there is a deep need
for mutual respect, openness and freedom. Without a free
market and a free human environment no company, or private or
public organization, deserves to survive. To develop is to
unleash, to liberate. Not to enchain or constrict.