Greece — a Chance to Now Set in Motion a Rewired Democracy
Last week I wrote a piece about how crowd-funding Greece’s 1st payment of debt is a thing but actually instead of asking for oil (olive) in return, why not repay them for the democracy they gave us all those years ago, and work with the people of Greece to build a better version of democracy? One that takes into consideration the digital renaissance. Essentially using any bail out money to buy a year to rebuild better democracy in a digital age.
The response to that post has been incredible, and interesting. People from across the globe: civic tech, fintech, think tanks, media — it seems that I am finally saying what I have been trying to say for years, as have many other people.
The crowdfunder failed to raise enough but it raised 2M, which is not insignificant.
The problem is one of scale. There are many people like me and organisations like mine who operate in the fringes of society. We work hard to understand what is happening and then create ways to challenge the accepted norm. But what happens all too often is that to ensure that we can keep on doing what we are doing we either have to commercialise it, or get it funded.
“Alternators” (word for people like me) have to feed their families too!
In order to commercialise or get funding we have to compromise. We have to retrofit the revolutionary ideas to a broken system, the very borked infrastructure that continues to create the issues we are trying to address.
Or we continue to strive to affect change in what little way we can and don’t bother about real impact.
But I think Greece was a turning point. When it comes to a man sitting with his mates in Leeds having a chat and doing a bit of maths then setting up a crowdfunding campaign because he was fed up of waiting for the politicians, crying: “…let’s jfdi” and then doing so — the time has come to work out how to scale civic tech, including crowdfunding.
As Aaron Swartz once said:
“It’s not OK to not understand the internet any more”.
Now I say:
“It’s not OK to not scale civic tech any more.”
Paradigm shifts do not happen by retrofitting them to the demands of those who know no better. Be they your boss (see Sir Tim Berners-Lee), your potential investor/grant maker, nor your nagging sense of self doubt.
It is because we have not tried to find the scaling mechanisms we have spent decades curating in our small communities of people who agree with us, that people like the valiant Thom Feeney sees only the crowdfunding platform, and not the wider solutions, or challenges.
It is our fault.
Greece is one kick up the backside. The fact that whole generations of socially digital kids (the 97ers) are about to appear on the higher education and jobs market around the world; with no idea how they fit in, where their skills, knowledge and influence over communities can possibly work in this firewalled world of inertia, fear and debt — is another.
“It’s not OK not to scale civic tech any more”
And so I am changing my first post challenge, where we Rewire Greece and spent a year helping those living in Greece and finding a better democracy. I am going to find a way to build a structure for scale for all civic tech communities.
Big government is so ridiculously broke, and insanely expensive and ineffective. We know this. Civic tech may lack cash right now, but we have opportunity, we are not bound by bureaucracy and let’s face it we are not as broke as government:
UK’s debt is 1,410BILLION — that’s about £40k for each tax payer
In 2011 the US government borrowed $100BILLION dollars every month just to pay the bills — with @$15TRILLION “already on the credit card”
So whilst we don’t have the scaling mechanisms yet, we are not hampered in the same way politics and democracy as we know it, has become.
For us it is easier. So we must step up, lean in, whatever your favoured term is.
I am starting with Velocities.eu, this is a scaling mechanism — I will fail first , fail fast and fail forward, then win. Feel free to join me:
Starting with inviting Athens — recognising it as the democratic fountainhead — Velocities will be represented by a collaboration between distinct European cities. And in doing so lay the foundation for a new emergent form of democracy. An experiment in interconnected citizenry generated through Rewired capital, ethics, technology, education and demostructures to form the basis of a new and emergent Rewired Democracy.
PS I am still hosting an evening about all this. The Guardian has offered to allow us to use their gaff, we are just working out what dates are available in the coming weeks. If you want to know then this evening is arranged, please email email@example.com with the subject line Rewired Greece