History can be told as progressively greater rights aggregated rights over decades and centuries, rights not only vis a vis the government, but also more basic ones, physical and psychological, including the right to be an individual person with a meaningful life, to belong and be understood in a family and social context, to be safe, and to have fundamental needs of food, shelter, health care, environment, and self and cultural expression met.
More egalitarian and democratic institutions and systems are under continual siege from elites seeking greater power and privilege for themselves. Certain technological advances like the printing press allowed for communication and knowledge that lifted living conditions and human rights worldwide. Where is the leap forward that we thought would come from the Internet?
While the technology giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple have brought us some increased expression and communication, they have done so in a constrained and limiting manner. Secret algorithms in closed systems are designed to bring them ad and other revenue, not to allow us the level of communication and organization needed to resist the corporate takeover of our political systems and the manipulation of our desires.
Organizing sites on the web are often oriented to single issues or tactics, with little aggregation or lasting effect. Trolls dominate forums, paid by ad dollars, and sponsored by backward and corrupt political groups or governments. In the US, the Citizens United decision allows Corporations unlimited purchase of government officials. Identities are challenged at the polling booth, which, with Gerrymandered districts, gives Republicans purloined electoral wins.
Rating and reviewing has given some limited power to us as consumers, but the most effective work rating and review web site was bought by Glassdoor and eviscerated. Polling organizations, using sampling methodologies, are increasingly ineffective due to justified consumer suspicion (I hang up on them, do you?)
Where are the people’s applications, open source programs that allow effective expression? Where is a non-government non-corporate utility that guarantees identity, allows anonymous expression, aggregation and publication of that expression, and organizing?
Much of the needed technology exists, but has not been put to use for the people. The Aadhaar system in India demonstrates that, using biometric as well as demographic data, identity can be guaranteed, for political and economic purpose. Blockchain technology, used by a company called Civic, shows that distributed data can be hacker proof.
Imagine a system that can protect and ensure individual identity, that can enable trustworthy polling and voting, that allows anonymous and identified ratings and reviews with self-organizing and other actions available.