A few weeks after attending the ‘You Are In Control’ conference in Reykjavík, I am once again sitting in an airplane. As we descend into the airspace of Europe’s neutral island of Switzerland, I am looking out of the window and down on the Alps’ snow-covered mountain tops, recalling all the open questions, worries, and hopes uttered by the creative minds that had gathered from all over the world at the “Bay of Smoke”. Reykjavík, it seems in year three after the downfall of Iceland’s financial economy, is coming along famously against all odds, if we consider the enormous socio-economic tensions and dramatic changes it is going through. A comedian rules the world’s most Northern capital, and the percentage of creative economy within national economy is higher than in any other European country. The pressure to change does not stem from a few intellectuals’ efforts, but from the whole populace!
Once again I had the impression that Iceland is where the central lab for researching a new society of Western parameters is situated. The questions posed at the YAIC only seemed to deal with the special interests of a small minority of “creatives”—that have become a dangerously hyped species after all, not the least through the popular claims of a Richard Florida. No, this is not about the better film editing software or the new IT typography. It’s about the big questions that concern people standing on the very pillars of their own service and information society, discovering creativity as the central driving force of individual and above all collective success in a global world. They’re asking themselves and they’re asking us: How do we plan to grow and develop, if we never learn to seriously honour a defeat as an important requisite for success—for real, not just for a bohemian sense of pleasure? How can collaboration models lead us faster to smarter and more effective solutions? What kind of politics—beyond empty promises and appeasing rhetoric—does it take to avoid being controlled by corporations?
The answers obviously lie in the hands of a young American. With Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg made those people possessing the privilege of their own internet access an offer they could not refuse. A privilege, by the way, that ought to be declared a human right at once! Since it is so technically accessible, so easy to use and so evident a means of communicating, there are more people on Facebook today than there are people in the whole of Europe. In 2011, Facebook will statistically be the most populated country in the world. The answers and solutions to almost all open questions are negotiated on Facebook. It is time for us to understand about the serious impact this probably most powerful instrument of democracy possesses these days. Pictures from a birthday party are one thing, but open debate, transparent crowd sourcing, and the resulting representation of interests are a remarkably different issue.
But let us go back from grey theory to its colourful practise. Just as the causal relation between a strategic use of communicative possibilities on Facebook and other social networks as demonstrated by The Best Party during the municipal elections in Reykjavík has become obvious and has made the connection of the digital and the analogue world, of new political experiments and the well-established administrative rule systems so clearly observable, it is now for all creative minds to understand that just being part of it won’t be enough.
Facebook is an instrument. Only those who play it and while playing it think of all their co-players—who themselves can be listeners or voters, commentators or collaborators, as well as all of the above, co-players who don’t consist just of digital profiles, who are more than brains in a tank, who are taking part vigorously and with all their senses in a creative exchange at work, in cafés or on the couch—only those will realise the huge potential of our contemporary creative society.
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