With internet we have seen the dramatic shift from hierarchy to networks. From centralised control to decentralised control, powered by humans from sharing and consuming things they never thought they would. People now share not just their diaries, but innermost feelings/ data: from political views, religious views, medical reports, their finances, secrets of family and friends to sexual desires.
With many aspects of our lives shared and consumed due to easy access to internet, we think our problems can get solved. Some smaller problems, yes. Major issues in our societies are still unresolved. Chaos reign.
Access to information, a knowledge base is just a start. To get the best for a society we need some dose of top down approach. It’s a must.
Ok, when I say top down, it’s not the traditional command and control hierarchy. It’s much more nuanced. It’s a ‘middleman’ role. “Internet removes the middleman in everything”, I hear this a lot. Not really.
If you look closer at groups that stood the test of time and increased their impact on their domains, you will find a small number of “middle men” with in an army of contributors. Let’s look at wikipedia. While there are millions of writers who contribute to wikipedia, there are around 2000 editors ( a small number compared to millions) who are doing the major edits. These editors prune, polish and establish guidelines so that billions of readers can trust wikipedia. These editors are middlemen. If you don’t like the word middlemen, call them ‘curators’. Because actually their role fits best of a curator. (definition of curator: a keeper or custodian of a museum or other collection.)
Curator’s role is to enhance trust of their community by reducing the noise. Look deep in to communities like open office, Linux, Google maps and Reddit, you will find a small set of curators who keep sanity in the community.
Let’s look at some of the biggest issues in the world right now. Would we be able to get curators ( experts from many domains) to filter out the right type of issues we should focus on? What would it look like ?