I forget what pointed me to this incredibly thought provoking speech by Mark Pesce about the potential of networks, but man…talk about a mind bender. How can you not read something that starts with

The world has changed.  The world is changing.  The world will change a whole lot more.  We lucky few, we band of coders, bear witness to the most comprehensive transformation in human communication since the advent of language.  We are embedded in the midst of this transition; we make it happen with every script we write and every page we publish and every blog we post and every video we upload.

Whoa. Let me pull out a few other tasty tidbits as well, ones that have my brain buzzing a bit more than usual. Like, for instance, this statistic:

…somewhere in the middle of 2008, half of humanity will own a mobile handset.  In just a decade’s time, we’ll have gone from half the world never having made a telephone call to half the world owning a phone.   Unprecedented.  Unexpected.

Now I know you can read that a couple of different ways, but when you think that there are now almost 3 billion people with communication devices in their hands, it makes you wonder about the potentials for leveraging those devices for powerful connections. Connections of the type that are already happening. Or this quote:

The net regards censorship as a failure, and routes around it.

And he gives great examples of how we do just that, from 15-year olds who are releasing the latest Harry Potter novel early to a 16-year old cracking a hugely expensive Internet filter in Australia in under a half an hour. Or these statements:

  • The wiring isn’t the network.  The routers aren’t the network. The people are the network.
  • The network, in every form, is anathema to hierarchy.
  • The network is simply kicking the legs out from under hierarchies, everywhere they exist, for as long as they exist, until they find themselves unable to rise again.  What it really comes down to is this: we are assuming management of our own affairs, because we are now empowered to do so.

He also describes a vision of how our technologies will connect in the future, freeing us from the telcos and Internet providers we are currently dependent on. I’m sure someone can jump in an make even more plain the importance of Meraki, especially in the context of the OLPC, but the way he describes using mesh in his presentation session is pretty powerful.

And, finally, these 5 Mob Rules to think about:

1. The mob is everywhere.
2. The mob is faster, smarter and stronger than you are.
3. Advertising is a form of censorship
4. The mob does not need a business model.
5. Make networks happen.

He ends it with:

Still, there is one thing I can recommend: have courage and keep moving.  Standing still is not an option.  The world has changed.  The world is changing.  The world will change a whole lot more.  Good luck.

I think that might be the scariest part about all of this when it comes to the discussion about schools. I sip the Kool-Aid that says this is “the most comprehensive transformation in human communication since the advent of language” and that we’re only seeing the first effects of that transformation. Maybe I buy into all of that too easily, or maybe it’s just a symptom of the profound changes I’ve experienced in my own experience. Whatever. The point is that of all of the entities in the world that should be focused on understanding this moment, schools should be at the forefront. Standing still is not an option, yet by and large, that’s exactly what’s happening.

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