This is an idea that came to me in a dream whilst on a Christmas holiday in Palma on 27th December 2015.
I was dreaming that I was running a kind of Blog. A blog where people could lodge their ideas of how to build a better world. The blog would have a portal a bit like the entrance into Narnia. Once through the entrance a repositer would have access to all the ideas lodged there. There would be open access to ideas and they would be lodged by category. Unlike Wikipedia, which is an attempt at a self monitoring encyclopedia, this would be a repository where just ideas are posted. At the moment there are many academic websites that cost an arm and a leg to accessand are beyond the reach of the vast majority of people who neither earn the salaries nor have the economic backing of major institutions. Also, the current social media are great places to chat and organise events but when it comes to the sharing of ideas they fall down big time. This is mainly because they are not designed with a coherent archival capability. The website Democracy Now comes close to doing this but has as it’s central aim the dissemination of left wing news and keeps a magnificent global archive of news events.
What I am proposingis a modern day version of The Left Book Club where strategic and political thinkers and polemicists can rub shoulders with activists who have great ideas.
The need for security would be an absolute imperitive. To this end I believe that something akin to a block chain would need to be used in order to keep the maliciously intended from subverting or riddling the site with virusus or software that could be used by governments to access lists of contributors.
Contributors would adopt an avatar/identity at the start of their journey into the repository and would be able to access all ideas posted without hindrance.
The blog will need very careful monitoring and a secure vetting process to ensure that neither political nor religious factions can subvert or occupy the site for their own ends. The overarching purpose of the site is to build a repository of knowledge that is open to all. A bit like what Tony Benn often refered to as a people’s university. There are still public libraries and reading rooms but these are increasingly disappearing as funding for the reproduction of traditional books, the cost of maintaining and heating the often large buildings, and cost of employing librarians and other staff, all become prohibitive.
What I am proposing here is an online space where people can lodge ideas in the form of extracts, essays or longer tracts. This would be a place where these ideas would be given for free. I realise that for many academics this is anathema. A seismic blow to the concept of selling intellectual property. However this has already happened to a large extent in the creative industries where streaming is trying to outgun filesharing. I am suggesting that ideas are not the property of those that have them but rather they are the product of the world we inhabit and as such should be shared. Zut alors I hear you say, this is the end of the world for so many people. What about copywrite? How can academics make a living? Well the key here is that people would donate their ideas to the repository freely and of their own volition. There would be no expectation of payment and no exploitation through sales. The ideas would be there to be used, studied, or enacted.
A site like this would need some initial financeand also some ongoing revenue to cover any on-costs. This could come from donations, gifts and fundraising events.
The main idea though is to get the realm of academic freedom away from the chaos that is Facebook etc and into a modern online space where ideas are freely exchanged, tested, challenged and developed. TED does this up to a point but what is needed is an online place where anybody can deposit ideas that they believe are for the common good. Where ideas can be disseminated and shared with the sole purpose of making the world a better place. At the moment our Universities are, in the main, set up to compete and generate finance through competitive business models but this is not the only or even the best way things can be organised.
We need another way. We need a place where anyone who has a good idea can share it, not for money but out of altruism. The creators of Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc etc have taken the internet away from the people,monetized it to the nth degree and have handed back a cyber lawyers paradise where the original idea of the internet has become subverted and enslaved to mammon. Bitcoin, despite it’s faults offers a possible way out through the use of blockchain technology. I am not an expert on this but I believe it is possible to set up an online entity that exists free from the constraints and exploitation of capitalism true to the original concept of the world wide web. It is something we need to strive for and a good start could be the creation of The Repository of Socially Useful Ideas.