The Local-Global Flip, Jaron Lanier on the middle class in the age of the internet
I believe there is a third way, which is a better way, and it happens to have also been the initial idea for the Internet, interestingly enough. My poster boy for expressing this is Ted Nelson, the eccentric character who initially proposed the Web, or something like it … it wasn’t called the Web then … as early as 1960, which is over a half century ago, amazingly, when I was born.
Ted’s idea was that there would be a universal market place where people could buy and sell bits from each other, where information would be paid for, and then you’d have a future where people could make a living and earn money from what they did with their hearts and heads in an information system, the Internet, thereby solving this problem of how to have a middle class, and how to have liberty. To expect liberty from democracy without a middle class is hopeless because without a middle class you can’t have democracy. The whole thing falls a part.
I remember when I first met Ted as a teenager, we talked about how you need to have some system like this where people are making a living with their hearts and heads, and trading online, and this was before the word “online” even existed in the way we know it today. It’s the only way to have a future of liberty.