Mark Pesce is an author, software engineer, researcher and a lecturer at the University of Sydney. He has written extensively on the subjects of virtual reality and social media. This quote comes from his column published today by ABC News Online:
“For you see, the network isn’t the wires, the towers, or the mobiles. The network is people. And people don’t like being spied upon. People will grow increasingly frustrated with the restrictions you place upon their activities, and from those frustrations will come a search for solutions.
As someone works something out – finds a hole in the filters, or a place outside the state’s surveillance – that knowledge will be passed around, at the speed of light, through the network. People now move as one – as if coordinated, but without any coordinator – and within minutes, a hole becomes the tunnel through which everyone makes their escape.
People are no longer subject to the control of the state. People can move faster than the state, people can out-think the state, people can be everywhere the state is not. 2011 is the year that we figured this out, and even if you took every mobile in Britain and threw them into the English Channel, this would not change.
This is not a technology moment. This is a moment of sociology, of anthropology. We have learned a new way of sharing, which has given us new capabilities, and although technology helps us share, we would share even if we had nothing but our voices.
We will not unlearn this. We have learned it by watching one another. Parents learn it from their children. Children learn it from older children. Everyone learns it from the television. It’s pervasive, it’s perfectly natural, and it cannot be stopped.
So please, grab a stick, and stir the hornet’s nest. I dare you. More than anything else I want to see a ‘democratic’ government bloody itself against a process that is far more democratic than anything that it has ever had the capability to be.
Yes, it is chaotic and ugly and threatening. But it is also wonderful and smart and capable. You get both, and you can’t just do away with either one. This is who we are. It’s unclear if your government – or any government – can make its peace with that. But I think it’s time we tried.
So please, go out there, guns blazing, and wage war. The more you try to shut things down, the smarter people will become. You are evolution’s goad, Mr Cameron. Without you, we’d probably just sit around all day, watching videos on YouTube. You give us a reason. You make us want to be better.
Unless you completely crush it, disrupting a network tends to make it more resilient. Yes, the network might go down for a while, but when it comes back, it’s stronger than before.
That’s what you have to look forward to, Mr Cameron – you, and your successors at Number 10. You’re breeding a nation which can resist any coercion. Well done.”