“We think that the world is limited and explained by its past. We tend to think that what happened in the past determines what is going to happen next, and we do not see that it is exactly the other way around! What is always the source of the world is the present; the past doesn’t explain a thing. The past trails behind the present like the wake of a ship and eventually disappears.” ― Alan Wilson

We’re at a brand new moment in history.

We have dirt cheap computing resources, and a massive library of open source tools. As individuals, we have ways we currently make money, and new ways we could make money as well.

Many of us have a world of knowledge available for nearly free at our finger tips. You can leverage online resources to learn new skills, new perspectives, and to connect with like minded people to collaborate with.

Ideas are spreading in untraceable ways across continents, cultures and sometimes against active censorship. You can no longer prevent the spread of ideas, and new ideas can topple giants.

Industries have consolidated, but choices are always made by people. Any of those employees could choose to change jobs. New people can choose to launch competition. Consumers could decide to make new decisions based on revised values or perspectives. We are at the brink of change that no one can fully expect in advance. Depending on the advancement of AI, we could literally be approaching a technological singularity.

As Mastodon and the ActivityPub protocol which enables it has recently been demonstrating so well, established services can be re-implemented in a distributed fashion in order to provide similar or even improved experiences.

In my opinion, we should lean into this direction.

“Seeking Community” by Alan LevineSeeking Community” by Alan Levine

I see an opportunity in local tech companies running community clouds. Community Mastodon instances could help connect a town in addition to connecting everyone to the rest of the world. Other platforms could be built to connect local shoppers with the products they need to buy, in order to make it easier to achieve a similar level of ease of use as Amazon.

None of this requires “beating” Amazon or Twitter in any meaningful way. Those large companies would be beaten if enough communities decide to make this choice, but they do not stand in the way of any given community. It just requires convincing the people around you to make different choices in order to help themselves.

Collaboration between communities, especially by sharing tools and lessons learned, will help each community do better.

Running a community focused tech company is unlikely to turn you into a billionaire. It does provide an amazing opportunity to improve your community though, and it seems like to a good idea to get ahead of the rush. My attempt in 2020 failed, but I’m looking forward to my next attempt.

Change is inevitable, because what creates the world is the sum of our individual choices, and we still retain our free will.