What’s my big idea for doing this blog? Well it all comes down to jigsaw puzzles. My wife loves them. But I hate them because:
You already know the solution before you start
Someone else has decided how you are going to solve it
Loads of people have already solved it
I can’t see the point in using my precious, irreplaceable time doing something that someone else has already done. Don’t they call that “re-inventing the wheel”? And it’s not as if there are no more problems to solve so that the only way we can kill time is to go over the same old problems. In fact, there are now more problems than ever to solve in the real world so why not solve them instead.
Over thirty years ago I was set a puzzle: a big puzzle. It all start innocently enough with what sounded like a simple little puzzle. The pastor of our little local church asked us to think of ways of making the message of the Carpenter more accessible to people in our little island. So being the compulsive problem solver I am, I started looking at the problem. It became pretty apparent that it was not a simple question. In fact, it was a Trojan Puzzle. Inside it’s belly were hiding a whole bunch of puzzles – and they were armed with swords and teeth. After fighting with loads of little puzzles, it became clear that in fact, there was only one big problem:
Is it actually possible to eliminate pain and suffering?
That is the one problem behind
Can we solve world hunger?
Can we stop human trafficking?
Can we stop war?
Is there some way to be happy?
Can we defeat drug abuse? and domestic abuse?
What about disease? What about death?
And a gabblezillion more questions that blight and tarnish our lives
As you can imagine,. it has been like the scariest bits of a rollercoaster ride and a maze and a ghost train combined. But I finally have an answer.
So, is it actually possible to eliminate pain and suffering?
Yes, it is using the internet
You see people make the mistake of thinking the internet is just an exobrain; and it is.
But that is not its biggest strength.
It is also an exoskeleton – like the one Ripley had in Aliens, but bigger, much bigger. In fact, this exoskeleton allows me to connect with (and so influence) anywhere on the planet at the same time. Say I come up with a design for a better solar panel and people want to buy it. I can organise for manufacturing companies in (say) America and India to manufacture them and ship them to fulfillment companies who will ship them on to my buyers. And I can do all of that from a laptop in a coffeeshop on a little island in the English Channel.
But that is not its biggest strength.
It allows me to connect with people who have shared interests. And if we are prepared to do something about those shared interests, we can join together and form a swarm or a superorganism like a colony of bees. The scary thing is that with each person who joins the effect is geometric – so two people are 3x more effective than one; three people are 7x more effective and so on. So a small number of people can have a huge effect.
This strength of the internet has hardly been tapped yet. Yes there have been flash mobs and viral fads but nothing serious yet. However, it has started. Wikinomics and Crowdfunding has shown that you no longer have to deal with loads of middle men and expensive structures to support something – you can now go direct and give a small amount of time or money or something else to that one project. You have complete control over what you can do.
So, the question is no longer: can we eliminate pain and suffering. It’s now:
What pain and suffering shall we join together to eliminate today?
So its over to you, what particular pain and suffering would you like to see eliminated?