That’s exactly the message that rings out, loud and clear from Glenn Reynolds’ new book An Army of Davids.
The Blogfather writes about more than just blogging, although that is certainly a part of it. The message of the book is clear. Technology is empowering individuals and will transform society in ways that we can’t even anticipate today. The modern day pamphleteer, the blogger, has the potential of reaching more people than Thomas Paine ever could have hoped to influence. But its not just the Internet that is transforming society. Nanotechnology. Genetic engineering and life extension. All of it will lead to a future that will empower individuals to create their own destiny to a far greater extent than has been possible since the Industrial Revolution.
In what I consider one of the best chapters in the entire book, the Instapundit discusses space exploration and colonization. Moving beyond the boundries of Fortress Earth is important not just for scientific reasons, its important because the very survival of humanity depends on it. Glenn presents a strong argument for taking a good part of the space business out of the hands of the government; and, considerting that NASA hasn’t really accomplished anything groundbreaking in the manned space flight area since July 20, 1969, I think that’s a pretty damn good idea. He also touches on issues ranging from terraforming Mars (my thought: let a trillion tulips bloom !) to using nuclear weapons as a method of propelling a spaceship. I’ve written before about how depressing the current state of space exploration is, and I can only hope that someone in power will read this part of the book and take action.
In many ways, this book reminded me of a book I read twelve years ago when the Internet Era was in its infancy. That book was Orwell’s Revenge by Peter Huber. The premise of Huber’s book was that George Orwell’s fear in 1984 that technology would make it easier for totalitarian societies to enslave citizens. A premise emphasized by the always-on and always-watching telescreen. Huber argued that the opposite was true, that technology actually empowered individuals and made it possible for them to turn the weapons of Big Brother against the powers-that-be. Huber was writing at the dawn of the Internet era, and Reynolds is writing in an entirely different world. If nothing else, history, and the argument that An Army of Davids quite persuasively makes, have proven that argument correct.
Winston Smith has defeated Big Brother. The future is ahead of us. Scary ? Maybe. But, frankly, I think we’ll be just fine.
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