Power to the peopleby Brian Eno / December 16, 2009 / Leave a comment
Published in January 2010 issue of Prospect Magazine
Traditionally there’s only one unforgivable crime in British society: to rise above your station. The cynicism directed at pop stars who decide to “get involved” is fuelled by the usual combination of envy and small-mindedness—but is justified by the argument, “Well what could (s)he possibly know about it?”
This mindset assumes that there are experts who know, and then the rest of us who don’t. But it’s increasingly hard to support: as information flows more freely, expertise becomes commonplace. If we all have access to the information, then what matters is our ability to make use of it. Judgement becomes the key, not access.
There is a revolution going on, inviting everyone to rise above their station. You see it in open-source computer programming where, instead of protecting their code, companies make it available to anybody, knowing that freelance programmers will evolve it for them—for free. You see it with the iPhone, where Apple invented a platform and made it easy to build applications for it. (There are now over 100,000 different apps for the iPhone: far more, and far more varied, than Apple could ever have developed itself.)