In the Industrial Revolution, you could point at a steam engine and ask: ‘What on earth is that?’ What defines the Invisible Revolution is that there’s nothing to point at, no totemic object that conveys the power and the strangeness of the forces changing our lives.
A wave of networked disruption swept across the world in 2011, taking with it the idea that today’s social technologies are only about throwing sheep at each other, or hiding away in Second Life. The new social forms which ride the network now make their entrance on the stage of history; yet the grain of networked reality remains puzzlingly elusive. Much of the activity which makes up the network seems too loose and haphazard to be significant, by the standards of the world in which we grew up.
‘Despatches from the Invisible Revolution’ – which launches on 29th February 2012 at the Free Word centre in London – is both a reflection on the puzzling nature of the network and an instance of the new forms it makes possible.
The 24 contributors to the book responded to a post on this blog, inviting readers to reflect on their experience of 2011. Some were deeply involved in events most of us only followed in the news (or, increasingly, on Twitter) – like the Icelandic activist Smári McCarthy, who writes about his experiences providing tech support to revolutionaries in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria. For others, the frontline of change lies further from the attention of the media, in the everyday realities of home, school, community projects, local and national politics.
These are not essays written at leisure, but despatches from the middle of events that are still unfolding. But out of them emerges a picture of the elusive forces of the network – and perhaps some clues to the changes which lie ahead, as its tide continues to rise.
‘Despatches from the Invisible Revolution’ is the first book to come out of New Public Thinking, an online and offline network in search of a better public conversation. New Public Thinking aims to encourage a culture of thinking together and thinking aloud, where public discourse is not automatically framed as an opposition between rehearsed arguments; where we are willing to change our minds, to risk being wrong and to learn from each other.
The book has been edited by Dougald Hine and Keith Kahn-Harris. Contributors include Pat Kane, Bridget McKenzie, Keri Facer, Andy Gibson, Pamela McLean, Nick Stewart, Vinay Gupta, Tessy Britton, Mike Small, Eleanor Saitta, Noah Raford, Chris T-T, Laura Burns, Anna Björkman, Smári McCarthy, Jeppe Graugaard, Andy Broomfield, Alex Fradera, Neil Cantwell and Andrew Taggart.
Join us to celebrate the book’s launch, hear from some of the contributors, and talk about where we go next.
- The launch takes place at the Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London at 6.30-8.00pm, Wednesday 29th February 2012. This is a free and open event, but please book on Eventbrite to let us know you’re coming.
- Copies of Despatches from the Invisible Revolution are available to order now from PediaPress.