Can an Open Source Revolution Change the World?

In honor of the (literally) explosive turn of events in last night’s season finale of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” we thought it worth noting a temporary changing of the guard here on the 7CTOs blog, as well as some insightful info about significant real-life chess board moves as they relate to technology and the global game of thrones of power and control.

First, starting this week, the 7CTOs blog is being turned over to Tom Siebert (that’s me!), while the organization’s CEO Etienne de Bruin spends the summer in the land of his birth, South Africa. Unlike GoT, this is no coup and nobody got assassinated. Etienne will continue to work and develop the organization, but the day-to-day oversight of this blog -- which has grown hugely in readership since we made it a daily thing, thank you! -- is now in my hands.

No big bragging bio of me forthcoming. If you want to know more about the guy who you’ll be reading for the next few months, my LinkedIn profile is here. If you want to read the idiot savant version of how I came up with the concept for The Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” (changing the world of television a ton and my bank account not at all), it’s here.

But far more interesting than me is a long, important story we were alerted to over the weekend, from  The Guardian newspaper a week ago, about former CIA case officer and co-founder of the US Marine Corps intelligence, Robert David Steele.

Steele is one of the world’s leading evangelists for Open Source technology, and the opportunities it offers for not just “changing the world,” but for revolutionary change. The time, he writes, has come:

"We are at the end of a five-thousand-year-plus historical process during which human society grew in scale while it abandoned the early indigenous wisdom councils and communal decision-making. Power was centralised in the hands of increasingly specialised 'elites' and 'experts' who not only failed to achieve all they promised but used secrecy and the control of information to deceive the public into allowing them to retain power over community resources that they ultimately looted."

In Steele’s worldview, according to The Guardian, an Open Source embracing planet offers the opportunity to build on top of and improve what society has learned through industrialization while learning from our previous mistakes. Through Open Source technology, we can “catalyze the re-opening of commons” while simultaneously “breaking the grip of defunct power structures and enabling the possibility of prosperity of all.”

We’re only scratching the surface of all the ground that’s covered in this deep, critical article and implore you to read it and see how it impacts your own life as a member of the technology community.  

Speaking personally, if I may for a moment, one of the reasons I was attracted to 7CTOs to work with Etienne was because of his vision to help create and evolve chief technology officers who are as empathetic to the human condition as they are gifted in the realm of technology, and melding the two (sometimes opposing principles) into people who are able to make the world a better place when the technology revolution  seems to have put man-and-woman-kind at a crossroads between enlightenment and fascism.

People like Robert Steele are looking towards a new world where technology is used not to consolidate control through secrets, lies and surveillance, but a more open world where secrets are brought to light, lies are exposed in the light of day, and surveillance is unnecessary because transparency rules the day.

Of course, humanity may never fully get there. But as the old ways increasingly break down, and the innate corruption at the core of the Establishment is exposed, only two things can happen: Either greater freedom for the individual at the expense of the Establishment's ruling class, or greater oppression of the masses at the hands of an endangered status quo. Choose wisely.