All that is solid melts into air…

I’d like to take you on a journey into our past, present and future.

Visualise your workplace as a large glass pyramid. This will represent its hierarchical structure, its physicality, and its locality. Through a window of this pyramid you can see yourself at a desk in front of a typewriter.

The pyramid contains everything it needs to function as an organisation.

You and the things around you represent resources or assets.

A computer appears at your desk as does an internal network and a shared printer in the corner of the office. You, the printer and other assets and resources have just been made ‘available’ throughout the entire organisation.

The Internet arrives as does email and the web. This ‘availability’ process continues at a pace, it expands into a boom in services. These services provide many benefits; they generally save money or time; and they may connect you with additional skills, knowledge and resources.

They exist outside.

Their availability is being driven by connectivity which is leading to innovation, adoption and change.

A myriad of services now operate through the departments, cables, network and walls to enable everything to function.

Whereas once the pyramid was self-contained and sealed it is now hyper-connected, increasingly porous and distributed.

For now the structure appears to hold.

A time of boundaryless potentiality

You look behind yourself and see the pyramid where you work.

The resources and assets contained within have been made available to every other part of the organisation. They have become like a fluid entirely filling the space.

You pick up a pin and pierce a wall causing this liquid to flow out. It joins a sea of available resources and assets that now exists everywhere. This is a world of potentiality.

Empty of purpose the pyramid’s walls finally dematerialise, becoming boundaryless and open.

This new form brings into question the organisational and institutional roles and practices that previously existed.

We will need to do things differently now.

New abilities develop allowing the organisations skills, knowledge, resources and assets (capacities) to be available at all points.

The mission, values, and culture remain but now they become the keys to cooperation, coalescence and coherence.

This vast sea of potentiality is an active and intelligent substance. It is forever shifting and adapting, moulded by our creativity and innovative capacity. It and we are becoming smarter.

This is the time of the networked reality.

Platforms further unlock potential and begin to share and shape for themselves a new set of common values and principles.

Poor practice is designed out where national and international politics failed to act.

Our entire civilisations assets and resources are becoming available for the purposes of meeting our needs and driving our development.

What was already rapid change becomes a Cambrian explosion of innovation and social progress.

Into the real

The future is hard to guess as is how all of this potential will be put to use. But the questions are perhaps less difficult for us to begin asking.

What about our humanity? What about our values? What about rights and how we treat each other? What about what kind of society we want to live in? What about the world, the environment and other people?

Our way of doing politics is no longer capable of answering these questions. It is closed and it is unavailable. In its current form it can never adapt or react quickly enough to the increasing possibilities that the future will bring.

It’s as dead as those pyramids, it just doesn’t know it.

How does all of that potential within our current systems and institutions flow out into the hands of a ready and capable society?

It can only be through our own efforts that we can ever hope to find out.

When the boundaries of organisations and institutions dematerialise it presents us as well as them with questions about their existence, their roles and their responsibilities.

It’s a process that presents to us too; as citizens, civil society, businesses and the state, with an opportunity to question our own roles and responsibilities in this coming age.

Boundaries and definitions are disappearing around all of us.

What does that mean for our lives and our stories?

What possibilities are released at the end of enclosure?

What world can we build with our own hands, hearts and minds?

What can we do together that we couldn’t do apart?

When all that is solid melts into air — it is the past making way for our future.

“All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.” — Karl Marx, 1848

Founder of Socially Enterprising / Commoner / Mostly Unemployed.