Future Internet: Collaboration Without Loss Of Individuality: Example 1: Ebay
Throughout human history there has always been a conflict of ideas when it comes to group-based vs. individual-based societies. Of course there are pros and cons with both constructs, but I believe (and I am definitely not the only one) that we are entering a new age where the power of the group and originality of thought generated from individuals are finally returning to a balanced state which is being harnessed to further our evolution. The Internet, a new medium for human interaction, is bringing people all over the world together to form communities, as well as giving the normally unheard person a voice that is able to be heard by waiting audiences. A shift of focus is occurring that is causing the whole of society to change the way that it functions. Collaboration of different-thinking minds has meant a beginning of the end for the old 'master and slave', 'command and control' paradigms. Individual thought used to fuel a collective society that is working together in a true democratic sense: this is the beginning of a New Renaissance.
Enter the realm of the Internet: Is it some technological tool that only super-intelligent people can utilize? Or, could it simply be the next natural step in millions of years of life's evolution on our planet, a medium where people communicate and share knowledge and information? Have you heard of www.ebay.com/ (on-line shopping), www.skype.com/ (free voice-over Internet), www.amazon.com/ (on-line books), www.linkedin.com (employment hiring), www.guru.com (freelance work), www.yahoo.com (Yahoo Inc) and www.apple.com/itunes/ (on-line music), www.wikipedia.org/ (on-line encyclopaedia) , www.marketocracy.com/ (on-line trading) , secondlife.com/ (creating digital content/games) , www.bittorrent.com/ (File Sharing), www.imdb.com/ (film database)? These are just a few of the kinds of concepts that are being created to help make life better for people, by the people.
How about web logs (on-line journals/media), open-source programming, Google's rating of links, customer production teams, prediction markets, cooperative media, collective brains trusts, linking sites, rating songs, rating buyers and sellers, rating books and films? These mediums and processes are giving average, anonymous Homo sapiens the power to make a difference in the ways in which the world works. We are starting to create instead of consume. We're encouraging brilliant ideas by the masses, not just those in elite positions. Groups of independent individuals are uniting and gaining control of situations that were once ruled by a small handful of a few company's top executives.
In the next several articles I am going to focus on these new aspects of the Internet and how they are empowering the souls of humankind. As an example there is the story of Ebay: www.ebay.com/. This website is a place where anyone can buy or sell just about everything imaginable. This is a whole new concept when it comes to the marketplace. You can buy or sell anything, new or used, including some things that are normally very hard to find.
Often buying off individuals or specialised Ebay distributors means that you get the exact product before an out-of-stock store that would have had to order it in for you. When you buy something outright or take part in an auction, there's a great chance that you'll get it cheaper than at a retail store as well. This is especially the case on specialised items that have to be imported and shipped internationally.
Buying what you want from another person like yourself is quite different from standing in line at a huge impersonal department store that treats you like a number, or worse, a wallet. It hearkens back to the simple days of trading before money existed. The buyer and seller give feedback on each other that future participants can take into consideration when making a trade. If someone has too many negative comments next to their name, they are banned from trading on Ebay for life. Of course there are insurance options but the ideals of trust and honour are what makes this a great sign of the true essence of humanity. There will always be techno-criminals that can beat new security technologies, but the group of approximately 157 million Ebay members have been likened to a giant 'neighbourhood watch', informing each other of any suspicious activity.
This process of self-policing collaboration is a simple human process, which has changed the face of buying/selling relationships. The majority of people have been upfront and earned points for their integrity. Less than one hundredth of all transactions are cases of fraud; the founder Pierre Omidyar believes that only thirty out of every million sellers don't fulfil their duties. Ebay is now a multi-billion dollar company; it grew from one person's basic concept that the rest of us saw the power in.
About the Author: Jesse S. Somer works for M6.Net (http://www.m6.net) and sees a future where billions of individual minds work together to make a better life on Earth. The Internet is an opportunity for humanity to evolve.