There's a bottom up revolution going on. Our world, culture, business, brains, ways we work, relate and see things are all transitioning from predominantly top down to more bottom up, from centralized to decentralized, from an information era to a connection era. This is not something you can ignore or avoid. It is a tidal wave that is changing everything. If you don't get it and ride the wave it will knock you over and leave you behind.
Top down is associated with centralization, control, hierarchy, domination, hard power, command and one to many and one-directionality.
Bottom up is associated with decentralization, sharing, interdependence, multiple means of communication, soft power, grassroots activism, cooperation, diversity and interconnectivity.
Before there was farming and civilization humans lived primarily bottom up lives in tribes. They shared in caring for each other and decision making. Some hunted, some gathered, some cooked and prepared food. There was cooperation.
Farming started to change things. A farmer decided to clear land. then hunters and gatherers no longer had equal access to it. Farming enabled the building of cities and the creation of civilization, which brought slavery, hierarchy, control, domination. Riane Eisler and David Korten have written wisely on this.
Civilization enabled many innovations, but also set up all powerful religions, monarchs, dictators and more recently, too-big-to-fail corporations and monolithic media.
Things are changing though, mostly because of new technologies which began to equalize access to things formally under heavy top down control.
Writing probably helped expand top down power, because only a limited few had access to the skills of reading and writing and hand written and copied books. Also, writing shiften humanity's way of processing information from the more right brained story telling to the more linear, left brained written word. Several writers, including Leonard Shlain and Walter Ong have commented on how this produced major changes in human culture.
Gutenberg's press changed everything. When the first English language bibles were printed, they were banned and the punishment for owning one was death. Why? Because it took access to the word of God out of the control of the church and it's partner, the monarchy, creating a more bottom-up access to the words and ideas of religion. There are some religions that are far more bottom up than other, very top-down religions.
Radio may have helped the top down energy of the world. It's a one way communication system-- one to many-- and that may partly explain the rise of fascism with its onset.
About 30 years ago, history teachers started shifting from focusing on top down history-- the history of powerful people and war chiefs-- to a focus on bottom up history of minorities, women, workers, religions, culture, media, arts, change. Now, when top down historians retire from university history departments, they are replaced by bottom up historians, the NY Times reported, It's not being reported, but I think the same thing is happening in all fields and industries. it's not just twitter you read from the bottom up. It's the way you talk to the people you love.
Photocopiers, mimeograph machines and fax machines played a major role in bringing down some of the big communist regimes and computers and the internet turned the bottom up wave into a tsunami of change that now, many neuroscientists believe has literally changed the way the human brain functions.
Computers made everyone publishers. The internet changed one to many as the primary form of communication into a many to many means of connection. Computers and the internet have drastically lowered the costs of creating, building, supporting and enabling connection and communication for groups, as Clay Shirky brilliantly described in his book Here Comes Everybody.
People who grew up with computers, now in their thirties, or who grew up with the internet, at least as adolescents, now in their late twenties or older, sometimes called the Millennials, don't think the same as people who grew up before those times. They don't work together or communicate the same way. Their brains are wired differently, the scientists say.
In a way, humans are returning to their indigenous tribal roots, rediscovering some of the better parts of being human. Last year, facebook passed google on certain traffic measures. To me that was a light bulb event signifying a shift from a transition from an information era to a connection era. By the way, even google bases its search algorithm partly on connections. It was that connection detection that throttled Google to the top of the search engine competition when there was competition.
If you are under thirty, you need to understand how the still very powerful top-down world still functions. If you are over thirty, you MUST understand this new bottom up world to be able to work, communicate and succeed.
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