Changing the world

It’s been a long year.

A friend just pointed me to this by Danny Hillis from the Whole Earth Catalog, Winter 2000.

Like much of my generation, I grew up believing that I should try to “change the world,” presumably for the better. But I didn’t know how to do this. Looking at how other people have changed the world I concluded there are five ways of doing it:

  • Some people change the world by imposing their will on it.
  • Some people change the world by discovering a truth.
  • Some people change the world by changing people’s minds.
  • Some people change the world by creating things of great beauty.
  • Some people change the world by making new tools for change.

Danny Hillis goes on to say that the last one, the making of new tools for change, is the one that appeals to him the most. I think my friend was just flattering me, as that is what mySociety tries to do.

Chris, who I started this year with and have sadly ended it without, would, I think, have been on the surface deeply cynical about even the last one. He’d have sad that tools could be used for evil – indeed, part of the point of campaigns that he took up from his heart, such as no2id, is to point out how computers are just such a tool that can be used for evil.

Nevertheless, he worked tirelessly to make other tools (e.g. WriteToThem), so that we could all use them for good. Hopefully, you can pick the tools that you make, choosing ones that maybe a few will use unwisely, but for which the many will make it up by using them wisely.

Happy Christmas!

May your New Year be full of will imposed judiciously, truth that both aches and thrills, minds changed to be more enlightened, beauty that is great, and more tools that everyone can use wisely for change.