PCI GHD: Ideals, Ideas, Our deeds
Mei Lin Fung and Vint Cerf co-founded the People Centered Internet in 2015 with significant support from the UN.
Mei Lin Fung:
One of the most powerful tools in the hands of half of humankind, like fire, can be harnessed for good or bad. The People Centered Internet is just a short name for those who believe in an Internet by the people of the people and with the people of the world.
In the tussle between beneficial and harmful behaviors, our challenge is to preserve and encourage the former and discourage the latter. This should be a concern for all Internauts everywhere and is a key pillar of PCI focus from its founding. PCI welcomes all who feel a sense of mission aligned with the goal of making the Internet useful for everyone.
To achieve its purpose, they propose a Global Help Desk to support “Networked Improvement Communities” wherever they emerge.
A core ideal inspires the vision of the People Centered Internet’s Global Help Desk:
Any community resource which provides valued services in underserved areas of the world should have the best possible connectivity, technical support, and guidance.
Specifically, the resources include schools, libraries, and National Research and Education Networks (NRENs).
When a community resource starts serving its network of stakeholders, PCI may designate it a “Networked Improvement Community”, or NIC, as originally defined in a 2011 Carnegie Foundation essay, “Getting Ideas into Action: Building Networked Improvement Communities in Education”.
1️⃣ Post-Capitalist catalyst.
2️⃣ Digital Transformation Accelerator.
3️⃣ Mutually Assured Development
1️⃣ “Post-Capitalist catalyst” has a nice ring to it.
“Technological progress has shifted scarcity for humanity. When we were foragers, food was scarce. During the agrarian age, it was land. Following the industrial revolution, capital became scarce. With digital technologies, scarcity is shifting once more.”
2️⃣ Digital Transformation Accelerator.
Bill Gates taught us that we always overestimate what we can achieve in the near term, and even more seriously underestimate what we will achieve over the long haul.
20 years ago, we were thrilled with the endless possibilities the Internet promised. After a couple of decades of breathless optimism and TED Talk proclamations of never-ending improvement we don’t see in our lives, it’s easy to get cynical about what’s imminent.
But, implicit in “Gates’ law” is that there will always be a moment between the near and long term when the paradigm’s gears shift and we start receiving the benefits of the years of investment, infrastructure and vision. The last 7 words of Gates’ Law is “Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction”.
Africa showed us how this works, as most of the continent didn’t bother with the circuit-switched, land-line model of communication, to mobile VOIP. Smart phones are the perfect delivery mechanism for Networked Improvement Communities, especially as Low Earth Orbit satellite systems come on line, plus Alphabet’s balloon-launched Loon service.
3️⃣ Mutually Assured Development, “Genes for usefulness”
It’s ironic that ARPANET, the Internet’s precursor, was built to support the cold war’s MAD purpose, “Mutually Assured Destruction”. The Global Help Desk means to ensure that Internet-based community development is uniformly available and assured throughout the world, requiring only everyday appliances and services.
In Lives of a Cell, Dr. Lewis Thomas taught us that “We have genes for usefulness.”
Global Help Desk ideals require us to be useful to each other, through unexpected but non-random acts of kindness across the globe.
Our model is the Internet which, with no centralized management, enlivens billions of inert devices that resolve their complex hierarchy of needs when connected together by billions of different owners and providers, funded by billions of different utility bills.
The work of the Global Help Desk, our deeds, require us to map that connected model to humans as we all become more connected, more empowered, and more interdependent.