Monday, January 7, 2013

7 of 95: Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy

[Part 6]

The primary mode of transportation on the internet is teleportation. The time needed to travel from the one place to the other is getting ever closer to zero, not including the amount of time a click of the mouse entails. Which is a fact with many implications, most of the summed up by the thesis of today:

7. Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.

And they subvert hierarchy precisely through this immediacy. When there's time between act and result, then there's also time time for regulation, bosses telling you you're not allowed to do that - and administrations denying access to whatever it is you're looking for.

It is hard to deny access to something available at a thoughts notice.

One of the biggest reasons that employers restrict internet access on their workplaces is the fear of employees finding out about things. Things such as the conditions under which they are employed, and the difference between these and the conditions on other workplaces. The fear being that an informed staff is a staff no more.

It's just as ridiculous as it sounds. Yet it happens anyway.

One of the biggest reasons politicians can get away with doing the most outrageous stuff is that these things are buried behind impenetrable walls of bureaucratic routines and procedures that takes time and effort to get past. So much time and effort, in fact, that by the time the affected citizens manage to effort through it, the time for discussion, debate and change is passed - things are already set in motion, the shovels have already hit the ground.

Time is a democratic resource.

One of the biggest reasons people who fundamentally agree with each other fail to organize lies in the slowness of communication. The current events that make them realize that they are indeed in agreement fade during the time it takes for messages to go back and forth - the issue goes out of the public's eye and the people involved get less involved. And none of this is helped by the tendency of organizers to get stuck in a web emergent hierarchy that a general lack of information generate spontaneously, out of necessity.

Time and information. Information and time.

It goes without saying that the immediate access to information - the teleportation, the (hyper)linking - brings with it a radical change. It gets that much harder to keep things secret to employees when things can be tweeted, tumblred, blogged or in other ways shared with minimal effort. As soon as the word is out, it's available to everyone. Everyone can teleport to it at the speed of light, without any regard to any business plan based on the notion of not having to invest in worker's conditions.

It's all the more difficult to keep a secret secret. All it takes is that one (1) person discovers that something is up for the world to know about it. The whole world is watching - and any attempt to hide behind the timelag of bureaucracy or administrative procedure is doomed to fail.

And since everyone can be everywhere, they can also react everywhere - in blogs, newspapers, massive global street protests or what have you. The gap between information and action is shorter than ever - most due to not being restricted by complicated planning meetings, declarations of intent and other features of a state of lack of information. Things are happening now, and the time for action is now - the time between now and now is now.

It goes wihout saying that any attempt to insist on the hierarchies of old will be undermined by this. Undermined to no end.

The world is a link away. And we no longer have to ask for permission to go there.

I'll see you again tomorrow for part eight. Do peek over at what Eli and Les have to say on the topic.

Originally published 7 January, 2012

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