Coding with Jesse

Distributism

I was reading Tara Hunt's blog, in which she talks about how communism relates to cluetrain, the "new" web, and all the great stuff we're seeing happen on the Internet. I think she was absolutely right to suggest the distributed nature of the Internet will let the common people take power away from the ruling class.

She's had to fight off a lot of criticism though, since communism has such a negative connotation, especially in America. But communism, ie. The Communist Manifesto, has nothing to do with killing people or Hilter or whatever. It's just about bringing power to the people. Well, it seems like it's an argument that's impossible to win so she's had to focus closely on marketing, with Pinko Marketing.

I think there's a lot of value in this comparison though, outside of marketing. So, I'd like to suggest another -ism that doesn't have the same negative connotation, but nicely captures the same spirit of Power to the People: Distributism.

The idea behind Distributism is (from Wikipedia): "the ownership of the means of production should be spread as widely as possible among the populace, rather than being centralized under the control of a few state bureaucrats (some forms of socialism) or a minority of resource-commanding individuals (capitalism)".

This relates to a ton of things happening these days. Think of "the means of production" in terms of music recording technology, self-publishing, video technology, etc. and the "minority of resource-commanding individuals" as the music, book, magazine and movie industries.

Like I was talking about recently, the Internet is bringing power to the average person in many ways, including in business. More and more people are becoming entrepreneurs. Some people even quit their job, go independant, then turn their old job into their first client, fulfilling the same role they did before. Yes, someone can switch from being employed by a company to being independant and still working for the company, and hardly anything changes. Why doesn't everybody do this?

Well that's kind of the concept of Distributism (or what I gather from it anyway). Ideally, everybody would have their own business. People would get together to form partnerships or co-operatives to share some resources and achieve common goals. People who have their own business, entrepreneurs, artists, or whatever independant people are just that: independant. This is really Power to the People.

This is the future of the web. Individuals doing whatever they want, making a living from it, starting their own microbrands and picobusinesses. People coming together from across the world to work together. No longer does one need a lot of money to create a successful business. No longer does one even need to leave the house to do something big in the world.

This isn't just the future of the web. It's the future of the world.

Thoughts? Agreements? Arguments?

Published on April 11st, 2006. © Jesse Skinner

About the author

Jesse Skinner Hi, I'm Jesse Skinner. I'm a web development coach focused on reducing developer burnout. I work with web development teams to reduce stress through automated testing and deployment, scalable infrastructure, and the modernization of painful legacy systems.

Through customized training and coaching, I empower teams to adopt new technologies to improve their workflows and make work more enjoyable. Feel free to email me. I'm eager to hear about your challenges and see how I can make your life easier.