Four ideas for the future
Thursday, March 29, 2007 by Dave Winer.
1. I love public radio and television, but it's time for them to become two-way media. Next time we go to war, and we seem to be doing that all-too-regularly, we must be certain that the kinds of conversations that ordinary people have about the motives of our political leaders make it onto the airwaves. And I'd like to know what the pundits are saying when they go out to dinner, not just when they're on the air. Many people thought Bush was lying in the lead-up to the war, now let's reform the media so those thoughts get proper coverage in time to avoid future national catastrophes.
2. I'd like to be able to pay a web company like Amazon or Google a one-time flat fee to host my content for perpetuity. I'd deposit my writing with them, on the web, and not worry about whether or not my heirs will keep paying the hosting bills to keep it alive. Today I'm hosting the weblog of my departed uncle (who I miss terribly!), I don't mind doing it, but what will happen when I pass? I'd gladly pay $10,000 to be sure my site and his survive my death. Long-lived institutions like Harvard University or Mount Auburn Cemetary (in Boston), even insurance companies, could get into this business. Think of it as a personal endowment, it would work like the money richer people leave behind as memorials to their own lives, or lives of loved ones.
3. Another idea along these lines, I'd like to pay a few bucks to beam my thoughts to a nearby solar system that might have intelligent life. Back in the seventies, I thought it was really cool when we sent a satellite into the cosmos with a copy of the Magna Carta and Declaration of Independence and some Chuck Berry tunes (and Beethoven and Bach as well). I think this should be available to ordinary people like you and I, possibly for a fee. Maybe they could run a contest or have a reality show for people who don't want to spend the money.
4. I'm in favor of ideas that capture the imagination, because I think we don't have enough of them when it comes to solving problems we must deal with. If I were Bill Gates, I might send a copy of Windows Vista to Alpha Centauri (of course with a computer to run it on) and hold a contest for kids to write software that aliens might appreciate. One can be pretty sure that because of global warming or the war on terror or loose nukes that our terrestrial backups probably aren't much good, long-term, but the stuff we send out into the cosmos might actually survive us. Do we have any ideas worth preserving? Hmmm. We might generate some if we had a reason to.