31 January 2010

Book: Life Inc.

I have recently become more and more interested in the state of our world on a macro level and on a recent trip to Vancouver I picked up a few books on the subject in an attempt to become more informed.  Call me naive but thus far in life I have just basically taken some things for granted: we live in a free market society, anyone can prosper if they are willing to work hard, real estate is a pretty safe long term investment, the government acts in the best interests of the people, etc...

I just finished reading one of the three books I picked up titled Life Inc. by Douglas Rushkoff.   Life Inc. is a book describing the effect of corporations and the power they have over us and our governments and the effect they are having on humanity.  If you've seen the movies "The Corporation" or "The Century of the Self" you have some idea of the material but this book takes it to a whole new level.  A highly recommended read I warn you, it's not the easiest material to consume.  Not that it's poorly written, or that it's alarmist, it isn't.  It's extremely well written and thoroughly researched and it's easy to read in a few days.

What's hard is grasping how insidious and yet subtle our current monetary system and the corporate system is.  Corporations are like a different life form, and they are competing with us for resources, and in the last 400 or so years, they have been winning.

It's not all bad news.  Douglas reminds us that we still have ultimate power, for now at least, and there are some very concrete things we can do.  It's just whether or not we have the will.  He states that the situation is entirely temporary.  We will either do what's needed to arrest corporatism, or... it will arrest us.

07 January 2010


I have been checking out the US Federal Government's open data site lately.  Imagine a country where citizens vote and elect a party to run the country.  Now imagine that the party decides where to spend money and one of the places they decide to spend money is in information technology and data and data warehousing and infrastructure and all sorts of other great things so they can track how the rest of your tax dollars are spent and what you got for it.  Now imagine they make that data available for free, no strings attached, to you, the citizens that paid for it.  It might not be as far off as we think.  Check out Data.gov.  This site belongs to the US of course, so it might be a while before we get a crack at something like this in Canada. (We don't even have Skype yet!)