I have one major theme in the work I have been conducting since about 2008: The perforation, and eventual dissolution of the so-called tech industry, at least as it pertains to the computation, structuring and conveyance of information. That isn't my purpose, per se, as much as it is potentially an indication that what I am doing is working.

To paraphrase Clémenceau, these capabilities are too important to be left to the geeks and their silver-haired financiers. When compared against other classes of technologies, computers and their close relatives are long overdue to sink into the substrate of culture. Or rather, they're sinking in a pernicious way that isn't consistent with the true capabilities of the medium itself, and serves the few, ultimately, at the expense of the many.

Why Is This Important?

Computation is the use of existing information to derive new knowledge. Setting it up is the difference between doing work, and doing work that does work. The generative capacity, unique to computation, is a force multiplier that steeply empowers even the humblest concern. Whether they consciously acknowledge it or not, there are vested interests in getting in between ordinary people and this ability.

To be clear, I don't believe the brand identity and concomitant social legitimacy of the tech industry was a deliberate PR manoeuvre at its inception, but it definitely was convenient to carry on in that vein. My main target anyway is this orthogonal structure, this alpha taxonomy of industry, which I believe to be obsolete, and to be getting in the way of solving real problems. I'm just starting with the pigeonhole I know best.

You Can't Destroy an Idea…

…but you can compete with it. The incumbent idea is, roughly, that there is the world as it always was, and then there is tech. Unless you're in tech, you're just a user—if that—and whatever you do for a living, and however you live your life, has a timeless quality that any random person off the street would understand.

Aside from being cartoonishly inaccurate, this position is dangerous. It's what people like Cory Doctorow, Douglas Rushkoff and Jaron Lanier write so passionately against. It has the potential to be the biggest cession of territory in an aeon, a mass voluntary signing into a real indenture, in return for what Eben Moglen so aptly dubbed some PHP doo-dads.

Unlike others who have raised this issue, I'm not actually advocating the entire human race learn to code—yet. That is the final stage of my endeavour to be tackled, if ever, in the distant future—if somebody else doesn't get to it first. Judging by the attempts that have been made to date, however, I am not confident we currently possess the theoretical knowledge, all in one place, to produce a programming environment which is both powerful enough to be useful, and intuitive enough for mass adoption. No, I think I'd rather try to get people to want that first:

1: Educate the Public

You can't value something you don't understand, and you will only value a thing to the extent that you understand it. That is to say that if your mental model of a thing is out of focus, or off the mark by even a few degrees, you might miss an essential feature of what it is, what it's for, and what it can do for you.

What is a computer?
A computer is a machine that executes symbolic models of other machines. It is a machine that literally transforms thought into action.
What is it for?
A computer is for abridging well-defined, rote work, paving the way for new insights and capabilities. Computers are for getting the crap out of the way so you can get on with more important things, even though you rarely see them pull that off, or even used that way.
What can it do for me?
Just about anything you want, in this aforementioned envelope. You just need to have your antenna up. If you can write any process down in exhaustive detail, then a computer can probably do at least a solid chunk of it. That's all I'm ever doing when I do my job.

I want to create a customer who has had enough contact with this capability so that they genuinely understand it, so that they demand it for what it is. This is why I chose to stay in the infrastructure business over the much more lucrative app gold rush: I get to show people, first-hand, the power of locally-adapted solutions to idiosyncratic problems, and furthermore show them the ordinary and non-technical way how those problems get solved. At this stage, it's about the only way people will comprehend it.

2: Break the dependency of practitioners on big capital

The way tech projects are currently done, they're hugely expensive and hugely risky, but people in control of lots of money finance them anyway, because when they succeed, they deliver even huger returns. The practitioners, who control all the know-how, are in tacit allegiance with this first group, because that's how they keep in top-end gadgets, jet-set junkets, and designer eyewear.

If somebody cuts you a big enough cheque, but will only hand it to you on the condition you ask for it in their language, you speak it. That language, by definition, doesn't permit the kind of enquiry I'm performing right now.

Aside: crowd-funding has developed as a compelling new way of getting the money, but I'm focusing on how much you need at once, and what to do once you've got it.

In order to carry out my objective in the previous section, I need to do business on my terms. This entails creating a customer base out of the millions upon millions of entities out there that aren't billionaire neo-Medicis or multinational conglomerates. Do I mean going low-end? No, not necessarily: I mean directly attacking both the probability and the intensity of exposure, on the part of both clients and practitioners, to risk.

Smaller, and less technically self-identified players may indeed be able to afford development at the going rate, but either can't or won't commit the money all at once. Likewise, they almost certainly can't—or won't—afford to speculate on the full amount. If, however, we can trade on a smaller unit which is very likely to deliver something of value end to end, we can free up a lot more business that otherwise wouldn't get done.

Figuring out a way to deliver high-quality work in the software and digital media space, which is both affordable and fairly compensated, without killing yourself, and without anybody risking bankruptcy, is something I have invested considerable effort into. I'm not necessarily hostile to the incumbent model, I am just extremely skeptical that it is the only way that works. I am at the stage that I can begin an experiment to settle that question one way or another.

3: Implement it

My core competency, to use a stodgy, business-book term, is observing patterns and processes, and turning them into models, rules and procedures. Some are for use by people, others are to be used by machines, the results of which are used by people, and so on.

If I write down a conceptual structure, then other people can use it to organize their thinking. If I write down a process to get a certain result, other people can follow it. If I do that in code, then a computer can do most of that work for them.

If I take all this theory and method that I'm learning how to do and I share it, then other people can take it up, and I won't be the only crazy person in the world, off in the weeds, jumping up and down and shouting.

I'm Just Trying to Do a Good Job

I'm taking this tack because I believe that there is nothing inherently natural about an aristocracy that controls all the resources, and a priesthood that controls all the information. It isn't a self-evident proposition to me that this configuration is even legitimate. I'm not advocating the explicit destruction of this social order, but I am asking the question why we all seem to be okay with it. I have great trouble believing ordinary people don't want to understand the items I laid out above. I'm more sympathetic to the notion that they've been discouraged from it.

Mostly, though, I find the current state of affairs frustrates my own ability to perform, because I have to continually spend tremendous effort conditioning people to understand that I'm a normal person like them and not some inscrutable wizard who pushes mysterious buttons in some arcane fashion to produce magic. It is extremely costly to align performance with expectations, when those expectations equate to magic.

I would ultimately like to see a future where people feel empowered to solve their own problems, and band together or contract out to solve more complex problems—but do so from a sense of belonging, not helpless dependency. There are too many problems in the world that are too complex and too localized to be trunked through these two tiny constituencies. Humanity just can't wait for there to be an app for every that.