Windows on the World: Always-on live webcams from the Tarlant winery in Champagne, France (top) and the town square in Belgrade, Serbia.
Here are seven more intriguing ideas from The Global Ideas Book. As with all of the ideas in the book, these are just concepts, not fully-formed plans or proposals. While none of them would be easy, and there are obvious problems to be overcome with each, I think with appropriate collaboration, a sound framework and commitment of resources, they are all feasible, and could make a dramatic difference in our lives:
- Windows on the World: Several of the ideas in the book revolve around allowing people anywhere in the world to see, live and unedited, what is happening on the opposite side of the globe. The basic idea is to establish live ‘portals’ from various places around the world that would be broadcast into major meeting-places elsewhere in the world on large, life-size screens, and also via the Internet. A related idea is a process by which tourists could be trained by professional filmmakers how to produce quality mini-documentaries about places they were about to visit, in return for which they would make the mini-documentary free for all online on their return. Another suggestion was allowing and enabling the placement of webcams in the world’s hotspots and places where human rights violations are occurring to permit the world to witness what is happening. Another idea was to put webcams in all public corporation shareholder meetings. Yet another idea proposes a satellite or cable channel that would continuously show live programs relayed from various countries around the world simultaneously translated into the viewers’ native language, so that viewers could get an unfiltered sense and understanding of the local culture in these countries. All of these ideas have a common purpose: to use the Internet and wireless connectivity to break down the cultural and information barriers between people and nations.
- Directing Your Taxes: Two of the ideas in the book propose that taxpayers be allowed some choice in how their tax dollars would be spent, permitting some citizen participation in the decisions on how much of our tax dollars should be allocated to programs such as defense, education, health and humanitarian aid.
- Maximum Wage: One proposal is that no one should be able to earn more than, say, twenty times the minimum wage, by imposing a 100% tax on income beyond that amount, as a means to redistribute exorbitant wealth to those in need without discouraging entrepreneurship.
- Community-Based Consumer/Citizen Networks: One of the ideas is to create a capability for any self-defined community in the world to establish an online forum for sharing information about local products and services, so that consumers can learn from their neighbours and shop more wisely, and for sharing information about local issues and events to enable greater community participation and activism.
- Designated Candlelight Evenings: One of the ideas is to designate, say, one evening per week as a candlelight evening, when lights (and perhaps all electronic appliances) would be turned off and the time spent in conversation, quiet social activities, public discourse, reading or reflection — saving a lot of energy in the process.
- Virtual Fences: One of the ideas is to replace costly, ugly, and community-dividing fences with invisible, virtual fences that would establish boundaries for legal purposes, and keep animals from wandering (through use of a warning noise or mild shock when the boundary was neared), without disrupting neighbourhoods and the sense of openness and view of nature the way physical fences do.
- Democratic Seating Lotteries: Instead of the best seats on airplanes (like the ones pictured above), in theatres, concert halls and sporting arenas always going to the rich and connected, one idea suggests that all seats be priced the same, and a lottery draw be used to determine who gets the best seats.
There are also several ideas in the book along the lines of the ‘save the world’ think-tank I have been talking about, where the power of the Internet, collaboration tools, innovation processes and the Wisdom of Crowds would be tapped to engage the world’s best minds to solve the world’s most intractible problems, instead of leaving it all up to politicians, scientists and corporations. But none of these proposed ideas, in my opinion, is sufficiently open, well-articulated or powerful to get me to sign up. We need a ‘save the world’ think-tank, but I believe we need to put more work and involve more creative minds in its design before we try to roll it out, if we hope to effectively attract and deploy the talent needed to solve these problems.