Anyway. My old friend was (no doubt is) good with technology, and I had come to rely on him rather too much for the tech side of the work we did together. That, and I did the predictable freelance thing of identifying too much with one (two) freelance job(s) that looked like they might go on forever, rather than maintaining a balance of other work in case it (they) fell through. I pretty much abandoned what you might call self-promotion, and I managed to do it over precisely the wrong period of several years. When I stopped doing all that, people typically had paper CVs (to send via email) and Facebook pages and maybe a few of them had heard of LinkedIn (launched mid-2003). When I came back onto the (freelance) jobs market, well. You can guess. Things were different.
I picked up work, because it's still possible to do that without a Social Media Strategy, and I took the empty moment to work on a (few) project(s) of my own. I got interested in social media, started this website at some point, worked out what LinkedIn was, tried out Facebook and Twitter. Then I bought an e-reader, launched a publishing company, bought a Raspberry Pi and a cute little container for it, and did a course on WordPress. Still teaching myself that last one; you only really learn a technology when you absolutely have to make it do something for you ... and you don't have a friend to help. I came to various conclusions about it all, none particularly surprising, and I like the new solutions better than the old. Twitter is a surprisingly effective form of people power, and mobile phones bring down governments. I like not having to draw up a paper CV.
I stepped out for five years, or thereabouts, and when I came back, everything had changed. That gives me a bit of distance. I sat down here to write about that, so let's move on from the personal history.
The new world came on suddenly, while I was out, and at first sight, it seems to have reached a temporary equilibrium. Today's equivalent of "selling the sizzle" is getting the SEO right, and we seem to have reached another of those moments in history at which it is possible to imagine that all the important inventions have happened. Suddenly, we're all connected. Suddenly, we're empowered to (for example) e-publish the dog-eared manuscripts from our bottom drawers. A century ago, we had railroads, roads, telephones. All we needed had been invented. Now we have smart technology. Ditto?
Maybe. But the important changes, as always, are the intangibles - we're all empowered, etc., to an extent that we weren't only five-ish years ago, and we're starting to use that power. I suspect that what's really happened, in terms of politics, government, established institutions, police, NHS, COBRA Committee (previous post), is that a set of subtle demolition charges have begun to detonate under all the old assumptions. Institutions have been losing their authority throughout history - the Privy Council, anyone? - but today, even the watchdogs are failing. Care Quality Commission? Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? Answers on a postcard please (hint: the media today, but in the long term, we do).
The Arab Spring may be experiencing a few setbacks at the moment, and recently we've learned that dear old Big Brother is suffocating under the weight of all our email traffic. Be careful what you wish for, security services. But I think the tide of history is, er, on the side of the whistle-blowers. If I got to be President on an idealistic platform, for example, I'd attract idealists. If I failed to act on my own words, I'd end up with disillusioned idealists working for me. Not a happy situation, if I'm the kind of liberal who ends up as a hardliner. Young people tend to be idealistic, and young people tend to take over the world.
History is proverbially written by the winners. I suspect that today's history is going to be uploaded by the digital natives. Edward Snowden was born in 1983. Bradley Manning was born in 1987. Young enough to be part of the coming generation? Just a thought.