No Present or Future but only the Past!

There is no present or future, only the past happening over and over again now”.

If this quotation from Eugene O’Neil, a Nobel Prize writer, is true, it means we (netizens) are in the advantage. We know the past, so the choices belong to us on how we would like it to be.

Even though the Global village may have been created for hunting new business avenues, we are definitely not its submissive victims. We may have over spent on the “Free Lunch” (see 1st post) but we are still their customers, and guess what, “The Customer is King”.

Rachel Bostman, the founder of The Collaborative Lab. Her choice of the past for her present is Swap-trading or Bartering. Yes the oldest exchange system for goods or services, without using money, now has been reinvented in our Global Village. She swaps her unwanted DVD copy of ‘24’ for a wanted DVD copy of ‘Sex and the City’ by using swap services websites.

Rachel is also fascinated with how internet technology can generate trust between strangers around the world. She believes this kind of activity, in her words “Collaborative Consumption”, will free us from hyper-consumption.

Zhang Lei, with his two friends, formed an online translation community, called “Yeeyan”. They are collaborating with the Guardian, to translate interesting English articles into Chinese and vice-versa. Currently, they have 150,000 volunteers in China.

Zhang Lei, was motivated by the bias of American media on Tibet and Chinese nationalism during the Lhasa riots. He said “I can’t solve these problems, but I can translate.”

Next in line is “Editor in Chief” of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, a formal ethical computer hacker. He is “one of the world’s most visible human-rights activists”. His core value is “Well, Capable, Generous men do not create victims; they nurture victims.”

Julian stands firmly on his belief in nurturing us with the truth. His Wikileaks is a very active journalist organisation. It has released more classified documents around the world than traditional media could in the past few years.

Rashid Saini comments “…WiKileaks is the exposure of truths. No other media can give such immediacy and ability for a full throttle exposure.” (see his full comment on 2nd Post: National Security…)

Yes we (netizens) are hungry for truth, freedom and knowledge

Look at Wikipedia, an online encyclopaedia, currently offering their service in 285 languages. Here, we are forming our Global village’s culture. It is in a very vulnerable state and getting a bit messy now.

Undeniable, there is a need for rules and regulations to prevent cybercrime, terrorism and secure national security. But there is still a question to answer: how to control it without killing our Freedom of expression. Controlling and monitoring are obviously not absolute answers as they generate fear and paranoia. The cyberspace is the only place that we can hear the voice of individuals and minorities. They are very soft but subtle.

Personally, I see cybercrime as the cries for help from criminals and victims; we can’t eliminate the problems by slammed them down. Immediately they bounce back and hit us in the face. They are testers of our compassion.

The situation of our Global village is a tug of war between the supply and demand of the business world. There are no ultimate authorities or superiors, but there are influencers and dominators of economic forces. The difference between democracy and propaganda is that the choices belong to us, the netizens. They can manipulate, while we can observe and scrutinize.

Remember the “Customer is King”. We can drive the direction as long as we don’t surrender and be corrupted by convenience. It took me sometime to install a new search engine like duckduckgo to my three browsers: Safari, Chrome and Firefox. But I can get wider search results, and I can escape from the Google tracking system (at least for a while, I guess).

As this is my last post of this series, I have two video clips from to share with you: coRachel Bostman: The case of Collaborative Consumption and  Julian Assange: Why the world needs WikiLeaks

May I ask you to share your favourite websites, blogs, etc. and tell us how cool they are?

You all should know by now that my favourite website is and its slogan: “Ideas worth spreading”.

Appreciate your support!


Related Links


33 thoughts on “No Present or Future but only the Past!

  1. I think in cyberspace we need to establish who is the customer or the consumer. Is it anyone who posts? Trades? Does business? Or the surfer? We all makes choices in how we choose to consume. For me my question how can we encourage positive engagement in cyberspace. Because of the relatively anonymity of the internet, does that mean ‘Anything goes’ ? Of course if customer is king, then some sectors will feel they can use the internet to feed their own needs however unethical or unsavory. Are there boundaries?

  2. ‘Customer is king’ I work in the service jobs but actully I don’t like this thought. Because of this behavior, people will always do everything they need without caring. However, I did nothing without continueing treat them like a king

    • Sorry that you have to tolerate with their bad behaviors. However, when your turn has come, I believe you will be the most wonderful King or Queen as you like.

  3. There will always be a tug-o war between regulation and freedom. Everyone is never going to agree on how to handle cybercrime, terrorism, cyber bullying, online privacy, etc. There is a grey area between these extremes where the perfect balance resides. But it’s an elusive moving target. I think we netizens are doing a decent job of staying informed and relatively empowered using digital and social media and it is our responsibility to see that we stay that way. We have to stay curious and hungry for the knowledge that the electronic communication technologies provide us access to. That in my opinion is why education about the internet, how to use it and it’s potential should be required from the earliest age.

    The thing is we all have different digital wants, needs and interests. And the great thing about the Internet is that it gives us the opportunity to explore these to an almost boundless degree. At the moment I am really liking Buzzfeed. Say what you will about it being pointless or a waste of time but I also think a lot of it is current and relevant. Pop culture does after all reflect current attitudes, moral values, norms and sociological trends.

  4. Yes, definitely new age technology has increased the speed and volume at which information is disseminated. However, this has caused information overload which may cause wrong choices for the future to be made by the customers due to the difficulty in discerning what is true vs untruths or scams or hoaxes. People hide behind anonymity in cyberspace so anything goes – is the information posted for the good of the customers or for their own motives? That is something netizens need to determine in their hunger for truth, freedom and knowledge.

  5. Living in a bubble is fine … as long as your aware your in the bubble (some people are happy to live in ignorance because it is bliss).

    Knowledge is power, the internet communicates/shares knowledge, if you influence the internet communications you can influence shared knowledge and in turn influence power.

    Power is given by the people and can be taken by the people

  6. In a business world, advance in technology is inevitable. Are we seeking truth, freedom, knowledge or opportunity… Do we know where we are going… Are we being destroyed silently… Do we find happiness or worries, peace or war!

  7. When I discovered that Google does analytics and that our search history determines what Google eventually ‘searches’ on, I felt that it took away the ‘freedom’ of the internet, where searches turn up all the Internet had to offer. It really felt that Google determined what I eventually saw when I do an ‘I feel lucky’ or pressed ‘Search’. The thought that Google will steer me away from what I actually hope to search annoys me to no end. Perhaps a suggestion on what I should use to deviate from the ‘arms of Google’?

  8. Customers will never be the king as we, the customers, often measure the quality of service that we receive against the amount of money we paid for. If the customers have been treated like a king, no feedback will be required for the service providers to improve.

  9. Hi, I really like the idea of collaborative consumption (its sounds so much smoother …) but I do not think the “Customer is King” yet. Trampled on, abused and disrespected, we have a long way to go before the customer (real or virtual) is anywhere near king – particularly in this country. However, hope springs eternal. This has been a great discussion, and there have been some powerful thoughts along the way. I think the cyberspace war is yet to be won by the netizens, but by working together collaboratively, who knows what could happen …? IMc

    • I think customers are a lot closer to kings than many realise. One of the (very few) big boons of big data is that eCommerce is developed, maintained and evolves in correlation to how users interact with it. Simply by clicking on a button, or not doing so, you’re having input into how your experience with an online retailer, business or other entity is shaped in future, if at all.

  10. I really liked what Rachel said about being wired to share. She summarised the evolutionary steps we have been taking from ‘passive consumers’ to ‘creators’ to ‘highly enabled collaborators’ which is exciting for our future activities and the reduction in waste. Such activities (which she mentioned) include redistribution markets, collaborative lifestyles and product service systems however some people are probably engaging more in them than others (I am one of the latter)!

    Trust however is key and it’s nice to think that perhaps, we are indeed becoming more community focussed and getting back into the old systems of bartering and trading which were successful amongst primordial socieities for thousands of years. It’s also comforting that we can build our own reputation capital while verifying others’, making our online life a little less worrying and a bit more exciting!

    • Customer is more serf or slave. We are subjects to a curated internet. Google tracks us. Amazon pushes books dependent on previous choices and even our news is designed to provide content based on location and previous clicks throughout the site.

  11. Another interesting example where the customer has an elevated position and there is more collaboration between consumer and producer is in the area of micro-funding, as exemplified by Kick Starter. Here the consumer can fund the actual development of a product through variable though typically small financial investments, the aggregation of which enables the producer to bypass traditional funding mechanisms that often prevented interesting projects from getting off the ground. Plays, technological gadgets, video games, documentaries can all see the light of day when it would have otherwise been very difficult. I think systems like this, despite their flaws, are shifting the relation of consumer and producer.

    I am not too sure about the bartering stuff, though it could have some promise. A decade ago I was involved in a program called Timebank, where people volunteered their time and expertise in exchange for receiving the same amount of some other person or person’s time. So you might know how to tech dancing and you ‘give’ 3 hours dancing instruction to people in the network, and then you are entitled to 3 hours of other’s time, maybe to have your computer fixed. You could use anyone in the system, you didn’t have to ‘trade’ time with particular people, hence the term ‘Timebank’. The problem was that whilst this system worked okay in poorer socio-economic areas, wealthier people by and large found it more convenient to just pay for services and regarded their time as worth a lot more than someone else’s time, so the system didn’t seem to catch on in wealthier areas. Hyper-consumerism is so convenient, and bartering systems must have some advantage that significantly compensates for their relative inconvenience and uncertainty (e.g. having to travel far to retrieve bartered items or being uncertain as to their quality relative to a shop purchase).

    Overall, though, the internet seems to present a myriad of new forms of consumers connecting with each other and with producers that seems more intimate and less centralised, and less polarised than traditional market relations. I hope that we see more development in this area

  12. I don’t think i agree with your thoughts on cyber crime at all. By ‘testers of our compassion’ you mean thieves of our money and identity and a burden to society, right? But, I agree with Ian, collaborative consumption is a great idea

  13. I really like Twitter, because as a user you can tailor who you follow … but also sometimes you find the unexpected through retweets and the sheer variety of what people tweet. There’s also a big mix of old and new media. Collaborative consumption happens a lot in that space, too. I agree about TED … it’s a fantastic place full of ideas!

  14. I think we are moving towards a new era of “prosumerism”. People are tired of waiting for worthwhile, interesting or relevant content, and so they create it themselves, hence producer + consumer = prosumerism.
    With communication technologies improving constantly, anyone and everyone with a smartphone and an internet connection has the means with which to create content and more importantly, gain an audience.
    One need only look at YouTube and more recently, Vines to see this effect of prosumerism.

  15. The collaborative consumption site is an interesting idea, and does feed into the global network of goods-swapping websites that aim to reduce the impact of waste and landfill. Do these kind of websites still make its members ‘consumers’ though, when they are essentially a backlash against consumerism? I also disagree with your take on cybercrime being a ‘cry for help’ and deserving of compassion – identity fraud is one of the largest crimes now, facilitated by internet technologies, and cybercriminals know exactly the illegalities of what they are doing.

    • Thanks Rae for your comment. Let me explain a bit more of my view about cybercrime.
      I don’t mean what the Criminals did, is right. They definitely deserve punishment as they hurt others.
      But once the angry and hurt feeling has gone. The next question is, Is it solve the real problems? I don’t believe so.

      What the motivation of their behavior, let say , Greed.
      So where it comes from: poverty, bad childhood, etc.
      Always something need to be fix. It is simple as cause and effect theory.

      Once we find out the answer, it brings to us to the next level of understanding.

      If the answer is just “greedy”, never feel enough for anything in their lives.

      Don’t you think, it is very sad. People who never be happy all their lives, no matter what they have.
      What the point to have life, if you would be able to appreciate it.

      We are connected, remember not only in this Global village but the World.
      Tsunami is not happen because of one people and certainly in one day.
      Hope it makes some senses.


  16. Excellent post Kris!
    I am also a fan of TED,com.
    I think it’s great how the idea of swapping and bartering is gaining such popularity again both on and off-line… Some things from the past really do have value and are worth sustaining.
    Julian Assange is a brave man! We need more people like that in our world. Let the truth be told to the people!

  17. I like the idea of collaborative consumption. But are we as autonomous as we believe? Hans-Peter Martin, Harald Schumann in the Global Trap put forward the idea that we are now simply highly evolved Romans – we consume entertainment differently but in essence it’s the same thing of being sidetracked. The bread and circuses of the Romans is now how we view content online. Even producing content is part of the bread and circuses mentality where by producing content we are still being entertained and sidetracked from what’s happening around us.

    We believe we still have autonomy and that our democratic rights are reflected by an ever evolving internet. Consumer is king is a great thought that I wish I could believe in. Consumer is serf, slave and servant to consumerism. We don’t have the means to own our own production anymore. One hundred years ago the average person in Australia owned and produced what they consumed. The average person in Australia is now a ‘sales asssistant’ and most of us have no idea how to raise, grow or slaughter what we consume. I don’t even know how to fix things in the way my parents can. It should be content rather than the consumer that is king. If we are not judged by the “content of our character” and rather, by the products we consumer; then what sorts of kings are we?

    I would like our collective bargaining capabilities to be enhanced by the internet where we keep our governments transparent and our pricing fair without destroying the lives of those who create things for us in developing nations. I would like to be kings together where our plutocracies generate wealth for all and doesn’t diminish it and funnel it through to the few. I guess someone needs to tell Mark Zuckerburg that. (

  18. I think there’s a flaw in Eugene O’Neil’s quote. It’s also pretty depressing if it was true.
    If there’s no present and future, only the past happening over and over again, then there’d be no advancement of any kind because we’d be doing the same things, going through the same experiences, and making the same mistakes. To do something similar to how it was done in the past is not the same as reliving or repeating the past. Using the same example of bartering, the concept may be the same, but the shape and form of cyber bartering is vastly different from how it was done. The fact that it can now be done virtually without the two parties at the same physical location says it all.
    Truth…freedom…privacy…these are very elusive and grey concepts in the virtual world. What is true? Are we free? Can we keep our private things private? And what’s cybercrime? It’s a matter of definition.

    • Hi Joseph, Thanks so much for sharing and point out the flaw in Eugene’s quote.
      That’s my point. If it is true or it is not? Or half true,? Up to individual interpretation.
      I am aware of the original interpretation in the play is talking about repeating of the mistakes.
      However, I prefer to interpret it in different way where the past represents as choices for us.
      Hope it makes some senses. Cheers.

  19. The world evolved, so do we. With existence of internet, things we did so called ‘personal’ becomes ‘publicized’. Even some ‘small comments ‘can grow to huge criticism by netizers as our boundaries drawn has faded through time.

    On the past, any information published to public will required to ‘filter’ by a group of panel (ie Newspaper, magazines etc) where media is limited. Today, any information shared is individual where social media (ie Facebook) is unlimited.

  20. I think we need people like WikiLeaks, Julian Assange in world to tell us the truth as opposed to news that is controlled and filtered down to what someone in the ivory tower thinks we should know!

    All the social media we have now is amazing, its a great way to keep in touch and share information quite quickly but with everything it has its pros and cons such as over sharing of information. I think we have to be conscious of how much information we want to put out on-line!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s