The quick answer to that question is yes. But of course nothing is quick. Nothing is easy either, but it is possible. Just take a look at the role the Internet and all the other networks that connect the world's computing devices have on the way we are living our lives, conducting our politics, running our businesses and impacting our planet. It is changing everything.
The network offers us a sustainable platform for change, but to use it to its full advantage we must understand it; we must understand how it works, how it's integral to our daily lives and how its potential can be tapped more effectively to tackle our toughest environmental, social, economic and political problems.
Here are four things you can do now to support the sustainable network.
Evaluate and recognize the impact of networks on your life today.
The Internet has more than likely changed your relationships and many ways that you go about your daily life. It's important to recognize, in real terms, both the possibilities and holes created by the network in your personal, civic and business activities. Take stock of the new prospects it's created, new challenges you face, and the level of your reliance on it every day.
The goal is to identify how you want to maximize potential and minimize risk.
Invest in the future to take advantage of the opportunities created by the network.
Learn as much as you can about what the network really is. You should be able to define it (broadband, 3G, smart grid, etc.) and link that to your future opportunities. Learn how to use new network tools to establish connections to information and people, to give you access to the resources you need to make informed decisions. In business, evaluate your infrastructure in terms of scaling and new requirement adaptability.
Investment, time and financial, is critical to participating in the digital world.
Protect your personal information, intellectual property and digital assets.
It is critical to be aware of the risks you are taking when sharing information and resources online. There are precautions and security measures you can take to maintain the integrity and confidentiality of your online activities.
Risks in the digital world need to be understood before they can be combated, and it's important to understand the tradeoffs, strengths and weaknesses of the digital world as an alternative to the physical one.
Test new ideas.
Look for additional ways you could leverage the network to achieve your plans, improve economies of scale or reduce your impacts. Examine your mindset, regulatory landscape, business culture, process and policy environment and ask whether they support change. The more willing a government, business or person is to take a look at the way they normally operate and identify opportunities for improvement and innovation, the better the chance they will be able to effectively leverage the network and new technologies to solve problems and accelerate success.
It's critical to identify and then clear the hurdles and embrace necessary changes to keep up in this fast-paced world.
Thinking and answering these broad questions in our own, individualized terms will enable us to find our place in this global network. And then together we can develop more sustainable environmental, economic, social and political models, connected and supported by the network. It's important to understand the network and its role in our lives, so we can nurture our relationship with it - our individualized and collective futures depend on it.