But it wasn’t a renaissance.

Built to enhance our essential interrelatedness, our digital networks could have changed everything. And the internet fostered a revolution, indeed. But it wasn’t a renaissance.

Revolutionaries act as if they are destroying the old and starting something new. More often than not, however, these revolutions look more like Ferris wheels: the only thing that’s truly revolving is the cast of characters at the top. The structure remains the same. So the digital revolution-however purely conceived-ultimately brought us a new crew of mostly male, white, libertarian technologists, who believed they were uniquely suited to create a set of universal rules for humans. But those rules-the rules of internet startups and venture capitalism-were really just the same old rules as before. And they supported the same sorts of inequalities, institutions, and cultural values.

A renaissance, on the other hand, is a retrieval of the old. Unlike a revolution, it makes no claim on the new. A renaissance is, as the word suggests, a rebirth of old ideas in a new context. That may sound less radical than revolutionary upheaval, but it offers a better way to advance our deepest
human values.

The revolutionary fervor with which the digital era was promoted has finally begun to die down, and people are becoming aware of the ways in which these networks and the companies behind them have compromised our relationships, our values, and our thinking. This is opening us to the possibility that something much bigger is going on.

Douglas Rushkoff, Team Human

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