Benjamin Phelan explores the notion of altruism in his article, while examining the selfless behaviour of ants, bees, and wasps. It has been found that altruism is tough thing to grasp in evolutionary terms. “When you look at pro-social behaviors,” says David Sloan Wilson, “behaviors that are for the good of the group, they’re not locally advantageous. If you’re an altruist, and you’re doing what’s good for the group, that fundamentally requires time and energy and risk on your part.”
Words like altruism, philanthropy, and love are concepts closely tied with humanity and how we relate to others around us. More and more, these ideas are intimately weaved in with technology, science, and innovation – in fact, they are often the reason why people create and share. There is usually a vision to make it better for everyone.
We see this in web projects like Wikipedia where Jimmy Wales set out to give free access to the sum of all human knowledge, Firefox where they believed that openness, innovation, and opportunity are key to the continued health of the Internet, and of course, the web itself, thanks to Tim Berners-Lee who fought to keep it free for the masses. In a recent court hearing, Berners-Lee was asked “Who owns the web?” in which he responded, “We do.” Meanwhile, many other innovations are tightly guarded with patents, copyright, licenses, and access to products and services come at a pretty penny. They operate in their own silos and there is an emphasis on ownership and the bottom line.
We touched on this during our bar talk on Friday night, and it got me imagining a utopian web, where everything is free to access and people create to solve a problem for someone else, and participants start from a place of altruism. While I snap out of my dream-like state, I will say that I’m genuinely excited about the influx in terminology around altruistic movements in the web space – ideas like the sharing economy, social good, social entrepreneurship, and collaborative consumption are very compelling to me.
PS. I added a Photostream page with a few snapshots from last week!