I call myself a historian in the digital age. Historians are here to witness and account stories that are unfolding. The Internet opened a new way of performing this task. In the analog era, information depended on printed materials and distribution was slow and historians dealt with the past. Now, the free flow of information that became available online makes it possible for us to document history as it is unfolding and enter into the future.
The late historian Howard Zinn once said;
“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”1
I saw history happening on the Internet in the free software movement and crusade to open governments with the motto of “privacy for the weak and transparency for the powerful”. Impulse to set history in motion emerged from cypherpunks– an online mailing group that advocates privacy and shift of balance of power between individuals and the state with the use of strong cryptography.
In their grand experiment of preserving power of ordinary people, I saw struggles to claim their own history. I witnessed courage, creativity and conscience in facing obstacles and oppression by governments and powerful corporations.
In this story of ordinary people, where conflicts and corruption prevail, I saw moments where peace claimed its victory and justice saw the light of day. Where there was betrayal, I also recognized loyalty and friendships being formed. Where there was hatred, I saw love demonstrated in each person’s kindness and their striving to remember our inherent obligation to one another.
Disruption in this history instigated by cypherpunks started to form a resilient network of humanity in this digital age. I saw it with the rise of WikiLeaks, the world first global fourth estate and Bitcoin, the borderless and frictionless “Internet of money”.
I now found how this sense of ‘history is happening’ is shared among those who are engaged in these new innovations of journalism and currency. I saw a growing community of collaboration and the excitement of being on the front lines of history.
Through my writing, I am dedicated to capture sparks where ordinary people overcome fear and choose a path of self-determination out of their own free will. I hope my words make this light that emanates from each individual brighter and help us all claim our own creative power to shape the course of civilization.
Hayase, N. (2017, December 18). Bitcoin’s scaling challenge brings the battle for liberation of cyberspace. Bitcoin Magazine.
Hayase, N. (2017, October 25). WikiLeaks, Bitcoin, and the revolutionary movement of peacemakers. Antiwar.com.
Hayase, N. (2017, July 4). Moral injury of war and the invisible wound of empire. CommonDreams.
Hayase, N. (2014, January 2). WikiLeaks: Defeating the conspiracy of governance. ROAR Magazine.
1. Howard Zinn, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times. (Boston: Beacon Press, 2002), 208.