It just seems like things are cracking up in schools with students leaving for alternatives in droves, an epic teacher shortage that has no end in sight, absenteeism, increasing violence on-campus, arguments with curriculum and a massive increase in school Choice legislation. What is going on?

Well, you might not have heard this simple answer before but it’s the internet. What, you say? The internet is our friend bringing us lots of valuable curriculum and efficiency. Yes, but also changing everything towards a future most do not see. The friction between what has been and what everything is moving toward is caused by the internet.

The internet, or interwebs as Europeans know it, is a chaos machine. It directly attacks order and organization. Humans have always liked to bring order, and naturally arrange themselves into families, groups, form enterprises and raise up leaders. Since the unleashment and propagation of the internet, everything has shifted and will continue to do so towards a new reality for humanity. The internet is doing this through changing the reach, frequency and amplification of human communication.

Before the internet were phone calls, paper letters, books, pamphlets, newspapers, and briefly, faxes. These were sluggish but more meaningful distinct items of human communication in a time when society valued depth of verbal or written crafting and waited by mailboxes to receive letters read and shared many times over. A time when phones were answered formally, and attention to live conversation was absolute. A time when print media was a long-form full disclosure of news, not snippets and incomplete. In organizations, most communication used to flow up the chain of command so that carefully crafted pronouncements and control could be output to the masses by big bosses of institutions and mainstream news media.

The internet broke all that with omni-directional patterns and alternative media. Before the internet, information and communication was power, it was a flow of energy amongst humans which built culture and nations. Now, too much information needs to be censored to try to retain power. Too much communication as an energy zinging around between humans has served to confuse people, the overwhelming flow of it truncating value, depth, craft and meaning. The myriad ways to assemble self- identity on the internet, to siphon from its global potentialities a distinct definition that could possibly compete as singular, exhausts people’s sensibilities and leaves them insecure. On top of that, bad actors entered the fray, bullying without cause, spamming and scamming, falsifying and propagandizing at enormous scale.

Instead of an open sense of welcome to communication channels coming in, people now block, “ghost,” fail to respond, and hide contact information. Polite answers of “no” aren’t even done, just…nothing.

This breaks the will of businesses and enterprises of all kinds and causes even more shrill spamming. Interestingly, whole institutions make it almost impossible to find correct points of communication and if they do employ a human receptionist beyond automated phone systems of “press 1 for services, press 2 for…,” this person is trained in deflection or has no knowledge of the structure of their own organization and who does what.

Too Much Choice Became Less Voice

Instead of a verve to outwardly communicate, people are very careful and seek succinct back-channel foreshortened texting and video, closing off the upkeep of too many outlets in favor of one or a handful.

Only those employed to propagate messages widely have the time to do otherwise. In other words, too much choice became or becomes eventually less voice.

You might notice that live communication by phone is now rarer than when phones were first invented and few people had them, despite the fact that everyone has a mobile phone with access from almost anywhere. They text instead. Educators are finding that even verbalization by the current generation is far less skilled, with depths of illiteracy going beyond words into the nuance of effective expression. The enormity of speed, pervasiveness, amplification, frequency and reach have had a converse effect on human communication, dimming instead of expanding it.

First, the Internet was an Emancipator

The internet makes every individual a “node.” In network language, a node is a point that sends, receives, stores or creates information – an autonomous point of importance both to and fro. This shakes down natural laws of structure even in families where mere decades ago children were discouraged from gainsaying their parents but now engage in plenty of hidden communication with peers which bolsters their sense of being independently right and furthers disobedience. In large organizations, most workers were routinely silenced, treated as passive points of machining the work. Only the bosses got to outwardly communicate, or individuals designated with specific bracketing of what they are allowed to communicate – like salespeople. Customers were likewise treated as passive consumers of the product.

The internet was the greatest emancipator of humans of all time because every individual could become a node, important and no longer passive. The explosive growth of social media, internet retail and every web-enabled transaction is proof of this emancipation – but to what? Have we in fact defined and established value for humans as users of the chaos machine to bring order to themselves and their lives well enough? Do they know their role in finding meaning, crafting communication and having “real” connection with other humans? Or has the internet form spawned an irreversible mutation of communication patterns, hollowing out human meaning while pretending to provide a nirvana of it? Has it caused chaos?

If you inspect what you have seen and know to be true, you will probably find plenty of examples of the internet causing chaos, reversing orderliness.

Communication is the Most Important Human Function

You’ve heard the term “form follows function,” right? The most important “function” there is has to be the pattern, frequency, modality, amplification and accessibility of communications amongst humans. We communicate through voice, touch, and other senses with our world to know we are alive at all. We also establish human relationship patterns to find and show individual value. When the function of communications shifted to omni-directional instead of hierarchical, to too-fast, too-short, and too-many, it started the war on the previous form and structure of all organizations and human relationships.

This is because this centuries function, defined as centered on communication, is the internet. Forms we see which do not mirror its omni-directional, non-hierarchical, speedy and ubiquitous nature are devolving.

Forms which mirror it will succeed.

Seeing the New Macro Trend

This also means that all macro trends of the past are unspooling. For over 250 years the trend was towards centralized and bureaucratic authority in all types of institutions from governments to retail to manufacturing to education and even medicine. From local outfits rolling up to regional and national and finally global efforts of “elite” people who just knew they should be dictating how things ought to be to for the whole world. Those elitist inclinations are vestiges of that 250-year-old industrial and bureaucratic Age. All such organizations are in a war for survival now because the unstoppable trend is towards decentralization brought about by the great flattening power of the internet. The sheer force and supremacy of the internet beats down every monolith because millions if not billions of nodes, we humans attached to the internet, can question and rally at will.

The concrete rule for human affairs now is that anything organized in large-scale bureaucracies for services is going extinct because it cannot respond at the order of magnitude of the multitudinous nodes desirous of interactivity – unless it is automated. Decisions concentrated in the hands of a few humans of large organizations who persist in being insulated from input will be rejected for evasiveness and arrogance. It will also be impossible for most organizations to continue to cause normalized services as if for nameless and faceless masses when diversity and dissimilarity rule the day and all discourse.

Dissimilarity is a main attribute of chaos, after all. All the individual nodes of the internet, the people, will just find a way to get customized things and “ghost” the organization that won’t customize down to the infinity of uniqueness of the nodes. That is chaos.

You should also go beyond seeing to feeling the “just for me” ideology that pleads for a new form of schooling, a different structure than one built for the masses and then overlaid with attempted customizations.

If you take the time to observe life around you, you will see the fact that large-scale anything fights a never-ending war between 1) maintaining the orderliness required for a high volume of a strictly defined service or product intended for the masses, and 2) their own converse attempts to stop the attrition of members/customers/adherents by overwriting that strictly defined service or product with customizations...which of course wrecks orderliness. This is what is called a “doom loop.”

Educators can see a familiar example of this in having to produce an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for every child. Having so many IEPs has been a lament by school administrators and teachers for years because they are not built for this. They were built to be one-to-many with the many being defined as roughly the same sort with no wildly different attributes. Schools by law have to undertake the customizations. Eventually they take swings at overwriting of the old traditional style of schooling with new “models” which never actually change the underlying schooling structure built for the masses. This unfortunately brings disorderliness and teachers becoming adverse to trying more new programs constantly.

Enter the Human Age

The truth is, everything and everyone wants the world to stop being the whole big and overpowering monster it has been to become a haven of smallness, slowness, personalized, refined and human-scaled to them, but with a reasoned global perspective. We are now past the Tech Age and into the Human Age.

Because the internet allows so much access, purchase and activity online without having to go anywhere, humans find they are tired of the hurly-burly life of servitude to the old structures. Yet their exposure to being part of global community through the unregulated internet brought awareness of other cultures while at the same time instigating a renaissance of self-definition locally. Remember the difficulty of self-actualization by individuals against the all-ness of the internet? Local regions have the same longing.

Caring for an encapsuled, meaningful local life now does not negate a sense of sharing the whole globe. The internet makes us both, as if our embodiment is a small radius but our corporeality is limitless – exactly like the internet. It’s the structures in the middle, those artificialities erected to be beyond small- local to be mass-similar productions that are being erased.

Any entity not recognizing these facts as of yesterday or earlier, is fighting a losing battle. They will not have the consent of their governed, the patronage for their product or service, the belief and agreement they need to survive.

What to Be to Fit the Future

You will survive and meet the challenge of the internet-as-chaos-machine if you are in a human community endeavor that is small and nimble. One that creates lines of trust and sharing that are very real and mutually beneficial.

The future is local-plus-global. There is no middle. Organizations will only thrive if they are not a striving to control, indoctrinate and dominate as large entities, but are instead collaboratively balancing their purpose through technology to enhance human individuality locally and meaningfully contribute


If you are a school or district you must think in terms of building a new form of schooling that uses the power of chaos, the internet, in its full capacity and 24/7 nature. Your new maxims must be:

  • All learning is entirely personalized, not in the context it has been by tweaking the existing you’re-part-of-a-whole-group class in a grade-by-your-age, but truly individually paced. It should of course still be humanized with real teachers and real socialization but within individual preferences. This trick is only possible through spatial-temporal AI, which is auto-cohorting intelligent calendaring used in either online or on-campus physical schooling.
  • Local is everything. You might think to stop “consolidating” schools and classes. You need to think small-shop, local retail-like, collapsed grades and “one-room-schoolhouse” that still would intersect with thrilling central labs and excursions.
  • Be ONE thing. Organizations trying to be everything for everyone will fail. Choose one thing to be or become a loose coalition of many single things. This might be several schools-within-a-school such as universities have multiple colleges. It might be a school for the blind, for enhancing literacy, for the arts, for skills – but it needs to have a defining purpose because the internet has caused humans to be extremely interested in self-identity and to be attracted to the like-minded or goal- similar. No one wants to be part of a mass, just a number moving through a system.
  • Drop your overhead. The full rack of one-teacher-for-every-classroom teaching a whole group in linear one-hour-at-a-time is going to be increasingly hard to pull off. In addition it probably doesn’t leverage teachers to their fullest were they untethered from classroom discipline to be rovers and have shorter class togetherness moments with smaller classes.
  • Hold hands with outsiders. Need a teacher or tutor for a one-off specialized course or for the day? Embrace gig teaching and tutoring to both expand curriculum offerings and manage nimble operations. This means stop trying to be big in terms of numbers of people and buildings – be big in effect for the one learner. Cobble together ad hoc and on-demand services – if you are a leader in any institution your primary job which most closely mirrors the internet in form is to be a sourcer of anything or anyone needed with your discernment and expertise in your field.
  • Be the tech first, then the people. Organize to deliver through tech with a sophisticated schema and execution. This includes high-value crafted courses and courseware, not flat uninteresting documents and texts that do nothing on the screen. Make user-interface and user-experience of primo importance. Array your humans in service to this architecture of delivery so that you can customize nimbly and use your humans for their humanity most efficiently whether it is on-campus with digital resources or via the open internet shared with a small very rural school or many such.
  • Get real with transforming into what you need to be. The force of the “form follows function” and that function being the internet, is like gravity or aging – unstoppable. Immaterial changes like teaching method, fleetingly interesting novel programs or technologies, slight shifts in time or space use, charismatic pronouncements to energize the troops without commensurate real change, and pride in only mild achievements are stopgaps in a time when the music might end any moment. It is time to get serious about change in form.