Breaking Rules: Autonomy in Tech, Art and Activismby@normbond
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Breaking Rules: Autonomy in Tech, Art and Activism

by Norm BondMarch 11th, 2024
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The rise of autonomy in tech, art and activism is empowering individuals to take control of their careers, express themselves freely and fuel movements without traditional limits. Using emerging tools and platforms, people are carving out new paths and redefining what's possible. However, navigating ethical considerations and sustainable funding models remains essential in ensuring the positive impact of this shift. The journey toward autonomy is an exciting yet challenging one, requiring innovation, resilience and collaboration. The article urges readers to join the conversation. Help build an empowered future where creativity thrives and technology empowers rather than controls.
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Ever feel like your phone knows you better than your best friend? Does your newsfeed seem less like a window to the world and more like some weird fun-house mirror? Mine too.

Big Tech's algorithms are good. They may even be a little too good. And they’re only going to get better. But here's the secret: you can opt-out. A growing cadre of tech gurus, renegade artists and unstoppable activists are throwing a wrench in the system.

There was no escape. Breathe, eat, and sleep. That was all there was to life in the machine."

- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Autonomy is not a word commonly used by the masses. The idea of independence feels like a betrayal. Talking about “freedom” sets off triggers. But autonomy is a dynamic force. It adapts and evolves with our ever-changing world. Today it’s making a global comeback. If you look closely you can spot it in tech, art and activism.

It’s a mindset that says “I’m not going to be controlled by outside forces and external interests.

Here’s some non-breaking news. The traditional work compact, in which employees traded hard work and loyalty in exchange for job security is shattered. How many times have you gone job-hunting in your life? Thought so.

But consider this.

DJ Steve Aoki boasts more than 3 billion music streams. He remixed the NFL on CBS theme for the most recent Super Bowl in Las Vegas.

Here’s what he said at Gala Music:

“In the 10 years I’ve been making music … six albums, and all those advances … in one drop last year in NFTs, I made more money.” - Steve Aoki

Aoki has finally found the key to a music fortune: NFTs

Want to opt-out and join the revolution?

Connect with techs and developers building a web where you are in control. Why give your personal information to some faceless corporation?

Learn from artists minting their creations as NFTs. For the first time, it’s possible to cut out the middleman and take ownership of your work. Discover how activists bypass the financial gatekeepers. Now you can use crowdfunding to fuel your movements directly from the people.

Keep reading to see how the coolest tools and platforms are putting you back in control. Get ready for an empowered future. Let’s get this show on the road.

The Rise of Autonomy

Early in my entrepreneurial journey, a millionaire mentor gave me some advice on autonomy. He said, “Norm whoever controls your time controls your income. I suggest it be you who does it.” How often are your decisions based on your own values and goals?

The company loyalty concept drove my parents. “Get an education. Get a good job. Retire there.” In their day people often stayed with the same company for their entire career. They were even called “a company man” or “company gal.” Life goals consisted of building deep connections with colleagues and a strong sense of pride in your work.

Back then companies invested in their employees through training programs and full benefits. When I started in sales my big tech employer had a “no-layoff” policy (it ended while I was there).

The global creator economy is projected to reach $104.2 billion by 2028, reflecting the increasing number of individuals leveraging online platforms to express themselves creatively and generate income independently. - Creator Economy

Over the course of several decades, cracks began to appear in the model. Tech advancements led to increased job insecurity. One of the first job killers I remember was voicemail. Yep. It eliminated the need for receptionists to answer phones, take messages, and write them down on those little pink slips for salespeople returning to the office.

Wage freezes and layoffs increased and the "good job" became less common. As the internet took hold in the 90’s globalization became sexy. The social contract between employer and employee collapsed, Companies chased cheap labor and maximum profits for shareholders - wherever they could find them. But in public, they sought to maintain the illusion of the Golden Age. Their corporate PR departments were quite busy.

Today despite the perception of freedom your autonomy is limited. Big tech giants own social media networks. They control the search engines and video production platforms. Their TOS and centralization secure their dominance. Maximize profits for the few. Sound familiar? This traditional model locks out millions of creators worldwide.

“The goal of most people for the last half century was to get the good job that paid well with benefits..”

- Anthony Spadafore, Director Pathfinders

Autonomy Success Story

My friend Sarah is a graphic designer with six years of experience. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she lost her job at a big ad agency. After chasing hundreds of job posts she decided to be her own boss. Now she works remotely as a freelance designer. Instead of being assigned clients, she sets her own schedule. Her boring projects got replaced by gigs that aligned with her interests. She earns more on her own than she did going into the office. And now she finds personal meaning in her work.

The Back-to-Office Push and the Autonomy Challenge

A remote work revolution is sweeping around the world. Set free from the confines of the physical office, employees are discovering a newfound sense of autonomy.

Do you thrive in an environment tailored to your work style? Can you manage your schedule and responsibilities better with more flexibility? For most of us, the answer is YES! This newfound control increases productivity and boosts morale.

The office feels like a cage after tasting years of freedom

But big business CEOs, government bureaucrats, and even Elon Musk don’t like it. Many companies are actively encouraging, some even demanding, a return to “in-office” work. Their push-back against remote work poses a challenge to employee autonomy.

Here's why:

  • Goodbye Flexibility, Hello Frustration: Remote work helps employees manage their work schedules around personal needs and responsibilities. If your productivity is solid and profits are up why poke the bear? A forced return to the office disrupts this balance and increases stress.

  • The Commute Crisis: It’s the time and money stupid. We all have 24 hours in our day. Having to commute to the office, pay to park, and upgrade your wardrobe eats into personal time and monthly budgets. The impact on working parents or people with long commutes is huge.

  • Morale Killer: Most employees I speak with enjoy the flexibility and convenience of working from home. Some never had this opportunity before COVID-19. Now they realize they can do their job more conveniently. Forcing them back into the office feels like a slap in the face.

    I think companies that are inflexible with remote work options will lose valuable talent. The job market is competitive. The creator economy allows people like my friend Sarah to level up their skills and create jobs for themselves. The pull of autonomy is strong.

Collaboration: Tech, Art and Activism

Disruption accelerates when tech, art and activism come together. From interactive installations to digital art platforms, technology has enabled artists to reach wider audiences. You can also spark important conversations about social issues and reform.

tech gurus, renegade artists and unstoppable activists are throwing a wrench in the system

Techpreneurs are launching tools that empower artists and activists. Modern artists are wielding technology to create art that raises awareness for social causes. Activist groups are reaching a global audience with every social media post.

This is the future we're building. A world where creative expression meets social justice. And the power of technology is at the core. - Norm Bond

Tech Creators Build Worlds Beyond Reality

Tech developers and creators are building alternative platforms to traditional activities. Can you imagine stepping into a painting instead of just looking at it in a museum? You can with Van Gogh Exhibit: The Immersive Experience.

The exhibition has been touring since 2017 with +5,000,000 visitors! This blend of art and cutting-edge technology ranks among the 12 best immersive experiences in the world by CNN.

You find yourself surrounded by larger-than-life renditions of Van Gogh's most famous works

Take a walk alongside Van Gogh during a visually rich journey. It’s a 20,000 square feet sound and light spectacular. The two-story projections leave visitors in awe. You discover the inspiration behind eight of Van Gogh’s iconic works. The Starry Night is one of my favorites.

virtual reality with 10,000 sq ft screens and 360-degree projections

Artists Go Indie with Tech

Blockchain technology provides innovative tools for artists to monetize their work through smart contracts, NFTs and crypto. This strategy allows creators to sell their work directly to collectors without the need for traditional galleries or intermediaries. Artists are creating digital art and minting it as NFTs.

London's glitchy artist XCOPY is minting millions with his dystopian NFTs, averaging over $23,000 per sale and topping the charts. His work captivates collectors and redefines the limits of digital art. His signature style is a mesmerizing blend of flashing visuals and dark themes (his website includes a flashing media warning).

XCOPY collabs with other digital artists: DontPanictakeThePhoto @shyshpanchick

Here’s the thing. XCOPY’s work isn't just visually arresting. Sure there are lots of flashy NFTs and dystopian styles. But his NFT’s spark conversations. He challenges the status quo in the art world. He’s using his creativity to provide a unique commentary on our digital age.

Telling your own story and controlling distribution is an expression of autonomy. Is XCOPY a sign of a future where artists control their destinies, or a blip in a system that still favors the powerful? Don’t just wait to see what happens. Take action on YOUR dream.

How Activists Use Tech to Win

The murder of George Floyd was recorded and spread virally across social media. It ignited Black Lives Matter like a rocket. This wasn't just a tragic event. It was a spark that lit the fuse of a movement already simmering online. The case study reveals how activists can use social media to amplify their message. Consider this.

In the month before Floyd’s murder, #BlackLivesMatter was tweeted more than 400 thousand times. But in the month after, the hashtag spiked and was shared more than 100 million times.

Nordstrom posted #BlackLivesMatter to Facebook and received more than 5-million likes. The engagement was nearly 90 times the level of typical posts from the brand.

We need change. Nordstrom

Colleges and universities joined in. More than 107 shared #BlackLivesMatter. Healthcare systems, nonprofits, corporations, and sports teams also climbed on the #BlackLivesMatter juggernaut.

The entire internet was ablaze with social posts, videos, CEO statements, and brand platitudes to support this trending social movement. It shook the system.

The Future of Autonomy

The dream of dumping the 9-to-5 and living life on your terms is more than just a hashtag. It’s a call to action. One fueled by a deep desire for autonomy – the freedom to create, work, and live by your own rules. Don’t let it just be a pipe dream.

The total value locked (TVL) in DeFi protocols surpassed $300 billion in 2023, demonstrating the growing interest in alternative financial systems that promote individual control over assets and transactions. - DeFi Pulse

Revolutionary art movements, tech-driven innovation, and modern activism are converging. This shift provides a path to an exciting future. It's a world where you can set the pace, call the shots, and shape your days around your passions. Break free from traditional structures. Now is your chance to build something empowering.

Tired of scrolling through a newsfeed that feels more like a funhouse mirror?

But let's keep it real. There are lots of challenges ahead. Working together is often necessary for maximum impact. Finding the right balance between maintaining individual artistic vision and working within a collective - can be difficult.

Breaking free from traditional structures means leaving the financial security that these systems can provide. Artists, activists and techs still have bills to pay. Do you have alternative means of funding your work in place?

With the rise of new technologies, there’s a need to ensure that ethical practices are followed. You need to address concerns regarding data privacy. There are questions regarding intellectual property rights to be sorted. The environmental impact of tech-driven projects like crypto and NFTs are a dealbreaker for some people.

These challenges will have to be met to increase adoption and scale. They require innovative solutions, resilience and funding. To build a more equitable and creative future demands continuous learning and adaptation.


We’ve covered a lot. You know the journey toward autonomy is an exciting yet challenging one. This trend in tech, art and activism is attracting more people looking for a way out.

The digital age provides new tools to take control of your life. It has never been easier to express yourself and reach a target audience. Artists can leverage blockchain technology. Tech creators can build alternative platforms. Activists can fuel movements without traditional limits. Working collectively can exponentially grow results for both individuals and organizations.

The curtain is rising on a new era of autonomy.

But the road ahead is not all roses and sunshine. Long-established traditional systems are not going to just roll over and embrace change. Challenges include navigating concerns about the environment. Ethical considerations riddle the increased use of AI and ML. Building tools that engage marginalized communities is critical in a market-based economy.

So take the long view if you want to embrace this autonomy trend. If you’re an artist, technologist or activist it’s time to redefine the possible. I’m in.

Visit my profile right here on HN to connect. Let’s create and cause the change you want to see.