Juan Dalderis was the creator of LinkJuice the energy drink of the Internet, the black gold, the Texas Tea of web traffic. He could make or break any website. He had the power of a techno god, yet, ironically, his mortal self became impotent, an invalid. A bout of listeria from tainted cantaloupe left his immune system utterly compromised, and he was instructed to have minimal contact with others while recuperating.
Confined to home, Juan wore nothing but pajamas for weeks. He holed up in the south wing of his enormous home. His cook left meals for him and the housecleaner cleaned when he posted his schedule for the day. Juan’s body was substantially weakened, but he remained regimented. He spent his time working and watching the world spin from the three walls of his office mosaicked with 63 netpanels.
One particularly slow day, a scene flitting in a lower panel of the room caught his eye. He switched every panel to it. An old movie. A very old movie. Juan reloaded the film from the beginning and watched it three times that day.
He grew curious. Over the next few days, he determined the 63 most strategic webcams in the world. He coded some perma-links and—presto!—he had his own global rear window.
From his room, he tracked the real time pulse of the world on all seven continents. Whim quickly became obsession then paranoia. And, of course, he witnessed the murder.
Committed through wealth, politics, religion, war, excess, indifference, exploitation, drought, flood, gluttony, starvation, disease, waste, oppression, injustice, profligacy, addiction, denial.
In a kind of mania, Juan wrestled with the killer he’d seen on his multitude of screens. Revelation hit as he watched one of his netpanels display a child in Addis Ababa stare at herself in the reflection of a flooded street, raw sewage swirling around her image.
Devastated by the tableau, Juan knew he had to act. He could not dictate the divine, but he could deliver the digital.
He began coding, began retooling LinkJuice’s algorithm. For a month, he worked like a banshee and became one. He became the ghost in the machine and launched Grace during the company’s routine maintenance which instantaneously froze out all his other programmers.
Then Juan tuned back into his 63 netpanels, those blissfully complicit though unaware killers. Earth’s chaotic demise continued—until a week passed. On his many screens Juan Dalderis began to notice something.
The look. Dismay. Condemnation. Guilt.
The killer filed past en masse in the streets of London, Delhi, Tehran, Moscow, New York, Rio, Melbourne, Dubai. With a growing sense of certainty, they knew, as Juan did, what crime they were committing.
Juan had pointed the power of LinkJuice to the real and devastating effects of our day-to-day life. Information itself could not change behavior, but emotion could. Did.
LinkJuice’s new algorithm Grace changed the nature of search results. It did not bring up content, it brought up consequence.
A search for porn brought up interviews with victims of sex trafficking, their tales of terror and betrayal. A search for a weather forecast returned videos of poor souls the world over succumbing to famine, fire and flood brought on by climate change. A search for real estate brought up only images of homelessness. A medical search displayed long lines in emergency rooms and those suffering without health care coverage. A restaurant search showed stark scenes of starvation and malnutrition. With Grace, LinkJuice displayed unmistakable links between our actions and inactions and human misery.
The killer got a good look at itself.
And humanity recoiled.
Yet, Juan knew that was not enough. It was not enough to see the killer. People had to know how to stop it. So, after two weeks, Grace changed LinkJuice’s algorithm once more. Search results which had been set to reflect our self-made horrors, now displayed how we could move forward. Simple steps through simple actions: reducing waste, consuming less, community and civic engagement, education, exercise, simplifying.
These focused stories and examples began to shape the path for our deliverance. When billions made a small but positive effort every day, the tyranny of numbers could be transformative. Folks began understanding that. Juan’s simple Grace had turned our windows into mirrors.
Finally healed, Juan left his room with renewed vigor that it was humanity’s turn to make those mirrors reflect our better selves.