Saturday, September 4, 2010

Introduction to the Future

This blog is called “The Future”, even though it deals primarily with the present.

What It’s All About
The purpose of this blog is to discuss the ways that our society has changed because of the Information Age, both in the way information is propagated and information technology is improved.

The societal changes I’m looking at primarily deal with the way the average person lives and interacts with society at large. I’ve identified six aspects of this change, and I’ve written an in-depth introduction to each of them. Most of the blog, then, will be comprised of news items or personal observations that exemplify how one or more of the aspects of this change affect the world around us.

The Six Aspects

In this world of increasing possibility, we have ever-expanding lifestyle options: jobs and careers that didn’t exist before, new methods of saving and spending, and trends that offer additional convenience or control. These novel options I’m calling Routes of Power, and they include everything from coupons to telecommuting, and quite a lot of real estate in between.

Probably the most common of these Routes is the monetized (or even the professional) blog. With the advent of the internet, and the instant transfer of data that comes with it, a new economy is emerging—one based on the power of billions of ad clicks, freelanced infographics, and amateur analysis. This Content Economy is still nascent, but already robust.

Along with this economy, the internet is changing the way we communicate. People are conversing more on social media sites and via text messages, changing language and social norms. The Electronic Middleman is growing ever more present in even our basic, day-to-day conversations.

Explanations for the way the world operates are as old as humanity itself. In our era, though, these explanations are being seen more and more as tools to shape human opinion. On the other hand, people are seeing that manipulation more and more for what it really is, this Narrative Engineering countered by Narrative Awareness.

Information overload has been foretold by futurists for decades, and has clearly become a reality. The surfeit of demographic, natural, scientific, and other data is confusing some, leading to a desperate cling to narratives that resolve it. To others, it represents a unique opportunity to explain phenomena and produce useful content. The Sea of Data is difficult to navigate, but holds incredible promise.

Humanity is becoming more interconnected, and social networks have been altered by the technological and economic landscapes, and have altered them in return. This produces fodder for what I’m calling Quantum Soft Science, an understanding of the completely unexpected ways that human-built infrastructures react to the pushes and pulls of the world around them.

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