Archive for March 25th, 2017

Each time I hear a “trendwatcher” or a “futurist” explain what tomorrow will look like, I cringe a little. I am looking to the future with optimism, but I do not pretend to be able to predict the future – as a historian, I know how hard it is to know the past, let alone extract the correct lessons from it. It’s hard to predict something as simple as election results… So what makes trendwatchers think that they know what is going to happen as a consequence of the progress in information technology (and technology in general)? The PC did not make paper disappear; social networking tools do not only bring people together; etc.

In “Our Gutenberg Moment” Marina Gorbis writes:

At a very deep level, changes in our basic communications tools and technologies alter existing power dynamics; they re-define who has the power of voice, the power to shape our dominant narratives, and the power to influence how we think and act. While acknowledging that we will likely see dramatic social changes, Dewar warns that such changes will result from unintended consequences of technological advances, rather than deliberate technological design, as was the case in the past. “The Protestant Reformation and the shift from an earth-centered to a sun-centered universe were unintended consequences in the printing press era,” he wrote. These unintended consequences will likely re-shape the basic elements of our society and culture.

“Unintended consequences” are what we may expect. Like the impact of human activity on our climate, I suppose. Makes me wonder how we, as a global species, will react when the climatic changes thoroughly disrupt the weather?


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