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Today scientific knowledge is more popular among the public than ever. It is only underscored with the success of the vast number of magazines popularizing science and the growing numbers of public science fairs popping up everywhere (e g here in Göteborg the science fair Vetenskapsfestivalen occured last week). The increased educational levels, indisputable leaps in many scientific areas but also the increasing complexity, new challenges to humanity and the growing feeling of uncertainty and need for truths is really working in favor of a public interest in scientific knowledge. So far that's fine.

As many other development in recent times, this development is due to the driving force of technology a self reinforcing force causing it to grow exponentially in all directions. But technology doesn't just propel scientific development alone. It is also a major driving force behind the development and spread of all other kinds of knowledge. One effect is that technology together with increased wealth and educational levels have rendered science just one knowledge producing niche among many others. Sometimes we talk about our times as the age of the amateurs since most the resources and know-how formerly existing within the walls of certain institutions, now are flowing freely around the globe.

Another effect of technology is also the rise of the media society which have had a huge impact on our values and our view of ourselves and others. In a society where the majority of the population have a global world view, university degrees and knowledge worker positions people need to develop a strategy to cope with the flood of unrelated and usually inconsistent information.

The academic utopian idea about coping with this have to do with thorough analysis of the different sources of information followed by an evaluation of the underlying agenda of the sources in question. This is of course ridiculous in an everyday situation and what it all falls down to then is our basic demand for consistency.

But consistency on which level? Again our belief of individuals as rational agents make us think that it is consistency on the individual level. What I have observed is that in general this also is wrong. It rather seems to happens on the level that is more important to us in our daily life and probably in our long term survival as well: the group level. What this means is that whenever somebody tells us something, or we read something in an article, most of us feel an urge to test it with the group. The way we do this is usually mentioning it at the dinner table or drop it as a conversation piece during coffee break at work or around a café table.

What we do when we at an early stage in evaluation a certain piece of knowledge test it with the group is probably

  1. to test if we are in sync with the group and possibly adjust or assess our position in the social hierarchical ladder
  2. to test if somebody else have additional knowledge that could be helpful in the evaluation

Since we are social animals knowledge is sometimes considered important for group survival, but always raw material for group forming. What is really important in group forming what constitutes the group and what we say and how we express ourselves is extremely important markers in this continuously ongoing process.

The result is that today we have very different dinner conversations than our parents or grandparents had. In essence we talk about everything from the effects of a certain pharmaceutical drug, a new neurophysiological discovery to the diplomatic relations with China. Even if you don't have any knowledge of the subject we feel compelled to at least relate to it, and to take help of the community and form some kind of opinion about it, because otherwise we would risk losing our position in the social structure of the group.

What has really changed the last decades in the western world is that scientific and other advanced form of knowledge have seriously entered into our social structures and have become a raw material in the process of socializing and personal development.

We already know that scientific and other knowledge since decades have been tools in political processes. This shift in knowledge use happened as soon as new knowledge had national and military implication.

What we haven't realized yet is that exactly that transition have quite recently been happening on an individual level as well. So if the concept of truth have had it's challenges on political level the last centuries, it is probably just a breeze compared to what is currently happening. Today we live in a time when new communication technology is boosting increased knowledge and self actualization need of modern man; a time of a continuous redefinition of social patterns and creation/recombination of knowledge. Knowledge and have really become the raw material of our time and which in turn means that the concept of truth becomes being more and more obfuscated under layers of different agendas of social activity.

So just because scientific processes continue to produce knowledge and insights for the common good (or for commercial interest), it isn't necessary so that the status of science will remain. Rather the opposite. It is important to note that this is not because the scientists are doing things wrong, but because societies have succeeded in spreading knowledge and wealth and made us rise in the levels of Maslow pyramid of needs. On that level it is all about social hierarchies and inner feelings of the individual.

One of the important prodromes of this is the emergence of "science porn" which I think is an appropriate name for what is happening in many science fairs and popular science magazines. Not because it is bad, but because we consume it in unrelated fragments, it has mainly an individual or social function and it is a media substitute for the real thing which makes us feel as we are very knowledgeable and insightful ourselves.

What will happen in the future? I think it is quite clear that the serious knowledge processes like science is losing out unless they can provide real practical value. Companies who can argue that investment in research is part of their value creating process will of course thrive. The problem is the public funding of science. It is quite clear that when the scientific process loses it's public status as a method for producing interesting and relevant knowledge (not true!!) it will be losing out in favor of an emerging group of thinkers, amateur scientists and maybe even former professional scientist who find ways to fund their research through publishing books and articles that people in general want to read. And how much can a government spend on research when the common value of truths and knowledge in itself is declining?

The amateurization of knowledge production is spreading quickly and right now I can't see how science can survive in it's current form in the longer run. Bad organizations and structural inertia from which the universities in the western world is suffering from today is definitely not helping, but rather disguising the real reasons for the decline of science which is really coming from outside of science.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Volvo IT and how they blocked blogs and other sites mentioning social software. Particularly it was sites that happened to have "typepad" or "blogspot" in their address or any other trace of being what could be categorized as "social software". Examples of site that was blocked from Volvo employees was

Recent news tell us that e g US Air Force is also blocking blogs as reported by Wired recently:

The Air Force is tightening restrictions on which blogs its troops can read, cutting off access to just about any independent site with the word "blog" in its web address. It's the latest move in a larger struggle within the military over the value -- and hazards -- of the sites. At least one senior Air Force official calls the squeeze so "utterly stupid, it makes me want to scream."

[From Air Force Blocks Access to Many Blogs | Danger Room from Wired.com]

What might all this mean?

To me these events resonate with something much bigger. Is it a coincidence that these actions mirrors what leaders in China, Burma and other totalitarian regimes have been taken to protect their positions? I think this is a chain of events that are on it's way to spread on a global scale and is the result of a number of conflicting driving forces

  • The information and communication technology changes human organizations much deeper than we think - the whole traditional way of building static hierarchies are losing out
  • Leaders in one hierarchy after another are waking up to the fact that they are becoming increasingly powerless, and maybe even in the long term irrelevant and the main culprit seems to be be modern communication technology - by trying to restrict and control Internet they think they can decrease the chaos and again return to control
  • Because of the 9/11 and the growing threats of viruses, stealing sensitive information through the Internet and global terrorism
    (1) the security industry is booming and provide a vast range of better and better tools to restrict certain kind of use as well as gather and analyze enormous amount of information much easier than before and
    (2) citizens and employees are in a psychological state when safety and order is regarded as a goal of higher priority than many other things

This development wouldn't be something to worry about if this "shut-the-gates" behavior was just occurring in totalitarian states and old and rigid corporations. But I think we should be a bit worried when we see it being spread elsewhere. What maybe is starting out is a war against free horizontal communication and Internet is the target. 9/11 can be seen as the pivotal event because it started a chain of reactions that eventually turned what could have been a contained shift of organizational models into an open battle between the leaders and the rest.

Some effects of the changing human communication capabilities are inevitable since the old model must make place for new ones. But how this transformation will develop is dependent on many factors. Some uncertainties I see right now are

  • how far will the major influential global powers go when it comes to maintain/regain control?
  • will the fragile democratic processes actually work when it comes to redefine the power structures according to the new communication reality?
  • how much is people in general willing to sacrifice to achieve to some level of (superficial) order and safety?
  • which real world power will the horizontal networks gather before one of the major conflicts occur?
  • will there be a wide spread awareness of the nature of the conflict or will other issues (like e g the environment)?

Four possible outcomes for the next 20 years?

I think there are four possible scenarios for the future of the relation between the new communication paradigm and models of governance.

200802282254.jpg Scenario 1 - a smooth sail

It will turn out as the technology people are predicting. New communication possibilities will revolutionize the world and the existing governing structures will first be bypassed and then step by step become irrelevant and eventually disappear as a new organizational paradigm will rise from the rubble of the pieces of the old ones.

This will not happen without conflicts but the conflicts will be contained and of a small scale. In most case reason will win and new rules and regulations will emerge from bottom up.


200802282300.jpgScenario 2 - back in line

After seeing some of the consequences of a horizontal and anarchic world almost all top leaders agree on the dangers of entering the unknown and collectively decide that this can't be allowed. The strategy will be to fuel image of the external threats and convince people that we will not be able to solve all these global problems if we allow communication to be completely free.

Some major events will also help to make it very clear to most of us that the price to pay for that relatively small freedom of communication will not weigh up all the chaos that will follow in the trace of dismounting our governing structures and hope new ones will arise.

Scenario 3 - full scale war200802291149.jpg

It is perfectly clear that most of the leaders of influential hierarchical organizations and countries will not tolerate that new communication technology will change and maybe even destroy the current governing models as well as the nation state - the perceived foundation for stability of the world. In order to maintain order and recreate a well needed economical stability almost all possible means will be used to diminish any further effects of new communication technology. The strategies will differ. Most countries will start off with the nice path of surveillance and infuse a silent threat in order to keep some people afraid and silent. When this fails because of the emergence of DarkNets they will be forced to take the path of the more brutal governments and pull the plug to the public Internet completely. Instead new and restricted channels for financial and corporate use will be developed and financed by e g the dying but now revitalized phone companies.

Countries who still naïvely believes in democracy and liberalism and accept and tries to adopt to the new communication paradigm will not be able to stand outside of this but will be drawn in to the conflict by the large and more totalitarian countries like China, United States and Russia. The world will be divided between the countries who have invested too much in the hierarchical governance model and actually relies on it for it's existence and the rest of the world who will have a better chance if the game is redefined in a less hierarchic manner.

Scenario 4 - many small wars in different areas at different times

The perceived negative effects of changing communication models are not evenly spread. It is almost impossible to decide on one line of action and the war of organizational paradigms will pop up in different arenas and will be followed by actions in isolation to this area. Each conflict could be geographically contained (within China, Burma or United States), contained within an industry or area (traditional industry organizations or military organizations) of activity or even be contained in an aspect of other things (copyright, terrorism).

This scenario could be a prequel to both scenario 2 and scenario 3, and it could maybe even be perceived as a prequel to scenario 1, but it will be the most tedious and slow chain of events. It is unlikely that this scenario will work since the world is more connected than ever. A conflict of governing models within an area will most certainly spread to other areas very quickly.

This is just a short and shallow analysis that might be severely flawed so please comment on it if you have something to say...

Through Slashdot I found this small opinion piece in LA Times which discussed the strange aspects of claiming that intellectual property have this enormous value when it comes to suing for infringement, but have no value when it comes to tax issues.

As intellectual property and copyrights become an even more significant part of our economy, and as copyright holders (not necessarily the creators) make claims of "stealing" as though it is real property, it should be taxed. Relative to copyrights' significance in our economy, the amount of revenue from this source should be in the hundreds of billions of dollars per year.

[From Copyright this - Los Angeles Times]

I don't think this is the best solution in a world where technology changes some of the fundamental aspects of ownership of ideas and information, but it is definitely worth thinking about for cooling down this counter productive war against file sharing of music and film.

This is my first post about the Lift Conference (LIFT08) in Geneva last week. It was really an amazing conference, maybe the best conference I have ever attended. Thanks to everyone who participated in the organization of it!

At the first workshop day of LIFT08 I attended a workshop arranged by Dave Brown about how teenagers/Generation-Y use digital technology. The center of the discussion was a group of four not-that-ordinary 17 year olds. They had all international backgrounds with wealthy parents who moved around a lot. On top of that all of them belonged to the activist group in their class and was well-spoken, well mannered, thoughtful and energetic. I really enjoyed listen to their thoughts on how they used technology in their daily lives. Well arranged Dave!!DSC_0005.JPG

Here is my notes from that session:

Facebook and social networking

Facebook was the social networking tool of choice, and they seemed to use it a lot. The number of Facebook friends were in the range of 4-500 and they felt like their online friends wasn't a different group than their real world friends, but rather an Internet-representation of their real friends. There was a status in having many friends though.

Even teachers in school used Facebook so some of school related conversations also took place there.

A huge chunk of social e-mail went through Facebook, but since it lacked some features like attachments, mail was also used in parallell.

Facebook was regarded as valuable because it made it possible to keep in touch with friends in other geographic locations or in other stages of life, e g when someone leaves for university. An interesting note was when retaining contact with older friends at University the girls seemed to regard Facebook as a peep-hole into another more mature and exciting world.

Their explanation about why it is hard to avoid using Facebook is that the daily conversations among teens which often have references into material on Facebook like - "Have you seen the pictures from the party yesterday? No? They are on Facebook!"

Myspace wasn't in use anymore because it was considered to belong to the emo people i e a certain youth culture who listens to a certain kind of music and dress in a certain fashion.

MSN wasn't in much use anymore for anything else than sending music and files between friends.

Shopping, e-commerce and security

One of the girls explained how she suddenly started to take the problem of publishing possibly sensitive information on the Internet seriously. She then started to remove some information and pictures. It was not just about the risks of stalkers, but also about the risk that the information will come back and haunt her. We were told that some people have already had their applications to some universities been rejected because of images on Facebook. Another story was that other teens have come in trouble because he or she have been seen holding a beer in a picture on Facebook.

All of them were really hesitant to use credit cards on the Internet unless for some specific products like books and travels. Concert tickets were also discussed but the concern then was about when (and if) the tickets were going to arrive. Surprisingly enough one of the guys did actually use his credit card on online poker sites. E-bay was another example of a site being regarded as pretty insecure.

The discussion in the room about why they were so hesitant to use credit cards online was by a some attributed to their lack of experience and good track record using credit cards. Which in some cases not even were their own cards, but their parents.

When asked about if it was interesting to use the social network as an online shopping guide (possibly referring to Danah Boyd's post some weeks ago) the answer was no. Buying decisions wasn't anything somebody else had anything to do with. (my comments: maybe that kind of communication belongs to younger and more insecure buyers whose social relationships is directly related to what they wear and own)

Digital vs the "real world"

The group considered information online to be less valuable and trustworthy than information found elsewhere. In school they e g had made changes in WIkipedia and saw that they themselves could write almost anything and when it didn't disappear the interpreted it as the information there wasn't especially trustworthy.

On the other hand Wikipedia was regarded as the major saviour when it came to accelerating the home work process.

It was also interesting to hear that the teens regarded producing images digitally was in some sense less valuable than the "real" chemical process behind traditional photography. The same opinion seemed to apply to music and other art forms as well. (my comments: maybe this is part of the larger megatrend the focus is moving from the end result to the process of getting there?)

Blogging and micro-blogging

Blogging wasn't regarded as something valuable and they have never heard about Twitter. (my comments: Maybe some of the explanations to the heavy usage of social software and SMS, but almost not interest in blogging might have something to do with the differences the different communicative nature of the different medias. When you want to to communicate with someone you want to have a person-to-person communication. Trying to rationalize that by twittering to the cloud what is happening or having a one way communication with generic crowd e g publishing on a blog into cyberspace, seems to miss the point for the teens. Read this post in New York Times - If You Can’t Let Go, Twitter to understand the difference)

200802160126.jpg

File sharing and intellectual property rights

No specific answers here, due to the nature of the question. One signal we caught up was that music is starting increasingly to be shared using MSN, because of the legal discussion.

I asked them specifically about how the regarded property rights of images which e g shows up on Google searches on the Internet. The truth here was that even if they knew quite a lot about the IPR protection of movies and music, they had never thought of these images as being protected or the rights to use these images owned by anyone. One comment was: - " If they are protected why are they published on the Internet?"

Mobile phone use

This could maybe be an effect of living in very expensive mobile phone country like Switzerland, but their mobile phones were almost exclusively used for voice and SMS.

I hope these notes could be of value to anyone. If you are looking for more information about this seminar I wasn't alone and at least one other person also blogged about it:

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When I was at Volvo IT (my former employer until 2000) for a meeting today, it became sadly clear that Volvo IT have entered further down the path of radical ignorance. I've heard about their strange firewall filters before stopping people from visiting web pages containing the phrases "IP telephony", "sex" and ""games". Apparently the filters have broadened and now they seems to have added phrases like "social software" as well.

I couldn't resist asking if I could do a quick test for a number of web-sites I read or write. Here are 4 examples of sites that was blocked.

When trying to reach these sites you are met with:

BLOCKED / STOPPAD
Ã…tkomst stoppad
(English text below)
Ã…tkomst har stoppats till webbplatsen http://brintam.blogspot.com/. Den ör klassad som kategori Social Networking and Personal Sites.

Volvokoncernen ger åtkomst till ett urval av webbplatser genom sin internettjönst. Andra kategorier av webbplatser ör stoppade.

Behöver du åtkomst till den angivna webbplatsen för ditt arbete måste du begöra åtkomstmöjlighet till den genom att sönda ett e-brev till internetfilterse@volvo.com. Ange varför du behöver komma åt den.

Ytterligare information finns i:

Regler för internetanvöndning

Access blocked
(Svensk text ovan)
Access to web site http://brintam.blogspot.com/ is blocked. It is categorised as Social Networking and Personal Sites.
Volvo Group provides access to a subset of web sites through its Internet services. Other web site categories are blocked.

If you need access to the requested web site in this blocked category for a work related purpose, you must request it to be accessible by sending an e-mail to internetfilterse@volvo.com. Be sure to state why you need access to the web site.

You can find further information in:

Rules for internet use

So of course you might request access to a specific site when you believe you need to... I don't know how often they say yes or no, but to have to request access site by site in the information age is really strange!

Here you can read what Richard Gatarski wrote about restriction of web access in May 2007:

Here is my main point: Various measures to control access to IT is an alarming issue for the organizations who have not yet understood the consequences of their current security measures. These might stop outsiders getting access to internal systems, and keep insiders away from what might look as non-work-related stuff. But in the long run the result is an organization full of members who neither know what is going on, nor get the chance to develop knowledge and skills concerning media development and new social patterns

Isn't it ironic that Volvo IT employees can't read Richard's post containing these lines since they can't reach his site at all?

Maybe I should be happy that this blog (http://www.futuramb.se/blog) and it's sister blog (http://www.futuramb.se/scenariotankar - in Swedish) could be reached so that Volvo employees can read this post... Ooops! Now they probably can't since this page contains the phrase "social software".

Update 2008-02-15:

The filter seems to filter everything which is published on the sites blogspot.com and typepad.com. Another large blog that is blocked is http://sethgodin.typepad.com, one of the top 10 Technorati blogs.

I have now and then been involved in discussions about changing consumer behavior during the years. When at Volvo we recognized that Internet provided a price transparency which threatened the margins. The story were that people first went to shopping for a car, but when they had decided which car they wanted they asked their 16 year old kid to find it for the cheapest price on the Internet creating a new price transparency. After thinking about it for a while it also became clear to us that what technology did was change the prerequisites differently for the stages in the process

  • Shopping - an emotional and information heavy process where your identity and the brand identity would match in order to end up in a decision
  • Purchasing - the rational process of finding the goods for the best price - boosting self asteem
  • Owning - an identity building step where the earlier steps isn't that much important any more (nobody else actually know where and how you bought)

This complex mix of identity building and boosting your self esteem through owning expensive looking products and feeling smart was probably why outlets was such a success. There you could buy the right Prada bag very cheap and nobody actually knew that you bought it for less than half the price. The result was that these steps actually became disconnected from each other at least for some products.

This was at least true for emotionally loaded products like cars, jewels and expensive designer products. At this stage (late 1990:s) the Internet was still a information gathering tool. Today with the emergence of social software this is being taken even further. A very good story about this was provided in a post by researcher Danah Boyd on the Marketing & Strategy Innovation blog (found through Richard Gatarski's blog weconverse). In a lecture Danah heard this story from a mother describing her daughters shopping behavior:

Using Google and a variety of online shopping sites, Mary researched dresses online, getting a sense for what styles she liked and reading information about what was considered stylish that year. Next, Mary and her friends went to the local department store as a small group, toting along their digital cameras (even though they're banned). They tried on the dresses, taking pictures of each other in the ones that fit. Upon returning home, Mary uploaded the photos to her Facebook and asked her broader group of friends to comment on which they liked the best. Based on this feedback, she decided which dress to purchase, but didn't tell anyone because she wanted her choice to be a surprise. Rather than returning to the store, Mary purchased the same dress online at a cheaper price based on the information on the tag that she had written down when she initially saw the dress. She went for the cheaper option because her mother had given her a set budget for homecoming shopping; this allowed her to spend the rest on accessories.

It becomes clear that the young and connected generation sees consumption and shopping quite differently than the previous not-yet connected generations (NYCoG).

When technology now matures and everything becomes mobile and online: shops, friends and all other information sources you can think it becomes clear that customer behavior is taking another step. But where is it going?

A couple of months ago HBR Working Knowledge announced a paper called Digital Interactivity: Unanticipated Consequences for Markets, Marketing, and Consumers by John Deighton where he argues that traditional marketing research have missed the real changes in a digital interactive world. Maybe this can be a clue to where it is currently heading?

The conclusion of his article is that marketing research have too much focused on how producers are interact with the customers (in the lower left corner), not understanding that the biggest change is occurring within the ranks of the customers (the move towards the top right). He draws this picture (the red arrow is mine) to explain what is happening when the communication flow increases between individuals.
200801171520
Step by step the game isn't anymore about accessibility and information, it is about identity and meaning. The game is on its way to change towards a game of fitting in to a web of cultural communities where the community, and not the producer, accepts or rejects its participants.

This is why the increasing communication in general and social software in particular is so interesting for how business and marketing is going to change from a vertical producer-customer game towards a horizontal game where the customer-to-customer relations are much more interesting.

Maybe this is something to think about before you are designing your next marketing strategy or sending your next batch of direct mail offering.

  • Read Danah Boyds post here
  • HBR Working Knowledge working papers: Digital Interactivity: Unanticipated Consequences for Markets, Marketing, and Consumers by John Deighton - download here

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Are things starting to go faster when it comes to the economic shift from the western economies towards the new BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) or is it just a temporary dip?

Frances Cairncross, economist and journalist summarized the current situation concerning the BRICs real good when she for one program took over Peter Day's Global Business program on the BBC. (BBC are really crappy at keeping their shows available on the web afterwards, but I think the links below lives until it's your turn).

One indication could be that according to IMF 2007 is the year when China (and according to the BBC program India) have surpassed US as the top contributors of world growth.

Yet another indication could be found in Gwynne Dyers article in Arab News, when he wonders if the dollar have started it's way down as the global currency.

In the BBC show a number of interesting conclusions and opinions are heard. I will try to summarize what I heard.

  • Many companies find the business situation difficult in US and Europe so they increase their sales in the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China). At the same time trade between the BRICs are beginning to soar. Chinas global export increase rate is about 20% a year, but the export increase rate to e g Russia and Brazil are between 40 and 50% a year.
  • The industrializing economies with their enormous amount of cheap labour keeps the economic engines of the world at full steam but keep at the same time wages for semi-skilled workers down. This results in a economic polarization with radically increased wealth at the top.
  • What is going on because of the BRICs development and huge numbers of people is that we are in for a restructuring of the global economy - the price clothes and economics goes down while the prices of energy and food goes up

Effects on the rest of the developing world

  • BRICs growth (together with the new agenda for fight the global warming) cause a really complex situation for the rest of the developing world. The resulting prices increase of food and fuel is undoubtably having a negative effect on many countries in the developing world. At the same time, the increasing prices of commodities give commodity producing countries short term benefits. In the longer run they are in fact in for a rough period since the traditional industrialization path going over a textile industry is basically blocked by the huge textile industries in India and China
  • More and more developing countries are, because of this strategically complex situation, importing ideas and strategies from successful industrialized and emerging nations and apply different strategies in order to find their own ways. This will probably have a wide range of effects. A few of them will hopefully strike gold, while others will continue struggle to establish stability with inherited tools of the wrong size and shape. A situation which in many places probably will turn out to be a fertile ground for both fanaticism, terrorism as well as strong dictators promising to solve the problems of the situation.

China is playing the game alone

  • The Chinese are all over the developing world making mutually beneficial deals. But unlike the western approach they don't ask questions or add conditionals in their business deals concerning e g democracy, human rights and environmental impact. This signals an exclusive view which is against what the industrialized world have strived for since the WWII.
  • G7 have members like Italy and Canada, but not e g China who already is a major player on the global scene and whose exclusive world view threatens to create a huge imbalance. At least from the perspective of the western world.
  • An increasingly globalized and uncertain world requires more cooperation between all nations if we are going to withstand the shocks and other difficulties which lies ahead in the future. One of the major uncertainties then seems to to be if there will be a global cooperation or not, where Chinas exclusive world view seems to be the biggest obstacle.

The discussion about the BRICs isn't new but maybe this is the time to start to recognize this development in a broader and more serious perspective.

World Economic Forum have also created a number of scenarios about the future of among others Russia, India and China which could be good complementary read.

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I have never been impressed by Gartner but I must admit they are changing. A couple of years ago I realized they started to use scenario planning as a tool for understanding and communicating the analysis. Then a couple of weeks ago I came across a decent discussion about Digital Natives. And now through Future Scanner I found a post on the blog singularityu.org reviewing Gartner Analyst Adam Sander when he talks on a Gartner Conference among other things about the metaverse in connection to Maslow's hierarchy of needs (which I played with and turned upside down some time ago in this blog).

The idea seems to be that virtual worlds is the way to achieve self-actualization which is so much harder in the real world. A really interesting thought!

 Wp-Content Uploads 2007 10 Gartnermaslow

singularityu.org » How Gartner Learned to Love the Virtual World

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It is enough... It is time I to stop thinking deeper on how and what to write on this blog and start writing something. It is just a blog for Gods sake! OK, let's go...

I will start softly by commenting on Jamais Cascio's post: An Insufficient Present where he argues that

the future belongs to those who find the present insufficient

in opposition to what Clay Shirky argued in the post: the future belongs to those who take the present for granted. Shirky seems to be argue along the lines of

...while some people still argue about whether Wikipedia is a good thing, folks at Metaweb are already building a next-generation collaborative knowledge base

and

[...] people who can accept the (technological) conditions of the present are better-able to see what's next than people who are still wrestling with whether those conditions of the present make sense

He also make a reference to Forrester Research results published in New York Times and Business Week, and asks the relevant critical question about how much of the answer that really delves in the measurement on how different generations answers question on how they relate to different media.

Cascio's argument is that it isn't enough to take the present for granted to be a catalyst for change.

Dissatisfaction with the present, not simply acceptance of it, drives change.

From my perspective I think both are right but you have to be a bit more nuanced to understand how. I would say that Shirky's argument is enough if you also argue that it is the use and diffusion of new technology and new ideas, which is the key component in change.

If you on the other hand gravitate towards that the key component in change is the innovation of a new technology or a new concept, then I would give Cascio right.

The problem as I see it is that it is really a complex relation between innovations and the process by which the innovation is diffused. So why not make a paraphrase from both statements:

Dissatisfaction with the present, not simply acceptance of it, drives the urge to innovate, the first necessary key to change. People who can accept the (technological) conditions of the present are better-able to see what's next and are more willing to adopt and use the new technology which is the second necessary key to change.

Or maybe I missed the point completely, but I at least wrote a post again!! I'm baaaack!

Cb1 80X80The last couple of days have been very interesting from the perspective of the political power of blogging. Carl Bildt, the Swedish foreign minister since last October, have recently after some time of blog silence picked up blogging again. Now he blogs in Swedish and started to use the blog for telling people of his whereabouts and thoughts in a bit more cautious way than his previous blogging years when he didn't have a political position. He is quite successful and since the start in January he have had more than 250.000 hits.
Part from that he is technological savvy, he is also a complicated political figure partly because of his high profile background as a former Swedish prime minister and later a national hero as a mediator and diplomat in different positions around the conflict at the Balkans, partly because he had a number of other involvements prior is current position, which he have been criticized for. The reason is that some of these is believed by some to be in conflict with his current position.

The interesting things started a couple of weeks ago when Bildt began to use his blog for commenting directly on some of the critique he received from media. At first the media was silent, but the last couple of days something interesting seems to be happening.

At least two journalists have already written articles about how Bildt's blogging is a threat to democracy along the lines that there is a danger to allow a foreign minister to talk directly to the people without being questioned (i e without being filtered by the media). A former editor in chief for a major national newspaper even compared Bildt to Hugo Chavez! A comparison which is "interesting" to say the least. You can read his article in Swedish here: "Utrikesministern pratar för mycket på bloggen".

Another journalist compared Bildt blogging to Nixon's Checkers speech (also in Swedish). I will try to translate two sentences from that article to English so you will understand the tone:

En bloggande utrikesminister kan tyckas vara ett behjörtansvört uttryck för vilja till öppenhet och demokratisk delaktighet. Men samtidigt bör man kanske komma ihåg att drömmen om direkt och oförmedlad kommunikation mellan ledare och folk framförallt har odlats i andra politiska traditioner ön den liberala demokratins.

A blogging foreign minister may seem to be a deserving expression for an urge to openness and democratic participation. But at the same time one should maybe remember that the dream about direct and unintermediated communication between leader and people foremost have been grown in other political traditions than the liberal democracy.

The last number of days Bildt's blog have had more than 50.000 visitors and the Swedish blogosphere is boiling. It is really interesting to see when journalists are showing another color that usual and I maybe we just have seen the prolog to something big here.