In On The Brink we discuss the past, present and future of connectivity with a mix of people including David Rowan, chief editor of Wired UK; Caterina Fake, founder of Flickr; and Eric Wahlforss, the co-founder of Soundcloud. Each of the interviewees discusses the emerging opportunities being enabled by technology as we enter the Networked Society. Concepts such as borderless opportunities and creativity, new open business models, and today’s ‘dumb society’ are brought up and discussed.

Hat tip GigaOm

Category: Technology, Venture Capital, Video

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2 Responses to “Networked Society ‘On the Brink’”

  1. V says:

    Interesting video, but I think the statement:
    “We are the last generation that grew up in a dumb society” is a nonsense.
    We will look back in 50 years and think this society is dumb, just as we look back on the 1960′s as ‘dumb’.

    However we shouldn’t lose respect for what has been acheived in the past. Profound discoveries don’t come along all that often, revolutionary breakthroughs in physics and computing for example.

  2. bhenick says:

    @V —

    When they talk about a “dumb” society they’re not talking about people but rather the manmade environment… and to a point, I believe it’s wrong to say that it was a “dumb” society fifty years ago.

    A hundred years ago, if it wasn’t written down, it wasn’t data (with a few notable exceptions). Fifty years ago, information had evolved to become instantaneous; radio, television, and telephones had become ubiquitous, and we were seeing the barest beginnings of data network infrastructure as we recognize it today.

    Add to that in the present day the quality of interactivity. Take the obvious example of music:

    Fifty years ago, if I wanted a song in my library, I would need to go to a store and buy a 45… or order it and wait for it to come in, if it wasn’t already on hand. If I started this excursion without cash on hand, it’s likely that I would’ve needed to stop at the bank first. Now I go to the online service of my choice, supply the name of the song, and after intermediate steps download it — all without leaving my desk, all without appreciable waiting. Finally, that 45 would likely wear out.

    (I routinely marvel that I can easily carry in my pocket a quantity of music-as-data that would’ve taken up an entire wall of tapes or CDs when I was a kid.)

    Another example is weather: one keypress gives me a summary of the conditions and forecast for a location within a mile or two of me, not some distant airport. Because there are more stations and more powerful computers crunching the numbers that those stations provide, the forecasts themselves are more accurate. (…More detailed models, too, which is a virtue of standing on the shoulders of giants that you pointed out.) Fifty, or even twenty-five, years ago my understanding would have been found far more wanting for timeliness, accuracy, or both.

    We have Facebook friends, not penpals.
    …Texting, not calling.
    …News tickers, not three-minute news breaks.
    …Just in time, not first of the month.
    Etc., etc.

    Given the participants, there’s a bias in context: true mainframes of forty- and (far less commonly fifty-) year vintage use what are called “dumb” terminals, so-called because they offer no more juice or interactivity than an electronic typewriter that prints to a screen in lieu of paper. My city’s water bureau, among many, still uses such a system for its billing.

    Compare that to an environment where access to services like Wolfram Alpha and Siri can be taken for granted by members of the same society in which fifty years ago one had to plan an afternoon’s trip to the library for a fraction of the comparable information, and ask yourself if maybe, just maybe, “dumb” isn’t so far off after all.