Our Transition to a New Model of Society

= Are you ready for the 21st century? = <br /> {| ! Michel Cartier : cartier.michel@constellationw.com ! Jon Husband : jon.husband@constellationw.com |} <br /> = Another world IS possible … and indeed desirable ! = A "desirable world" would operate based on an economy of responsible markets (markets which are more human and more local). To get (eventually) to that desirable state, humans will need to use a participative electronic public space (Internet 2) which, based on dynamics we are beginning to understand, should enable the types of consensus necessary to generate sustainable development policies and practices. Essentially, we are not moving towards the centralization or unification of our societies. Instead, we are collectively moving towards cultural and economic possibilities and consequences based on the inventiveness and adaptability of citizens everywhere. These forces will develop into an "economy of proximity" wherein communities of interest will filter their activities based on the dominant cultural model of one continent or another. What appeared to be only a "normal" financial crisis in 2008 has quickly become a major and global economic crisis in 2009. It's increasingly likely that the crises we are now seeing will eventually become a social crisis with lasting repercussions. That probability also makes it likely that the impact will be even more severe for the world's developing countries. Because the growth of our societies are today quite dependent on the pace of consumer spending (which relies on peoples' confidence), current growth rates waned at the same time as normal levels of confidence began to erode. The proposed short-term strategies (interest-rate cuts, recapitalization of the central banks and certain businesses, tax breaks, etc.) will not be enough to break the cycle of deflation and depression now appearing to settle in. While some suggest the crisis is nearing its end (minor levels of growth have resumed in some countries) as a result of massive stimuli, increasingly it seems clear that the solution to the current crisis cannot be Consume more ! = 8 strategies for passing into the 21st century: = == 1- An historical rupture == (see « The rupture » ) * All societies today are living through a rupture with the dominant economic and social models of the past. This rupture began around 2000-2002. Contrary to the notion of continuity, living through a rupture implies that change is possible and even desireable. * We are experiencing a moment of crisis in the biosphere - the only habitat we have. For several millennia, humanity has succeeded in mastering the elements of this environment, but more recently its approach to resource extraction (water, air, coal, oil, etc) is based on the fallacy of renewability. Today, humans finds themselves at an historical turning point: if we do nothing, we run the risk of destroying the biosphere, and ourselves with it. * We are experiencing a break in the non-material domain of ideas. Since its appearance on the planet, the human species has progressed through cognitive interactions between humans' use of the hand and the development of the brain. Over the last several millennia, each technological invention that enabled more rapid communication of ideas has led to a developmental leap. The major milestones in this progression have been the alphabet, the printing press, television and internet. And because knowledge is power, information processing centres (the hall of the scribes, the royal press, the television screen and the web) became the locus of a fourth power. However, the current change in information technology is so drastic (multiplication, digitization, acceleration and globalization) that Web 2 becomes one of the causes of the break. * We are experiencing a profound shift in the realm of the two dimensions of our universe: space and time. Because space and time constitute the field of action of the human imagination, they become our frame of experience. For example, it was the slow mastery over space-time which allowed the formation of the first knowledge networks (of alchemists, mathematicians, astrologers, etc.) ** Humans began by conquering the various terras incognitas occupying regions of the globe by means of the astrolabe, the sextant and the clock. ** They then freed themselves from natural cycles by analyzing the infinitely small and the infinitely vast with the aid of microscopes and telescopes. ** Finally, they gained knowledge of the entire world using systems like Hubble and GPS. One might have expected this process to have led inexorably to a systematic and unhalting geopositioning of each human being on the planet via a network of networks. Not so: for beside the real now appears the virtual, a new terra incognita. As a result, humanity is transitioning from Newtonian to Einsteinian time-space. * As with all preceding societies throughout history, the postindustrial society will probably be a system comprised of sub-systems, each acting according to its own logic. In the future, there will no longer be one principal and unique generator of society, rather there will be ongoing struggles between current and future economic, technological and societal forces. These struggles will seem like an organized ensemble, but in reality there will always be an unstable near-equilibrium because of the inherent contradictory dynamics within each of the three major forces. And, contrary to ancient societies, the postindustrial society will be much more complex, mobile and interwoven because it will be : ** post-Internet 1 ; ** post-capitalist ; ** post-American ; ** and post-Boomer. * This rupture is progressive. Here are two examples: ** We have often described the differences in behaviour that exist between digital immigrants (or digital visitors, older people born before 1982) and digital natives (or net-geners, or digital residents) with respect to the ways they interact with information. Like all major historic transformations that follow a rupture with the past, it will not be a brusque change. The differences in processing information will play a more and more important role but it will take many years to have its full impact. ** Many people are calling for new economic models. But any new model will not be effective unless it is desired by a significant majority of citizens. Embracing a new model implies the adoption of important and progressive changes in behaviour. * Citizens and governments are grappling with 5 areas of transformation which are interrelated and global in scope: ** 1. economic ; ** 2. energy-related ; ** 3. ecological ; ** 4. geopolitical ; ** 5. generational, * It is because society thinks more in terms of continuity than rupture that our leaders have brought us to this point without a basis of comparison. In fact, they think only of correcting the excesses of the industrial era in a world now post-industrial, the naïve belief that this crisis can be resolved within a year or two. * This rupture brings about a transition to a society that is much more complex. This societal transition will not be so much based on the emergence of new technologies as it will be based on the (eventual) adoption of new behaviors on the part of all participants. This is even more so the case with respect to policy makers than it is with citizens. == 2- A societal restructuring == * All the political and economic leaders have accepted the new rules of globalization with an assumption of the sacrosanct necessity of continued growth. Nobody has asked themselves where the waves of deregulation and algorithms of financialization will lead them over the longer term. * Because economic globalization has proceeded more quickly than political globalization, we are directing ourselves towards a chaotic system of global governance that lacks an effectively global form or structure of government. * We are not living in an economic recession but a societal restructuring. We must not focus our efforts solely on the economy, as is the current trend, but seek to modify the behavior of the citizens who will become the basis of this restructuring. It will be a long and arduous process because it requires a cultural revolution. * Now that the population is discovering the large and growing gap between the rhetoric of its leaders and reality, it is anticipated that sooner or later important mass movements will bring about change. After the loss of confidence in the economic class there could soon be a loss of confidence in the political class who, all the world knows, does not govern but for the short term, that is to say only from an emergency mindset. * It will be at least three or four years before the political and economic elite regain the citizens’ confidence. * The current crisis of confidence will not be resolved without the people’s involvement in the solutions. There cannot be a vision of society without this confidence, and a society that does not do more than manage day-to-day activities will be a society without vision, that is to say without a future. == 3- A multi-dimensional look at our societies == * It will be necessary to analyze the interactions between the technological, economic and societal dimensions in order for society to endow itself with new tools of governance capable of managing multi-causal situations that arise in the future (see « Tools for governance »). * This type of analysis and foresight will enable decision makers to abandon their current reactive phase of focusing on the short term, from one election to the next, in order to pass to the proactive phase essential to sustainable development. == 4 The rallying call == * So, while the planet will seem somewhat unified around a single economic model we can imagine that each society will instead want to have its own identity and dynamics. This is likely because the current model of globalization is not friendly to society's citizens and so it is probable that a multitude of different societies based on different cultural experiences will emerge. This will not be a search for smallness (along the lines of Small Is Beautiful), but a search for the possibility of re-developing societies which have been nearly suffocated by growth and size. * Everywhere on the planet our societies find themselves immobilized as a result of several core factors : ** the factor of time : people want everything, right away; very few people think or act with the long term in mind ; ** the factor of individualism&nbsp;: people want lots of things but it's everyone for themselves ; rarely are there collective demands ; ** the factor of leadership : at this point in time in the industrialized countries, the electoral results are typically 49 – 51 %, there is rarely a clear winner ; ** the factor of urban growth&nbsp;: cities are struggling with the invasion of groups of immigrants who clamor more and more often for housing, etc. * The rallying call heralds the great adventure of public opinion. Humans will truly live in a democracy when they participate in the decisions that affect them. This (potential) democracy will create a society of permanent compromises and its measure will be citizen participation. The basic unity of this new society will be ongoing exchange between its members. * Because of the great intermixing of populations and of generations, one can no longer define a citizen by their birth into a particular society but because he has chosen to integrate into the culture of this group. (see « The Culture » ) * Manipulated by infotainment that offers nothing but hyper-consumption, citizens presently feel isolated, powerless and awash in a Prozac culture. In order to counteract this situation they must undertake tasks by way of membership and action in interest groups. This will be the sole manner of rediscovering roots, to find reasons to change behaviors. * This call will be enabled by the tailored and interactive approach of Internet 2 which succeeds the passivity of the mass media. This approach will be based on collaboration, volunteerism and the exchange of information, ideas and opinions. * For the first time in history a motivated citizen can become an active participant in the dissemination of information, and thus may influence the course of history. This trend will accelerate with the rise in younger generations, more spontaneously interactive, but from which culture ? * There will not be a single model for post-industrial society but many who will inspire the cultures of different continents (see « Culture »). == 5 Civil society == * These interest groups form a civil society that is increasingly organized in social networks, a form of customization to the vicinity. Thus, unlike massification of industrial society, the post-industrial society will instead strive to branch out; hence its new complexity. * Due to a range of factors including globalization and Internet 2, the whole situation will (eventually) shift. To the pyramid created first by the state and then markets we can add another level above (international institutions allowing future political globalization) and another level below (intermediary groups between the state and citizens) – two new spaces for solidarity. * If during the 1980s, technology had been at the center of our concern, and from 2000 the economy, the future will now depend on our analysis of society. * The political and economic classes want to curb the current economic crisis, but did not envision the growth of the possibility of social restructuring that could signify, for them, a reduction in privileges. * Post-industrial society will be developed from joint efforts between the political class, the economic class, and civil society. In other words, the three poles of this society’s sustainable development will be the State, the markets and the interest groups or communities. * Community mobilization is a process which can only embed itself into an era and a territory with significant amounts of sensitivity and creativity. The only way to convince the individualistic young generations to become involved will be to offer them important roles in projects seeking to recreate or rebuild our societies. * The political class is a power structure which oversees development and employs as its weapon-of-choice statutes and regulations; ** while the economic class is a power structure which manages profit and uses money as its weapon-of-choice; ** and civil society is a power structure that manages daily life and that wields public opinion as its weapon-of-choice. * Citizens are currently manipulated by the economic and political elite by way of mass media that exaggerates certain details while ignoring others. This infotainment, subject to emotions and individualistic approaches, discourages any form of participation. * This is why the political and economic elites (the Powers That Be) want to muzzle the Internet. * Now you have the economic elite fighting against the political elite, each one seeking to triumph. * There began recently a fight for control of the future between the current decision-makers of culture and economy (managed for their own interests) and the interests of public groups that define the challenges facing society. * In the space where civil society will play a more prominent role, it will develop an economy with more social services. If organized, the balance of power will shift towards civil society because it is there that the reservoir of confidence is found. == 6 - The Internet 2 and the information == * Internet 2 (including television, social networks and mobile communications) alters many things on the technological front (creating a web which enables bi-directional communication between every populated place on the planet) and on the economic front (eliciting new business empires operating full-time at speeds never foreseen). It is, however, on the social front that the changes will be more marked. Previously, in industrial societies, the exchange of communication was in a downwards direction (mass-media for example). From now on, across the planet, communications will be spreading in both directions (for example clients communicating with retail outlets) and also in horizontal ways (for example in social networking), therefore to a large degree uncontrolled. Internet 2 will alter social relations, eventually changing the fabric of society itself. * One of the reason for the emergence of globalization is the constant flow of information in all sectors. During the previous industrial era, information reached us within a day or an hour, while in the post-industrial era, it is a matter of seconds. This information overload makes society more sensitive to any fluctuation. Currently, our society latches onto information more easily, especially when it is wrong or bad news, automatically transforming fears into realities. * A majority of analysts still think according to the rules of the industrial era : quantity and profit above all else. They discovered the importance of Internet 1 via its ability to process and carry millions of data. According to Moore's Law, this potential would double every eighteen to twenty-four months. During the post-industrial era, we will discover the importance of Internet 2 with respect to its potential to enable exchanges by and between millions of peoples, and thus its potential ability to foster and reinforce changes in ideas, opinions, attitudes and behaviours. This potential will increase according to Metcalfe's Law: the value of networks increases proportional to the square of the number of users (an exponential increase). * Information is the building block that aids in the development of this emerging society. Post-industrial society will be based on its ability to generate ideas; the new wealth will not be the accumulation of capital but of knowledge. * Among the mechanisms responsible for the rupture, three are mainly concerned with information&nbsp;: ** access to information has changed, we are moving from scarce information to continuous and abundant information; ** production of information has changed, we are moving from mediation carried out exclusively by professionals to the creation of information by citizen journalists; ** consuming information has changed, we are moving from typographic code to codes based on icons and images. * Currently the plethora of conflicting information in circulation is responsible for the public loss of confidence because it is not contextualized. This contextualization will be done through the analysis of information’s four dimensions: the subject, the object or property, space and time where communication is found. * Mediatization will grow greater and greater through various visualization techniques : schematics, mapping, Google Earth, Street View, etc. This mappomania attemps to address the users’ need to access information more quickly, time becomes the most important factor in post-industrial society. * The economic model of Internet 2 cannot not be based on advertising revenue only. It will be developed from two theories : ** free, wide distribution and the dissemination of targeted advertising: ** value-added information (via different mechanisms : micro-payment as with iTunes, subscription, exclusive contracts, etc.) == 7- Customization == * Currently, Internet 2 offers strategic possibilities using tools for communication, animation and mobilization that are capable of creating solidarity rooted in a given environment, in a precise space and time. * An online social network is not a jukebox that allows you to view thousands of individual videos (or point-casting), nor a mall where one might display their resume and photos to enlarge their personal network of friends (or ego-casting). Rather, it is a space for content-exchange and participation using a common cultural code (or narrow-casting). Internet 2 does not serve a wide public in a cyberspace but millions of groups from within their niches == 8 - The economic system == * We know now that the crises we are experiencing were born from the absence of relationships between the real economy and the virtual world of financialization. This crisis was caused by American capitalism which has created globalization in all areas starting ten years ago. American capitalism (a variant of capitalism) had the characteristic greed, short-sightedness, a State that did not play its role, the laissez-faire and the collapse of ethical rules. All of this created an euphoric climate where economic growth was confused with speculation. * So, while the planet will seem somewhat unified around a single economic model we can imagine that each society will instead want to have its own identity and dynamics. This is likely because the current model of globalization is not friendly to society's citizens. So, it is probable that a multitude of different societies based on different physical and cultural experiences will emerge. This will not be a search for smallness (along the lines of Small Is Beautiful), but a search for the possibility of managing effectively societies which have been nearly suffocated by growth and size. * In this system, there is no money to treat, educate and protect the citizen and his or her future rests solely in his or her own hands. * In the negotiations which have begun to correct the current economic system, there is on one side the defenders of government intervention and another of the laisser-faire neo-liberalism. But these starting battles do not in any way revamp the current system, they do not lead to real implementation of a new world order. The G20 did not challenge the confidence in the market economy and free-trade, and it does not yet have a position for a greener and more sustainable economy. * Even if industrialized countries are able to control these crises, they will return later with an ever greater crisis, that of the drying up of public funds. * Currently, we have unblocked, for the short-term, methods by which the people may contribute to the functionality of the system even if they fall further in debt. * Only negotiations between the political elite, the economic elite and civil society could develop a democracy with the market. We are, therefore, at the beginning of a very long process of public discussion about our future. * We must dare to imagine an economy of daily needs, that is an economy of proximity that evolves according to the population. It will create an economy that points to the means and not the ends to replace the two meager tools offered by the current elites : concrete and credit. * This means the emergence of an economy of proximity based upon added-value, geolocation and customization. The four intelligent spaces for this economy of proximity will be the home, the office, the classroom and the automobile. * The international economic system will have to reorganize itself around three (and maybe four or five - India and Russia?) major players : the US, the European Union, and China, functioning 24/7/365 from three time zones : New York, Shanghai and London. * This system will act as a key to the growth of cities, especially those with creative ideas, hence the emergence of an economy of proximity based on the value-added, geo-referencing and customization. This network of technology-and-creativity oriented cities will be the showcase for the knowledge and the markets of the world. * The G20 will have to create several international institutions to help mediate and manage certain activities. = The rules of development = * As economic, energy and ecological emergencies affect the whole planet, the solutions to this problem must also be global, even though actions can vary according to different continents. * It cannot be the case that there is only one model of society in such a complicated world. The differences in the environments on each continent are too great. * Humans live in three different environments: physical (biosphere), cultural (identity) and economic (goods &amp; services). When one of these environments is slipping into state of crisis and panic much like today’s economic situation, it puts the other two at risk. * The analysis of situations must be based on a downwards strategy (from global to local) whereas means and actions have to be based on an upwards model (from local to global). * None of these means and actions should compromise the ability of future generations to respond to their needs. * There must be a collective decision-making process, implying negotiation between political and economic parties and civil society in general. * The quality of sustainable development depends on the implication of all the active members and measures itself on their level of communication and exchanges, reflecting their level of trust. * The consensus must be negotiated around a societal project. This firstly implies cultural changes which lead to economic changes – not the other way round. * Sustainable developments rely on the quality of information analysis. The mass media, in which the analysis is undertaken, can not be the playground solely of marketers, as they are interested only in economic targets and interests. The biggest danger for today’s society is not the loss of economic control but the manipulation of the means of communication as well as the mass marketing of cultural products. Don’t be the only one! Create a group capable of thinking of the future. Pass it on. Be a part of the solution!

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