Professor John M. McCann
The Way We Live
Fuqua School of Business
Last update: March 27 1996
This class session focuses on the key trends described in my Digital Life CyberTrends Web document. A brief outline is shown below, with links to sections of the CyberTrends documents as well as related Web sites.
During this class, we will watch the video "Visions of Heaven and Hell: Welcome to the Jungle." It includes appearances by a number of futurists and other participants in cyberspace:
- Douglas Adams, author of The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
- William Gibson, author of Neuromancer and creator of the word cyberspace.
- Ester Dyson, publisher of Release 1.0.
- One of the early and most enthusiastic practioners of the global village concept is Howard Rheingold, author of The Virtual Community, who provides us with an overview in his A Slice of Life in My Virtual Community.
- Lily Burana, former editor of Future Sex magazine.
- Charles Handy, author of the Age of Unreason
- Chiat Day advertising agency's virtual office.
- Will Hutton, editor at The Guardian.
- Telluride, Colorado
- John Naisbitt, author of The Global Paradox.
- Richard Lowenberg of the Telluride Institute's Infozone.
- Miners in Rhonnda, England
As you watch this video, keep in mind its underlying theme: we face both heaven and hell because we are living through the breakdown of an old world order and the emergence of a new one; there are webs of society that bind us all together, and technology is weaving new webs. We may wake up one day and find that society has vanished and something new has emerged.
One key aspect of the old society that is going away is the traditional role played by large organizations (companies, associations, governments, nation states, etc.) and the resulting demise of central authority. The people in this video, and others, have written extensively about some of these changes.
- Charles Handy tells us about robber technologies:
- Printing Press
- Robbed Church of its authority because we could all read Bible and make up own minds about God.
- Robbed Presidents of authority.
- Robbed corporations of authority.
- Will rob teachers of their power: students will have access to everything teachers know.
- Naisbett tells us in The Global Paradox about the rise of the individual:
- "One thing we do know is that the telecommunications revolution
will enlarge the role of the individual with more access to
information, greater speed in execution, and greater ability to
communicate to anyone or to great numbers anywhere, anytime. All trends are in the direction of making the smallest player in the global economy more and more powerful."
- "Only 7 percent of U.S. exports are created by companies with 500 or more employees. The Fortune 500 now account for only 10 percent of the American economy, down from 20 percent in 1970. Ninety percent of the U.S. economy is elsewhere: small and medium-sized companies. Entrepreneurs -- individuals -- are creating the huge global economy."
- We will see a rise in the number of countries, from a few hundred today to 1,000 or more. "A world of 1,000 countries is a metaphor for moving beyond the nation-state. Countries will become more and more irrelevant. The shift will be from 200 or 600 countries to a million 'hosts' of networks that are all tied together. The people we network with will become more important as the country we happen to operate out of becomes less important."
- Gilder tells us that when bandwidth is free, telecommuting will flourish. Working out of a virtual office is one of the megatrends identified by Naisbitt. They use statistics about the level of telecommuting to support their claims, along with examples of big companies such as AT&T that are actively promoting telecommuting via organizations such as Telecommute America and the Smart Valley telecommuting project in Silicon Valley.
- Others tell us that we are seeing the rise of a global village when more and more people work as lone eagles and create a world centered around the home. The result will be a shift from producer in control to a society where the consumer is in control.