This week I launched a new personal website, refreshing the design, updating what I’ve done and announcing a new service offer. You can read more about it there but there’s also a bit of thinking to explain the topics I work with and around and I thought I’d re-post it here with some notes.
Through the two issues of The Alpine Review we’ve put everything we’ve been reading and thinking about so it’s natural that in now offering a form of “trends report” (although I hate the use of “trends”) service and consultancy alongside it I would thread much of the same paths. However, where “a compendium of ideas for a world in transition” might be a very good teaser to draw people to a magazine, it’s a bit short when offering monthly or quarterly briefings to organizations. I include a sample list of topics on my services page but I wanted to say more around that so I started thinking on and mapping what I’m most interested in, which also represents very well what appears most in those briefings.
In the end, some might see those themes as a somewhat comprehensive overview of the world today but that’s not the aim. Rather, those are the six themes I center my reading and research upon in exploring, and explaining, what’s happening in our world. I also group them under the overall idea of “Transitional Edges & The Network.” Here’s the re-post:
Transitional Edges & The Network
Societies, cultures, cities and industries are going through a variety of transitions. Moving in new directions, accelerating, slowing down, stretching, pulling, being invented, dying. Much of that has been said before and is now apparent to all. However, those movements are ongoing, some still accelerating, there is still so much to be understood, to be mapped out.
I find that the best places to look to when trying to understand where things are going are the boundaries, where edges meet, where things are made and mixed. I’ve taken to calling those places “transitional edges.”
It’s clear that the Internet, “The Network,” is now present in all areas of our lives and growing in importance. Yet, in many ways, it’s still only the beginning, still very early days. The Network—and more broadly computation—enables connexions across the globe, organization, collaboration, but also unprecedented level of surveillance and concentration of wealth and power, unbridled “disruption” of laws and industries. Its impact, potential, reach and future are still being determined, sometimes even fought over.
Starting from these somewhat broad ideas of transitional edges and the networked—or hyperconnected-age, I’ve identified some more specific areas of investigation and interest which I refer to as the “Six Cs”.
Computation. Algorithms, Automation & Robotics.
Calculations and actions by computers are managing, controlling, accelerating, optimizing and obfuscating an evergrowing share of our daily lives. What’s next? How does it impact our future? How do we become more literate and better informed about this major force in our societies?
Connection. Of people & things.
“Everyone” is connected, becoming a node in the network, a participant, a destination, a link. Now millions of “things” are joining us online while we still don’t completely understand how our hyperconnectedness impacts us. How do we make better sense of that and figure out how billions of people and billions of things interact and cohabitate?
Cities & Infrastructures.
We are now more urban than agricultural, we live in growing cities built with and on gigantic, often hidden, infrastructures. We need to live together, move, build, grow, accept and include everyone within our cities. How do we do so while looking at and preparing for the future?
Collaboration & Creation, Adhocracy.
We can now connect and collaborate from anywhere. We do so in groups, projects and communities, many of which are self-organized, open, innovative and horizontal. We create new tools and new ways of making. How can these ideas and ideals reach more people and help us meet all the challenges ahead?
Climate change & Milieu.
Humanity is now affecting the climate, polluting and decimating ecosystems, extinguishing species by the thousands. How do we change? Where do we find the promising inventions, adaptations and actions?
Interesting in itself but also a consequence of the themes above. The networks, cities, cultures, societies, and climate are all large systems, as they grow and interact more closely we go beyond the complicated and deal with complexity. How do we grasp complexity and act accordingly?