You Are Here: Naming a Society on the Move
I predict that our civilization will survive until at least 2100.
survival - John Tierney
By 2025, products of artistic activity will no longer be treated as autonomous, transcendent, intrinsically value-laden objects and artists will recognise themselves as operating within social, political, economic, and cultural frameworks which directly influence the conferred value of their artistic creations.
products of artistic activity - Sarah E
Technocrat will be a political party by 2020.
02010 - 02020
technocrat - steve hockenyos
By the year 2020 the technology will exist that will allow for the "faxing" (teleportation- sending/receiving) of actual inanimate objects, such as text books, clothing, jewelery and the like.
faxing of innate objects - Rob Schnitzer
By 2014 Twitter like products coupled with person mounted video cameras will allow people to lifecast every moment of their daily experience.
Others in the community of users will be able to subscribe to the lives of those they wish to follow.
Twitter like products - Michael S Sherrod
Google Earth / Street View will become a video gaming platform, where users can play Grand Theft Auto-like games virtually in their own neighborhoods.
Users will be able to upload GPS-coupled renderings of the insides of buildings. Users will allow others to virtually enter their homes, to pass beyond the public Street View by entering a code serving as a key to unlock their front door.
video gaming platform - Jason E Cafer
The concept of time as a linear dimension will be replaced by one of time as a polarity between content and context.
concept of time - John B Merryman
By 2070, at least six countries will have officially implemented a 4-day working week.
4-day working - Christophe Cauvy
By 2025 at least 50% of all U.S. citizens residing within the United States will have some form of technology embedded in their bodies for the purpose of tracking and identification.
the purpose of tracking - Douglas C Hewes
One hundred years from now the world's governments will formally and legally recognize the basic human right of mobility: a person may live anywhere on earth if they agree to obey local laws.
live anywhere on earth - Kevin Kelly
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*One thing is clear. Everything is changing. Fast. Efficient. Before the coming of the internet, mobile telecommunication and cheap flight opportunities, which took about as long as my age, we could only speculate where we would be now.
Well, this is where we are: People reorganize themselves in different ways, and experiment with new, alternative approaches to problems. Networks and social networks appeared and keep appearing, which shift the ways in which we communicate and relate to each other.
Knowledge is no longer power, but a currency.
Education is being reformed to models in which the generations of tomorrow are being educated in a way in which they can flourish. This flourishing is not a mechanical process but an organic one where the outcomes of human development are allowed to be unpredictable. Technology has enabled us to be a click away from online, offline, real and virtual at the same time.
We no longer imagine the future, but plan it.*
The question is: If our location is everywhere (globalization), nowhere (cyberspace), and out there (outer space), at the same time, where are we present then? Which one counts most? If The Computer is replacing The Clock as a time pacing device, then what time is it? If we are no longer The Mass, how many names do we need to describe our social- technological- economical- political- cultural- diversity? When we talk 'The Future' do we talk bold predictions, food for thought or possible scenarios?
Alvin Toffler, the "world's most famous futurologist" describes in his book 'The Third Wave', three types of societies, based on the concept of 'waves' – each wave pushes the older societies and cultures aside.
First Wave is the society after agrarian revolution and replaced the first hunter-gatherer cultures. Second Wave is the society during the Industrial Revolution. The main components of the Second Wave society are nuclear family, factory-type education system and the corporation. "The Second Wave Society is industrial and based on mass production, mass distribution, mass consumption, mass education, mass media, mass recreation, mass entertainment, and weapons of mass destruction. You combine those things with standardization, centralization, concentration, and synchronization, and you wind up with a style of organization we call bureaucracy."
Third Wave is the post-industrial society. The names (used by Toffler) super-industrial society, the Information Age, Space Age, Electronic Era, Global Village, technotronic age, scientific-technological revolution, signify de-massification, diversity, knowledge-based production, and the acceleration of change.
Toffler also used the term 'Prosumer'. This was the notion that new technologies are enabling the radical fusion of the producer and consumer into the prosumer. "Wealth today", he argues, "is created everywhere (globalization), nowhere (cyberspace), and out there (outer space). Global positioning satellites are key to synchronizing precision time and data streams for everything from cellphone calls to ATM withdrawals."
"But the computer's effect on time goes much deeper, influencing even the way we think about it. The computer introduces a new vocabulary (with terms like "real-time," for example) that clarifies, labels, and re-conceptualizes temporal phenomena. It begins to replace the clock as the most important timekeeping or pace-setting device in society." **
Sociologist Manuel Castells used another term to predict the future. The Network Society. The term Network Society covers several different phenomena related to the social, political, economic and cultural changes caused by the spread of networked, digital information and communications technologies.
This society in terms of historical time is at the end, and in terms of space, at the end of place. Which suggests that everything that needed to be noted in history is already noted, and now we can mix up everything we knew before. We no longer belong to any place or any culture to identify with. We are free from cultural codes and have made room for the new.
According to Castells, places are replaced by 'the space of flows', an abstract space of exchange, outside of global cities and geography. In his idea architecture is a too primitive form to be able to give form to something which directly expresses the codes of the new culture, saturated with visual imagery; "The meaning of its messages will be lost in the culture of 'surfing' that characterizes our symbolic behavior."
The only thing recognizable to everyone in the real world are airports: "No carpeting, no cozy rooms, no indirect lighting. In the middle of the cold beauty of this airport passengers have to face their terrible truth: they are alone in the middle of the space of flows, they may lose their connection, they are suspended in the emptiness of transition. They are literally in the hands of Iberia Airlines. And there is no escape."
Castells fears that this 'space of flows' will make the world scattered and segmented, unrelated to each other, unable to share cultural codes. "There follows a cultural schizophrenia between two spatial logics that threatens to break down communication channels in society."
While mass media is a remnant of a previous wave, society has already been introduced to de-massified electronic media. Every one can co-create. Society no longer just consumes images, but has become critical and selective. The internet allows us to perceive all reality, virtually. As Castells says: "All realities are communicated through symbols. And in human, interactive communication regardless of the medium all symbols are somewhat displaced in relation to their assigned semantic meaning." ***
The new communication system of The Network Society integrated multiple communication modes, digitized and networked, comprehensive and inclusive to everyones cultural expression. Anything goes, so long as one can adapt to the logic, language and codes of The Network Society.
Welcome to Society
Postindustrial-, Western-, Virtual-, Information-, Network- 2.0-, 3.0-, 4.0. Who can keep track of which version of the update we are at now? And what our name is?
We are technologically advanced, highly educated, socially engaged and connected. We share, innovate, inform, and never stop. We are immune to the media, saturated by choices and constantly up to date. We are the embodiment of science fiction visions. We have reached the end of history, geography and time as our predecessors understand them. We are virtually free.
Fiction, specifically science fiction was the way to explore ideas about The Future. We now have science, and we have fiction.
The movie Up in the Air (2009) tells the story of Ryan Bingham, a transition specialist, who makes his living traveling to workplaces around the United States and breaking the news to workers that they have been let go for employers unwilling to do it themselves. Ryan also delivers motivational speeches, using the analogy "What's In Your Backpack?" to talk about the virtues of a life free of burdensome relationships with people as well as things. For the purpose of his work Ryan travels over multiple time zones on a daily basis. And he relishes his perpetual travels. His personal ambition is to earn ten million frequent flyer miles with American Airlines.
This movie was based on a book, which in turn was inspired by a real person who travelled the world for his job and took pride in collected Air Miles.
Fiction used to reflect on and inform reality. Reality now informs fiction. Back and forth from reality, to fiction, to reality and to the future. Traveling workers, packed light, outsourced by their companies; and a workforce replaceable by video-conferencing technology. Sounds like a society moulded by Toffler and Castells' future scenarios. Scenarios which aren't that distant of a future anymore. This is our society. *
The Long Now Foundation (1996)
The Long Now Foundation, was established in 01996 in order to develop a few projects and lay a basis for a long-term cultural institution. The foundation's goals are reactionary to the "faster/cheaper" methods of society and promotes "slower/better" thinking. Their ambition is to stick around in the next 10,000 years.
'The Clock', one of the projects presented on their website, is an embodiment of the long term thinking. The makers idea that the future has been shrinking by one year per year inspired him to start a long-term project which 'gets people thinking past the mental barrier of an ever-shortening future'. He proposed a large (think Stonehenge) mechanical clock, powered by seasonal temperature changes. It would tick once a year, bong once a century, and the cuckoo would come out every millennium.
Michael Chabon in his essay 'The Omega Glory' (2006) uses the idea of the Clock of The Long Now Foundation in order to muse on the idea of The Future. His interpretation of the Clock is that it is there to revive and restore the idea of the Future, enable us to think about the future again. "The future as such is just an idea, a possible scenario. “The Future” is a story we tell, a narrative of hope, dread or wonder. And it’s a story that, for a while now, we have been pretty much living without."
Chabon wonders what happened to the Future. As if society lost the ability to imagine anything beyond the next hundred years, "as if we lacked the fundamental faith that there will in fact be any future at all beyond that not-too distant date. Or maybe we stopped talking about the Future around the time that, with its microchips and its twenty-four-hour news cycles, it arrived."
Where we are now, the idea is that If you can control the internet, then you control the future.
The internet came from a generation brought up by thinking laterally. Being bored of big brands. Looking at the huge and empty wilderness of Cyberspace opening up as something to be explored and exploited. It was the much needed lateral thinking that gave us Amazon, Yahoo, Google, iTunes, eBay, YouTube and Wikipedia. Uploaders and downloaders.
Yet some think that if culture is something we can google and consume, than it is not culture at all, it is just a product masquerading as culture. But doesn't Cyberspace by now foster a culture in its own right? In which case, are we, as Castells suggests "heading toward life in parallel universes whose times cannot meet because they are warped into different dimensions of a social hyperspace."?
This is the paradox of our times: all the information in all the world seems to be just a mouse click away, while we don't feel better informed, that is: in general.
"Sumo wrestlers have their own virtual platforms for exchange, teadrinkers can choose from a thousand of specialist sites, Leica nerds can spend their whole life in online forums as can sadomasochists, one-wheel-cyclists, left-handers and Britney Spears fans. The problem is that all these voices together don't make a choir. And still everybody sings: its the end of the world as we know it. only we don't know whats next. You can really get a feeling that the world we were all born in is shattered into as many pieces as there are sites on the web."
Why the skepticism?
There are also others who have already acknowledged the changes taking place, and are preparing to facilitate the citizens of the future.
New, concrete names like the B-society
are ideas put to practice. These new names are no longer observations of bits of the new society, but actually try to shape new cultures.*
Prosumer-, Knowmad-, B- Society: This is the mindset of our society. We are critical, selective, well educated, on the move, day and night. Why the fear of isolation?; when we are free to choose. We are connected, virtually, just a click away; And surrounded by many just like us. Geo-, Cyber-, Flow- Space: I am here. And here. And here. At the same time. Clock- Computer-, Personalized- Time: I am here now. Now, is whenever I choose it to be. Not when someone else does for me.
Are we than scattered? Living segmented and unrelated to each other? Our physical bodies are maybe scattered around the geographical places. But don't we have the possibility to be ever more connected? If we choose to? Subscribe, unsubscribe, upload, download, update. Isn't cyberspace a new culture, free of the burden of history, and open to the Here and Now? Or are we indeed just becoming schizophrenic?
*Does having a choice also imply being in control? When it comes to the internet we are either uploading or downloading content. The editorial and verifiable qualities of the informations and knowledge we exchange is debatable. On the overt side of it, we leave traces of ourselves willingly or unwillingly on each step as we meander around public space. We dismiss the knowledge of this by saying "We have nothing to hide". Are we still free then?
"I am sure there are far fewer people uploading material onto the net than there are downloading, i.e. uploaders control our net our thoughts our interactive mind. Do they in fact control the future?"[…] "Uploading is not for everyone. The Chinese government are downloaders and they control the the Chinese uploader's right to speech."*
On my trip to China last year, I had to get used to the fact that most of the access to websites and online services that allow me to be connected to the world were blocked or censured. It felt claustrophobic. It made me question the freedom I am so proud of. What happens if someone (like the government) pulls the plug? Like we saw happen in Egypt recently for example? We like to believe in the democracy of the idea, and have faith in internet architects or hackers to fix it for us. But even a slower internet connection leaves us powerless.
We are free, but we are not in control. We have the idea we are free, but we are not in control. We have the illusion of freedom and the illusion of control.
And this is also where we are.
Interviews with: The Jetlag Society
In a series of interviews, I introduce you to The Jetlag Society; their newfound freedom in being disconnected from their surroundings and at the same time being more connected that ever before.
*The Jetlag Society is giving a name to the feeling that our surroundings are changing faster than our bodies and minds can keep up with. We observe this through the effects technology has on our perception of time and space; Our synchronization with our environment.
Technology reduced distance to the speed of light virtual reality can move at, and every second we sleep, eat or read, the lag between that and our physical reality gets bigger. It leaves us feeling disconnected, lost and confused about if and how to even catch up.
Technology is changing our society by making it possible to stand in direct communication with the entire world through phones and Internet, which can make things happen faster, and at the same time allows us to move virtually rather than physically, which makes your actual location less relevant. In many ways these developments have changed our experience of time and place, thereby it is changing our society and our relationship to the world.
The jetlag creates a perspective on society; how we experience and try to handle reality.
We Are the Jetlag Society
Jet lag is the desynchronization between internal and external rhythms, a feeling well known to people who fly distant places and have their body need to adjust to their new environment. Our society now is made up of people whose bodies run at a different pace than the world they live in. This is someone who works night shifts in the same timezone and location; At the same time it is someone who's boss is in America, while his own office is in Amsterdam.
In a series of interviews, I introduce you to The Jetlag Society; their newfound freedom in being disconnected from their surroundings and at the same time being more connected that ever before.
TJS: To what extent is technology a part of your daily life? *
PH (a creative strategist and designer): What's quite funny about it is that we have had meetings even recently, with Dutch clients using Skype. So, it's just such a lovely medium to use, when you get your familiarity around it. And I think, it is this ease of connection that is creating a new dynamic in our industry. So, yes we can travel faster and easier to different places in the world and at the same time there are many new technologies that mean we don't have to travel, which is lovely, so I think that is a nice combination to work with.
JS (an independent network architect): I think the funny thing compared to any regular job, is that the internet does not shut down after office hours. It goes on day and night and people expect that. So it really is a 24/7 business, there is no way around it.*
PH: Oh, if I had the ability in the next number of years, I want to get rid of emails. It is a beam in my life. What did we do before emails? Well, I can guarantee you that we did not sit behind this computer as much as we currently do. Technology should not run us, we should run technology. And I think the danger that we have we technology is that it runs us.
AO (a customer care employee at an online hotel reservation service and role playing gamer): Technology for me means everything that is except for my body, all of the tools I use and of course we have to use it. I use the computer everyday at work, which is very modern technology. And at home, I use my computer from the time I get home maybe I spend an hour without the computer and then four or five hours with computer.*
VL (a scientific researcher): It's quite and integral part here. First of all, if we are talking about the work, part of it is done the old fashioned way, that is the pen and the paper and your mind, but computers play a big role because we have to simulate lots of things. And then obviously when communicating with your colleagues, internet is an invaluable resource. Also when it comes to publishing our research to make it available for other people, and finding other peoples work. I mean everything in science, at least in physics practically goes through a couple of websites where we can actually get access to all the published research. So it is a very important part.
JS: I make sure I always have internet. I have three internet connections at home, I have my cell phone which can connect to the internet, and if all fails I can go to the Coffee Company and use their wireless or I will drive to a place where they have internet. And if that doesn't work, I cannot work.
TJS: When do you work?
PH: I tend to be more of an evening person than a morning person. If I am planning certain activities I will plan them in the evening, because I know that that is when I will be most attentive, you know, most switched on. So, I can work easily from 10 at night until 02:30 in the morning and be very, very efficient.*
JS: The interesting thing is that they live in America and I live in Amsterdam, so in order for me to communicate with them it often means that I have to stay up late. I choose to ignore the regular day rhythm and just join in their work shift, so I get faster answers and we can progress faster. It saves a lot of time by not giving in to the Dutch timezone.
VL: I have no fixed working hours at all. No one demands of me to be at the office at any time so I choose to work whenever I feel like it but I try to keep up some sort of day rhythm. I go to the office and stay there for some 6 to 8 hours.
PH: This idea of this traveling and globe trotting, you know going around the world, its actually just a long day to work. It is a long commute to work.
TJS: How do you experience this lifestyle? How do you cope physically?*
AO: She works from 9:00 till 18:00 everyday and she goes to bed at 23:00.
TJS: So when do you meet each other?
AO: Well, we meet, she stays up sometimes, cooks for me, then we eat together a little bit, then she goes to bed and I stay up; So maybe, half an hour everyday. She is a morning person; She doesn't like it very much. I'm quite fine with it, because I like being alone in the evening. Then we see each other in the weekend more concentrated than we did before. Which is also nice.
PH: The trick for me for jet lag is all about food. When you travel on these long journeys you almost fast. So drink lots of water and eat small amounts of food, and if possible food that is very digestible. First thing is, you should have breakfast at the time you should eat breakfast in Australia. And then you should have lunch and then you should have your evening meal. I find that when I get my digestion in rhythm, I am in rhythm then.*
VL: I tend to go to bed quite late, usually between 12 to 2 in the morning to ten-ish, eleven-ish, then usually go to work, and people are already having lunch, but I like to take my breakfast slow.
AO: The only problem I have is social life. My girlfriend would like to see me more. Which I also would like, but then also I have bands I am playing in, but I can't practice with them, because they all work normal times and I work late. And in the weekends we can't practice because then I want to spend time with my girlfriend.
The Ontology of a Jetlag Society
The following is an excerpt from an independently published publication in 2011; in collaboration with graphic designer Brigiet vd Berg en philosopher Nikki Brörmann.
If you wake up at a different time and in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?
from: Fight Club (1999) - --
Where for the jetset society this lifestyle of travel was one of choice, for the jetlag society this is not the case. The jetlag lifestyle is a direct result of a globalizing world, a process of people that connect increasingly integrated regional economies, societies, and cultures through politics, communication, transportation, and trade. These people are forced to keep up, to bridge gaps in time, distance and moral environments.
A timezone was a space on earth bound by lines of longitude; a vertical region with a legally uniform local time. These longitude days were originally designed for travel by sea and later by train. It was a system already more or less disconnected from a 24hr day based solely on the orbit of the sun. In the jetlag society, a timezone became internal to those that – by plane or otherwise – cross more lines of longitudes than they have days in their destination to recover. Timezone now is a personal clock that crosses and disregards the old authorities and molds itself to its carrier.
He is the jetlag society. He works as a Product Recall Specialist for an unnamed car company, responsible for determining if product recalls of the defective models meet cost-benefit analysis.
The stress of his job combined with his frequent business trips leads to perpetual jet lag. His connections are with consequential strangers and uniquely alike.
Half awake, half asleep, the jetlag society moves unaware of perspective. The body is where it needs to be at a given place and hour, dislocated from region and disrupted from local time. The mind becomes a lucid place, detached from the body that it occupies, already in motion to its next target. The mind-body division is extrapolated, the difference in past or future tense meaningless.
CORPORATE PUBLIC SPACE
In the jetlag society the concept of home is shattered. The constant shift of destination means that restaurants are now your dining room, parks feel like your garden, and cafes and lounges function as your living room. These spaces appear public, and are made to feel free, when they are in fact corporate. The jetlag society is consumers that can use free wifi as long as they consume it with coffee or cakes, and who can indulge in the magnificence of an airport as long as they do not capture it on film. The presence of the jetlag society shapes an environment as mush as it structures them.
The jetlag lifestyle is driven by necessity and efficiency. Machines operate when there are orders, people sleep when they have time, breakfast food is served at night, establishments and institutions are opened 24/7 in the virtual and real world. The jetlag society creates light where there was darkness, life where there was nothing, and tricks nature into something it had planned otherwise to fit the desires that turned into needs. Wasting time and space is an absolute sin.
The hunger for the new is insatiable in the jetlag society. Keeping up is essential, falling behind unforgivable. Androids, apparel, and accessories are the new necessities to connect to networks and stand out in changing environments. The speed by which new things are developed and acquired is unmatched, yet underneath their changing form these fundamentals form a constant in a continuously updated life. The jetlag society timeless communication seems to be fixed at 10:10, with guides optimistically pointed upward, clearly showing their brand.
TERMS OF COMMITMENT
Where the environment is adapted to the jetlag lifestyle, relationships are affected in the same manner. The gap that exists between two people separated in time and space is filled with a new concept of love and connection. The living of unparallel lives in motion brings with it new terms of commitment, communication and intimacy. Geosocial networking allows the jetlag society to meet, interact and follow in transparent, fast and predictable ways. In the jetlag society it is no longer possible to get lost.
Exercises in space-time involving presence