Josh Ellis’s latest rant about the Grim Meathook Future (this time he talks a bit about the alternatives):
It’s a simple fact that the American lifestyle is unsustainable for more than maybe another decade. That means that all of the companies that are in the business of outfitting that lifestyle are screwed. It’s hard to sell big, expensive HDTVs to a nomad who lives out of a souped-up Winnebago and drives around doing manual labor. (I’m talking about you, of course, my reader, when the oil and the money finally starts to run out.)
The big markets of the 21st century aren’t going to be in luxury consumer goods like iPods and HDTVs and home stereo systems that pump more watts than the Grateful Dead in 1971. It’s going to be Lifestraws and inexpensive antiviral medication and cheap, cheap computers and cheaper Internet access.
There are larger markets to consider now, perhaps with smaller individual revenue streams but greater volumes than you can possibly imagine. There’s a great bit in Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon where some of the main characters, who are geeks, develop a system that allows Filipino pinoy workers to send video messages back home from the local branch of the global convenience store. The system is a hit, of course, and the characters use it to fund their long-term deranged money-making schemes.
It’s a good, check it out.
Of course, there are entrepreneurs and designers who are working on this sort of stuff… but like Josh said in his first rant, that sort of thing doesn’t get you on the cover of Wired. World Changing, of course, is the go to place for information about the real future tech.
Web 2.0 is great. I work for a Web 2.0 company (and so does Josh). But the most important challenges faces humanity will be energy, climate change, and water shortages. Hopefully, some of the tools of Web 2.0 will be useful for the people solving the real issues.
Also, check out this great interview with Wes Janz about archetecture and design in squats, slums, etc.