It's part of human nature to label, classify, and quantify the world around us. We feel empowered when we're able to create structure and meaning out of our surroundings. Maps have been used for thousands of years to that end; enabling us to plot a course, make informed decisions of paths to take, and decide which trajectory will give us desired results. In today's modern culture, digital media has taken mapping to a whole new level, giving us the ability to visualize our world in 3D, and on a global scale
So what do maps have to do with social change?
Potentially, everything. A map is a tool, and historically those that have the best maps win. Several digital and social media tools are in the process of converging to create unprecedented platforms for sharing information in real-time. Whereas software like Google Earth allowed us to visualize on a macro scale, these new tools map information on local levels. GPS software, location based tracking, souveillance, and geotagging are coming together to produce information-rich maps that can be visualized in both space and time. Powered by social media, a space is being created where real-time maps can be used to empower communities to connect and collaborate instantaneously.
If you managed to watch the debate last night, you’re probably just as frustrated as everyone else at the way the candidates behaved. I’m not talking about physical behavior, but the verbal arguments. Every other line was about how the other candidate wasn’t telling the truth about certain subjects. I guess “not telling the truth” is the new way of saying “you’re lying” without coming off as confrontational.
This may be how debates have been run since the founding of this country (heck, the campaign of Jefferson vs Adams was probably the worst mud-slinging campaign of all time), but don’t you think in the age of instant information that twisting the truth only breeds distrust? What does it tell you about the candidates when every spin they try and weave can be blown apart by going to a site like FactCheck.org?
It’s time we adapted the political discourse to the 21st Century.
We need to sit these candidates down face to face and ask them the hard questions. If they try and spin a lie, the moderator should be informed via something akin to Twitter and call them on it right then and there. “I’m sorry Mr. Lincoln, you haven’t always been anti-slavery. In fact, just last week in Kentucky you told the audience you weren’t concerned about slave rights.” Can you imagine how incredible that would be? Facts would be facts, lies would be lies, and each politician would be responsible for the words they say.
This may seem a little harsh, but these people are vying for the office of President of the United States of America. This isn’t a show like Bill O’Reilly or Keith Olbermann where the commentators aren’t held accountable for their lies mistakes.
The American people deserve more from the candidates and this method of debating (only three debates, are you kidding me?) is incredibly outdated. Let’s get the candidates to speak the truth and stop this incessant parlay which makes every debate seem like a tie.
Our elected officials should spend less time promising that they will “deliver” change and more time helping society prepare for the change that is coming because it is going to be massive.
After almost two years of campaigning, it is finally here: Election Day! Change is in the air, but not for the reasons one might expect.
Regardless of a person’s preference for Obama, McCain, Nader or one of the other candidates, I don’t actually believe they (or any politician for that matter) will be the primary instrument of change in the near future. That mantle will instead belong to technology.
Let me just provide a quick glimpse from the world of technology through the lens of a single day—today.
I began my morning by reading this article on a “solar power game changer.” The piece describes how a new antireflective coating now allows for the “near perfect” absorption of sunlight. In other words, society is one step closer to solar technology replacing a number of conventional energy sources. Politicians can clamor all they want about “clean coal” and “more drilling” but my hunch is that technological advances will render their opinions and policy suggestions moot.
Next, I stumbled across this article discussing a new “heart-patching” technology. Combined with yesterday’s announcement by a Medtronic official that the “medical device industry is done,” it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that health care is quickly moving in the direction of preventative care.
Byron Reeves is a man with a vision: using video games to teach and to help mold behavior. When we get a smart grid and smart devices that track and report on their energy consumption, we'll have the data we need to understand our energy usage in the home. But will we really take advantage of that information?
"Games have the potential change behavior," says Reeves a professor at Stanford University and co-founder of Stanford's MediaX; he conducts research on the emotional and social effects of immersive environments including complex online games . "I became interested in building a game platform that could change behavior around energy usage," he says. To that end, he's been showing a vision video he created with Millions of Us in which he brings to life a game where homeowners compete with each other to see who can become the most energy efficient.
Juan Enriquez' recent presentation at TED juxtaposes the accelerating world financial crisis against the backdrop of the longer term, more profound changes in robotics, biology and genetics. For the former, he suggests that we work longer before receiving social security and not get too tied up in the current morass that we lose track of the incredible advances in the latter. With regard to this he says we are beginning to evolve into a new species - "Homo Evolutis - Hominids that take direct and deliberate control over the evolution of their species...and others." This is not a new meme though it seems to be gaining traction and is popping up more frequently these days. Our ability to manipulate and integrate technology into our very beings will no doubt be one of the hot button issues of the next decade.