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The Future and its Enemies

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Barry York, 21 March 2004. click here to read


From our old forum:

the future and its enemies

Author: kerrb

Date : Oct 18, 2003 6:09 pm


I'd like to initiate some discussion of the book, The Future and its Enemies, author Virginia Postrel, published in 1998 (so it's been around for a while)

I'll endeavour to post some more substantial thoughts here soon

If you wish to read the book parts of it are available here

Scroll down to the bottom of the Synopsis and you'll see links to 4 excerpts, including all of the introduction and all of chapter one

Chapter one is a good one because she establishes clear descriptions of the two bitter enemies of the future, reactionaries and technocrats.

Reactionaries seek to reverse change

Technocrats seek to control change

Often they form an alliance against change


Comments : Re:the future and its enemies (by kerrb on 10/19/2003)

Postrel divides the world into dynamists and stasists

dynamists support evolution and the processes of variation, feedback and adaptation

stasists supports stabililty

"Do we search for stasis - a regulated engineered world? Or do we embrace dynamism - a world of constant creation, discovery and competition?" (from the Introduction)

Postrel equates dynamism with progress and that reactionaries and technocrats are always trying to hold things back


the world is a web (by kerrb on 10/21/2003)

the world is a web ... and not a hierarchy - its' worthwhile to contrast these alternative metaphors of the future

Tonight Tim Berners-Lee's book, Weaving the Web (1999) arrived in the mail and I noticed immediately an appendix titled Information Management - a Proposal

Its a copy of his original (1989-90) proposal for the world wide web

Reading it led me to thinking that our whole concept of the future has changed sinced the arrival of the www, in this way:

the world is a web but the "old" boss-worker relationships are hierarchical tree structures

the technocrats, the planners are still trying to stuff the diversity of the world into a hierarchical structure (top down planning) but as the metaphor of the web takes hold - through the reality of the real world example of the www - more and more people are starting to feel that the hierarchical structures are too inflexible and just don't reflect how things work, or should work, in reality

although the idea of evolutionary emergence has been around since before 1990 the amazing growth of the www in the last ten years has been instrumental in promoting a new way of thinking about, for instance, workplace structure that is much more prominent now than before

the www is quite subversive to boss-worker hierarchical organisational structures

this gels with Postrels idea that dynamism is an unqualified good and that reactionaries and technocrats need to be got out of the way in the name of progress


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Last modified 2004-03-20 05:11 PM

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