Prattle & Jaw

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On The Brink Of A Precipice, Or The Edge Of A Revolution?

I've come to realise that the world is royally screwed and the only thing that can really save it is all out war. 

At least, it has to be something that will remove all those people in power, all those people will hidden agendas (of whom I think there are many), and all those people who don't have faith - not in religion of course, but faith that things can be done differently. It's not because those people are particularly mean, or cruel, but because they way things are right now, they'll never change. Ever. Although I have faith in the fact that we can live on this planet in a very different manner, I have very little faith in my fellow man. Power and money corrupt. Absolutely.  Unfortunately.

I watched Zeiteist: Moving Forward recently, and although I'm not one to get (too) carried away with these types of things, I enjoy them. It's good to hear different theories, from the plausible to the downright bonkers. It broadens the mind, or something. Anyway - it's fun. What struck me about Moving Forward was that it touched upon a subject that seems to be everywhere I turn, namely, the start of a new paradigm.

It's been something that has sat at the back of my mind for a while now, most certainly since I wrote my MA thesis, which centered around digimodernism - author Alan Kirby's suggestion as to what this new paradigm should be named. The general idea is that technology - the internet in particular - has altered society to such an extent that we can simply no longer be the same postmodern society we were in the early years of the WWW. 

More recently, just last week actually, I attended the opening of a new exhibition at The Danish Design Center, called Challenge Society. The exhibition shows how, "the world is transforming, creating complex societal challenges. The future sees fewer hands to care for the increasing number of elderly. The school systems fail, hospitals are down with billions in deficit and the welfare model in general is under pressure. Just to mention some of the future challenges. The situation needs immediate action and new, creative solutions." It's a very, very interesting topic. My place of work, Designit, is particularly involved in this area. As a strategic design company, it believes that design really can make a difference in how people go about their daily lives, and as a result, how society lives (I wrote a short blog post about the opening you might like to check out).

At the opening, we were lucky enough to hear from Chris Luebkeman (Director for Global Foresight and Innovation, Arup), Christian Bason (Director of Innovation, Mindlab), Chris Hacker (Chief Design Officer, Johnson & Johnson), Mikkel B. Rasmussen (European Director at ReD), and Josephine Green (speaker and consultant). Each and every one of them gave inspiring and insightful presentations on how society is changing irrevocably, and how as a result, design and creative processes must be incorporated into just about everything, from packaging to organisational mindsets.

Josephine Green made a particular impression on me. She spoke at length about how are moving out of the economic, mechanistic worldview we’ve had since the industrial revolution and beginning to recognise the flat, social, communal, socio-ecological world we now find ourselves in. Our traditional organisation structures are being to fail and are becoming part of the problem. Gone are hierarchies, the linear, managerial processes, and the idea that the 'top of they pyramid' holds all the knowledge. Today, we are open, flat and a community.

This complete openness is largely (if not solely) owed to the advancements of technology. The internet broke down borders, walls, democratised (largely) information and ruined the traditional sense of the market. The consumer is powerful, active and as a result, as Josephine so rightly pointed out, can hardly be considered a 'consumer' anymore. We don't just consumer. We create - from blogs to #18DaysInEgypt, society is participating in what was once out of reach.

As is clear, the two paradigms are one and the same. We're in the middle of a gigantic shift - the likes of which we haven't seen since the industrial revolution changed the face of this planet.

What is so unfortunate today is that precisely because of the previous shift and the enormous wealth it created, I honestly find it hard to believe that we'll move even remotely quickly or smoothly in to the new paradigm. The people who run this world, the banks, the global corporations, the governments, the politicians, the immensely weathly - all of them - do you really think they'll budge? I don't. I don't see them making any changes that will alter how we live in this world. They might make superficial changes, the kind that makes it in to the news, and helps put a damper on the 'hysterical', but real changes? Nope. To save this world (not to sound too soapboxy), virtually all economic processes would have to be rewired or shut down, and let's be honest - that's just not going to happen. Unless, unless something demanded it. Like total nuclear war. Or Yellowstone erupting and killing off most life. Something that changes the physical face of the planet, something that will give us the chance to reprogramme. 

Perhaps - probably - this will happen. In fact, maybe the best road to take is the one we're on. Afterall, it's the most likely to lead to such a disaster. 

I know this might sound a little desolate, but we've become far too entrenched in this current paradigm. I don't think we can dig our way out. So while we might stand on the edge of a monumental revolution, we are simultaneously teetering on the brink of a precipice. While it's nice think that we have the choice of whether we fall or lead, that might well be delusional. We will probably fall, but then, ultimately, it's a fall back to reality we're very much in need of. 

Copyright © 2014, Lara Mulady. All rights reserved.