Friday, October 22, 2004

New Future Needed: Apply Within

It occurred to me yesterday after listening to a number of speakers here at the Poptech Conference that none of us has a particularly good vision of the future.

One speaker mentioned that the generation who came of age in World War II has a new vision of a post-war America and a sense of how they would fill up the fifty years from 1950 to the turn of the century – and in fact, that they had a sense of the year 2000 that let them use it rather like a bracket, a bumper, a retainer wall, a “close parenthesis” which if you look at now – and here comes one – looks like half a happy face – here it is ).

But this sense of ending and something to shoot for, this end game for a future helped them define a future which was fairly bright and innovative and whiz bang and Buck Rogers-ish and shiny silver space suits and all.

But then.

We fall off the edge of this new millennium – 2000, 2001 and here we are in 2004 and what are we looking at. There seems a sense of insignificance to the year 2100. Rather a big “so what” and I think we feel a bit like we’re freefloating to the year 3000.

And it occurs to me we need to get cracking and come up with a real beefy, something-you-can-hang-your-hat-on vision of the future. We’ve been lately sold so many doomsday scenarios thanks to 9/11 and terrorism and the scary last four years, there’s something nice about pausing here by the side of a country road in Maine and remembering that we have every right to imagine a future that’s a little less terrifying. Something and someplace our kids could grow up with and grow up in and I welcome the chance to trash the old vision of the future – that 1950’s silversuited rocketman kindof life – and replace it with something peaceful and beautiful and thoughtful with better furniture and nice jersey jumpsuits in a charcoal grey with a bright orange zipper fob. This could work and this group of thinkers, speakers, generally good folks are just the ones to dream it up. So I’m glad to be here and I’m finding more to my liking than I expected to.