Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Change. Is there anyone who will deny that it is becoming exponential? I've lifted this topic from Jim Moulton's Edutopia Spiral Notebook Post with a new twist because I find it so intriguing. Vernor Venge has spoken of the Singularity, a time in the not too distance future when all bets are off, where there is a take-off point that changes everything. Ray Kurzweil has a site where he gathers information on the implications of the change that is taking place.

Some questions:

How well do you / we adapt to change?
Are we thinking about the implications?
Do we even have any control of how it plays out?
What would your preferred future be?
Who will the winners and losers be?
What is important?

A number of years ago I did a simple graveside service for an older fellow named Steve (not related, age 87) who I was looking after. In writing the eulogy, it occurred to me just how much change he had been through in his lifetime. He grew up in a small farming valley north of Rumford. Reading through his grandfather's diaries, it struck me how much of his early life had been similar to generations before him. Travel even short distances was quite infrequent and there was a close connection to agriculture. No electricity, no indoor plumbing, no phone. And yet as he reached and went through adulthood he saw industrialization in the form of the huge paper mill built at Rumford, experienced the coming of what we consider essentials today. He experienced the transformation of the landscape and culture by automobiles, radio, television, and on and on.

My question then was this: How did he maintain his sanity with such rapid change? Salvador Dali's art suddenly had some meaning to me.

But, in hindsight, that change in his life was relatively small compared to what futurist say is coming. Are we ready for it?


Kern Kelley said...

In a PBS documentary I saw this summer, it stated: "Intelligence is the to adapt to change." Now they were talking about fish, but . . .

Joe Makley said...

I think that we need to concentrate on the things that don't change as much, and bring our wisdom, our sense of right and wrong, our understanding of history, etc. to the table, and not yield to panic and relativism. I wrote a guest editorial last year in the Sun Journal (a response to the Google/Cisco/Microsoft China embroglio) which tries to juxtapose a simple knowledge of U.S. History (held by the congressmen) and the agile relativism of the young lawyers from the corporations:
I'd be very curious about this crowd's response. (I couldn't get my teachers to read it, or admit doing so :)