What will the net do to institutions in the next 10 years?


14 Responses to “What will the net do to institutions in the next 10 years?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Networks have a serious chance to go against vertically integrated organizations (hierarchies) and are the basis of the information revolution.
    (industrial/post economics focused on resource accumulation as a means to profit / growth; whereas now the information revolution has shown that knowledge and information are the basis for profit and growth)

    We are in the infant stages of this, but technology co-evolves with society at a very fast pace.
    Still it would be imprudent to make optimistic claims. Traditional corporations are too rigid to change but they are slowly adjusting. Their downfall is however inevitable as more power will be sourced within networks.

    The problem is in the innate characteristic of the information society that pursues : “to connect to its network those who are valuable to it, but to disconnect those who are valueless” (Castells)

    Internet Penetration rates are still low, especially once we factor out “leisure use”.
    What portion of the population engages in open discussion forums about politics and civic social matters?
    And out of that portion, how many manage to take collective action and provide a solution to their mutual problem?
    Not many, but I believe it is a transparency and connectivity issue.

    Once we figure out a way to connect a big portion of the important actors of civic / business / political sectors then power will eventually start redistributing from vertical to horizontal integration.

    Until then, we will face a series of “negotiations” between traditional and newer organization forms and the lawyers and financiers will keep benefiting at the expense of the lower-to-middle classes.


  2. tim says:

    I used to work for Glen; smart guy, fine boss. What he says is usually worth taking seriously, even if you end up disagreeing.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Peak oil is relevant in that its the background of the future. I
    don’t believe it will be the end of the world or anything, but it
    will be a much bigger deal than the “great recession”. It may make
    the internet more important, people who commute long distances to
    work will be unable to for some period of time. Ultimately transit and electric cars will replace oil for transportation, but the transition will be messy. Electric cars will not be available in sufficient quantity in time. Auto makers are still toying with them instead of getting serious.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The corporation construct is such an unnatural thing in the human ethos- it has the rights of a human, but the responsibility and accountability of a machine. To me, that seems wildly out of balance. It’s as if we are unleashing a golem and giving it a flame thrower, providing only paper shields to ward off its inhuman demands.

  5. noah django says:

    “Wall Street does not improve productivity, the model is parasitic, transferring huge resources out of the system. I am looking forward to the next phase of the industrial revolution.”

    You and me both, brother. That’s always been my feeling, too. How can I help to drive the stake into this vampire? the sooner the better.

  6. LS says:

    It seems to me that any discussion or survey that ignores the effects of peak oil and it’s implied limits to growth is really just a bunch of wishful thinking.

    Even the UK government is waking up to the fact that they can’t ignore peak oil, as are the progressive (aggressive?) elements of free enterprise like Richard Branson.

    The IT industry is at the apex of the energy “food chain”. Every aspect of our industry relies on oil in one way or another. Unlike farmers, we can’t move to “sustainable farming techniques”. There is no low tech, low energy equivalent for the Internet.

    So, to talk of the future of the net on business, government, and non-profits organisations without considering the impact of limited energy supply may be fun, but I don’t think that it really tells us much.

    • sabik says:

      It seems to me that any discussion or survey that ignores the effects of peak oil and it’s implied limits to growth is really just a bunch of wishful thinking.

      So, if I survey whether people prefer strawberry ice-cream or chocolate, I need to take peak oil into account?

      The effects of peak oil are just as orthogonal to the question of the effects of the net on institutions.

      Now, it’s possible to discuss both together; for instance, to wonder whether the new institutions or the old will be better able to cope with peak oil, or how the effects of both will interact (reinforcement? interference? synergy?). Personally, though, I suspect there are only two possible outcomes: either we’ll substantially succeed in replacing oil with some other energy source, so it will be no problem and no real effect; or we won’t and our technological civilisation will collapse, taking with it both the net and most of our institutions. In neither case is it really productive to drop “peak oil” into any and every discussion about the future (unless it’s specifically about new and innovative energy sources and related arrangements).

      • LS says:

        @sabik, you said: “either we’ll substantially succeed in replacing oil with some other energy source, so it will be no problem and no real effect; or we won’t and our technological civilisation will collapse”

        Sounds about right to me. Therefore a binary survey choice of “things will be much better”, or “things will be much the same” lacks a fairly critical third option: “things will be much worse”.

        I realise that dropping in Peak Oil was somewhat off topic, but as noted, if you don’t, then the question really just amounts to a bunch of people fantasising about how good the future will be. Which tells doesn’t really tell us much, even if it’s fun (which it is).

        It’s just my view of the world, but as someone with a good 20 year of working life left, who makes his living from the IT industry it’s a critical one for me. “Will my industry even exist in 10 years time” is a question I need to answer before I consider “how good will it be”.

        So I will take your criticism on the chin. I am not looking to fight about it, as I am somewhat OT.

        @Ugly Canuck: what can I say but: Whoa. I think we might have the same point of view here, but I’m not sure.

  7. Ugly Canuck says:

    Peak oil?

    Presumptions as to the future having an actual effect an present commodity prices?

    Sounds like speculation, no?
    How does the harvest in three or four years affect today’s price for corn?

    Oil is expensive because of decades of war in the place where it is most abundant.
    Peak oil = peak coal (a ‘theory’ from the 1930s…as to why the price of coal had nowjhere to go but up) = BS, to obfuscate the real reason for the high cost of oil today: the endless undeclared American War against Iraq and Iran war.

    That explanation needs no assumptions as to the future, to explain today’s prices.

  8. oohShiny says:

    “An entity that lasts forever and grows forever is just not possible and is silly anyway… how do corporations gracefully end?”

    Maybe they should have kids and retire?

  9. Notary Sojac says:

    Political strategies designed to intervene in the political sector usually have an intense bias in favor of the status quo.

    Dying firms with friends in the seats of political power (Japan’s banks in the 1990′s, America’s banks today, GM, Chrysler) are almost invariably propped up at the expense of more creative, less centralized startups.

    Nowhere was this more obvious than in the 2008 American TARP program, overwhelmingly opposed by concerned citizens on both left and right, but pushed through by the political/financial complex of both parties, initiated by Bush, endorsed by McCain, perpetuated by Obama.

    I wish I knew what to do about it.

    • dculberson says:

      “overwhelmingly opposed by concerned citizens”

      I don’t know about that, most of the people I know, including myself, were just too overwhelmed by the scale of it to know what to think. The only person I know in the financial sector thought it was a bad idea that would lead to massive inflation, but otherwise people thought, “oh jeez, I hope they know what they’re doing.”

      • sirdook says:

        I share your bewilderment with the scale of the financial crisis and bailout, but you don’t need to understand the intricate details to understand that an unconditional bailout without regulations that address the underlying causes simply incentivizes the risky behavior responsible for the crisis. The idea of privatizing gains while socializing losses ispretty straightforward. You also don’t have to be a financial genius or policy wonk to understand the lack of transparency and accountability with the bailout (e.g. specific about how much money was going to which companies on which terms).

        • Anonymous says:

          I agree. The nature of the crisis itself wasn’t actually very hard to understand either: companies traded their money for what were being considered assets, but only had value on the assumption that people would pay more for it later. The tricky part in both is reconciling what was happening with the terminology economists and businessmen used to discuss it, which seems to complicate things.

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