In my recent posts on New Perspectives: Looking Up! and Looking Down and Under, I reviewed a series of new initiatives and technologies ranging from several significant efforts to explore and document the great unknown of earth's oceans to the new capabilities of Goggle "Sky" and the hidden flight simulator in Google Earth. I chose these examples, in part, to provide you with some new perspectives and because I agree with Allan Kay that:
"a new point of view is worth 80 IQ points."
I thought each of these provided some new perspectives and are very much worth your attention in and of themselves.
However, my primary purpose and point was that I think these examples offer evidence of powerful new meta patterns and trends—"meta' in the sense that I believe that they are operating at a very profound and pervasive level and are affecting more than we may realize.
What is fascinating to me about the marine projects, for example, is that they are being designed not only to provide a huge increase in the quantity and quality of marine data, but the measurement tools and technology they will use is being made accessible to everyone and available on a continuous basis. This is a major shift in approach that believe is a characteristic of the times we are living in.
In spite of all the hype that surrounds buzz words such as Web 2.0, what I see here is a much larger and more profound pattern towards openness and bi-directional functionality. To me, these examples represent the realization of what Alvin Toffler and his wife, Heidi. so presciently described as a "pro-sumer" society. Back in the 60's and 70's when Toffler first wrote about this idea in their best sellers of the time Future Shock and Third Wave, he predicted that we were moving from the industrial evolution which he characterized as the "second wave" ( the first wave was agrarian hunter/gatherer) towards a third wave where we would not be categorized either as producers OR consumers, but rather we would be both, simultaneously.
We've seen this pattern emerging with the evolution of Internet, and World Wide Web, and as related tools have become more "read/write" (consume/produce) and more mass contribution-oriented. Mass production and read only (consume) are becoming a thing of the past.
But most of these tools are characterized by or limited to the technology world. Now we see this same pattern emerging in new and very different spheres—the marine and space examples we've just looked at, and the pattern becomes much clearer, much larger, and much more powerful.
In the case these oceanic projects, they are creating an infrastructure of interconnected tools and technology that will be widely available to all who wish to use them. Not only will almost any of us have access to oceans of data (sorry, couldn't resist)—a huge gain in itself, these projects will also enable public and other scientists alike to take control of the tools themselves. Imagine YouTube filling up with high def video content uploaded in almost real time from these projects. Imagine controlling the cameras to make your own videos!.
So what? Well among other shifts, these patterns promise to cause increasing acceleration of the rate of change (part of Living in a World of Exponential Change) with some equally rapid and radical results. As Professor Oscar Schofield, a biological oceanographer at Rutgers University put it:
"the data gathered already had upended some of what he was taught in graduate school, from the way rivers flow into the ocean to the complexity of surface currents." and went on to say:
“When there’s a hurricane, when all the ships are running for cover, I’m flying my gliders into the hurricane,” using his office computer, Professor Schofield said. “Then I’m sitting at home drinking a beer watching the ocean respond to a hurricane.”
“What’s great about oceanography is we’re still in the phase of just basic exploration. We’ve discovered things off one of the most populated coasts in the United States that we didn’t know yet. O.O.I. (Open Ocean Initiative) will take us one level beyond that, to where any scientist in the world will be able to explore any ocean.”
Now THAT is powerful change and a wave I plan on riding. More likely this meta-trend will affect all of us more along the lines of the way a rising tide raises all boats in the harbor. It is likely that we are all "rising" already, whether we know it or not.
Well, I hope you're feeling much "smarter" now with all these new perspectives and extra IQ points. As a sailor, I'm obviously fascinated with the ocean, but I'm also trying to use these larger trends to get a bit "smarter" myself by looking at the world from new vantage points, such as Outer and Inner Space.
Isn't it fascinating that the more we learn the more we understand how much more we don't know? "Curious for life" is a goal I hope you share too and that this little "drink of water" will motivate you to learn much more about the aquatic worlds all around us. Sea you soon!