A Volatile Future

I’ve been reading something from Forbes magazine (US) about Ten Trends for 2010. Nothing very new (cloud computing, decentralization of medicine, decentralization of education, sensors everywhere, the smart web, mobile internet etc). But one thing did catch my eye — some potential implications of a highly networked world (my global connectivity point).

The piece references a book called Jump Point: How Network Culture is Revolutionizing Business by Tom Hayes. Well, never mind business, this hyper-connectivity will have profound implications on just about everything.

In 2011 there will be 3 billion people connected to the internet*. As a result, the creation and spread of information (some trustworthy, some not) will accelerate and volatility will move into warp drive. Consequences? Anxiety will rise and new ideas will seemingly come out of nowhere (a good example of this is Google: $ 0-20 billion revenue in less than 400 weeks**). Titans like GM (or Google) could vanish from the landscape but there’s potentially something else buried in this connectivity too.

The people that will be connected to the internet will tend to be young and these people will tend to reside in Asia (where ageing is less of an issue). Implications? Ideas tend to come from younger people (look at Google again) so the flow of new insights, discoveries and inventions could very well shift from the US and Europe into the emerging CHIME and BRIC economies.

Cue giant analogue and pyramidal corporations and hierarchical government bureaucracies struggling to adapt to a digital, mobile and highly volatile world.

* There are currently 4 billion mobile phone subscribers worldwide and somewhere between 1 and 2 billion PCs.

** New Yorker, 12 October 2009, ‘Searching for Trouble’ by Ken Auletta

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