I wonder how long it will be - if ever - until all of us Baby Boomers swarm admit some of the truth of what David Scharfenberg writes about here:
All that job-hopping and freelancing? We were dilettantes, on some level, it's true. But we also understood, before most, that something had shifted - that we were moving to an economy of telecommuters and independent contractors and less-than-loyal employers.
And while the best minds on Wall Street cooked up the real estate mess that destroyed a global economy, we were sensible enough to steer clear of that overpriced condo and move into a dingy, three-bedroom rental with a few of our meathead friends.
You see, while Alan Greenspan and Countrywide Financial were creating a capitalism of disastrous excess, we were busy working on a more workable model. Not without its indulgences, of course. The exuberance of the dot-com bubble was undoubtedly irrational. But we did pretty well, this little slice of Generation X.
We brought you the Internet, worked on green technology, and filled the ranks of Teach for America. We crossed the color line, ate local produce, and bought secondhand clothing. We lived in smaller spaces, drove smaller cars, and took the subway to work.
It all seemed like a quaint liberal fantasy at the time. And on some level it was. But now, with a creaking economy and an overheated planet, it reads more like a survival manual: a guide to multicultural living in an increasingly diverse society, an incubator for the technology that might save the American auto industry, an antidote to our awful adventures in sprawl.
Of course, we could abandon this life as we get older, I suppose. We could grow impatient with our little apartments and cramped hatchbacks. We could set our sights on the kind of suburban existence we've forsaken. But I'd like to think we're smarter than that.
We created something worthwhile - a sustainable neighborhood, a tech future, a life we can manage. And we won't let it go too easily.
At least I hope not. As the nation rebuilds a crumbling capitalism, it could use a little perspective, a little wisdom. Bet you didn't think you'd get it from us.
Walk with me just a while, body of sunlight,
body of grass, surface of trees,
head bending to the earth we have tasted,
body of death, surface of leaves.
Sinking hooves in the mud by the river,
root of the live earth, live through my body.
Sinking body, walk in me now.
Today, Church of the Beloved in Seattle will be hosting a Bjorcharist, a mash-up of the lovely and inspiring music of Bjork & the Book of Common Prayer liturgy for the Eucharist. I so wish I could be there.
One of he areas that is the most significant whirlwind of change is the rate of information creation that we are living thru. Andreas Weigend is a sort of tornado hunter of the information whirlwind - he is the former Chief Scientist at Amazon.com and an expert in data mining and computational marketing. He currently teaches the graduate course Data Mining and Electronic Commerce at Stanford University.
In 2009, more data will be generated by individuals than in the entire history of mankind through 2008. Information overload is more serious than ever.
The first data revolution came about when web commerce got going in earnest. It arose from the dream of collecting data from consumer decision-making. With the advent of the web, firms pondered whether it might be worth saving the vast amounts of data that customers were generating through their clicks and searches. For consumers, there was no hiding: after all, there is no online equivalent of discreetly checking out a magazine while a bookstore employee is looking the other way.
The second data revolution brought about a new dimension to data
creation: users started to actively contribute explicit data such as
information about themselves, their friends, or about the items they
purchased. These data went far beyond the click-and-search data that
characterized the first decade of the web.
In the last few years, users have gone a lot further than contributing metadata to movies and music: in fact, they have taken center stage. The center of the universe has shifted from e-business to me-business. Customers are also starting to discover and interact with each other. Knowing that they are not alone has shifted the balance of power from companies back to consumers. And they have begun to demand transparency. Customers are beginning to have a voice. They are realizing that the data they voluntarily contribute can help them and others with making decisions, providing true value. In turn, they want to be treated fairly as individuals by the companies they pay attention and money to.