Earlier this week, a copy of Dr. Eric Shmidt’s and Jared Cohen’s book, The New Digital Age: Transforming nations, businesses and our lives arrived on my desk. It’s been awhile since I have reviewed a book–I’ve been busy catching up on my fiction reading–so I had to remind myself that it’s really about getting acquainted with the ideas.
In this blog entry, I explore the Introduction, then share my reflections. I will repeat the process over the next few days. I encourage you to explore the ideas in The New Digital Age: Transforming nations, businesses and our lives. Read my notes on this book.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1 – Our Future Selves
- Chapter 2 – The Future of Identity, Citizenship and reporting
- Chapter 3 – The Future of States
- Chapter 4 – The Future of Revolution
- Chapter 5 – The Future of Terrorism
- Chapter 6 – The Future of Conflict, Combat and Intervention
- Chapter 7 – The Future of Reconstruction
Over the next few days, I’ll be reading the book and sharing my notes on what jumps out at me and my quick reflections.
- The Internet is…a technology revolution…“that will make it possible for almost everybody to own, develop and disseminate real-time content without having to rely on intermediaries.”
Reflection: The idea of disintermediation isn’t necessarily new, but how people and businesses are being disintermediated…well, that is changing every day as the technology applications expand and ingenious approaches change how we interact with it. I’m continually amazed at some new technology that’s killed some way of doing things. Books, newspapers, those were the obvious casualties. We’ve seen entire jobs, and I’m reminded of Thomas Friedman’s assertions.
- “By 2025, the majority of the world’s population will, in one generation, have gone from having virtually no access to unfiltered information to accessing all of the world’s information through a device that fits in the palm of the hand…we’ll be more efficient, more productive and more creative.”
Response: This is almost getting cliche, isn’t it? This idea that human beings have access to massive amounts of data. Sure, we’re more informed, but what are we actually changing? Instead of changing the world, we’re trying to figure out if the actor in that movie is the same one we saw on that television show. How are we getting at the fundamental application of information to bring about positive changes in our daily lives? And, when you consider politics, climate change, it’s frightening to imagine that data, facts, and information are now all up for debate and considered opinion. I grew up with fact or opinion. Now, facts, ever-abundant, are up for discussion. I’m not convinced. I suspect that many human beings will choose to be more efficient in their adoption of ignorance, more productive in sharing misinformation and more creative at sharing untruths. If you doubt that, one has only to look at particular media outlets.
- “Digital empowerment will be, for some, the first experience of empowerment in their lives, enabling them to be heard, counted and taken seriously…authoritarian governments will find their newly connected populations more difficult to control, repress and influence, while democratic states will be forced to include many more voices in their affairs.”
Response: Certainly, this is an accurate observation. But after Edward Snowden, it’s clear that democratic governments will find their newly connected populations the same as authoritarian governments found them.
- “And because what we post, e-mail, text and share online shapes the virtual identities of others, new forms of collective responsibility will have to come into effect.”
Response: On the way somewhere earlier today, I heard National Public Radio (NPR) sharing a story on how schools are finding it important to protect the “big data” repositories that have been built by States at the behest of the Federal Government. What ARE our responsibilities in protecting student data?
- “In the forthcoming pages, we explore the future as we envision it, full of complex global issues involving citizenship, statecraft, privacy and war, among other issues, with botht he challenges and the solutions driven by the rise of global connectivity…this is a book about the importance of a guiding human hand in the new digital age.”
Response: Given the power that digital platforms–Google, Facebook, two examples given in the book–have, it’s nice to imagine that the guiding human hand will be that of people like you and me. The nightmare would be if it were human hands whose focus was on greed, and all the worst of humanity can offer.
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