The Encyclopedia Britannica is going out of print, after Wikipedia has already matched (and perhaps, surpassed) its record for accuracy.
Aggregates in news, media, job-seeking and even social gossip are increasingly popular – and increasingly accessible.
Open-sourced, globally accessible online platforms like Ushahidi are positively transforming disaster relief.
Free translation services are providing a Rosetta Stone for the world’s languages as even archaic texts and varied analyses are but a few clicks away. Our individual linguistic handicaps are being accommodated, communally.
Really think about this for a second. People pay good money for institutional education which provides them with some form of certification, yet everything from do-it-yourself home projects to medical diagnoses are being done by people at home, based on information they find online. Is this a safe practice? Not really, but it’s common, doesn’t involve estimates and negotiations or wait-times and uncomfortable calls for life-changes. At the same time, there is an emerging trend towards specialized collaboration in sectors across the board.
Traditional research and citation are going out the window. Students at universities can find most of the material they need through the Internet. Here on WAKATA, I’ve got a growing library of studies and academic papers I’ve perused from my home computer – and am now posting here everyone. My posts are full of hyperlinks – some are interesting tangents, but in many cases, that’s me listing my sources with you.
Broad information access is humanizing public services and starting to address social concerns previously considered insurmountable. Political Parties are embracing the potentials of social media and increasingly functional data collection and management (in ways both positive and negative); governments are looking at the advantages to things like digital health records and open-source innovation opportunities. Can open-sourced policy be far behind?
At the surface level, society is in a state of agitation. Politics is certainly becoming more polarized. While ethnic, economic and religious friction are prevalent and disturbing, we are slowly becoming conscious of something vibrant, collaborative and promising peeking out beneath the surface. It’s like the global village is a snake, shedding its old skin.
There are two linear ways to look at this social evolutionary change – as an ending, or a beginning. Or, you can accept that like all things, social change is cyclical.
I say, it’s a good time to be alive.