What does the beach mean to you?
The term in the title is often made as a complaint about hardship or complications. But it also can be interpreted as an allegory. How we love the beach! Glorious in summer it offers us motion, change, ease and cools our days and nights with gentle breezes.
But the most prominent feature of the beach is the waves. They touch our hearts as the most prominent feature of our planet interacts with us. It also represents the very essence of our existence. Our lives are ruled by waves as are our social interactions and the larger experiences of humankind.
Succession and Change
Of course, we understand change but the waves of the ocean are enduring and, while repetitive, they are also ever changing with tides, gentle caresses and tempests. Surfers understand to wait off shore for the very special waves. And they do come in, yes, waves. And what we are learning is that our lives are ruled by the goings and comings of tides and successions of waves of entirely different kinds.
It is fascinating that economists are focusing on theories of waves currently. In recent history we can see the waves as conflict built leading to World War I, turmoil of a different kind and then the building tumult of the rise of naziism culminating in the next wave of conflicts called World War II.
In America we saw the tide of people coming off the farms to factories and the crush of such movement in the war effort. Then the men came home, built families and we had unexpected prosperity.
Of the greatest interest is the rise of information technology. It appears to be the beginning of one of the largest wave movements. Humankind went from feudalism to the industrial revolution to market capitalism and now information technology is apparently leading to what is being called a postcapitalistic society.
I won’t go into all the fascinating details in Paul Mason’s book Postcapitalism but he makes a compelling case. At first it is hard to grasp but he gave one example which was illuminating. Did you know that 75% of the world’s music is stored in a computer in Cupertino, California. The cost of storing is minimal, given the magnitude of data and that and the means of distribution and sale has brought the cost of purchase down dramatically.
Tsunami of Change
As a young person I recall getting on a bus near my house and riding it to a nearby town to a record story. I would go in and request to hear certain records I was considering purchasing. I took them into a booth where I would listen to them and make a selection. Then I climbed on the bus and went home with my purchase.
Need I say more, as I sit here at my computer considering what I might want to purchase. The ramifications are amazing and the argument is made that these processes will put an end to capitalism as we have known it. The playing out of the effects into all elements of society are endless. And, in world conflict, we are seeing the waves of our future.
How has information technology changed your life?
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