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Trillions: Thriving in the Emerging Information Ecology by Mickey McManus, Joe Ballay, Peter Lucas

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CHAPTER 9

Aspects of Tomorrow

The only simplicity for which I would give a straw is that which is on the other side of the complex—not that which never has divined it.

—OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, JR.

There is a framed poster that has been around MAYA’s offices from almost the beginning. Its title is YESTERDAY’S TOMORROWS, and it advertised some long-past art exhibit featuring old visions of the future—skyscrapers shaped like art deco spaceships and so forth. The image (Figure 9.1) is a useful reminder that detailed predictions about the future are a fool’s errand and that one’s efforts in this direction are doomed to pathos. History is fraught with chaotic and idiosyncratic processes that determine its salient details, and we are no better than anybody else at reading those kinds of tea leaves. We know enough to steer clear. Nonetheless, we can see no way to make our exit without painting some sort of picture to provide coherence to the story we have been telling. So, we will attempt an impressionist painting—endeavoring to emphasize the essential patterns that we can see clearly, while avoiding dubious detail. When we drift too far into specificity, we trust the reader to smile at our naïveté and just squint.

Figure 9.1 YESTERDAY’S TOMORROWS

Source: Used with the acknowledgment of the Frank R. Paul Estate.

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BEYOND THE INTERNET

The Internet will be with us for the foreseeable future. ...

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