Jay Cross
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The Future's Ahead
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
A frequent Internet Time Blog reader dropped me a note, fearing for my health and wishing me and my family well. I hadn't blogged in 72 hours, a sure sign that something was amiss. Thanks for the concern; I'm touched, but all's well in Berkeley. I've been busy working on the Workflow Learning Symposium and contemplating the future of learning.

Today was the deadline for submitting descriptions of the seven sessions in the workflow learning track at Training Fall this October. Why not join us? The conference is in San Francisco. Register through Workflow Institute's Anne Henry to receive a free white paper as part of the deal.

The world is changing at a dizzying pace. Moore’s Law seems to be contagious. Not only is computing power growing exponentially but so are information, networks, biotech, and the choices at the local supermarket. There’s more to learn and less time to learn it. Cycles are faster; their swings, more volatile. By the twenty-first century, our biggest problem was supposed to be figuring out what to do with our leisure, but now that we’ve arrived, we find that the leisure has disappeared. Everything’s connected. Nothing stops. It’s 24/7. Frenzy.

My old notions are not aging well. Personally I’m so deep into Western Culture that a truckload of Franklin Planners, PDAs, and time management books can’t pull me through. I wonder. Where is “the profession once known as training” headed? How are workers of the future going to carry out their jobs? In fact, what will those jobs be? What will business look like?

Whenever the squirrel-cages that power my thinking swirl so rapidly that everything becomes a blur, I simplify. I retreat to first principles. I look for a few pegs on which to spin a new solution.

I'm noodling through the implications of increasing complexity, network density, global connectivity, infoglut, the lessons of the Internet, process orientation, and the flattening of hierarchy. I haven't figured it out yet am handing it off to my subconscious to mull over while I get some shut-eye.

...and I awake with new ah-ha's. The boundaries between corporation and customer, work and thought, boss and worker, inside and outside, and other fundamental dichotomies are getting fuzzy. Both/and is replacing either/or. Cause and effect are merging into, pardon my French, "shit happens." Some things are inexplicable and trying to cut them down to size with logic deprives them of their mastery. Enlightenment in the world ahead will require new categories of thinking.

I think back to the words of David Cooperider, describing Appreciative Inquiry: "We must learn to scale wholeness, to ask what's possible rather than what's wrong, and to move from systems thinking to systems living." In this, we must rely on intuition as our guide.

As Einstein profoundly observed while challenging the boundaries of Newtonian physics:
  • "No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. We must learn to see the world anew."
  • "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."
One last observation before I head out on my morning walk in the fog: it's about blogging.

A few evenings back, I became involved in a conversation about blogs. Inveitably, we overgeneralized. Blogs are no more one thing than are television shows. When people talk about Seinfeld or Ken Burns's The Civil War, they don't get into whether these shows compete with news shows or are tarnished because they reflect personal and perhaps narrow viewpoints.

A cool thing about blogs, something that can transform a blog into a mold-breaker, is closure. Or rather, lack of closure.

Many bloggers write self-contained articles or recommendations; every entry is whole unto itself...atomic.

Internet Time Blog is evolving into a stream of conversation. Because it's a blog, not an article, I don't feel compelled to draw a conclusion when I don't have one. I'm happy for you to look over my shoulder as I paint on the canvas. With luck, or maybe a miracle, something meaningful will take shape.


Blogger Downes said...

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2:17 AM  

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