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I started to see the potential of an information age back when the first ATM machines came into wide use. I was both right and wrong in my ideas at the time. The internet as we know it did not exist, and the web browser and smartphones were not even a twinkle in someone's eye. Being at the end of the electronic age and not yet the into the information age, I envisioned the ATM and like devices in a paradigm more out of Robert Heinlein, the beginning of a time when smart mechanical devices would begin to do our labor for us, the culmination of the mechanical society. The Heinlein model by and large never came to pass, but something else I perceived at the time did happen: in one aspect I was right on the money.

The term globalization did not exist at the time, so there was no handy phrase to describe the phenomenon, but I noticed that when the automated teller really gained popularity, some banks reduced their human teller staff according to their new needs, and I theorized that as technology and computers began to take over more and more tasks, society would split itself into three groups: a small group of business owners and decision makers which would control the majority of wealth, a larger but still relatively very small technical class which would keep all of the machines and systems running, and a large class which would be rather ill-equipped to function in the computer age and whose jobs as they knew them were about to be replaced. This would mean the creation of a large mostly economically displaced class. If I erred in my assessment at all it was in underestimating the degree to which this would happen.

Accordingly, I decided that I had to decide to which group I was going to belong. Being part of the technical class that kept it all running made the most sense considering my talents and preferences. I keep up on technology and the social implications because I enjoy doing it. It also explains my education which on the surface would seem inconsistent: I have a Bachelor's degree in liberal arts magna cum laude, I majored in philosophy and Spanish language and culture.  Later I picked up a Master's degree in Information Systems. Superficially confusing perhaps, but very much in tune with a changing world.

Today the information age offers new opportunities and new challenges. The opportunities are global as political and trade barriers change and come down and technical capabilities make it possible to locate a technical support call center or customer service facility anywhere in the world. As regions develop as a direct or indirect result of globalization, these regions themselves can develop into emerging markets with new opportunities for growth and spreading out of risk.

But the challenges are significant. Political instability, social backlash against outsourcing, the economic impact in regions where jobs are lost, instant communication between billions of online customers and potential customers, new initiatives like green companies, changing requirements and definitions or privacy and security, different levels of technical infrastructure and social values regionally to name a few. Not only do these issues have to be considered in all initiatives of the information age, in some cases they have to be redefined almost constantly, sometimes it seems on a daily basis. In fact, these concepts as we know them today are as new as the information age itself, and political, social and commercial models which attempt to define and address them are often outdated or do not exist at all.

Values which exist today will not necessarily exist in the same form or hierarchy tomorrow. Decisions we make today will help define belief systems for the next decade or the next century. This in turn will impact codes of behavior far into the future, but the changing nature of technology in the information age will also help determine how small or how great this change will be. Assumptions about the state of the information age five and ten years out are only assumptions, and can be partially or completely negated at any time by an as yet undiscovered technology.

This constant interplay between society and technological potential, between beliefs and bytes is endlessly fascinating. It is a time filled with challenge and opportunity.

It's a whole new world.

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Event Horizons   Event Horizons

Event Horizons are services or providers with whom I have had correspondence or experience or for whom I have produced special projects, or which otherwise represent stand-alone services, but which are nonetheless noteworthy and interesting.

When I code software or otherwise reconfigure or hack various existing software, the common factor is that I can use the result myself. There is no guarantee that you will find any of the following of any use for your own computers. However, feel free to explore.

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