Service Society 2.0 – The Real Virtuality

When Virtual Reality hit the world some years ago, people were amazed: How fantastic it was to be able to experience some place almost real without really being there!

When virtualization hit the IT business at least some people where amazed by that too: How clever it was to make better use of the server hardware and just have a thin client on an old computer for the users…

And then, what happened? Gradually, everything got virtualized. Servers themselves are not real anymore, they are virtual appliances on other (virtual) servers. Clients are not really were we think they are, they appear inside of a browser window and are actually just seemingly running on the client computer – in reality, they are running on the virtual servers, which again are running on their virtual servers.

The only real thing that exists now is virtuality – everything else is virtual.

But how does that connect to the old idea of producing and consuming that built our political and financial landscapes?

Hurray for service!

The fact is – it doesn’t! We have virtualized ourselves into a new paradigm of just simulating a production and, to some extend, to simulate the consumtion of it as well. We are faking our way through life. A movie like The Matrix wasn’t all imagination, I suppose.

When I grew up, long ago, people were in a mental transition towards the then new and somewhat utopian paradigm: the service society.

Of course, it was new and therefore it was argued – “we cannot live from cutting each other’s hair”, a politician said. But he was wrong. This is basically what we do now. We give and sell services to each other. Sometimes in the shape of something that looks like a product – like software. At other times is is pure mindwork – like this blog posting.

So we have reached the utopia. We finally got there – to the service society – thanks to giving up the idea of getting everything we buy as something physical. By changing it all into services, based on virtualization, we now really can live from cutting each other’s hair.

Changing landscapes

We have already seen solid consequences of this: Trade unions have almost vanished. Shops have closed (since the few real things we still buy can be bought in virtual shops). Political ideals have more or less disappeared – there is no difference in opionions and ideals any longer between those who own the production environment and those who work in it.

Also capital have been virtualized – not just through BitCoins, but through the fact that lots of things that used to cost money are now available for free. Why buy a newspaper or a book when you can read a virtual edition for free on the internet?

Even the society itself has been virtualized – through social networks, especially, but in general through an availability of information and connections to people across the former physical borders. Through an understanding that we must give something to these new societies, the social networks, that we must spend our time on them, we are at the same time withdrawing ourselves from and thereby reducing the meaning of the old society that was physically defined.

The Service Society 2.0

So, to whom do we now give service? Where are the services based? Do we care more for blogging to the whole world than to join a discussion in the street or in the nearby physical cafe?

What I believe – and please just correct me if you think otherwise – is that the new service society has opened up the world for people who might not have given services to anyone in the old days. It has also closed the ability to do so for people who would have been happy participants in the old, physically defined society.

The virtual societies do not look at much else than your ability to read and write – or to publish or share information in the shape of text, pictures, or videos. So those who are not good at that have difficulties finding any foothold in the new service society. Since the old producer/consumer society doesn’t exit anymore, at least not to the extend it used to do, there are people now in this world who may find it difficult fitting in.

Hopefully there is a parallel Service Society 1.0 – such one that hasn’t been virtualized but allows for people to actually meet in person and be the rich personalities they are. I believe that it is there, but are we loosing it? Is the pendulum simply moving to the other side instead of finding its balance somewhere in the middle?

The virtual opportunities are a blessing to the world. But so are people. I think that we should try to make room for both.

This post has previously been published at LinkedIn Pulse.

 

The Wall – Chinese, Berlin, Pink Floyd’s? No, Ukrainian

Aside

The Ukrainian wallBuilding a wall has always been a very visible sign of taking the “wulf” cries seriously. Today, a wall will hardly stop any nation from invading another, if that should be the fear, but still walls are being built.

The pendulum has moved back since the Berlin wall was torn down and all world decided to work towards a common future. Futures do not last, it seems, but politicians’ interest in masonry does seem to do so.

Newsweek wrote about the new wall a couple of days ago, but from the Russian news agency TASS, news about it have been told for more than a month, other media (see the image source) for half a year. In general, news about that region are somewhat biased – Western media mention everything bad they can think of about Russia, Russian media tell the opposite story.

But a wall seems to be put there now, along all the 2,295 km long border between Russia and Ukraine.

Image source: Euroradio.fm

Ice-nine

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Cat's cradle“There are several ways,” Dr. Breed said to me, “in which certain liquids can crystallize – can freeze – several ways in which their atoms can stack and lock in an orderly, rigid way.”

That old man with spotted hands invited me to think of the several ways in which cannonballs might be stacked on a courthouse lawn, of the several ways in which oranges might be packed into a crate.

“So it is with atoms in crystals, too; and two different crystals of the same substance can have quite different physical properties.”

He told me about a factory that had been growing big crystals of ethylene diamine tartrate. The crystals were useful in certain manufacturing operations, he said. But one day the factory discovered that the crystals it was growing no longer had the properties desired. The atoms had begun to stack and lock – to freeze – in different fashions. The liquid that was crystallizing hadn’t changed, but the crystals it was forming were, as far as industrial applications went, pure junk.

How this had come about was a mystery. The theoretical villain, however, was what Dr. Breed called “a seed.” He meant by that a tiny grain of the undesired crystal pattern. The seed, which had come from God-only-knows-where, taught the atoms the novel way in which to stack and lock, to crystallize, to freeze.

“Now think about cannonballs on a courthouse lawn or about oranges in a crate again,” he suggested. And he helped me to see that the pattern of the bottom layers of cannonballs or of oranges determined how each subsequent layer would stack and lock. “The bottom layer is the seed of how every cannonball or every orange that comes after is going to behave, even to an infinite number of cannonballs or oranges.”

“Now suppose,” chortled Dr. Breed, enjoying himself, “that there were many possible ways in which water could crystallize, could freeze. Suppose that the sort of ice we skate upon and put into highballs – what we might call ice-one – is only one of several types of ice. Suppose water always froze as ice-one on Earth because it had never had a seed to teach it how to form ice-two, ice-three, ice-four…? And suppose,” he rapped on his desk with his old hand again, “that there were one form, which we will call ice-nine – a crystal as hard as this desk – with a melting point of, let us say, one-hundred degrees Fahrenheit, or, better still, a melting point of one-hundred-and-thirty degrees.”

Kurt Vonnegut in Cat’s Cradle, 1963

Seeing everything clearly from a moment of observation | The No Crisis Blog

Seeing everything clearly from a moment of observation | The No Crisis Blog.

via Seeing everything clearly from a moment of observation | The No Crisis Blog.

Welcome to the World Pendulum blog!

Foucaults Pendulum - source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/34/Foucault_pendulum_precession2.png

Six sells! I want to sell you this blog with my sixt posting. My sixt sense tells me that it is right, that it is good. Had it been the sixt day of creating the blog, I could have added some people – and perhaps a scenery. Set the stage.

But there is no stage. There is a universe full of options. A stage would be a limitation, it would be framing some options and dragging all attention to them, leaving the major part of the universe of options into the shade of the minor.

People select their options, set their stages. Each person has limitations, nobody sees all options. The universe is bigger than any one person, and hence, cannot be understood by just one – there is not enough room in the mind to hold it all.

They select their opinions from within their frames. They match their selections with others, leaving the actual selection to one of what they see as common with others. This shape their minds around the common denominators. The least?

Life is short, life is limited, life is tough. Life is boring to most people. They escape from it – run away to another end of it, partially, hours or minutes at a time, watching TV, playing games, reading blogs. They escape but are still there. Then they do it again.

The threadmill of life and escaping life, the illusion of moving forward based on not looking back. The mindfulness created by ignorance and lack of interest in life. The pendulum that takes us back to where we have forgotten that we already were.

Let us together uncover what that ignorance has hidden. Let’s grow, let’s live!

Cruelty for ‘good’ reasons

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As amazing entertainment as The Lord of the Rings is, it will lead us astray if we take it literally. First, people will rarely do ‘evil’ knowingly. The Nazis and Pol Pot never saw themselves as evil, quite the contrary. The Romans never saw their gladiatorial games as evil. The real source of destruction is usually from people who believe they are fighting for good causes. Hitler believed that he was creating a more perfect and noble society with more perfect people – and he was a vegetarian because he hated cruelty to animals! It’s the individuals who justify their actions in this way who are the most worrying. This is certainly true on the international stage. To my mind, George Bush’s refusal to veto the use of such torture techniques as ‘water boarding’ (immobilizing an individual and pouring water over his or her face to simulate drowning) is an endorsement of cruelty. Such behaviour is concerning, too, because Bush has had all the privileges that come from having had a Western education and human rights. And he professes to be a Christian when it is obvious that, if Jesus were here today, he would never endorse torture. Yet in his own heart, Bush believes he’s doing good and defending his country. Remember the well-known saying: ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.’ So we have to be careful because we often can’t see the archetypes working through us.

Paul Gilbert in The Compassionate Mind, 2009

Enslaved by wealth and ignorance

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Трудно быть богом

In the eyes of a terrestrial observer, they all had something in common. Probably it was the fact that all of them, with almost no exceptions, were not yet human beings in the current sense of the word, but rather preliminary stages, blocks of raw iron ore out of which the bloody centuries of history would eventually forge proud and free men. They were passive, greedy, and incredibly egoistic. Seen from a psychological point of view, almost all of them were slaves – slaves of faith, slaves of their own selfs, slaves of their passing passions and slaves of their avarice. And if by chance one of them was born a nobleman, or worked his way up through diligence over the years, he did not even know what to do with his freedom. He rushed to become a slave once more – enslaved by wealth, enslaved by unnatural luxury, enslaved by debauched companions and enslaved by his own slaves. The majority could not really be blamed for this at all. Their enslavement was rooted in passivity and ignorance. Passivity and ignorance, however, would lead in turn again and again to their enslavement.

Boris & Arkadij Strugatskij in Hard to Be a God (Трудно быть богом), 1964