Building a new Arcology (or, What good is the future if we’re all assholes?)

We already live there in our minds.

We lampoon the death of newspapers and the rise of the tablet. We exalt media that gives voice to the audience. We salivate upon technology that gives rise to the user.

Content has given way to “social” media. Social has given way to location. And now location is dead, compared to almighty Utility.

We long for Geo-fencing to take hold in our cities, and the ability for our bodies and devices to be assaulted by coupons and notifications when we wander into a shopping mall or entertainment district.

We dream of the day when we can wave the implant in our wrist across the vending machine and automatically be debited for that ice cold bottle of bleach water.

Or how about if the surrounding signage, screens and billboards detect through heat and body scans that you’re pregnant and begin to display advertisements for Target and Babies ‘R’ Us?

For some of us, this world is just around the corner. For some of us (I’m looking at you, Tokyo), this world is already here.

But what good is all this technology if you can’t change for the better, not the world, but individual lives? Where is the chapel in our virtual arcology?

The ecosystem where all commerce is mobile, all content is custom, all media is participatory and all brands are social is, indeed, “just around the corner.” But we still live in a country where 60% of people still own cassette players and 37% still read newspapers. No offense to all you analog, print-lovers.

Saying that the “future is now,” would be like those few hardcore meditators (able to drop into Delta/REM states simply by staring at a wall) saying that the next evolutionary leap in consciousness is “just around the corner” when human rights are still not being embraced (let alone practiced) worldwide. In fact, according to Integral Theory, most people are still at conventional blue and orange levels of development. If the only thing, then, that helps individuals gain greater perspective and awareness is taking the role of other, how do you shift the worldview (or consciousness) of an entire community?

We once thought it a good idea to wire the world’s schools with cameras, so that students could teleconference with each other and learn more about neighboring cultures. But what good is Skype when the city on the other end is a crater? When our financial aid and attempts at education haven’t stuck, because we haven’t taken the time to ask them if they were ready for change? We’ve alienated too many people. We’ve financed too many fences and borders instead of constructing buildings and communities, and we’ve overpopulated the world with too many weapons (or things used as weapons) and not enough medicine. Maybe change is “right around the corner,” but our educational system continues to churn out illiterate, blue-collar gangsters and order-takers and not enough wise, enlightened leaders.

And we might never see this brave new world unless we begin to focus on the interior (or spiritual) side of online communities.

I don’t mean evangelism. Sensational pleas for money are just that, no matter where they originate.

I don’t mean religion. You can attain spiritual growth and discovery through individual prayer, theological study or group worship. Other people need not be present to contemplate your place in the universe.

I’m not talking about Tron or The Matrix. There’s no ghost in the machine.

I mean to say that what’s missing in our modern attempts at addressing the collective is the acknowledgment of the interior (or intention) of every individual in a given network.

Even Kickstarter, who has helped numerous inventors and artists raise over $70 million so far, limits itself to such performance-driven categories as Art, Comics, Games, Dance, Design, Food, Music and Theater. What about Activism, Community, Education and Public Works?

When did talking about how to do things replace actually doing them? Since when does a “Startup” or “Tech” conference in your town create actual jobs? Since when is the facilitation of facilitation considered actual accomplishment? These are high times for social systems and communities. And there are a lot of people making a good living right now touring the country talking about “how to start/grow/foster creativity in your business/audience/city with social media” that haven’t actually ever done a goddamn thing.

TED can’t be the only group that celebrates social innovation and the development of higher consciousness? What about locally? Who in your town is doing their part to change the world? How are they organizing? Please share (in the comments) the names of any life-changing, progressive, socially- and spiritually-driven applications, websites or programs that you know of.

We have the most sophisticated community-building resources and organizational tools at our disposal (for free, 24 hours a day), and we are all guilty (this author included) of wasting them on kittens and cheezburgers.

5 responses to “Building a new Arcology (or, What good is the future if we’re all assholes?)

  1. I can haz meaning?

    Srsly, I wish I could turn you on to a single progressive site or app that originated in or directly affects our local community, but when i consider the idea I only draw a blank. I’m not saying they don’t exist, just that I’m not aware of them. And that’s sad.

    Or maybe not. Maybe it just means it’s time for me to help create one.

    • lol @ I can haz meaning.

      It is sad. From public transportation schedules to recycling to activism to organic farming to you name it. The tools are powerful and the possibilities are endless.

  2. Pingback: Blog News- Left and Right Views » Building a new Arcology (or, What good is the future if we’re all assholes?)·

  3. You know who could absolutely KILL in this market/space? WMNF. They could give “volunteer programmers” a whole new meaning.

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