June 28th, 2006
Compassion and Wealth Together
Given the last post on this blog, this weeks announcement of the astoundingly magnanimous and generous gift that Warren Buffett made to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is worthy of comment. Simply put, Warren Buffett, the second wealthiest man in the United States, after Bill Gates, gave more than 80% of his total net worth or, $31 billion dollars to his friend Billâ€™s foundation. This is more than doubles the size of the Gates Foundation which, at $30 billion was three times larger than the next biggest foundation.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation focuses on grants that will end the top twenty diseases in the world and on grants to education and libraries. Melinda Gates has said that her fondest dream is an AIDS vaccine. The foundationsâ€™ goal to end disease and promote education for poor people, in particular, and the world in general, are two things absolutely essential for humanity to accomplish as we move forward on our evolutionary journey. As we all move from national and group to global orientation, it is increasingly essential that we try to lift up all those on the globe that want to participate but canâ€™t. This is not just altruism but a good strategy for species survival. The Information Age has shown us that as networks grow in size and numbers, they take on more value and provide greater value. So with humanity as it gets increasingly connected and increasingly takes on a global awareness. Synergism in its …
June 22nd, 2006
The announcement last week that Bill Gates would, over the next two years, relinquish day to day oversight of Microsoft made me think about history and the future. The first thought of course was that in some way it was the end of an era. The second thought was, well, what era, where does that fit historically, and how will it be described in history books in the future? The third thought was that there might be some precedent to Gatesâ€™ decision worth investigating.
The Transition into the Information Age
When Gates founded Microsoft with Paul Allen in 1975, the United States was just starting to make the transition from being an Industrial Age country to being an Information Age country. The personal computer, communications satellites, cable television and the Internet were all just beginning. Alvin Toffler, in his landmark 1970 book, â€œFuture Shockâ€, called this coming the â€œThird Waveâ€; following the First Agricultural Wave and the Second Industrial Wave of human history. The values and structures in 1975 were all Industrial Age. Thirty years later, in 2005, the structures and values in the United States, and in all developed countries around the world, was Information Age. So, the â€œGates Eraâ€ coincided with the transformation of the world from Industrial Age, Second Wave, to Information Age, Third Wave. When history books are written about this time Gates will be one of several prominent people who will be linked to, and therefore given some credit for enabling this fundamental historical shift.
I see it this …
June 20th, 2006
This is a departure from most posts here as it is not ruminations about some event or trend or prediction about the future gleaned from developments in the world. Instead it is taken from a personal experience that was unique, pleasant and perhaps an idea to be embraced by individuals and companies alike.
To set the scene, one which is all too familiar to most readers, I was sitting on a United Airlines plane at Oâ€™Hare, waiting to pull away from the gate for the 4:30p departure to Newark. The full plane was soon told that, due to a fast moving front of thunderstorms on the east coast, air traffic had put a ground hold on planes flying into Newark and LaGuardia. We were told that it was not known when we would be cleared for take-off. At 5:30p we were told that the ground hold had been lifted and we would wait in line for take-off. During this time the flight attendants were doing their best to keep people hydrated and comfortable. Around 6:45p we were told that we would be taking off in 50 minutes. In days long gone, the airline would have broken out snacks since it was dinner time and people were getting restless. Of course these days, airlines donâ€™t carry food on board, let alone snacks, at least not for an hour and a half flight.
We had now been on the plane for three hours, and since it was dinner time, stomachs were growling and tempers …
June 15th, 2006
The post today is an interview I recently did with Nonprofit Online Learning Update, which is being published on-line today. The interviewer was Jeff Cobb, a leader in the field of on-line learning for non-profits. Non-profits provide an incredibly valuable function in today’s world and can be even more influential in the future as they can become networks of like minded people, organized around ideas, issues, professions and agendas.
As the biographical note at the top of the interview points out, my father, Cyril O. Houle was not only the man who most popularized the phrase ‘life long learning’ but also wrote two of the most influential books on boards. I therefore grew up with a keen understanding of the value of adult education and the importance of boards in society. I have also worked at an e-learning company and consulted with major training and adult education companies, so it is a field I know and respect.
It is because education is so important for all of us in the future that I share this interview with regular readers of this blog. I welcome the subscribers of Nonprofit Online Learning Update to www.evolutionshift.com.
An Interview with Futurist David Houle
Nonprofit Online Learning Update recently had the opportunity to talk with David Houle, a noted futurist and the mind behind www.evolutionshift.com, a blog devoted to providing ‘A Future Look at Today.’ The son of Cyril O. Houle, one of the pioneers of adult education …
“The political party, as currently defined in America, feels like an out of date, anachronistic apparatus whose value is in the past, not the present and certainly not something aligned with the future. If it is to survive, it must reconstitute itself or crumble under its own dead weight.” -www.evolutionshift.com 5/31/06
When I set aside any personal and political points of view and look at the state of electoral politics and the two party structure in the United States, I absolutely believe the above statement to be true. As mentioned in earlier posts, we are in one of those historically infrequent periods of transformative change. As someone who has taken on disintermediation as a subject to explore, I can’t help but see that dynamic force taking place to some degree in American politics. As a futurist who looks at the larger dynamics affecting the world today to help see with some clarity as to what lies ahead, I think that the next 10 years could be a time of true historic change as far as the state of politics and political parties in America are concerned. I cannot predict exactly what will happen but I do think there are some interesting possibilities to consider.
It’s not working.
That is the first thing to see and accept. As written in a post last week, members and voters of both the parties are less than excited about the state of their respective parties. Substantial numbers of people feel disconnected with the direction, or …