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The Nature of the Future: Dispatches from the Socialstructed Worldby Marina Gorbis
Synopses & Reviews
andlt;Bandgt;A renowned futurist offers a vision of a reinvented world.andlt;/Bandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Large corporations, big governments, and other centralized organizations have long determined and dominated the way we work, access healthcare, get an education, feed ourselves, and generally go about our lives. The economist Ronald Coase, in his famous 1937 paper and#8220;The Nature of the Firm,and#8221; provided an economic explanation for this: Organizations lowered transaction costs, making the provision of goods and services cheap, efficient, and reliable. Today, this organizational advantage is rapidly disappearing. The Internet is lowering transaction costsand#8212;costs of connection, coordination, and tradeand#8212;and pointing to a future that increasingly favors distributed sources and social solutions to some of our most immediate needs and our most intractable problems. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;As Silicon Valley thought-leader Marina Gorbis, head of the Institute for the Future, portrays, a thriving new relationship-driven or socialstructed economy is emerging in which individuals are harnessing the powers of new technologies to join together and provide an array of products and services. Examples of this changing economy range from BioCurious, a members-run and free-to-use bio lab, to the peer-to-peer lending platform Lending Club, to the remarkable Khan Academy, a free online-teaching service. These engaged and innovative pioneers are filling gaps and doing the seemingly impossible by reinventing business, education, medicine, banking, government, and even scientific research. Based on extensive research into current trends, she travels to a socialstructed future and depicts an exciting vision of tomorrow.
A leading futurist offers an inspiring portrayal of how new technologies are giving individuals so much power to connect and share resources that we are entering a new era in which networks of individuals, not big organizations, will solve a host of problems by reinventing business, education, medicine, banking, government, and scientific research.
The massive, hierarchical organizations that we count on today for our food, healthcare, education, cars, gadgets, and almost everything else have only dominated human life for the last hundred years, before which social networks and small companies ruled. Now the tide is turning again. As Marina Gorbis portrays, based on extensive research into current trends, the confluence of new technologies has now offered so many capabilities to individuals that we are inventing radical new types of organizations and services. She calls this “socialstructing”—banding together to offer alternative solutions all across life, from new types of schools and professional tutoring, to citizen-created money, to drug development and testing, criminal investigation, and small-scale manufacturing. Offering a wealth of specific examples, such as that of BioCurious, a members run and free to use biotech lab and the remarkable Khan Academy, a free online teaching service, she shows how innovative individuals are taking over so many of the jobs done by big businesses and organizations, and how we can all take advantage of these marvelous new opportunities.
About the Author
andlt;bandgt;Marina Gorbisandlt;/bandgt; is Executive Director of Institute for the Future, a nonprofit research and consulting organization based in Silicon Valley. She has consulted to hundreds of organizations in business, education, government, and philanthropy. She has been a repeated guest blogger on BoingBoing.net and is a frequent speaker on future organizational, technology, and social issues. She holds a masters degree from the Graduate School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley.
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