You may not have known, but The Great Wave off Kanagawa is not a painting; it is a print. Thousands were pressed into wooden blocks, and eventually sold globally. Only a few hundred remain, becoming precious commodities.
How are time-intensive single-instance paintings to compete against Hokusai? While beautiful, the solution was built on practical elements that helped it overcome the fragility of human attention and time:
Today a block of code for both our applications and infrastructure serves us in much the same way that it did Hokusai. We’ve achieved the decoupling of any service from any underlying hardware or OS, making our impact and change in the world more concrete than ever, yet naggingly ephemeral.
Many enterprises are now realizing what Hokusai did in 1830, the value of composable solutions. Like vertical integration during the Industrial Revolution, this layering of predefined capabilities allows us to achieve insane presence at a global level and competitiveness. This is how startups with a social conscience are defeating the behemoths of the past.
What will our legacy be?
Try to use the original Google, Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, Facebook. You can’t, yet.
Industries will change, collapse, and fold into themselves; social and computer scientists will reach back through history to understand how and why.
What will be left is not just composed of the biopics of our beloved CEOs, but our APIs, JSON templates, bash scripts, dependency trees, architecture documents, and security rules. Enough time will pass where not only will most large-scale technology be open-sourced, but original experiences will be brought back to life for history’s sake.
Code-laden blocks will be reprinted with our original images, and kept as treasures.
It’s already started, and it will change the world.
Two years ago, the source code of an Italian intelligence contractor’s was leaked online, where it was revealed they helped autocratic states target dissidents. One day applications like this will be safely hosted by museums, showing the victims of an autocratic regime’s domestic surveillance program, much like a Holocaust museum does today to encourage people to remain vigilant of toxicity in society. MoMa, already has a program designed to preserve digital history, and Google is funding DevArt.
The Egyptian Revolution was scheduled as a Facebook Event, catalyzing the Fourth Wave of Democratization across the MENA region. With most of its social and civil structures left in place, Egypt was relatively lucky and they avoided significantly larger destabilization that comes from the destruction of such systems. Technology firms have been all too focused on the disruption of existing society to the benefit of shareholders, but there lies opportunity and honor in providing models to replace societies too.
Technology will heal the wounds of war and compose societies.
Extremism is oft a situation which is brewed from an increasingly volatile social group whose access to civil society has been removed holistically. For a country recovering from war, the organization of food and health supplies could be critical to its success, or simply knowing anonymously about continuing instability in a region or neighborhood.
In the shadow of war, countries will be able to leverage stratosphere-based internet and free cloud services provided by NGOs to provide organizational assistance, municipal management, public health management, digital tools for businesses to organize and develop, and even methods to ingest, treat, and visualize the data most relevant to their citizens.
Each of these solutions will have been composed, based on ages-old methods that helped create the successful impassioned societies we take part in today.
With further expansion by Amazon, Microsoft, and Google into the developing world, we are starting along a path that allows us to outsource a “how to” for engaged citizenry, and allow the buildup of society in partnership with some of the greatest minds alive today.
* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of any other more fun or less fun organization or person. *