Posts Tagged ‘Digital Age’



January 11, 2014

The continuing-to-unfold story of the Target data breach this morning quoted a consumer as saying…”This is the Last Straw”.

Really?  Come on, folks.  This is not the END; this is the beginning or at least I hope so!  Yes, I hope this is the beginning of the real understanding of the Digital World.

We’ve heard for months about Snowden and the NSA.  Most feel they do not want the government to even have phone numbers that could be eventually tracked to you – whether or not it is associated with a name when it is gathered.

And yet, until you hear of a breach, you have no problem with corporate America’s invasive disruption of your life 24 hours a day for all the information they gather on you.  For instance, this is the fourth day in a row that I have received an e-mail or popup ad on Facebook from a vendor – all because I checked the cost of ordering a new supply of contact lens solution on  That information was harvested, sent to interested parties, and is now driving me crazy!

My office is filled with articles and books discussing the Digital Age that is upon us…Yup; it does a lot of good.  Yup, it has some significant downfalls.  Yup, we just want to ignore the implications…until we get an unauthorized charge on our credit card at Target – and then we make Target the culprit – not the system itself!

And, most interesting, there have also been comments this week suggesting that the government needs to do a better job regulating and protecting us from this.  So now, in addition to trying to keep us from harm from terrorists and other governments, the US government should do a better job of monitoring what every corporation and hacker in the US is doing?  But, of course, please do it without getting OUR phone number in that gigantic data base!  Do you really think this makes sense?   

This time, it’s Target and it’s based in Minnesota so we are hearing a LOT more about it because it impacts us in more than just the data breach.  Target is going the “extra mile” in my book, to be the “good neighbor” as they search for the full story on the consequences.  Financially, those impacted will have “zero liability” from damage plus Target has offered free credit monitoring and identity theft protection for customers for a year. It will be expensive to meet those promises, but at least outwardly, they have accepted the responsibility for something not caused by them. Because the truth is, if NSA can be breached by a disgruntled egotistical citizen, do you really believe that corporations can ENSURE that they will have no breaches in their systems?   

So from my perspective at least, I welcome the Target breach so close on the heels of the NSA crisis  – hoping that the two together will be enough to finally start a real conversation!

  • How do we as The World move forward in the Digital Age?
  • How many of our old 20th century expectations will be necessarily compromised to move forward?
  • Where’s the acceptable balance?  Where are the tradeoffs?

Then once we recognize and understand the new realities of the Digital World, perhaps we can have a meaningful discussion about what that means in government, in commerce, in personal lives. Where is the balance between convenience and protection; what is needed to achieve that balance.

  • We knew this was coming in the 1990s; we created a fear of Y2K that never happened and then we forgot about it. 
  • We knew this was upon us in the 2000s and we were too busy fighting 19th and 20th century-based wars to do anything about it…except to create the NSA.
  • We have not addressed it so far in the 2010s. But we certainly are wrapped in the impacts!

Only when we accept both the possibilities and problems of the Digital Age that are upon us will we understand there is work to be done.  We have to clear the way for the conversations, collaboration, and creative thinking/design that we need to participate in the future.

It is time, folks.  Let’s make 2014 the year America finally quits pointing fingers and realizes there is work to be done.  We have a whole new way of life before us and we need to adjust our old world thinking to accommodate it.  It’s time to move forward NOW before we destroy ourselves and our planet.




December 29, 2013

Reconstruction of the 2012 attack on the US Embassy shows neither the Republicans nor the Democrats had it right when explaining Benghazi.

Benghazi was NOT infiltrated by Al Qaida nor did the Obama Administration cover up evidence of Al Qaida role as the Republican Angry Old Birds claimed…although a NON Al Qaida Abu Khattala was NOT recognized by the Obama Administration as the severe threat he was.

Nor, as Susan Rice first explained, was the attack a response solely to the You-Tube video.  Spontaneous street demonstrations to that video were indeed a factor, however.  Those already planning an attack capitalized on the opportunity when it presented itself; and then arsonists and looters took advantage of the situation and destroyed the Embassy and killed the Ambassador.

In reality there are bits of truth and misinformation in both positions; along with a whole lot of hyperbole, and positioning for domestic POLITICAL gain and for Press ratings.

Now that the Official report reconstructing the event has been completed, do you think the politicians have learned anything?  In reality, as usual, misunderstanding and posturing had only one winner – the Press-and that was short-term.  Where should the accountability be focused?

This is not just about Benghazi.  It seems regard for Reality, Truth and moving towards improvements based on lessons learned as been lost in our world today.   For instance……

  • An immense and sometimes invasive digital security system initiated in response to 9-11 by a Republican-led government has become “proof” of incompetence and failure of the Democratic-led government that followed.  Where should the accountability be focused?
  • A healthcare revolution in the US, approved by the majority of US Congressional leaders,  becomes yet another political issue with little regard to the benefits to US citizens, because the error-ridden on-line registration system (and of course, the disobeying of the law within by some insurance providers) has emerged as Proof that the Democrats were wrong in suggesting our citizens needed better health care and Republicans were right in opposing the same. Where should the accountability be focused?
  • A data breach at Target that has harmed millions is emerging as a Democratic issue of why the government has not protected us from companies like Target. Some Democrats think the government has not done enough to protect us as citizens.  Where should the accountability be focused?
  • UPS/Fedex are being blamed for an unhappy Christmas because retailers in hopes of saving their over-projected holiday sales, promised to get last-minute on-line gift purchases to their destination in time for Christmas…apparently with no regard to how organizations tasked with that mission were going to accomplish it.  Consumers bought in; disaster occurred.  Where should the accountability be focused?

 When will we learn our world is not black and white?  And when will we accept that the 20th century is not the 21st century – that indeed, our world has changed?  How much are we politicizing or looking for someone to blame simply because we do not anticipate or recognize consequences of the digital world in which we live today? 

No, I am not saying digital is evil.  I am just pointing out –one more time- that we need to address the TOTAL impact of the digital age in which we live.  Old thinking, old systems are not the answer.  We need to say goodbye to the 20th century; make an about-face to the future and acknowledge the WORLD has changed around us.  None of us can predict based on our “experience” what consequences will follow any action today.  But it is increasing clear that we need to acknowledge the digital world is here and has brought with it new good and bad consequences.

We should not expect to reap the benefits without learning to minimize the negative consequences.   

And since this is not about who can find the most “dirt” on the other, or raise the most funds, or use gerrymandering to get the most votes, perhaps a little more listening to one another and collaboration among people with differing views might just pay-back for all of us as we move forward in a new age that bears little resemblance to the century we have left behind.





October 23, 2013

The more we learn, the more troubled we are.

There are philosophical issues of privacy vs. security/safety; there are technology issues as we transition into a digital world that we prefer to ignore vs. face head on; there are scope issues in terms of how much and under what circumstances on specifics; there are varying opinions from thought leaders on the overall effectiveness and direction; there are oversight and parameters issues. 

There is also a concern in terms of a young man some view as a traitor-some view as a hero-that at a minimum- exposed the lack of security around collected data, and a lack of adequate security measures to keep him away from the data.  There are hiring policy issues that allow a person who has been blocked from direct hire to skirt the system and become an outside contractor.   Add to those REAL issues, Politicians and Press trying to use this to their own personal favor and a Public that is in no position to sort it out, and we have a mess….not to mention the growing impact on global affairs and the fact that although we have a mess,  personally it seems as though we are just letting it take its toll with no correcting action nor buy-in. 

 I am still trying to figure it all out.  Having been a young adult that cheered the efforts to expose Nixon with the Pentagon Papers when all else tried had failed, I keep trying to balance hero vs. traitor in my own mind and continue to come up short.    Generally, my instinct tells me there were other ways to garner attention and  ”win” than the Snowden way. Generally, I think at a minimum, it should be a wake- up call to a major impact of the digital age.  Generally, I am disappointed that it has not yet  stimulated that BIG CONVERSATION of the Changing World brought on because of technological advances and why there is a need for recognizing it, non-political thought-leadership on what this means for the US and the World going forward, and then international discussions. 

Perhaps we need a review that focuses not on finger-pointing, name-calling, and positioning for political advantage, but instead,a factual historical review that focuses on broad issues that are not political but are overall US-Security based.  We do not need to agree or disagree with all the facts, but we do need to understand them.

  • Start with a non-political biased BACKGROUND BRIEF – where were we, what were the issues, how did this evolve and what were the security measures in place that formed the need for NSA in the first place.
  • Next, a REVIEW OF INITIAL POLICIES IMPLEMENTED and changes that have officially and unofficially taken place that morphed the idea and system into something that we may find is very different than original intent.
  • HOW MUCH DID TECHNOLOGY ADVANCES and “Because we can” play a role?
  • WHAT POLICIEIS ARE IN PLACE to keep things in balance going forward?

With a clear understanding of startup vs. where we are today, perhaps we can identify some clarity, get it cleaned up, make it work to protect our country without making it a BIG BROTHER is watching issue.

MAYBE since not only all American citizens are now aware of it, and the world is aware of it, it is time to examine, adjust, and look towards the future – not judge based on past century needs.

This issue has not yet moved from the EMOTION Stage to the EXAMINATION OF FACTS stage, and we need to do that so we find clarity first, and then can start thinking WHAT NEXT.

Instead, all of the has been thrown into a single pot and the resulting stew seems unappetizing to even the Repo and Demo chefs – let alone the American or International diners.  And yet, no one seems to be trying to figure out which ingredients are basic , which add flavor, and which just spoiled the  stew.



October 15, 2013

Back in the mid-2000s, event and meeting planners started to envision a NEW WAY forward that better matched emerging research on how we learn….The “Adult Learning” revolution launched simultaneously with technical advances that were propelling us into a digital age.

Here at Creative Events, we became followers of these visionaries, did some exploration of collaboration and new learning tools, and tried to focus on engaging our audiences to interact with each other and their own thought-leaders. We got our “feet wet”  in 2008 with the GOP Convention and by 2010 we were ready for the grand experiment of developing a collaborative of independent event peeps to test our theories and growing knowledge when we were selected as the vendor to for a Boston Scientific Employee meeting.

You have heard the story, seen the pictures, positive press, and awards that signaled we were on the right track.  We delivered good results; we were recognized for it and this year in August, MPI launched a new initiative called “MEETING DESIGN” that used those two BSCI employee meetings as the case study to support their new curriculum.  Over the next 12-16 months, 71 MPI chapters internationally will be introduced to this concept that revolutionizes the Meetings Industry; and slowly, ISES, as well, is executing events with something more than A WOW factor-thank goodness!

Simultaneously as a volunteer , I have participated in brainstorming several revitalization projects in the City of Minneapolis (Plan It Hennepin, Washington Avenue,  the Cultural Corridor, Nicollet Avenue Street Car Plan and  the latest project just introduced – the redesign of Nicollet Mall itself)…not to mention the West River Road Trails Improvement plan and the continuing evolution of the latest 30 year plan for the Central Riverfront…all of which have introduced me to an international concept called creative-place making.  Much of that has focused on building consensus and building/sharing visions through the use of art. 

Out of that, has come a strong desire to experiment with applying those same creative processes to meetings and events in order to achieve that same warmth and depth I was seeing emerge in community events – that is  not necessarily achieved from social media and current technology alone.

Meanwhile, Boston Scientific has continued to push forward…applying a key corporate value – not only to the patient and healthcare in general, but to business applications in their healthcare world. Their commitment to Meaningful Innovation has opened new doors. 

Last month, we started a new journey with them, as we once again turn our thoughts to their next Employee Meeting in late Spring of 2014. 

Is the world ready to take “Meeting Design” one step further?

If we unlock a meeting from the need to have a BIG room, BIG stage, and BIG seating blocks for a general session…then we have a whole new world of possibilities before us.  Maybe all those costs and time spent with hotel/convention center infrastructure can be redirected to the purpose and outcomes of any given meeting:  increasing adult learning and achieving results…creating an improved corporate environment for all.  In 2014, we will test our new theory.  The BSCI Employee Meeting will be held on each campus during the same week’s timeframe.  To accomplish that, we need to create engagement points that allow interaction before, during, and after the Town Hall experience; we need to ensure that engagement and interaction is between all employees and their leadership. Along the way, we hope to give employees what they need and want in order to get results for Boston Scientific and for their patients. And we hope to do that utilizing the power of all the technology on both those campuses supported by interactive projects that result in a bit of creative “corporate” community-making, as we also work with the BSCI space design folks to tell the story on empty walls  in lobbies, cafeterias, and within departments across a total of ten buildings on three campuses. Stay tuned on this one.  With no clear path to follow, I’m sure we’ll have some stumbles as we explore how to best to do this, but something tells me, we are opening the door on a whole new world.

And so the exploration begins-guided by new visions of what this Meeting and Event world can be.





October 8, 2013

How sad is this!

Americans 18-65 are below average in skills needed to compete in the global economy-compared to 21 other democratic countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

According to an article in the Washington Post, our scores for literacy, problem solving, and numeracy are ALL BELOW AVERAGE….# 13 in literacy; # 15 in problem solving in tech environment; and # 19 in math.

Perhaps as more results like this become available, I will stop being considered the outlier who is constantly pleading for the US to get our collective heads out of the sand, and stop being influenced by the “Angry Old Birds” who can’t get past our heyday in the 20th century.

We now live in the DIGITAL AGE- Get used to it!  Our education system for the most part is based on a system developed 100 years ago; and it’s pretty obvious we are allowing a MINORITY of nay-saying nuts in the Tea Party far too much influence in our government.  They are not even ok with late 20th century thinking; they  are, at a minimum, stuck in 1946 – if not back when our education system was devised at the TURN of the 20th century.

AGAIN I SAY, It’s a hard read in terms of concepts and 21st century realities, but it is time to accept books like THE NEW DIGITAL AGE as reality….it is time to get on board and at least try to understand what the digital age means to us as a individuals, and as a country, and stop hanging on the past.  Until we do, we will continue this downward spiral.



August 22, 2013

The headline this morning read “2011 ruling:  NSA violated Constitution”; the subtitle read “The e-mail collection program was later fixed to the court’s satisfaction.”

The opening two paragraphs summarized that the NSA program violated the Constitution for several years according to a top-secret court ruling from October 2011 which was made public yesterday.

And then the third paragraph “below the fold” if you will:

“The release of the ruling, under pressure by a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, was the latest effort by the Obama Administration to contain revelations about NSA surveillance prompted by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.   A side bar in bold in that paragraph proclaimed : ”Volume and nature of the Information [the program} had been collecting is fundamentally different than what the court had been led to believe.”    This quote was attributed to the 2011 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinion.

Eight inches of print into the article, we learned that the problems were relatively small compared to surveillance on non-citizens abroad.  And we learned that NSA quickly fixed the problem to the court’s satisfaction.   Nevertheless, the remaining 5 inches of print indicated the court was still troubled, and that what was being collected was far different than what  FISA had been led to believe.  It reported this was the third time in less than three years in which the government disclosed a substantial misrepresentation of the volume and nature of information.

As I finished the article, despite knowing a small amount about the NSA/FISA Court history rooted in the Bush Administration, I admit I had to take a deep breath and say…wow-this is not only disconcerting;  it is enough to make me think I better think through my support of Obama.

For some of you reading this, I imagine it was enough to send you off to the organizing groups with your donations to support impeachment of the President.   And hopefully, there are some of you out there that know much more than I and recognized this immediately as Press manipulation.

I however, fortunately had a nagging voice in my brain telling me to think through that timeline.  And I listened to it.

 If Obama was inaugurated in January of 2009, how could there possibly have been time to move into the White House, learn all there was to know just about  how the White House itself operated, get all the appointments announced and people in place in all the government agencies and arms that represent the nation, have them get acclimated in their new roles, dig deep, learn the nitty gritty details, review, and report back to the President recommendations and actions; get those actions implemented and enforced  and still have been able to  pull off some MAJOR disturbing practices….all the while butting heads with an opposing party who announced  their mission over the  four years from January 2008, to January, 2013, was to ensure  that Obama would have no second term.    How could one man, who also crafted a major change in US healthcare and GOT IT APPROVED despite that same opposition by the Republicans, and got us out of Iraq, and on track to get out of Afghanistan, and finally found Osama bin Laden and killed him, and weathered a Republican plan – at least in the short term – to bring down the country financially – be able to launch this plot successfully?  How could one man already fighting GREAT ODDS accomplish all this?   He was not a” White Man” with all the privilege that implies; he did not bring decades and decades of experience about how Congress worked, nor decades and decades of relationships within the Legislative bodies, nor did he have the family connections and money of a Kennedy, nor the benefit of being a Governor like a Clinton.

Amidst all that, how could he campaign and be selected to a second term of office – thereby showing the weakness of the opposing party NOT ONCE, but twice?

 And even more perplexing, Obama believes in building a better world through collaboration, listening and learning from one another; in a world where individual people helping others do make a difference.    He set out to change the Best World ever built – that one built by the Boomers  – a world that brought power and fame and money to those that knew how to play by Boomer rules.  Those rules that say  if we just surround ourselves with others like us and boycott, we will be ok….and the rest of the world will go away.   How in the world did he overcome those barriers we put in his way?

The timeline made no sense to me in view of all of that.  And then there was the fact that I knew nothing about the organization that brought the suit.  Who is Electronic Frontier Freedom anyway? 

And so I detoured off to do a little research – fully expecting to find that this group was another Republican propaganda arm – masking as a do-good non-profit.   And I was proven wrong, at least in the short amount of time (about two hours) I have spent on it this morning.

But what I learned as FACT was the timeline.

This organization came to be in 1990 – just a few years into the DIGITAL AGE – as a result of some very forward thinkers imagining a future in which individual rights would be fighting a tough battle in terms of privacy rights issues.  It seemed to be legitimate; it scores well on consumer/public ratings of whether to invest/believe or not.  And it sounds good on its web and in Wikipedia, and its actions to defend personal and individual rights speak well of its intent.

1990 – yes,  in the midst of Reagan/Bush Senior era – but as I read about it, its focus did not show political philosophies, it clearly was focused on what will this digital world we are entering do to our personal freedoms.  I know, you can’t believe everything you read, but my gut feel led me forward.

The initial interest and filings in this specific case went back to 2005-2006. This lawsuit itself was filed in SEPTEMBER 2008.  Hmmm.  That’s a red flag, is it not? 

The Republicans had just nominated John McCain as their presidential candidate; the Democrats had just nominated Obama.  We were in the midst of debates…and the American public was immersed in the issues and teetering on the brink of the worst collapse of our economic world since the Great Depression – an amazing turn of events in eight Bush years.   And there as a candidate was an unthinkable possibility that just maybe we could have a President that would be a mixture of both white and multi-cultural race that could lead us through this transition to that time in 2040 and beyond when whites would become the minority.  And even better, this candidate thought differently.  He did not emulate power and out-trumping an opponent, he professed listening, dialog and collaboration – just what all the futurists were saying was needed around the world in this new 21st century.


But I digress.  Back to the timeline.

  1. Issues surfaced 2005-2006.
  2. Lawsuit was filed September, 2008, while Bush was still Presidet of the United States.  Translation:  This was a lawsuit against Republican actions during the Bush Administration.
  3. The ruling made in October, 20ll, with extensive review and necessary adjustments made by the Obama Administration to comply with that ruling.
  4. No data uncovered to date to when plan for those implemented adjustments began, but I presume that it had to be a priority fro mthe beginning in order to have a plan and be able to implement it successfully immediately in case the ruling demanded it.  I would call that foresight.
  5. Although the changes were quietly implemented, there was no publicity at the time and Obama defended the right to keep them secret. (Ed:  Think:  Suporting the right of the Office ofthe President; and hence the person who initiated the action – George W. Bush)
  6. Obama refused to give out details to the Press, but at the same time told the nation in his address this summer that he welcomed the review of this (21st century) issue.

Today, that has all been played out in the Press with a definite slant of sensationalism aimed at Obama.

This feeds right into the damage and trouble that I believe is being caused by the PRESS in this country whom we have allowed to move from reporting facts to telling us what we should believe about those facts- which today are interspersed with non-facts and simply personal opinion of what is rapidly becoming irresponsible commentators looking for ratings to keep their jobs.  

That, and the difficult issues emerging in this century for which we have no precedent, puts us right where we were at the beginning of the 20th century…fumbling our way through a whole new world of individual rights that were expanding past white men to women to native and other non-white men and women at a disturbing pace because of new means of communication.  I’d like to think we learned something over a hundred years, but perhaps we have not.

That aside, the time I have spent on this morning’s STRIB article leads me to one conclusion only: 

Perhaps the sin of Obama is only that his strong morals and thoughts about how to better prepare the United States for the 21st century  led him NOT TO BLAME THE CAUSE  – the Neo-Cons under the weak leadership of nice man – George W.

Many have questioned why he as a ”Constitutional Scholar “could even think that what was being done would not be unconstitutional.  Perhaps what they scoff at is exactly why he did not take a personal stand – his knowledge and confidence in that document may have led him to the knowledge that change would come without his intervention. He did not dishonor a former President;  and did not yield to political pressure to do so as he has no further political aspirations. 

 I listened to that nagging doubt and invested the time to think it through and it brought me right back to where I was in 2008.  I voted for a man I admired for his principles and new thinking.  I stand on that. I believe he has been motivated by those same things as well as commitment to the Office he holds as the leader of the country he loves…even though standing against releasing the details of a system established by his predecessor has made him the bad guy.   

He is neither the DEVIL nor SUPERMAN.  He is not even acting as a politician, although he has done that well  along the way.  He is a product of his time with deep beliefs and motivation to help his country where he can.  And I personally cannot wait until he is released from this sentence we have given him so that he can return to the real world and we learn of how he next intends to influence the world and help guide us through the turmoil ahead for which we refuse to prepare!

That is why I spent today – my first time off in almost 40 days – to think this through.  It was worth every minute.


THE NEW DIGITAL AGE-CH 2; The Future of Identity, Citizenship and Reporting

June 29, 2013

By 2025, the world’s virtual population will outnumber the population of Earth because each of us have chosen multiple online methods that have resulted in “vibrant and active communities of interlocking interests that reflect and enrich our world”…the data revolution that empowers us all.

But that same data revolution strips us of much of our control over our personal information in the virtual world causing significant consequences in the physical world.

All that food for thought in the first paragraph of chapter 2… and it immediately  brought to mind a current very contentious and emotional debate as we recognize what we think little about in our own virtual world raises much emotion and controversy as we find evidence of the same thing in our physical world –i.e., PRISM and NSA data capture.  Yes, this is the chapter I referred to on June 9 that scared me to death!

The authors, Schmidt and Cohen, paint a picture of our future where our identities in every day life could be defined by our virtual activities and associations.  Our very documented pasts will impact future prospects; our ability to influence/control how we are perceived will decrease dramatically.  The potential for others to access, share, or manipulate parts of our virtual identities will increase…especially as the use of cloud-based data storage grows.

The authors assure us the technical world is working on this vulnerability-looking for creative ways to mitigate risks through multi-factor authentication and strong encryption methods.  Access to your data may require something you know (e.g. password); something you have (e.g. mobile device) and something you are (e.g. thumbprint).  Our identity online in the future is not likely to be a simple Facebook page, but “a constellation of profiles, from every on-line activity, that will be verified and perhaps even regulated by government.”

As the authors point out, the shift from having one’s identity shaped offline and projected online to an identity that is fashioned online and experienced offline will have implications for citizens, states and companies as we all navigate the emerging digital world.

And then, for the next 50 pages they explore what full connectivity will mean to citizens in the future, how they will react to it and what consequences it will have for dictators and democrats alike.

An era of critical thinking will emerge; commerce, education, healthcare and the judicial system will be more efficient, transparent and inclusive; myths about religion, culture, ethnicity will struggle “amid a sea of newly  informed listeners”; governments will find it more difficult to maneuver; documents cannot be destroyed; history can’t be rewritten; parents will have a new role teaching children privacy and security; classes about each will be taught in schools-right along with sex education; businesses specializing in privacy will proliferate; on line identities will “become such a powerful currency” they will be sold online.

The narrative continues through whistleblower sites, wikileaks, “agents of chaos”, the emerging “Reporting Crisis” as mainstream media face significant challenges and to survive will adjust goals, methods and organizational structures from what we know today; and then the authors leave us hanging as they sum up the issue by telling us the end result remains to be seen.

Through the narrative, I learned “delete” is a figment of our imagination even today for several reasons. “Data remanence” and back- up systems guarantee this is the first “generation of humans to have an indelible record”.  Further, try as we may, new solutions will not keep us private.

After discussion of several additional consequences, the authors maintain that the power of the new information revolution is “for every negative, there will be a counter response that has the potential to be a substantial positive”.  For instance, connectivity enhances state’s power but also constricts the state’s ability to control the news cycle.

Eventually, the authors  offer the reader a series of coping strategies before launching into the closing 7-8 pages of the chapter that cover Police States 2.0, Biometric Data and finally ends with:

“What seem like debates today over security and privacy will broaden to questions of who controls and influences virtual identities and thus the citizens themselves…These changes will spur new behaviors and progressive laws but given the sophistication of the technology involved, in most cases, citizens stand to lose many of the protections they feel and rely upon today.”

As I said on June 8, this chapter scared me but also reinforces what I said then.  The daily “scandals” out of Washington today are irrelevant.  We need to stop, learn, discuss, and set new guidelines in terms of security and privacy issues of the 21st century….and 19th and 20th century attitudes and knowledge will not be the guiding forces that shape this new world we ALREADY ARE IN.



June 20, 2013

The debate rages on seemingly without any end in sight. Of course, it is particularly emotionally charged because we are not talking about just any kind of privacy; we are talking about how much the Government is entitled to know about us.

Unfortunately the current debate is fueled by an already raging distrust of this particular government – fed by irresponsible Congressional members who put “winning” over governing and irresponsible Press who put “ratings” over truth. How having a young African American President who thinks differently than the old “ruling class” of Traditionalists and Boomers helped to ignite this never-ending debate is up for review and discussion-as is whether or not he is doing a good or bad job in view of fact that one of our two political parties- is in a downward spiral internally. 

So it should be no surprise, then, that something we have debated for almost 250 years has surfaced…one more time.

We each have a point of view; we each are sharing our opinions and fears; we each are guilty of being distracted by the talking and shouting because we each are doing very little listening.

And surely, I am not asking you to trust and listen to me.

However, I am going to share an experience unfolding as time permits when I curl up- book in hand-in my comfy old wingback to read a new book I just stumbled upon. This is the book entitled THE NEW DIGITAL AGE – Reshaping the Future of People, Nations, and Business by Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen.

The authors are not ordinary people like most of us; Eric Schmidt took Google from a small start up to one of the world’s most influential companies and Jared Cohen was a former advisor to secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton, and is now the director of Google Ideas.  The sell copy on the book jacket convinced me their experience in technology and foreign affairs made them qualified to talk about how the technology world of the near future will look.

So I bought the book, went home, settled in, and started reading.  The Introduction was so jarring, I was not sure I could go further.  Chapter One was mind-boggling and Chapter Two scared me to death – and I am only on page 57! 

One thing I have already realized, however, is that today’s discussions regarding Snowden and the leaks; the IRS scandal; the AP scandal; the Benghazi Scandal, whatever the newly emerging Hillary and Obama scandals are being thought up are all simply irrelevant.  We continue to hear as scandals shrink to incidents, or accidents that we need to stop, discuss and set new guidelines about the things we are concerned about in terms of the security vs. privacy issues.

That would be wasting time, folks.  Not because we should NOT do it, but because we would be  talking about them, and addressing them with 20th century- pre-internet and the digital world-capabilities, dangers and outdated benchmarks of what is good and what is not.  So surely, we will end up with some 20th century irrelevant solution to reality.…it’s a bit like having Congressional discussions before WWII on how to care for all the troops’ horses when the war starts.  We need to understand where we are, and where we are going, before we invest time and effort in trying to use old thinking to establish rules to control that new world.

The Introduction to this book should be enough to shock us into letting go of our ways of thinking and opening our minds to what is before us.  A few comments taken from the Introduction:

The Internet…has transformed into an omnipresent and endlessly multifaceted outlet….a source for tremendous good and potentially dreadful evil.

This new capacity for free expression and free movement of information has generated the rich virtual landscape we know today…(but) consider too what the lack of top-down control allows: the online scams, the bullying campaigns, the hate-group websites and the terrorist chat rooms. This is the Internet, the world’s largest ungoverned space.

We’ll be more efficient more productive and more creative….a computer in 2025 will be sixty-four times faster than it is in 2013. Popular science fiction concepts…(will) turn into science facts. Fully integrated augmented reality…promises a visual overlay of digital information onto our physical environment. Communication technologies represent opportunities for cultural breakthroughs as well as technical ones.  How we interact with others and how we view ourselves will continue to be influenced and driven by the online world around us.

The vast majority of us will increasingly find ourselves living, working, and being governed in two worlds at once.  Sometimes these worlds (virtual and physical) will constrain each other; sometimes they will clash; sometimes they will intensify, accelerate and exacerbate phenomena in the other world so that a difference in degree will become a difference in kind.

The most significant impact of spread of communication technologies will be the way they help reallocate the concentration of power away from states and institutions and transfer it to individuals.

So, will this transfer of power to individuals ultimately result in a safer world, or a more dangerous one?  We can only wait and see…the future will be shaped by how states, citizens, companies, and institutions handle their new responsibilities.

For citizens…In many ways, their virtual identities will come to supersede all others, as the trails they leave remain engraved online into perpetuity.

There is a canyon dividing people who understand technology and people charged with addressing the world’s toughest geopolitical issues, and no one has built a bridge.  Yet the potential for collaboration between the tech industry, the public sector and civil economy is enormous.

Who will be more powerful in the future, the citizen or the state?  Will technology make terrorism easier or harder to carry out? What is the relationship between privacy and security, and how much will we have to give up to be part of the new digital age?  How will war, diplomacy and revolution change when everyone is connected and how can we tip the balance in a beneficial way?

To understand the future of politics, business, diplomacy and other important sectors, one must understand how technology is driving major changes in those areas.

This is a book about the importance of a guiding human hand in the new digital age.  For all the possibilities that communication technologies represent, their use for good or ill depends solely on people…..What happens in the future is up to us.

And with that, the book’s Introduction came to an end.  So far, so good…I was tracking with the vision and just a little uneasy with what I read.    Chapter One was devoted to Our Future Selves in this world of connectivity and most was pretty positive to me:  Increased Efficiency; More Innovation, More Opportunity, a Better Quality of Life…but I was beginning to have a hard time keeping the virtual and physical world separated in my mind – and not having or losing control is not an easy state for me!  Especially as I turned the page to Chapter Two  on the Future of Identity, Citizenship and Reporting  and immediately learned that to pull back – even from Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Google+, etc. to try to maintain some anonymity  may mean I become irrelevant.

As I mentioned above, Chapter Two is scary….but  I will push through the remaining chapters –  Future of States; Future of Revolution, Future of Terrorism, Future of Conflict, Combat and Intervention, the Future of Reconstruction  and finally a Conclusion  – just so I can get to and understand the “happy ending” that I hopefully can embrace.

After all, the whole point is, we have debated the same issues for 250 years with no resolution; maybe in this new digital world we are already in, we can find a better way to approach and reconcile that age-old of debate about the Relationship of Privacy and Security.