Brand New World Revisited

How many goodly creatures are there here!

How beauteous mankind is!

O brave new world, That has such people in’t.

— William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act V, Scene I, ll. 203–206

The world as we knew it has come to an end. When we now take a look at the new world for the first time, we are understandably overcome with excitement, and utter, among other praise, the famous line above. However, what we are actually observing is not society acting in a refined or civilized manner, but rather drunken sailors staggering off the wreckage of their ship. Huxley employs the same irony when describing the “brave new world”.

But what has made it through the ending are the resilient principles of Henry Ford’s assembly line—mass production, homogeneity, predictability, and consumption of disposable consumer goods to meet society’s material demands and social stability; indoctrination by recorded voices repeating slogans and the fear of losing individual identity in the fast-paced world of the future.

The obvious is that the structure and ideology survive any predicaments, although minimum changes constantly apply. Here I see clear paralels with predicaments on the future of communication. Technology has always been there to support communication and helped it evolve and enrich it’s possibilities but it is only the shell, the structure, the cold surface in which we stare.

The future of communication lies in the content, in storytelling, engaging, experimenting – visually accenting the objective, documenting beauty or hardships of life through craft and vivid personal experience – where social media will continue to serve as a tool enabling conversation and release of creative potential of every individual, more efficiently turning him from the observer to creator of the content.

Just like Voltaires Candide, who is living in a sheltered life in an Edenic paradise, going through painful disillusionment as he witnesses and experiences great hardships in the world – the conclusion is, if not rejecting optimism outright, advocating a deeply practical precept, “we must cultivate our garden”, in lieu of the Leibnizian mantra of Pangloss, “all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds”.

Faded Vacations by Terry Richardson

I find this simple and practical thought by Tim Brown from IDEO very interesting:

Like any good design team, we can have a sense of purpose without deluding ourselves that we can predict every outcome in advance, for this is the space of creativity. We can blur the distinction between the final product and the creative process that got us there. We can learn how to take joy in the things we create. We can work within the constraints of our own natures—and still be agile, build capabilities, iterate. We can conduct experiments, make discoveries, change our perspectives. Think of today as a prototype. What would you change?