This period of socio-cultural evolution is defined by independent developments, consisting of wave after wave of advancements in production (robotics, 3D printers, gene replacement), product development (tablets, smartphones, wearables), and social connectivity (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Snap Chat, Tinder). While these advancements have allowed us to reach new heights in productivity and connectivity, there has been no control linking them together or creating a path to drive society to a better path. Instead each development is presented as the greatest wonder of the world, thrown at society to do with it as they will, and to be challenged the next day by something else. What is the end game? Who has a map and knows where we are going? Patchopolis recognizes the necessity to lead society from a roaming free-for-all to a chartered path of collaborative vision, using advancements to orchestrate something greater.
During this period of rapid innovation, there is consistently a new product, material, or method of execution released. I receive the Abundance Insider from Peter Diamandis each week, celebrating innovation and highlighting technological growth at an exponential rate. Corporations are getting on board, changing their structure through creating whole new departments for innovation. These departments, like Wells Fargo’s Innovation Group this past summer, R&D new methods to reach and serve their customer base. It is a tidal wave of innovation, it is the Future of Stuff.
The title – The Future of Stuff – highlights the inefficiency of independent development as a technological evolutionary path. The manufacturer is thrown a new material and the consumer a new gadget or app, but there are no instructions for how it fits together. Warren Ellis criticizes this through the setting of a circus, a wave of “garish, unsustainable, carnival acts” (Warren Ellis, Cunning Plans: Talks By Warren Ellis). I’ve noticed this inefficiency in reviewing social media platforms to promote professional brand. The capabilities of Flinja – a method for hiring students – doesn’t have a method to connect or convert to LinkedIn. A student creates a track record of great service and performance on one website and then is left to start over when entering their post-education professional world. Warren Ellis tells this tale, stating “We’re at the end of twenty years of Future Everything, and maybe a hundred and twenty years of futurism as its own industry, and here we stand in the dark, in the rubble of busted ideas and broken promises and ten thousand conference lanyards. No future left.” Who manages our innovations and where is the road map of how this fits together?
I review the current condition not as a circus, but as a bazaar. In a circus there is one bearded lady, one strongman, one set of conjoined twins. We are not that organized. There is a ‘stand’ selling social media over here and twenty feet away there is another stand selling nearly the same functions, packaged differently. What we need is “…people talking about the future of space travel talk to the people talking about the future of music, and so few of them seem to talk to the people involved in political futures except as lobbyists” (Warren Ellis, Cunning Plans: Talks By Warren Ellis). There is no collaboration among social media much less across other fields to create one better system. The stands in our bazaar operate independently, with no contact between the future of social media, food, architecture, and transportation.
Patchopolis expects oversight, a power connecting previously unconnected fields, to co-develop. “Time and again I’ve seen people gather fantastic information about social technologies and utilities and urban patterning that could be put to any number of uses in combination with other research fields, and they’re just sold to a corporate or a government authority and not only is the work never seen again, but the people who invented wonderful ways to do it don’t know what happened to it” (Warren Ellis, Cunning Plans: Talks By Warren Ellis). Oversight prevents waste in reinventing the wheel three, and four times and makes a smooth delivery to the public that explains how to put development to efficient use. In Patchopolis a path is chartered to reduce overlap, recognize shared goals and abilities, and allow innovation to reach a higher level.