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Trends of the 21st Century

To define our own role and to know what to do next, it helps to sometimes take a break and get an idea of the bigger picture of what's happening around us.

I collected a few observations of patterns I see happening around me. Nothing here is novel but how often do we stop and question things? Noticing is the first step. Then it is up to us to decide what all this means.

  1. Cultures mix more and more. Air travel is common. International tourism keeps growing. Communication is easier than ever thanks to digital technology. Cultures become more similar to each other through global media. Moving to another country is not a big. Cuisine has never had this much variation. Global markets give us access to goods from all across the world.
  2. Urbanisation is still happening. It is not a new trend. People move to cities. Cities grow. Cities have very different culture to country side. Cities become more international. Major cities of the world become quite similar while culture in countryside still has bigger differences. Some mega cities have bigger political and economic power than whole countries.
  3. Language consolidation accelerates. Everyone has to learn English nowadays. The internet is very dominated by the English language. Sciences and lots of other knowledge is published primarily and often solely in English. Events use English as default language. Other languages like Chinese, Spanish, French, Arabian dominate some local niches, but smaller languages don't even have the vocabulary for many things anymore since they simply borrow from English; they keep being languages for communication in everyday life but not for business and science.
  4. Economy is global by default. More and more businesses don't depend on location. Teams can work distributed from any location. The default for companies is to target a global market. Competition also becomes global. Economies of scale make many businesses only feasible when targeting a global audience.
  5. Innovation is accelerating at speeds we can't comprehend. Computers, the internet and so much other technology has been invented in the last couple of years. And those tools have enabled us to innovate at ever increasing speed. Being connected to all knowledge globally gives us so much leverage and power. We can't even imagine how the world will look like ten or twenty years from now.
  6. Diversity is increasing. Even if we destroy cultures, traditions and whole species, the human-created variety is ever increasing. People with very different lives, cultures and levels wealth are living together. Old and new culture and technology are part of our lives. We need to create an environment that can accommodate all those differences.
  7. Right wing parties are gaining power. With accelerating change and global competition comes a lot of uncertainty. People are afraid of loosing their dominant position in economy and culture and want to feel safe. They start voting for whoever promises to protect them. Big changes don't happen without resistance.
  8. The whole globe is completely dominated by humans at this point. Humanity keeps growing and expanding. Space is getting more scars. Territorial conflicts are happing. Humans transform the environment to their own will. We already altered our environment up to a point that there is no turning back. We have to figure out how to control the effects of our doings. For us humans to survive on this planet, we have to redefine our relationship with the planet.

Top comments (2)

fpuffer profile image
Frank Puffer

Glad to hear some thoughtful words from Cologne - where people tend to mostly turn off their brains this time of the year :).

Especially your phrase "Big changes don't happens without resistance." for explaining the increase of right wing support made me feel a bit more optimistic.

jorinvo profile image
jorin • Edited

Turning the brain on and off are both great activities ones in a while =)

made me feel a bit more optimistic

The most optimistic thing I have read the last years was WBW's " The AI Revolution: The Road to Superintelligence". Ironically I don't think much of AI. But the mechanisms of evolution as explained there keep me excited about what is yet to come!

There is a lot of other optimistic stuff out there. Luckily the world is not as bad as the news try to tell us.

To feel more optimistic I can also recommend checking out some stuff by "Hans Rosling" – like his famous TED talk.

And as technologist, we are in the best position to change things as shown by Bret Victor :)