Always-On Panopticon...or Cooperation Amplifier

If the citizens of the early 20th century had paid more attention to the ways horseless carriages were changing their lives, could they have found ways to embrace the freedom, power, and convenience of automobiles without reordering their grandchildren's habitat in ugly ways? Before we start wearing our computers and digitizing our cities, can the generations of the early 21st century imagine what questions our grandchildren will wish we had asked today? Technology practices that might change the way we think are particularly worthy of critical scrutiny: High-resolution screens and broadband communication channels aren't widget-making machinery, but sense-capturing, imagination-stimulating, opinion-shaping machinery...

Over the next few years, will nascent smart mobs be neutralized into passive if mobile consumers of another centrally controlled mass medium, with the world divided into a small number of producers and a large population of passive consumers? Or will an innovation commons flourish, in which a large number of consumers also have the power to produce? The convergence of smart mob technologies is inevitable. The way we use these technologies, and the way governments allow us to use them, is very much in question. Technologies of cooperation, or the ultimate disinfotainment apparatus? The next several years are a crucial and unusually malleable interregnum. Especially in this interval before the new media sphere settles into its final shape, what we know and what we do matters.