What will be the distribution of *social* power under Digital conditions?  Certainly not the same as it has been under "television" conditions for the past 50 years.  So, how will it change?

First, it is obvious that our earlier notions of "globalism" -- which was meant to describe the distribution of political power across the globe -- has collapsed.  The headlines remind us of this daily.  Whereas, the end of the Cold War was famously supposed to "end history" (an evalution later withdrawn by it author), we now know that nothing is quite as important as world history.  

Second, it should be clear that economic power has also dramatically shifted.  Consumption is not likely to ever return to its earlier levels in the developed economies.  We suspect that the displacement of television by digital technologies has a lot to do with that.

Third, cultural power has certainly shifted as well.  The massive conviction on the part of the US population that their country is heading in the "wrong" direction -- as reflected in every major poll for decades -- points to a cultural shift quite unlike any that had been anticipated.  What we came to call *the* "counter-culture" of the 1960s, is not the only one we have experienced -- indeed, it seems that new technologies, in the process of throwing up new Techno-Economic Paradigms (as discussed by Carlota Perez), also toss us into fundamental cultural confllicts.

In fact, the Center is committed to understanding the future of power in terms of what we call the 3 Spheres: East, West and Digital.  Not only does that mean that there will be multiple "centers" of power but that the expression of power -- personally and socially -- will likely differ from one sphere to another.

Accordingly, both a political-economic and a psychological exploration is needed to help us better understand how power will be distributed in a world which has already radically changed.


Mark Stahlman

The Center for the Study of Digital Life (CSDL) is a not-for-profit strategic research group dedicated to understanding the effects of digital technologies on civilizations -- both East and West.

-Mark Stahlman