Future Shock or Future Shape: Looking ahead by looking back

The future has certainly invaded our lives

Many of the issues and problems plaguing our nation today are the result of changes across a broad spectrum of our culture that brought about the disorientation and uncertainty which characterizes our nation today.

Many of these trends and changes cannot be considered new anymore. Many of them were underway long before personal computers, the Internet, and social media were more than pipedreams for what became known as Silicon Valley.

It was ten years later that I carried a TRS-80 Model 4P (for portable), bulky suitcase sized PC into the Pentagon to use in preparing analyses relating to The Surface Navy of the 21st Century project headed by the DCNO Surface Warfare, VADM Joseph Metcalf.  The TRS-80 had a whopping 64K of memory and was years before Windows.  However, the first time I pressed “Control P,” and the attached “electric” typewriter began clacking out the text, I turned around to find four very senior officers staring in amazement at the miracle of words on a grey “television” screen typing themselves right in front of them.  Just two years later, the ceilings of the Pentagon were tightly woven with pipes carrying not gases or liquids, but wires connecting computer networks.

Some of the general recommendations I suggested in Future Shape or Future Shock have been implemented in various ways by other organizations and in other situations and circumstances. Much of it was “common sense.”  Unfortunately, many remain “works in progress.” I believe.

Upon reflection, you may or may not agree on which, if any, of these observations may still have merit and should be reconsidered and adapted to today’s environment and circumstances.  However, I share them here in hopes that it still may be interesting or even insightful to look back on what awareness we had almost half a century ago of the societal and technological changes that were to engulf us in the last half of the 20th century and continue to do so into contemporary times.

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About Tracy Connors

Tracy D. Connors graduated from Jacksonville University (AA), University of Florida (BA), the University of Rhode Island (MA), and Capella University (Ph.D. with Distinction, human services management, 2013). Ph.D. (Honorary), Leadership Excellence, Jacksonville University, December, 2013. Designated a "Distinguished Dolphin" by Jacksonville University, Feb. 2, 2010.