I read somewhere that the greek playwright Sophocles was upset that during competitions for plays, the women were flashing their breasts, thereby influencing the judges.
I don’t know if that’s true or not, but as much as things change, most things remain the same.
Reading graffiti from ancient Pompeii online, I was reminded of this. “I defected here” was a popular thing to write, along with advice about securing sexual congress from various ladies about town.
We know for a fact that the Greeks and Romans both felt like previous generations were slack. Seems like no matter how far back you go you’ll find somebody saying “Dang kids today! Get off my lawn!”
Several times in this blog I’ve hit the thesis that today is different than those other times. I feel like the nature of the changes today begin to change in a fundamental way what it means to be human.
Looking at the IP laws the United States is prepared to pass, the re-enactment of the Patriot Act, Google indexing the universe, and the way companies are closely watching everything we do, I can’t help but feel like our relationship to government and our relationship to our fellow man is vastly different now than it was even 20 years ago.
Perhaps I’m just another in a long line of “Dang kids!” guys. Dunno. I haven’t even gotten into Ray Kurzweil and his belief that the idea of being human is changing. Or the anecdotal observations that youth are more and more afraid of making vocal phone calls or having in-person meetings with strangers.
When the philosophers talked about Freedom, Virtue, or the Social Contract, they were talking in a period where, in order for things to happen, you physically had to do stuff. Want to foment a rebellion? You had to go to the rebellion meeting. Want to change the government? You had to go vote. Want to change society? You had to physically go and be persuasive. Want to make money as an artist? You had to go and physically perform somewhere. Want to investigate a citizen to see if they might be committing a crime? You had to physically go out and watch them, dig through their trash, or talk to a judge.
Those days of physicality are drawing to a close. Those old things that required physical action and presence don’t work that way any more. It remains to be seen if we are able to take the old principles and apply them to the new world, or if we’re so wrapped up in governmental architectural cruft that we’re in for a dark, soulless future of being a mechanical drone in an overpowering state and commercial tyranny. You might think I exaggerate. I certainly hope so.
It’s like the previous 2500 years has been a period of reflection and study for mankind. What is the best society to have to advance the species? We’ve somehow muddled through with various solutions, but now we’re being presented with entirely new facts on the ground. Can we pivot?
We’ve been studying. Now comes the test. Good luck to us.If you've read this far and you're interested in Agile, you should take my No-frills Agile Tune-up Email Course, and follow me on Twitter.