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Steven Johnson And A Better Future

This show is a rebroadcast from Sept. 18, 2012

From Wikipedia to Kickstarter, we’ll look at the growing power of collaboration as a source of hope and progress with Steven Johnson, author of “Future Perfect.”

The internet in 1972 (photo illustration Alex Kingsbury/WBUR)

The internet in 1972 (photo illustration Alex Kingsbury/WBUR)

American politics can look hopeless.  Steven Johnson says hang on.  There’s a new way coming.  And it’s loaded with optimism and hope.  With progress.  Johnson writes about technology and society.  He’s looking at the networked life of the Internet and saying that as a model, it’s just getting started in changing our shared lives.

What markets won’t do and governments won’t do, he says, networked citizens are taking on.  Peers, empowered by connectivity, moving beyond  Left and Right, looking for solutions.

This hour, On Point:  future perfect, with Steven Johnson.

-Tom Ashbrook


Steven Johnson, author of the new book Future Perfect: The Case For Progress In A Networked Age.

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal “I teach at an engineering school, and in one of my courses—a kind of overview of Western civilization for freshmen—I make my students read John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address. At one point, the young president exhorts Americans to seek the end of “tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.” When I asked my students recently if they thought these goals were realistic or just pipe dreams, all 24 went with pipe dreams.”

New York Times “Embracing semiotics came with certain costs. In my own case, I spent most of my mid-20s detangling my prose style. (It got younger as I got older.) I now spend more time learning from the insights of science than deconstructing its truth claims. I slowly killed off the desire to impress with willful obscurity.”

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  • swaddell

    For the past decade I’ve written about “Global Action Networks” (GANs) which are a form of what Steven talks about…global, multi-stakeholder change networks that are incorporating and transcending our traditional concept of “organization”…incorporating governments, corporations, NGOs…major examples include the Forest Stewardship Council, the Global Reporting Initiative, the Global Compact, Transparency International.
    -  Steve Waddell

  • BrentMiller2

    I just wrote a paper for my college English class about making third parties more relevant in the national debate. I feel that the two main parties have monopolized the political spectrum, and would love to see an ideological anti trust suit brought against them. The three main points I brought up in my paper were: range voting, where you score candidates on a range, so it’s no longer all or nothing with your vote; electoral votes given by the district’s they represent, where each congressional districts electoral vote goes to who wins the district, and the overall state popular vote would win the senate votes; and making voting a civic duty like jury duty. Essentially making voting mandatory like they do in Australia. Even if they select no preference, the opportunity should be mandatory.

    • PithHelmut

      The only hope for the species of this planet is for women to take over power – all of it. I’m not joking. Men have ruled since forever without sharing and now we’re on the brink of extinction. Women have proven their fitness for taking care of others therefore they are the only ones that should be in charge of power over others. Continuing with men as leaders will perpetuate the ongoing crimes against humanity based on their hubris and greed. We fail to realize the precipice we are on and it’s got nothing to do with fiscal policy.

  • PithHelmut

    I think we’d better hurry up because we are getting ever so close to runaway climate change it is not funny: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/12/02/1253931/ipccs-planned-obsolescence-fifth-assessment-report-will-ignore-crucial-permafrost-carbon-feedback/?mobile=nc

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