Saturday, March 24, 2012

Three Threshold Moments

I continue to be amazed at how fast the world is changing. Here are three more or less random threshold moments passing by right now.

  • Officials in Brazil are talking about possible criminal indictments after a release of oil from an offshore oil well — not from something that happened years ago, but in connection with decisions that oil company employees made just this week. Even if there are no convictions, just the thought of going to jail could lead oil workers next time to shut down a well to avert a release of oil.
  • In the United States there is a public conversation about the role of the police in protecting criminals from prosecution. This side of law enforcement has been there all along and has been shown a million times in fictional form, but was something people wouldn’t talk about openly and directly, until now.
  • The new version of Mozilla Firefox will save several megawatts of electricity worldwide by using a slate gray background color for a window that displays an image file, in place of the previous white background. It is the first time a software publisher has taken such a prominent step to reduce the energy consumption of its software’s video display, and it could mark the beginning of an era in which software designers pay attention to such things.

If you asked someone else, “What is changing in the world right now?” they could easily come up with a completely different list. The important thing to note is that changes as significant as these are happening one after another, day after day, without necessarily eliciting much surprise or even media attention. And many of them are spontaneous, one-way changes. For whatever reason, we are ready to change, and the world will never be the same after what is happening now.