East and West
I was struck today by what is happening in Silicon Valley software. Currently, most new startups are consumer and social network-related, a frenetic hub of activity which is distracting us from the shift in the global economy. Sure, the consumer sector (e-commerce) is important, and technical innovation is always cool, but while the cream of western society in the US (and the UK) fixates on high-risk, fast-paced startups, Asian entrepreneurs are building things in massive quantities.
Massive shifts in global affairs appear to be preceded by an elevation of the trivial: decadence in pre-war Berlin, a peak in imperialist sentiment before the Great War, pets.com before the dot.com fin-de-siecle crash. I think we are seeing it now in technology: massive excitement in a new wave of social network services, preventing us from concentrating on the fundamentals we will need in a decade or so.
On (BBC) Radio Four this morning, an analyst explained how in Asia, the 2008 Global Financial Crisis is now referred to as the North Atlantic Crisis. This is true. Technological innovation in the trivial distracts us from what we really need to be doing. Building things.