Ever since Freakonomics stopped putting their full-text of articles into their RSS feed, I pretty much stopped reading their well written articles. However, that is not why I am writing this post today.
Today, I did click into a post (this one: http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/19/a-nuclear-president/) It spoke of how the Nuclear option is becoming more and more of a possibility for America’s (and the world’s) future power resource. I for one am “a-ok-lets-go” on the Nuclear solution (until we figure out perpetual energy, yeah.. anyway..), however that’s also not why I wrote this post.
What the Nuclear subject got me thinking about was the affect that the lack of energy will do to our lives. In my opinion this change would initially center around transportation. Over the years, change in transportation has always come about because of growing population, however this coming change will be caused by dwindling access to cheap energy. Normally you would come to the conclusion “well you have to get from one place to another don’t you?”, I mean “everyone has a car payment” right? Death, Taxes, and a Car Payment. Well, what if the only reason you had to deal with transportation was to get food.
Consider this, digital communications has come so far, so fast, that nobody seems to be completely caught up with it. We have not only plain-jane voice communications (zzz boring), but a myriad of video communication options, and excellent text communication. On top of all of this, we have had (for YEARS!) secure point to point communications. What does all of this add up to? In my opinion, a move forward in not only employers allowing their employees to “tele-commute”, but also friends and family communicate more and more via ip communications. I mean, it’s already happening!
I recently had a discussion with a friend who is now allowed to tele-commute once a week, and she works at a pretty well known company. I can only see this spreading as the cost of transportation goes up in not only time, but now cold hard cash, at dramatic rates (see here and here).
Ok, so we’ve all seem the movies. Video communications has been around since a Space Odyssey, and so far either retail offerings have been craptastic, or lackluster. Well, what happens when it costs you $15 or $20 to drive 30 miles to see your family? Maybe you’ll just call them on the videophone this week (hey nintendo, make a video-phone on the Wii dangit!). Or how about going to work? What about all those people driving over 50mi a day to work? It will become completely unaffordable, forcing employers to allow their employees to work from home.
So, what does all of this lead to? It leads to me to the conclusion that I with have a job for a long time, that’s what. At-home workers means more and more ip-based communications, from text/speach/video, to asset and document sharing, all types of collaboration software from planning your next housing development, to planning your next company party; it will all need to be online. In fact, I’ve seen a few condo/townhomes lately with secluded office counterparts to the main house. I think we’ll see that more prominent in the next 10 years. And THAT to me is exciting. Screw jet-packs! The internet ftw!
ps. if you want to see an excellent portrayal of a digital-based future, check this out.