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Thinking about the future
December 25th, 2006 posted by JB under From The Admin

I’m not sure if there are many Adamsonians who know Carl Sagan, but for those who do, they’ll understand me as I say that I deeply share the sentiments of many who just sort of reminisced the past 10 years without him; he died on Dec. 20, 1996.

Aside from being the author of the book that later became the film Contact (starring Jodie Foster), Carl Sagan was one of the very few guys who’ve inspired me to think — even worry — about the future.

Recently, the British science magazine New Scientist celebrated its 50th anniversary — and its celebratory issue contained selected scientific pieces from the 1950s to the present (the invention of the birth control pill, Gagarin in space, the first time scientists realized they were right about rocket trajectories, the first time the transistor “wowed” everybody) and perhaps more importantly, how the leading thinkers of our day look ahead 50 years in the future. There’s even a write-up on human consciousness that felt right and on target — the one where Paul Broks so beautifully describes the disconcerting nature of human identity (”human nature stinks,” so goes an old song from De-Phazz).

You see, “lower” animals, with precious few exceptions such as elephants, have no sense of past or future. They always live in the present- they always think about the food to eat, where to get it, where to shit, where to sleep — and stop there. In many ways, people are like that — eternally caught up in the vicissitudes of the present. But rarely, there are those like Carl who manage to break away from the pack and gaze so far beyond the present — and lead everyone else to look in the same direction. No wonder he’s one of the founders of the Planetary Society and a leading advocate of SETI (one of its most interesting “discoveries” was what is now known as the “Wow! signal“).

What I’m trying to say is, this website, the Adamsonian, is like a time capsule for the future, a “nod of approval” to those visionaries who happen to have absolutely nothing to do with Adamson University. Nevertheless, this site is like looking far ahead. It’s like breaking away from the thick cloud of confusion and feeling personally with your fingers how a highly-targeted community of Adamson University alumni and students (I always like to think that despite all the bad press, they’re all smart) can derive power from their numbers, brains, expertise, and professional achievements.

And when you realize how important this website is going to be, you wonder why nobody has come up doing something like this a long time ago. Especially if one realizes that in the First World, online media has already taken the lead over traditional sources of information; much more people are now reading blogs than those who read newspapers or watch news on TV.

In five or so years, with the arrival of 4G communication devices and ubiquitous, geolocative rollable displays (imagine a computer you can roll up like newspaper and wirelessly connected to the internet wherever you go and refreshes its content in real time — just like those video “wanted ads” for Sirius Black in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), online sources of information and communities (exactly like the Adamsonian) will be very, very important for the average person’s daily life. I’m even projecting that in the next couple of years, this site will become the “must read” for every student or administrator who wants to implement new policies, understand the most current Adamsonian zeitgeist, or just know even the smallest thing happening in the campus. This site will also give current students a concrete view of what they can expect once their school days are over — thanks to the stories our alumni are sharing.

Sure, naysayers would say “that would happen in the First World, not in the Philippines.” I’m sorry to disappoint you guys, but these up-and-coming technologies will eventually be very cheap and very affordable — in the same way you can now buy a decently-powered desktop PC for less than five thousand pesos (but only if you know where to go and what to do — which still underlines the maximum importance of staying well-informed) that used to be worth P40 thousand a mere seven years ago, or a megapixel-resolution camera-equipped phone for a couple of thousand bucks, which was “unthinkable” even as recent as 2001.

In the end, technology is the “great equalizer” as it and its children eventually become dirt cheap — and very, very useful.

So this site has been made not as much as about the present as about the future — say, in the next couple or more years. As we continue to publicize it and as more “cutting-edge” people participate, the site’s real worth will then become much more concrete. And didn’t I actually mention that this site is going to be fully alive in the next decade and beyond that?

We’re rolling out a new major feature in January or February — so for the leaders and officers of their respective organizations, I’m giving a major hint that you will have a great role in it.

Have a great Christmas.

Last 20 posts by JB

Tags: Carl Sagan

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JB has blogged 107 posts

Read the Comments

[ # 105 ] Comment from gilbert recosana [February 28, 2007, 7:24 am]

well done! the site gives me the feeling of pride from the fact that Adamson truly has so much to add to philippine society as a whole.

i am with jb in asking more and more alumni’s and students of Adamson to participate and express themselves through various media such as this one to satisfy the urge to be known as a living, thinking and productive member of the community.

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