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STRANDS OF CHANGE
Reviewed by ANDRE BEAUMONT
23 November 2013
The Russian Revolution did everyday commentary in favour of revolution no favours.
"Come the revolution!" they say but the next revolution is unlikely to take from a clearly defined group of people to give to another clearly defined group of people as did that one.
As with all revolutions it will upset the established order of things from which will emerge both winners and losers.
Revolution can even make do with no violence to speak of as the Glorious Revolution showed.
If one were to hazard a guess at what the two main strands of the next revolution will be, technological change and economic change would top the list.
As someone who spent some time designing booking offices for Underground stations [if you go to a booking office you will see a brass lined dip in the counter where you put your money - I was the first to reintroduce the brass lining which I saw in old photographs; previously it was of wood which wore away or of another material] it comes as a bit of a shock to hear that the London Underground's booking offices are to be closed.
Not that it should be when one comes to think.
It looks like many of the trains are going to be driverless, too, though that has been the case with the Docklands Light Railway since the eighties.
I can hardly be an advocate of driverless cars and be surprised at that.
People are not indispensable for either selling tickets or driving trains, it seems, and no more booking office design.
It does outline in microcosm the technological and economic revolution that may be underway already, though.
Read about driverless cars on Worldreviews for a taste of the technological one.
As for the economic one, consider the following.
There is now more written text in accessible digital form (sometimes behind paywalls like those of academic journals) than in books.
The best quality text - or rather the text that imparts most knowledge rather than information (and as John Le Carré says in Single & Single information is not knowledge and one presumes he is well placed to know) - is likely to be in books for a while longer but the crossover to the other way round is only a matter of time.
The best paid work is likely to be found in the employer-employee relationship for a while longer but whether this is the best form of relationship for the majority of people to contribute to society through is open to question. All kinds of forces are trying to push it into a minority position like contracting in staff, contracting out work, internships and the disappearance of effective employer sponsored pension schemes. The latter two may have something in common with poor quality text but the crossover to finding something other than the employer-employee relationship for most of society may be only a matter of time.
This is difficult to say, partly because all politicians promise more jobs, but also because revolutions bring new winners and losers and no one can really say who will be one and who will be the other.
24 November 2013
Continuing the theme, today's new idea hitting the press is that banks in future will not have bank staff in them. High street bank staff, when they can be got to consider a financial idea, are quite helpful but financial ideas now seem to be cordoned off as exclusively the preserve of the City.
Most of the time they are expected to be the marketing front line and in that commoditised role are regarded by the hierarchy as dispensable.