‘Mourning, Money, and the Meaning of Life’ Trends Issue- The Evolution of Global Finance and the New Economy

The collapse of the Global Financial System 2008 – ongoing, was a rude shock to many people. As the global housing market imploded, the global banks imploded, global governments were rocked, and our societies are changing as well. For some an entire lifestyle has been up ended, and a new way of looking at the world has begun. There is even a new slang. The Jan 10, 2011 Urban Word of the Day was the phrase “When the economy picks up” which is described as a ‘common beginning or ending to a phrase’. This phrase ‘can provide and excuse for why one has not yet done something, or it can suggest a vague intention of doing something later, or it can add credibility to an idea that is a pipe dream’.

Several research papers have come to the conclusion that individuals that lost large amounts of money are close to 25% more likely to expect a crisis in the next 5 years compared to those who did not lose anything. This effect lasted for 12 yrs onward and the size of the loss correlated with the size of influenced expectations. The conclusion of this paper was that during a banking crisis, household losses have real and long lasting effects, and that these effects risk a long term drag on the economy. The financial collapse led us to realize how much of our economy was tied up in the FIRE sector. The bloating of the financial sector was a sign of unhealthy, unsustainable growth, that while politically advantageous to numerous administrations in various governments, was always a timebomb waiting to go off. The financial system, in many countries had grown too large. It ceased to be an means to an end, and became the end itself. In some ways it was a reflection of the change of values in society where money became our Gods. The stock market became a symbol of our success. When it fell in 2008, the hopes of many nations fell with it.

Many emergency measures were done to revive the patient, but the disease still remains. For a full recovery deep global financial reform must occur. In his book “The Stiglitz Report: Reforming the International Monetary and Financial Systems in the Wake of the Global Crisis” (Joseph E Stilglitz, 2010), Stiglitz described the conclusions that the UN Commission he headed.

“The crisis is not just a once in a century accident, something that just happens to the economy, something that could not be anticipated, let alone avoided. We believe that, to the contrary, the crisis is manmade: It was the result of mistakes by the private sector and misguided and failed policies of the public.” 

Stiglitz also chimes the mantra that ‘a better world is possible’ and quotes Ghandi’s vision, ‘where the fight for social and political change is not reducible to a fight between good and evil , but a struggle for Truth, in which each of us must take personal responsibility… Stiglitz however, has yet to outline how one can motivate all players in the financial sector to buy into the mantra of real change. Business has returned from those dark days in the fall, with some stimulus help, and everyone wants it to go back to the way it was. Procyclical overdrive policies forever! Some are starting to change. Compensation has been redesigned to reduce risk taking behaviours at some progressive firms, but more change is required on a global scale at a structural level. The evolution of the global financial system is still waiting to happen.

The general public meanwhile has a different take. They are often out of money, out of a job, and angry at their losses that they will not easily forget. The bubble economy that they were usually the last ones into, was forged by increasing demands for returns. Blowing up the bubble was favourable to many administrations. Procyclical policies plus, as the real economy stagnated. It had been overdrive into thin air. Informational asymmetries, as Stiglitz describes, favoured those who were told more. A global deluge in leverage blew the global asset bubble up and reality eventually threw in the needle. The problem was not the work of one man, nor many men, but an almost global belief that the financial market was itself a Godlike entity, that was ultra-efficient and self-correcting. How mortal it was, in the end.

Our understanding of money has changed. Money has become highly mobile and can exist in ‘flash markets’ that exist for only fleeting seconds. High frequency trading can buy and sell thousands of shares before you finish blinking. One can hold thousands of dollars in wealth one day, and have little the next day. The banks can be broke one day and recapitalised the next. Credit gave us what seemed to be an endless supply of money. What does money mean anymore? The Tofflers in their book ‘Revolutionary Wealth‘ speak of the rise of the ‘prosumer’ -those who produce what they consume, and of those who toil without pay in their economies, of a hidden nonmonetary economy. Will this nonmonetary economy enlarge in a time like this? Can the currently unemployed be reeducated for the information age or be engaged to volunteer in socially beneficial projects?
Stiglitz speaks of many global structural changes. Ones that take into account future issues such as global warming/climate change, rising food and energy costs, protecting developing countries, and trying to reduce poverty. He speaks of many countries who protect their economies with large reserves, which can contribute further to global imbalances, and of countries designing their stimulus with themselves in mind versus a global perspective. The various difficulties in coordinating tax codes with countries, never mind expanding the debt obligations of a country’s citizens for another country, is overviewed. Regulatory failure and the needs for global regulation, global courts, global economic governance are reviewed. Our global economy has far outgrown the ability to manage it.

One of the issues missing was a discussion on ‘resilience’ as a concept in designing a future global system. In our highly multi-linked world, should we think that even with all our planning and change-could collapse come again? What would be our final goal and associated contingencies for managing global imbalances? While we are making movements on developing new schools of economic thought, how do we deal with an undulating global economy? Do we compete always, or can we develop new ways of international co-operation that are not just back slapping.  The questions are numerous and unanswered.

The Big Change – Global Warming and the Link to Geological Changes

by Mary-Anne Moore on 03/11/11
Originally Published March 11 2011
Trend Context

We have seen several large earthquakes recently. New Zealand has had several in the past few months, most recently a 6.3 on Feb. 22nd, Japan had a 6.3 earthquake at Honshu on March 9th and 5.6 March 12th, and the day Japan had one of it’s largest earthquakes now rated as a 9.0, on March 11th, a volcano in Indonesia, Mount Karangentang erupts, and another spews molten rocks. Tonga was also hit by a 6.1 earthquake on March 12th in the afternoon. A huge tsunamis devastates Japan and the surrounding islands, and even killed on the California coastline. It has been busy for mother nature, and the impact on mankind was noticeable. Even Twitter and Glenn Beck were jousting on opposite viewpoints of the linkage with global warming. There have been a range of scientific reports examining the link between global warming and geological changes such as an increase in earthquakes and volcanic activity. Various links have been examined from melting glaciers and increases in volcanic activity. Professor David Pyle of Oxford Universities earth sciences department states:

“The last ice age came to an end between 12,000-15,000 years ago and the ice sheets that once covered central Europe shrank dramatically. The impact on the continents’ geology can be measured by the jump in volcanic activity that occurred at this time.”

‘Glacial earthquakes’ can cause tsunamis of a larger magnitude than regular earthquakes, according to NASA scientist Tony Song, who has developed one of the accurate models of predicting where tsunamis may go using G.P.S. Warnings were issued throughout the Asia-Pacific coastlines following the Japanese earthquake.The Tsunami appears to have gone as far north as Oregon on the western coast of North America.

One of the best overviews of the process linking geological activity and climate change is the following given by blogger James Hrynyshyn.

“The earth has seen this pattern many times before. In the past 650,000 years alone, the polar ice caps have expanded far beyond their current limits on seven occasions, locking up huge volumes of water in frozen oceans and vast continental ice sheets before retreating again to higher latitudes. These huge change in distribution of the earth’s water resulted in dramatic and repeated swings in sea level, with falls as far as 130 metres below today’s level followed by equally spectacular rises. They also led to shifting loads on volcanoes and geological faults. As ice sheets that had pinned down volcanoes and active faults melted away, the earth’s crust bounced back in a process  known as isostatic rebound. As it did so, faultlines reactivated and seismic activity increased sharply.”

Other theories have examined the role in rotational abnormalities resulting from changes in glacier locations, shifts in geomagnetic fields, and even solar activity. Whatever the causation, if this increase in geological activity continues, this will likely be the most disruptive effect of climate change. There is however no conclusive means to accurately graph these activities as being greater than an aberration, in the normal cycling of events, until it will be rather late in the game for humankind to react to this possibility. There are thoughts on the role of the moon’s gravitational field also playing a possible triggering role, as the moon’s elliptical orbit will be at it’s closest in almost 20 years, and peaks around March 19th, along with other planetary alignments in the mix. However, even if we could graph the evidence, many would react in a typical denial reaction, so both sides could argue – “What would be the point?’

After the 2004 Sumatra 9.0 Earthquake &Tsunami, the 2010 Haiti 7.0 Quake, now 2011 Japan 9.0…

Japan had one of it’s largest earthquakes now rated as a 9.0, on March 11th, with an accompanying Tsunami. The death toll could range in the tens of thousands. Currently, the biggest risk in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake, is a possible nuclear reactor breach at the Fukushima Power Plant which was one of the first nuclear power plants built and which had reactors scheduled for decommissioning.  The possibility of further major aftershocks is high. Currently the containment of the nuclear cores is considered intact, according to the Japanese government, but the cooling systems are not working, and  hydrogen has exploded  during a venting process, done, to reduce a build up of explosive pressure. Cooling and slowing the reactive process is being attempted using boric acid and water. What role further quakes could play in breach of the containment, or further problems with cooling systems, and the need for further venting of radioactive steam, is still unclear. The government has ordered evacuations around the affected plant, and extended the zone out to 20 kms. Others are talking about providing the population with stable potassium iodide, to minimize radioactive iodine being taken in by an exposed person’s thyroid. Other countries and the IAEA are scrambling to provide assistance with this nuclear plant’s emergency situation. Other countries are suddenly worried about the problems they could face with nuclear power, if a similar event struck their location. Relief efforts in Japan are hampered by the cumulative destructive effects of the earthquake and tsunami combined. The airport runways are damaged and covered with mud. American Naval vessels are being sent by the U.S. to provide assistance and logistical support.

‘Trying to Predict the Big One’

There are satellites – The TwinSat Program, being launched in the future that will be able to detect changes that can occur in the atmosphere just prior to an earthquake happening, when subtle electromagnetic signals are released, and can be read in the upper atmosphere. Signals such as these were apparently noticed prior to the earthquake in Haiti. Other methods such as those developed by Russian Professor Alexey A. Lyubushin that examined Microseisms data from 83 broadband seismic stations, have concluded that there was a synchronization in the field of microseismic noise on the Japanese Islands, and concluded that a large quake was due, and could be predicted by 2008 from the data. Others such as the Santa Fe Institute are hoping to launch satellites that could give the use of a method called `Synthetic Aperture Radar Inteference`to help us forecast such a natural disaster. The earthquake in Japan had given us only 80 seconds of response time from our current methods of prediction and monitoring. Hopefully we can develop systems that are capable giving us more advance notice, in times like these.

Update March 15th

There have been more explosion through the night. Radiation fears have led to the Japanese P.M. to request on T.V. for the population within 30 kms to stay indoors, and there is a no fly zone overhead. Some of the American Navy and Aircraft are testing positive for low levels of radiation and the fleet is repositioning itself, from it’s current North East location. How much further radiation will be leaked is indeterminate, the crisis is not over as yet, and will be complicated by staff choosing between fleeing the area, or if they stay, facing a likely death.

Both local and international stock markets have responded, and pulled back in the wake of the size of the catastrophe. The Japanese Central bank has released funds to prop up the banking system. People in the affected areas are experiencing shock, food and gas shortages, and exposure to the elements. Their local infrastructure is gone, and other are fearful of working in areas with higher level of radiation, which will hamper rescue efforts. There are a few staff who have agreed to stay near the nuclear power plant to help with the crisis, and likely these individuals will pay dearly for their valiant efforts, as they will be continually exposed to high levels of radiation. International assistance on a large scale will be required, with possible evacuation and relocation to other countries, of the homeless who have no where to go, and often have no family left.

Helicopters are being used to try to bring in more water to cool the reactor cores, in a scene almost reminiscent of the helicopters used to place the concrete tomb over the Chernobyl accident, so many years ago, and in fact it would seem this may be the end result at the Japanese reactor. The Chernobyl incident is still remembered by German’s who had 44% of their land contaminated in some way, and they are currently demanding the shut down of some their reactors in a knee-jerk psychological response, as they are unlikely to be severely affected by the current events. It is likely that further cores will be melted down, either partially or completely. Containment of the core had a poor design, that emphasized an easier build, and a reduced cost. Since the 70’s there have been issues with the strength of the containment, and venting issues related to the boiling water reactor coolant design, but as there had been no failures in the field, they remained in place. Some were retrofitted, and others were not, but the overall design problem remained in some 32 reactors, 23 of them being located in the USA. There are those that are watching the overall global earthquake and volcanic picture which makes for an interesting viewing. Former USGS Geologist Jim Berkland has his predictions. (March 15 2011), as well. (Please note that the Youtube video represents his personal thoughts and is not backed by formal scientific analysis.)

Global Impacts have included a set back in the larger global stock markets, as investors weigh the effects on economic activity, volatility in the value of the yen which has required a coordinated reaction to stabilize, to smaller local effects such as the cut backs in automotive manufacturing due to a lack of part production in Japan. Other countries continue to have their nuclear energy programs under review and debate, and this has in turn affected uranium markets, and associated industries.

Update March 24th

There has been a larger 6.8 earthquake in Myanmar (Burma)which was followed by a 5.4 quake shortly after. Japan continues to be rocked by numerous aftershocks often in the 4-5 range, and heavily concentrated in the Honshu region. Workers from the Nuclear plant who were attempting to bring power to the troubled reactors, have been exposed to high levels of radiation, some required immediate hospitalization. Contradictory pronouncements about the safety of drinking water in Japan have made the populace vary of government statements.

Alternatives to Uranium Based Nuclear Reactors

After the Japan incident the safety question of uranium reactors has been brought into question by several countries.

The alternative often talked about have been wind farms,or solar arrays, however the demands of a rising population would not be met by these actions alone. Nuclear has been long been reframed as the ‘green’ solution when compared to coal burning plants, or the use of oil as energy. The recent events in Japan have however broken this illusion. Nuclear reactors involve a radioactive process, that in a particular set of circumstances can cause  serious problems, and there is the issue of where and how to safely store spent fuel rods. All this has been reactivating past discussions about thorium based designs for reactors, which are safer. China is betting that this method is the only logistically sound way we can achieve our energy demands currently and for the future. We can develop ‘greener’ alternatives to assist energy production such as solar and wind, work on conservation, and hope new technologies such as electric cars, more mass transit, and even fusion may reduce our use of costly and environmentally destructive energy sources, but without nuclear, we will truly be ‘in the dark’. Considering the probability of natural disasters being increased with climate change and global warming, we need to rethink our current energy production with an eye on personal and environmental safety, practicality, and the long run costs.

‘The Big Shake Update’ March 29 2011

There have been about 400 aftershocks in the Honshu region since the 9.0 earthquake this March. A monumental number of them have been 4+. Most recently, two 6.1 earthquakes have occurred a day apart. Honshu lies above a region categorized as a double seismic area, meaning that it is affected by two overlapping, seismic zones. There are areas that are double seismic zones in Alaska, Japan and Indonesia. These areas are also accompanied by ‘folding trenches’, volcanic activity nearby, and tectonic plate interfaces. Japan in particular, lies at the interface of three tectonic plates. The region near Japan and Indonesia have had spectacular ‘megathrust earthquakes’ (9.0 or more) in the space of of several years. Chile also had an 8.8 megathrust quake in February last year. These sequences of megathrust earthquakes are thought to be rather rare events in the history of earthquakes, although much of the history of earthquakes past the last two hundred years has been an extrapolation from coral reefs and other such sources of historical data. It has long been known that rising sea levels can affect geological events. The Alaskan ‘Pavlof Volcano’ has seasonal eruptions, that correspond to higher sea water levels in the winter. Research has shown that when the rate of rise in water is higher in the Mediterranean Sea, there was up to a 300% increase in nearby volcanic activity. The question to ask is, will rising ocean levels from Arctic ice melting cause more than a usual shifting in plate tectonics, particularly in the Pacific plate, which holds the deepest parts of the ocean in regions such as the Marianas Trench? Will all areas associated be affected? Will it cause more volcanic activity in a region already known as the Ring of Fire? Will a country like Japan, be hit the hardest from these possible changes?

March 31 Global Impacts Continue

Global impacts continue to reverberate throughout the world, from Honda Canada moving to a half schedule of production across the board due to a shortage of auto parts, to California looking at not renewing licenses for nuclear plants until earthquake studies are done, to some food hoarding being done at the consumer level in everything from salt in China, to stopped imports of food from Japan, and questions of radiation contamination on fish stocks. The Japanese stock market is swinging in response to news about their nuclear contamination issues. Their economy will be reeling for some time, as the crisis still continues to unfold, on a country burdened by debt issues and an aging population, whose main driver of the economy – the auto sector, was hit hard by the damage of the earthquake and tsunami double punch.

Quake Update April 7 2011

Honshu Japan continues to be hit by aftershocks, including a 7.1 this afternoon occurring just over 1 minute after a 6.5 quake in Veracruz Mexico. Indonesia continues to experience several smaller quakes, including a 6.0 on April 5th.The stock market reacted negatively to the news of the new earthquake in Japan. Additional nuclear reactors went offline for now, further stressing an already stressed power generation situation.

June Update

Earthquakes continue to rock New Zealand and Japan, as additional evacuations were required in both regions.Homes can be made to withstand earthquakes even in developing regions. Volcanic activity has happened in Chile, Italy and Indonesia recently.

Summer Update:

It almost appeared as if mother nature was sending politicians in Washington a message as the ground shook enough on August 23rd to cause the evacuation of the Pentagon and White House, and review of structures such as the Washington monument. The day before, Colorado had it’s largest earthquake in 40 years. Continued earthquakes are seen in the Japan region.

Year End Commentary 2010

Year End Commentary 2010

“Today the world’s nations are interdependent, like mountain climbers on a rope. They can either climb together to the summit or fall together into the abyss”     
                                                                    Mikhail Gorbachev April 1987

When the USSR dissolved from history, many of us simply felt that this was the West in triumph. However, now that the west has begun to hit the cusp of a radical transformation of our own, we may begin to ask – ‘what is really going on here?’ There are a few conceptual frameworks to see these changes, perhaps best described by one of the original futurologists Alvin Toffler, in his trilogy of books ‘Future Shock’,(1970) ‘Third Wave’,(1980) and ‘Powershift'(1990). One conceptual theory called Panarchy would call this the Omega or release phase going towards the Alpha or re-organization / renewal phase, where we have shifted towards another level or regime, in an evolutionary viewpoint. In societies that once were heavily industrialized, unions lament the loss of their industry to China or other newly industrialized countries, and economists lament the damage we have done to the value of our currency and economy. If this global financial collapse is simply a developmental change process to a new information age and a restructuring of our global currency and the meaning of money, are we really dealing with the issues in a forward looking manner? Interestingly enough, the man who coined the term ‘perestroika’ and ‘glasnost’ and who unleashed the change forces pent up in his own country and allowed it’s transformation to occur- Mikhail Gorbachev, was well acquainted with the Toffler’s. Whether we are speaking of ‘ecological phases’, or ‘waves’, we are speaking of transformative change.

We are facing the emergence of two major macro collapses. First, and already in process-the global financial collapse and eventual re-organization, and secondly, the recent emergence of what will be large scale changes in the global climate. We have been delaying real transformation for a long time. As Toffler put it, many in the ‘second wave’ even long to go back to the ‘first wave’. The ‘third wave’ is upon us and many institutions are still trying to stop real transformation, as once the ‘first wave’ tried to stop the changes representative of our ‘second wave’. Humans unfortunately, are often loath to change. We are at a point where if we do not chose change fast enough, a monstrous change will chose us, but perhaps not in the way we envisioned. We will be driven to change but will it be the ‘Golden Age’ or will it be the ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’, or somewhere in-between. Our problems are quite large and require more than just our grid locked governments and agencies to act on our behalf. We must begin to act for ourselves and our children as a collective group in a positive manner, with focus, persistence, and calmness. Eminent scientists such as James Lovelock speak of utter devastation, the loss of billions of lives, and there are many books naming various end of the roads we face whether it be the end of cheap energy, ecological collapse, or other calamity. The ‘third wave’ is upon us, but must be engaged fully and utilized in a manner that allows us to optimize a bad situation.

Writers such as Thomas Homer-Dixon in the book ‘Up Side of Down…’ speak to us of the concept of a social ‘catagenesis’ and of being in ‘moments of contingency’ where immediate actions, and where being prepared or not, will determine our evolutionary pathway; while Graeme Taylor speaks of us as being at ‘Evolutions Edge’, the title of his book. Both books have broad systemic overviews. Added to these, Toffler’s works stand the test of time to also offer an excellent conceptualization of our past, present, and future.

We can not longer wait for some key player, as Gorbachev was, in unleashing the forces of change. We must organize, plan, act, and change our collective future together. We must focus to engage change in as fast and safe a manner as we can, and we must be much more open about the crisis we face. Denial is a common reaction to bad news, and we tend to wait to look for facts to prove our disagreement correct. We cannot wait until someone else sees the rain falling to tell us that it is raining outside for us to get our raincoats. The storm is here. Climate change has begun in earnest, and this statement is based on analysis, not just facts. We are behaving like the frog being slowly boiled in a pot of water. We have discounted small changes while the water temperature continues to rise.

We have to plan and act to adapt to our changing climate. Will we build domes over major cities? Should we biochar enmass? Are we testing small scale geoengineering now? Can we grow food in the oceans? Should we start resettlement of low lying areas now? Should we start with building an infrastructure in northern unsettled regions we could bring evacuations/migrations to? Are our current international organizations as functional as they could be? Will this crisis unite or divide us?
If there is a phrase we must speak of in 2011, it is ‘Rapid Transformation’.

It is not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.’                    
                                                                               Charles Darwin

‘Ontario Is Sinking’ Trends Issue – Ontario’s Economy Falters

As 2011 approaches changes in the Ontario economy have become apparent, particularly to rural regions who generally feel the pinch first. Ontario which is generally considered the manufacturing engine of Canada has had a recent turn downwards in GDP and in housing prices – Toronto was down at 9.0% in September * ( along with the rest of Canada –down 1.1% overall in September). Conversely an increase in the net debt to GDP ratio to 37% for 2010-2011 burdens future options and translates to approximately..220 billion dollars. Other Ontario issues impacting include: the introduction of the Ontario HST and the Toronto levy on the land transfer tax on the realty market; the pending increases in Hydro rates and the whole dicey issue of Ontario Hydro debt retirement versus consumer resentment and retrenchment; along with broader, contextual issues such as demographic trends – boomer downsizing (51% Canadian Boomers plan to move, while 4/5th plan to downsize), foreign, especially Chinese speculation in realty and stock markets (most heavily in Vancouver), and the growing instability in the global financial system, particularly in Europe.

What would have the major impact is almost irrelevant as ominous trends converge and cascade upon each other in Ontario. Politically, Ontario could be expected to take a turn to the right if the recent election results of liberal Toronto are any indication of voter sentiment. The only thing missing is a finely tuned Provincial Conservative Party election machine. Whether this possibility of a shift to the right would translate into an austerity approach ala ‘Mike (Harris) the Knife’, or be managed more in line with the Federal Conservative Party approach of ‘measured stimulus’ is anyone’s guess. What is certain is that we will not escape the consequences of the global financial crisis, how far we sink is a question for the future to reveal.

‘Innocence Lost’ Trends Issue – The End of Network Neutrality and a Battle for the Control of the Internet

The principle known as ‘Network Neutrality’ allows Internet users to access any web content or applications they choose, without restriction or limitation…

In 1990, John Perry Barlow, along  with Mitchell Kapor, wrote a beautiful piece about the Internet in “Across the Electronic Frontier”

A quote…
‘Over the  last  fifty  years, the  people  of  the developed  world  have  begun to cross into a landscape  unlike  any  which  humanity  has experienced  before.  It  is a region  without  physical  shape  or  form…what  it  is  eventually  called,  it  is  the  homeland  of  the  Information Age,  the  place  where  the  future  is  destined  to  dwell…’       

There are many conceptualizations of the internet from ‘Ecommerce’, to ‘information highway’, to ‘social network’, to ‘cultural sound bite’, to ‘political governance and control’, to a massive collective – “the Borg”, if you will. The internet has become the transformational driver it was destined to become. It has and will further enhance all aspects of our lives, and as its importance continues to grow, so too will the war over control escalate into a fundamental battle of who and  what values will dominate, in what region. The nationalization/regionalization of the internet has already begun, as has a drift effect. Much like a slow moving creek that has been enlarged into a fast flowing river, the local growth and values have been watered down and washed away; and to continue the analogy, much of what we do now is a matter of going along with the flow. Who would have thought after the Korean war, that some American companies in the future  would be providing the Chinese government, the tools for controlling/ monitoring it’s population through the internet. China with 420 million users is by far the largest internet  market by population, although it is the industrialized countries that have the greatest percentage of users.

The internet has simultaneously become a method for both the powerless and powerful to influence the other, and the internet is destined to become a multilevel system. The American system is already developing a ‘secure’ level for commerce and important social and governmental functions. The most current example of this battle is the website Wikileaks, which has been at the top of most internet searches in recent weeks. A media storm has brewed thoughts and analysis in both defending and finding offence in what information has been released and why. In a balance between oneness and secrecy, democracy functions and flourishes. Heather Mallick wrote an article in the Toronto Star (6/12/2010) that spoke of the problems with anonymity and the internet, and endorsed the role of Wikileaks as being the opposite of anonymity, which perhaps is a little simplistic, considering how it gathers information. A battle is ensuing over who decides and why this balance is swung, one way or the other. The battle between Google and the Chinese government recently, is another event emblematic of this growing tension. Internet wars between countries have been readied, and espionage has taken a turn for the technical, but sadly nothing that ‘Q’ could have helped with. ‘Cyberbullying’ and ‘hackers’ have begun to be part of our lexicon, in the battle for the control of the internet, and by extension, our society. The darker side of a cultural phenomenon. To be sure, the term ‘cyberterrorism’ is not far behind. The questions for us to answer include how to safeguard this vital connection without losing the all of the ideals and idealists who built and developed this future technology in which we will live.

This is the internet’s age of a loss of innocence. Long gone are the words of John Perry Barlow,  as he wrote in 1996 in his treatise “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace”…

‘…I declare the global space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any method of enforcement we have true reason to fear…’