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Colin Johnson’s blog

Archive for the ‘Future looking at now’ Category

Rates of Exchange

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Current talk about the Euro makes me wonder about what will happen to the notion of a country belonging to a currency system in the next century or two. At present, we see a change in the currency system as being a huge shift—something that might happen at some point as part of a long-term political realignment, as with the introduction of the Euro, but which we wouldn’t imagine happening again in our lifetimes.

I wonder if, in the longer run, we will see a much more flexible approach to this. If currency becomes much less dependent on physical notes and coins, it becomes much easier for a government to swap out into a different currency system. Perhaps this might be something that is done regularly as part of economic planning: a number of worldwide currency systems could exist, with various criteria for entry, and countries enter and leave these systems according to their economic status and planning, and have the option of returning to a local currency for a while if none of these international systems work for them at that point.

Is this plausible? I don’t know enough economics to know whether this is at all a meaningful proposition.

Fading Microcultural Phenomena (1)

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

I am interested in things that, from the point of view of a a generation or two hence (the people I sometimes refer to as “my hypothetical grandchildren”), will be completely lost or incomprehensible. One kind of thing is what we might call aspects of “microculture”; small parts of the day-to-day culture that just won’t be in the culture at all in 50 years time (there is a loose analogy here with Mark Penn’s Microtrends idea; see his book, ISBN 978-0446580960).

One example is a vague fear of mains electricity. People of my parents’ and grandparents’ generations were, on the whole, rather wary of mains devices. They would certainly turn things off at the mains, and frequently would unplug all the electrical devices in the house as part of the end-of-day routine. This is incomprehensible to me, but I at least aware of it as “something older people do”. To people a generation or two younger than me, I imagine that this would be something that they wouldn’t ever imagine would happen, and it will seem strange to suggest that people did this for more than a transitory few years as domestic electricity was being introduced.

Interestingly, some of this behaviour is returning, with a different motivation, viz. that of saving electricity for environmental or economic reasons.