Networked Society: On the Brink

2011 ,    »  -   45 Comments
Ratings: 6.25/10 from 16 users.

Networked Society: On the BrinkOn The Brink discusses the past, present and future of connectivity with a mix of people including David Rowan, chief editor of Wired UK; Caterina Fake, founder of Flickr; and Eric Wahlforss, the co-founder of Soundcloud.

Each of the interviewees discusses the emerging opportunities being enabled by technology as we enter the Networked Society.

Concepts such as border-less opportunities and creativity, new open business models, and today's dumb society are brought up and discussed.

We're entering a new era. Technology has enabled us to interact, innovate and share knowledge in whole new ways – creating a dynamic shift in mindset. People are empowered, business is liberated and society is more connected than ever.

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45 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Earthwinger

    Interesting little film. Though all the way through it, I kept wondering why they all seemed so naively optimistic. It was only right at the very end, when the Ericsson logo appeared, that it all became clear. ;)

  2. oddsrhuge
  3. oddsrhuge

    Well this is a piece that I would expect to see on the "news", ...right after the Cialis ad.

    I would vote for this one to join the "spam" category.

  4. Vlatko
  5. Vlatko


    Why would you want to list the video that way?

    It just showed 100% solid facts, and some very reasonable predictions, no matter who made it or who sponsored it.

    Buckle up. It's going to be an interesting ride.

  6. Guest
  7. Guest

    Haha this is funny, I think this was deliberate, Vlatko decided to make the next documentary extremely short as the last one was super long lol. Good one. I'm watching this now.

  8. panos dramitinos
  9. panos dramitinos


    Honesty is to tell the whole story and reasonable predictions can go both ways. Telling part of the story and choosing to promote positive predictions is the free will part I fear when corporations exploit emotions to create new markets.
    As a product designer, I have come to fear this idea-scape.

  10. Guest
  11. Guest

    Interesting Documentary. That Botincalls device is impressive but also a little scary, boy are we becoming lazier and lazier than ever! lol

  12. Vlatko
  13. Vlatko

    @panos dramitinos,

    The question if predictions are positive or negative is open. But still the predictions are valid, I think.

    It is a fact that humans are more and more technologically obsessed and equipped. Computing power is doubling every 18 months, the amount of digital information in the world is doubling every 11 hours, almost all kids under 15 are hooked on devices and are living in a virtual world, etc, etc.

    It is obvious that in the near future the humanity will wire up itself, and the very human existence will take another shape, in almost every aspect: medicine, education, entertainment, and so on.

    Is that positive or negative? I don't know, but it is inevitable for sure.

  14. Gravmaskinistan
  15. Gravmaskinistan

    i´m positively sceptic, so ".se" and commercial.
    All beings connected, ok if i get the freedom to decide input and output for my self.


  16. Mário Silvério
  17. Mário Silvério

    Correction, not everyone has access to it(information). This is something that most of us in the civilized world makes assumptions on. This Information in the current state is closed to the real world and way too much dedicated to a network. Way too much concerned about infrastructures. Unfortunately the current "top industries" will forget most of the people and focus in the top users.

    Do not think i am against knowledge, or against a connected world, i only think that many are left behind because of their social status, income, age and location.

    I find it funny a train full of people connecting with the "exterior" world, and forgetting every single person right next to them...

  18. S
  19. S

    This was just a 21 minutes Infomercial for Ericssoné

  20. N B
  21. N B

    Nice documentary. I guess the Singularity really is near (a la Ray Kurzweil). It's hard to say whether a vastly more strongly connected world will be a good thing or a bad thing on average, but either way I think it will be a very interesting adventure - will continue to be, I should say.

    Since I really don't see any chance of it not happening, it's probably best to try and make the best of it rather than fight it. Hopefully, by starting now, we will be able to nudge the technology in the right direction. My biggest concern is that this strongly connected networked society may be implemented in such a way that it will be necessary to participate simply to function, but that participation is only possible at the loss of personal privacy and, to some extent, free will.

  22. Earthwinger
  23. Earthwinger

    I suspect that you're right, and I share your concerns. My hope is that as we become ever more connected, the hacker community continues to find new ways to circumvent the controls that will inevitably be put in place. So that participation, in some form of stealth mode remains an option.

  24. DigiWongaDude
  25. DigiWongaDude

    My Grandfather just called, needing help remembering how to login to his Hotmail account...again; that safety precaution logs him out periodically. Microsoft would struggle to make this more simple, yet he struggles with what to do (ok he is 90).

    What will it be like for us his age...when our brand new toaster decides not to toast our bread until it's registered itself with the vendor network and confirmed it has all the necessary updates required to safely commence toasting based within the household environment it finds itself connected...oh yeah...we'll call our grand kids.

    We are being sold this...this..'progress' as some tantalizing glimpse into a modern world of connectivity and opportunity, driven by Web 3.0 content, RFID chips and 'near field'..whatever...But in reality (not ideology) this will just lead to more privacy invasion and personal accountability, more service packs, greater redundancy, shorter product lifespan, increased stress and profit...oh yes...lots and lots of PROFIT! Thank you Ericsson for your bitter sweet Progress Pill.

  26. Sieglinde Proctor
  27. Sieglinde Proctor

    Thank you so much for expressing what I often think, but find that when shared with others, get chided for being "old fashioned" or woefully out of touch. We are drowning in technology. The newest, glitziest models of cellphones are fairly flying off the assembly lines, faster than we can get the "old" one to work. I don't have a cell phone, so am a scorn magnet for virtually everyone. Things are getting more and more complicated and unnecessary. Everyone is now supposed to have a "home office" and it's to sell more crap that no one uses a lot. Cars are getting electonic-fied also, and cars are now telling us stuff. It is not necessary. But, who am I? Just someone who is woefully out of date. Profit is the motive. If they can convince us that we need this crap, they've got it made.

  28. zaphodity
  29. zaphodity

    Can't afford a landline and call cost etc so somebody gave me an older style mobile with a SIM card I can recharge and use sparingly. I'd be stuffed without it. Far as i'm concerned i'd rather surf the net and watch things I want to watch and read things I want to read than watch Big Brother type shows and other garbage on T.V.

  30. zaphodity
  31. zaphodity

    ...Oh yeah, your gripers are a bunch of old fuddy-duddys who need to put down your sharpened spears and come out of your caves and accept that this is the way things go. And embrace it. I'll bet your the first to complain when your hot water stops or your fridge goes on the blink.

  32. Leon Breaux
  33. Leon Breaux

    I agree with those who say this is an infomercial; in fact it is. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never did, as we were in marketing la-la land. Then I saw Ericsson at the end. Of course. So sneaky, they can't even claim it at the beginning. Yet it was almost as if they couldn't help themselves, showing images and information flying in the face of their supposed silicon utopia.

    Yeah, the vast majority of the human population, which is not in the rich countries, will surely reap the benefits of this technological dreamland as multinationals rape their natural resources for precious metals for all our world-changing gadgets, and the rich nations become ever more divorced from reality and continue to destroy the planet with their lust for consuming and profits. Forget let them eat cake, now it's let them eat cellphones.

    There was something positively macabre about the entrepreneurs' enthusiasm for online roleplaying games, even as they said how people were becoming unable to talk to each other anymore.

    When will people realize that what is on the screen is not real? It's only a poor simulation of reality, often engineered to tap into your base lusts and instincts in order to gain profit for the people promoting the stuff.

    Too many people have confused texting with life. Did it strike anyone that most of the interviewees seemed a wee bit delusional?

  34. silkop
  35. silkop

    This vid goes to show how out of touch the marketeers are with the changing pespectives. Honey-covered technological empowered entertainment utopias are a concept of yesterday. If you want to reach the consumers today, you'd better (1) raise the social questions rather than avoid them (2) dress up your gizmos as a worthwhile solution to those questions. If you can't do that, you'll get the outright rejection you deserve.

  36. N B
  37. N B

    @Silkop: I'd like to think you're right and that the world has become more socially responsible, but I see little evidence of it. If companies offer products that people want, then people will buy them. Even if those products happen to be ecologically or socially damaging, it's always easy for marketers to give consumers some excuse to buy something they want anyway. The average consumer doesn't really care very much about things beyond his local sphere of consciousness, so they aren't likely to be terribly concerned about any potential downside of a new, cool product unless it has immediate and obvious consequences to the consumer himself. Just tell them that the product has 25% longer battery life or is made from recyclable materials or some other "green" sounding sales pitch, and they will likely feel good enough about themselves to buy it.

    In spite of the fact that I'm wary of the potential for misuse of network technology, I'm inclined to believe that the potential benefits far outweigh the risks. I think this is true primarily for one of the reasons @Vlatko mentioned: it can provide world wide access to a top-tier education. The better educated people are, the less likely it is that they will be manipulated by a relatively small and corrupt population of 'elitist'. Similarly, the better those educated people can communicate with each other, the less likely they are to be taken advantage of.

    Along those same lines is the concept of the "intelligence of crowds". It has been repeatedly demonstrated that a well connected group of motivated individuals with a common goal has a remarkable ability to rapidly achieve that goal. For example, this is the basic idea behind open source software, which has not only generated some fantastic code in many areas, but tends to do so faster than is possible through the concerted effort of individual organizations alone. We are also seeing similar results in other fields that I will call "technological hobbies". Two such fields that come to mind are robotics and remote controlled aircraft, both of which benefit from a large collection of hobbyist that develop and exchange new ideas at a rate that often outpaces the work of the professional developers in those fields. And of course, as @Earthwinger implied, the hacker community has proven itself extremely effective time and again, and it may be the best example of all when it comes to the intelligence of crowds.

  38. harry nutzack
  39. harry nutzack

    steam power put sail makers out of work, the "horseless carriage" pretty much did away with buggy whips, airplanes made our huge planet accesible to most... times change, technology that makes our "modern" society less sociable in the real world also allows those that live under much more primitive conditions to see beyond their fields, or mines, or just the horizon of the place they live... it allows exposure to VAST stores of knowledge, viewpoints that one might not be exposed to socially in much of the world, communication and debate with far flung folks, and a host of other huge positives.... sure, "clonism" is going to rear its ugly head in relation to marketing techniques to sell the latest, greatest gadget as the social "must-have" to a pack of basically insecure teens in our neck of the woods, but thats a very small price to pay for the societal benefit... how YOU choose to interact with this technology is what makes it beneficial, or detrimental

  40. DigiWongaDude
  41. DigiWongaDude

    I don’t know much about Uganda, but I do know a fair bit about South Africa – I won’t bore you with all the technological hiccups that Africa has endured, but I did do some research there (2007-2010). For instance, finding out how widespread PCs were within the black community. 1 in 10 homes had a PC at their family home. This puts a large emphasis on the use of internet cafes and/or cell phones for access. Internet Cafés tend not to allow you to download…anything, since 90% of all access to the African internet is on a per MB charge. 3G data bundles vary but they are very expensive (relative to cost of living) and thus, used sparingly.

    The result is this: in Africa (I’m talking South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, DRC and many others) people use the internet mainly for email and Facebook with the occasional use of Youtube through gritted teeth at the cost of watching the pay per view content.

    Now take the argument in the program that a farmer is now able to ‘cut out the middle man’ by checking the price of his goods online at market. Could this statement be more contrived? So now, because of the internet, a farmer can cease being merely a manufacturer and with a click of a mouse become a wholesaler/distributor and what, a retailer too? Come on…I reckon Leon Breaux suggesting delusion is actually a fair comment: they want to believe what they’re saying is true!

    In conclusion: I’m afraid your apparent ideological perspective of Ugandan children, accessing a Harvard University education with one click, does not hold water…on the ground. Your point is valid (as is the point of view of the interviewees in this program) that the ability is there (and coming) for these things to take place, but I would argue that the ability is there to become a space tourist, yet the reality of doing so is somewhat different. Connectivity, you might say, is striving to address these very issues. Yet this program does not – just gleeful excitement that objects around us will soon stop being dumb and start responding to us and their manufacturers with mountains of data collection.

    Our views of technological progress can all too easily cloud our judgement, when the practical realities of social uptake (and acceptance of it) often leaves so much to be desired.

    Awesome website btw. Many, many thanks for all your hard work!!!

  42. Vlatko
  43. Vlatko


    ...that the ability is there (and coming) for these things to take place.

    The ability is coming for sure. It is inevitable. I remember the times where 1/10 of the population had a PC at home, and the connection was mainly made from Internet Cafés who were charging too much and offering limited service. 15 years ago that was happening in all of the developed countries.

  44. Guest
  45. Guest

    Academic Earth sure does appear to be one awesome website.
    Thanks for the link.

  46. oddsrhuge
  47. oddsrhuge

    I guess that finding out that many current "journalistic pieces" are merely ad copy used as filler to round out news programmes advancing corporate agenda, has made me very cynical where a piece is clearly supported or perhaps even sponsored by corporate interests. In some cases even written and championed by the sponsor of the show.

    My recent journey through the amazing technicolour debate of "Corporate Standardists" (this is MY new word for the antithesis) vs Conspiracy Theorists", has lead me to many differing opinions.

    Sorting all of these into a cohesive structure in my brain, is difficult at best. I truly try to look at issues from a neutral standpoint. However, many of my learned beliefs have been shattered by factual documentation. And then there are these "paid for ads" that appear to be documentaries.

    Example: 20/20 do a piece on the holistic healing of a company using a naturopathic ideology and product(s). The "news" cast is sponsored, by Smith Kline Pharmaceuticals. How can this be a honest expose, or neutral position on the issue?


  48. Xercès Des Stèles
  49. Xercès Des Stèles

    hahaha yes, nice stylised chairs and glass-walls.

  50. jess nonya
  51. jess nonya

    lol ERICSSON. this doc is bias. outright. just them selling there bull sht. seems all great now but who exactly controls what you have a opertunity to watch? who is censoring material? its a companies moral obligation to make as much money as possible. what happens when those companies are the only ones that control what you have access too? as we get more connected the world gets smaller and there is actually less freedom with that increase in communication. just my thoughts.

  52. jess nonya
  53. jess nonya

    awesome post! the world is right outaide the door and its free, mother nature doesnt charge fees or make you sign a contract. nature doesnt even bill you if you decide your hungry. i think they are very delusional because they think they can manipulate people into paying for fake food and fake goods in some fake digital world. seems like crazy talk to me. then again its insane what people buy into these days. crazy messed up world we live in.

  54. jess nonya
  55. jess nonya

    um no.. thats the new generation that doesnt know how to physicaly work or fix anything at all. for god sakes, guys these days cant even change their oil on their cars, let alone do other basic maitenance jobs like fuel filter changes, rotors or break pads, fuel pumps etc etc. all the new generation learns is computing and media (how to post all their stupid c*** on facebook or youtube) REALITY is the way of the future. wake the f*** up man, ericsson loves people like you.

  56. jess nonya
  57. jess nonya

    its funny how they design cars these days, im convinced that most things in a car are purposly engineered to take up shop time when needing repairs. just another example of how things could be.. they could use technology to design and engineer a car to last 100+ years under minimal maitenance but instead they want to sell you digital crap in a fake world.. wow.. the new generation.. where they can not change their own oil but hey.. they can kick your but in starcraft.. and just to rub it in to all you new age geeks, changing my own oil probably saves me a few months subscriptions of world of war craft if you do not know how to relate to physical money anymore.

  58. oddsrhuge
  59. oddsrhuge

    I think the point is...We should all be amazed by technology, while ignoring the fact the the "latest" device means we all throw out the old device.

    Great policy. Cars and cities could run forever, on completely pollution free, power. But don't worry about your heating bill, made of a paper, instead of hemp. Oh wait don't use hemp it's illegal. And on and on and on...I say let's stop feeding profit over human welfare. Crazy, I know.


  60. adforsyth
  61. adforsyth

    I'm surprised by how cautious, skeptical, or otherwise negative many of the comments are here. Of course there are downsides with every technological advance. What's new about that -- or the point in harping about them as if they're insurmountable?

    And being in the pocket of big Tech companies?? I wonder if these folks feel the same way about the water that's piped to the house by the water co? Or making car payments rather than being out back watering the horses. Sure, we need to remain mindful of the push to overconsume in this domain as we must in others, but again, what's new about that?

    For the record, the use of mobile devices to check market prices or create services in remote villages has been happening for years. What's the misleading about that?

    Personally, I'm thrilled by the opportunities -- while remaining mindful of the risks -- that will come with new technologies. We just have to go in with eyes wide open.

  62. adforsyth
  63. adforsyth

    Oh, and for the record, I regularly do ALL the maintenance on my road/dirt motorcycles -- often with a laptop nearby or after taking stock of the lessons or detailed tips others before me have posted. That's right -- carbs, brakes, chains, fuel pumps, tires, etc. I would never have tried these had it NOT been for the fact that others are regularly sharing their experiences using (gasp) digital technology.

  64. parkehere
  65. parkehere

    Who shot this film?

  66. rebelrob
  67. rebelrob

    I suspect this has been sponsored by Ericsson due to similarities to Ericsson's corporate marketing quotes and also the font used. I also recognise the first screen shown at the very start of the show. It's from an Ericsson platform used in a telco operator's network...

  68. Neil_deGrasse_Tyson
  69. Neil_deGrasse_Tyson

    I say (and I saw this on an Occupy sign) humans will outlive the value of money. I think the moment we created it it was worthless. Something that you can get anything with? Greed on a whole new level. Not that it's a new idea, and that's what pisses me off - that we haven't evolved to see it's detrimental to humanity no matter what economic system or what have you is set in place.

  70. oddsrhuge
  71. oddsrhuge

    Are you "really" your handle? If so, I have a lot of respect for you and your opinions...if not, I still do, based upon your response. I'm "really" oddsrhuge, btw, although I have never been on TV, I just play that guy in real life :)

  72. oddsrhuge
  73. oddsrhuge

    I did. With a .50 cal...but it is still here. Now I must move on to the "drug" topic. I had a epiphany.

  74. Neil_deGrasse_Tyson
  75. Neil_deGrasse_Tyson

    I am not Neil. You think I should get a new account? Perhaps the best way to show support for the guy is to NOT put words in his mouth?

  76. Neil_deGrasse_Tyson
  77. Neil_deGrasse_Tyson

    Nah, I'm not Neil. Stupid idea to use his name. I'd like to know what Neil thinks on this subject though!

  78. Robyn318
  79. Robyn318

    I remember reading Alvin Toffler’s “The Third Wave” back in the 80’s, with him saying people will be working at home on computers, they will no longer go to offices, people will marry based on their computer oriented jobs, your house will call you at the office and tell you the roof is leaking, should it call the roofer or wait until you got home. These concepts seemed very sci-fi at the time; I was having a really hard time getting my head around the concept that the manufacturing, machining and factory work that sustained the U.S. from the 50’s until then, could be changed forever. That the everyday mundane things done in the house would change in inconceivable ways.

    Most of that has come and gone already; our cars tell us when it needs an oil change, the left front tire air pressure is low, plug a hand-held analyzer into a computer interface under the driver’s side dash and you can find out with amazing accuracy what is wrong with your automobile, the fastest the car has gone, oil and water temps and a host of other things that can validate or invalidate your warranty; and all this can be done with OnStar.

    We have apps for smart phones now that can allow us to visually inspect our home room by room; lock the doors, close the garage door, turn on and off appliances, transfer money from one bank account to another and make payments without stepping one foot in our house or a bank. And we are only 30 years into the technology. Again I cant even imagine how advanced this technology will be in another 30 years.

    I can learn more in a weekend of Internet surfing than I learned in a whole semester of high school. This is freedom…but with freedom comes responsibility.

  80. Matt Kukowski
  81. Matt Kukowski

    This was a quick down and dirty view of the future. Not much time? This doc is for you.

  82. brianrose87
  83. brianrose87

    Since you haven't had a post in several months I sincerely hope you took your own advice.

    Nothing personal. Its just that Neil DeGrasse Tyson is an idol of mine, and it feels strange reading statements he'd never consider making. Not to mention that there are a number of people who likely read your comments, and genuinely believe THE Neil DeGrasse Tyson is typing.

  84. Tamarack
  85. Tamarack

    After watching this short doc I immediately went below to the comments, and I'm happy to see that a discussion is taking place, and that other commenters share some of my concerns about what the sort of societies imagined here means for us.

    There are a few major hurdles we have in the way of created such a hyper-connected global society. The physical and natural wealth of our planet is immense, but we are so far from respecting and properly valuing these resources to continue taking and abusing unimpeded.

    A related hurdle is that of whether or not we will tolerate this kind of global "community". In many places, and in many people's minds, we are pushing back against the idea of a well connected global community in favor of a much stronger and smaller local community. Will we tolerate a world with ocean's so acidic that coral reefs are a thing of the history books; tigers no longer alive in the wild; a planet where no corner is absent of our mark?

    Lots of people here have mentioned profit as a guiding motive for many of these new tech companies, and I suggest you do some research into the relationship between GDP and happiness. In the developed world we have been pampering a climbing GDP while our happiness has been flatlined for decades.

  86. KC
  87. KC

    Once upon a time, in a land far far away ... This is a Disney cartoon documentary, everything looks sweet and innocent, good versus evil, dumb versus smart. Somehow the plight of the people toiling to build the hardware or mining for gas and oil to power these gadgets never came up. Yes we have prince and princesses and they just magically wake up pretty and happy, but now with smart devices.

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