Perhaps it’s because of the economy is beginning – finally – to pick up in the US. Perhaps it is because I’m sick to death of bad election-year politics, so I’m looking at anything else that comes along of interest. Maybe it’s even because I wrote about creative destruction the last time I did a column here, and I’m ready for the transformation that follows that practice. But I’m feeling a bit more hopeful this month, and I’m seeing signs that I’m not the only one.
I received Peter Diamandis’s “Abundance” in the mail. I haven’t read it all yet, but I’m impressed with what I do see. My good friend Glen Hiemstra started a website called Do the Future which highlights people and efforts to create a better future (yes, he lists me, but he also lists a lot of other people who are, frankly, “doing” more). I hung out at Microsoft’s TechFest Day 0 last week, which is always heartening: I get to talk to researchers who are excited about the work they are doing, and many of them fervently believe they are making the world a better place.
A lot of the work I saw at Techfest this year was on what is getting called “big data analytics,” which is the new after-cloud buzzword. It means tools to help mine information from large and potentially diverse data sets. Yes, it can be used for the wrong reasons, such to discover buying habits. Target recently used it to tell if particular shoppers might be pregnant, and thus market to them. But it can also help us glean medical benefits from genetics more quickly, provide better climate models, and understand global economics.
More Americans are beginning to believe climate change is real, which reverses a nasty trend the other way. The renewable energy industry is expected to grow in 2012. And of course, the iPad3 came out this week, which means I’ll get an update for my old iPad 1.
Maybe that last is a bit tongue-in-cheek. But how we feel as individuals does affect how we feel as a group, and that influences the future. Let’s hope for a great spring.
Brenda Cooper’s latest science fiction novel, Mayan December, is out now from Prime Books. For more information, see her website!