#5: Steven Johnson – Future Perfect

Best Summer Reads 2013
Steven Johnson - Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age

Steven Johnson knows how to tell compelling stories and integrate them into one even more compelling insight: the world is changing for the better. This is due to not so much the Internet perse, but to the empowering potentials of the Internet laid in the hands of what Johnson calls “Peer Progressives”. Peer Progressives use the power of the Net to help organize our lives better, in a smooth and clever way. Narrowly defined, Future Perfect is about the new inroad of gridlocks of 20th century politics, making it alive and kicking for the 21st century. More broadly defined, Future Perfect is about Big Ideas, visionary documented by multidisciplinary storytelling.


We believe in social progress. We believe the most powerful tools to advance the cause of progress is the online facilitated and empowered peer network. We are Peer Progressives.

The world is filled with countless of other needs – for the community and in stimulating creativity, education, personal and environmental health – the ones that traditional markets have done a poor job in satisfying…. Peer progressives do not believe that markets are capable of satisfying these human needs.

A service called SeeClickFix let’s users report open fire hydrants, dangerous intersections threatening tree limbs and the like. In proper Web 2.0 fashion, all reports are visible to the community and other members can vote to endorse the complaints. Another start-up BlackChalk, has released an iPhone app that uses GPS data to let users create public notes tagged to specific locations… And a New York based site called UncivilServants collects reports and photos of government workers abusing parking rules around the city, ranking the top offenders by department (the worst abuser, by wide margin, is the NYPD). There’s even a new Australian urban reporting site called metaphorically, It’s Buggered Mate.

Science of the Time’s Interpretation:
At a time when conventional wisdom holds that our political and societal system is hopelessly gridlocked and where Distrust, Anger and Cynicism determines more than ever before the socio-cultural mood, Future Perfect makes the timely and uplifting case that progress is still very much possible: by unleashing the creative and social powers of the Web, led by the Peer Progressives.

More info about the author here.
Find Future Perfect in our library.

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