Does America Know What We Want?

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Since summer of 2013, Google has been working on an ambitious goal, called Project Loon: to provide balloon-powered internet for everyone.  Of a couple of worthwhile benefits identified:

  • Farmers: the better weather forecast producers have access to, the more food supply available.
  • Small businesses: by putting businesses online, more opportunities would be made available
  • Ad revenue: the more people online, the more opportunity there is to charge for eyeballs on ads (ideally, for the servicing of needs through effective ads)

I stumbled across a promotional video by Project Loon, showing how they are bringing opportunity through connectivity in a rural area in Brazil:

“This is the only way they’re going to grow, not only as students, but as human beings with the ability to contribute knowledge to their community.”

It struck me: sure, perhaps this is just an idealistic teacher of a small community out in the brush somewhere… but she has vision for her students, and perhaps they have more initiative and hope than we do here in the United States. How dull and uninspired are the majority of Americans? We have so much access to amazing technologies and resulting opportunities, but what are we doing? Do we have an imagination left of what we could contribute?

At least from what I can gather, it seems like our society revolves around immersive entertainment.  I would like to trace how many of my weekly activities are either entertainment, or are me laboring to product some form of entertainment.  But ultimately, what is there at the end of the day other than seeing or learning the way someone else views the world?  Whether through our natural world of the outdoors, pigments to illustrate environments, or through our built world of music or things of the internet, these are all activities of experiencing what is already around us.

Where is the line between experiencing what is already around us and entertainment?  Passiveness.  Does the experience:

  1. Help us pass time
  2. Illuminate our minds
  3. Provide inspiration for our own creativity

May we have more of the last two than the first.

From being surrounded and saturated with tools and methods to contribute to our society, it can be really easy to deflate their value.  But for someone who has never had the experience, we can only imagine the energy around new horizons of possibility.