Zooming Out

In the past decade plus we've seen a number of compounding factors that have formed a sort-of "perfect storm of entropy" leading to many of the challenges we see today.

Obviously, top of mind is globalization and urbanization, which has created the optimal conditions for an infectious disease to quickly escalate into a pandemic.

Urbanization, in particular, has exposed flaws in both our electoral process as well as how our system of government is designed.

The rise of technology companies that rode the wave of network effects accelerated by the proliferation of mobile devices and the internet have resulted in entities that are more powerful than many nation states.

Culturally, society is adjusting to these shifting power structures in both good ways and bad, increasing access to opportunities in some cases as gatekeeper effects are reduced or removed, while stoking fear in many which manifests in a number of ways, including a global rise in nationalism.

All of this change, at an abstract level, is neither all good or all bad.  It just is, kind of like the weather.  We're in a constant state of action and reaction, and there are plenty of positive externalities to go along with the negative ones.

But the overall challenge is two-fold: that the amplitude of entropy has significantly increased, along with the pace of change and the magnitude of the effects, and that the impact is almost always disproportionate.  

Obviously, you're not going to stop urbanization, globalization, or the great networkification, but you can help buffer people through the change, and/or attempt to build systems and structures that are more equitable.

That is, if this is indeed a "perfect storm", there are some clear rational opportunities to build products, services, solutions that address holes in the roof, or extend shelter to those who don't have it.  These, in my mind are relatively easy.

The more challenging task is to figure out how to increase the willingness for people to care and to broaden their sense of who deserves such care.  It's the difference between understanding that your outcome is tied to that of the others vs. it being a zero-sum competition.  This is much much harder because it wades into the irrational.  There is no utility, panacea or quick fix because what is needed is a way to change hearts and minds.  That can't be easily imposed with the immediacy and certainty of launching an app.  It can really only be done brick by brick which unfortunately takes time.