It seems like we had to remind ourselves that we were at the end of a decade. Many of the decade-in-review articles, shows and top ten lists only started showing up in December. Granted, it’s hard to compare the close of the 2000’s with the hype machine of the previous two decades. The fall of communism and the impending end of civilization as we know it is hard to compete with. Still, because we are blessed with a base-10 numbering system, we still have the need to analyze the decade-that-was.
To me, a decade is too long a time to really gauge human behavior. The decisions and consequences that make up such a time period can seem totally unrelated. However, that, I think, should be the theme of this decade. The successes and failures of the 2000’s seem for the most part the result of unintended consequences. 9/11, the Iraq war, and the success of social media all seem to be less a part of some grand design and more like a small crack in a pane of glass expanding until it shatters a whole window. The US as a whole didn’t really consider itself to be at war with an entire religion until 2001. The war in Iraq that followed seemed equally as unlikely. There were many precursors to facebook and myspace in the 1990’s that had nowhere near the success of their descendants. Climate change may be the largest unintended consequence in human history.
While it seems like we are living in a world without leadership, new tools are making leadership easier than ever. Mapping and spatial data technologies are more accessible now . Our ability to collect information about everything from opinions to animal migration patterns to viewshed analysis give us a decision making ability that we couldn’t have even 10 years ago. We can all get a look at the “big picture” now. The question now is if we will decide to use what we see.