A Winning Entry: IT for a Better California

Well, there’s winners and there’s losers, and this time we have a winner (though we may yet be both)! Upon cranking up the old OS X on this gray Wednesday morning, I was surprised to learn my entry was one of the top five selections in the Institute for the Future’s California Dreams Contest, which includes eligibility for the Roy Amara Prize for Participatory Foresight.

The California Dreams Contest challenged participants to describe their imagined version of California’s future…in 100 words or less. We were encouraged to draw inspiration from this illustration of four alternate paths for the future of California–including growth, constraint, transformation and collapse.

While the whole collapse scenario invited more screenplay-worthy ramblings (and potentially more public votes), I opted with the far less sexy concept of constraint. I imagined a more efficient and human-oriented society–with the help of better technology. It was the result of too many late nights prowling blogs about e-waste, permaculture, and the fallacies of green tech. Here’s my bit:

The Power of Less

Dream type: Constraint

In my future California, we will reduce our wastefulness and value quality over disposability, as resources become more scarce. High-tech products will adapt to our needs–featuring universal, replaceable parts and reducing our reliance on landfills and export of electronic refuse. A slower economy will mean less shopping and more time for learning and gathering with family and friends. In energy gyms, our exercise will generate power for our communities. New homes will be smaller, with permaculture gardens and solar panels. Communities will feature parks and co-working spaces. We will collaborate online to quickly respond to local and global crises.

by: Kerry | Jan 11, 2011

Having read a number of the other entries, I’m pretty humbled, as many entries were far more ambitious, imaginative, humanitarian, and creative than mine. Take a look here to read some.

Now, since winning involves giving a short presentation in Palo Alto in May, I’d like to reach out and source our community for more material. I have a basket of ideas, but I want to hear from our readers, including techies and small business owners, about how they’d apply or improve technology to increase efficiency, make our lives more humane, and change the course of California’s future. Drop us a line or toss out a comment…I’d love to hear from you!