Posts related to the 1910 Expedition

Understanding 1910 is key to understanding today, according to William Draves

Nine Shift

“I’m not a futurist. I only describe the present to the 98% of people who are not there yet.”
Richard Thieme, technology expert

In 1910, the world was shifting from an agrarian society to an industrial society. Today, the world is shifting from an industrial society to an internet society. The parallels between these seismic shifts in the way society functions are not just interesting sidelights; they provide important insight into what is happening and what we should anctipate. In Nine Shift, William Draves points out:

In just twenty years, between 2000 and 2020, some 75% of our lives will change dramatically. We know this because it happened once before. Between 1900 and 1920, life changed. We moved from an agrarian farming way of life to an industrialized way of life. Now it is all happening again.

The way we work is changing. The way we live is changing. The way we learn is changing.

. . .The last time we experienced this nine shift in society was between 1900 and 1920. The driving force of the last century, the 20th century, was the automobile. The automobile and the way the automobile was made — the mass production factory — shaped how people worked, how people lived, and how they learned, for the last 100 years. The auto is not a symbol for the 20th century. Instead, the car and the car factory literally changed most of life.

So many common features of life today would not have been widely present without the car. They include offices, suburbs, fast food restaurants, company organization charts, unified school districts, and many more aspects of life that are considered “standard” today.

People in society are so dependent on the car that to do without one for a week would be an enormous burden for the majority of us. We simply have no readily implementable back-up plan to working and living without a car, even for a week.

The car shaped and defined the 20th century.

. . .[Now] the Internet is behaving exactly the same way as the automobile did 100 years ago in its impact on society. The auto is not used here as an “analogy,” which is defined as something “somewhat similar.” Instead the influence of the Internet on our lives is exactly a replay, a mirror, of the influence of the auto on society 100 years ago. The outcomes will be different of course, but the forces and how those forces interact and change our lives, are the same.

. . .Most all of the fundamental changes in our society in this century will take place before 2020. We know this because most all of the fundamental changes in 20th century society took place between 1900 and 1920.

Draves compares key years in the transition from 1890 to 1920 with what has already happened and with what is likely to happen:

1990-2000 and 1890-1900: Technology first introduced. Intellectual excitement and creativity.

2000-2005 and 1900-1905: New way grows; old way becomes dysfunctional, but is still dominant.

2005-2010 and 1900-1910: Conflict and chaos as the new way challenges the old way.

2008-2012 and 1908-1912: Turning point in society.

2010-2020 and 1910-1920: Old way gives way to new way.

2020 and 1920: New way is clearly dominant and accepted. The old way is clearly in decline.

He examines key trends--changes that are already occurring and will likely accelerate:

Commuting to an office become a rarity, a thing of the past. A significant part of the workforce will work from home or telecommute.

Intranets replace offices. Offices will diminish as primary work places. Intranets will replace physical offices for most businesses, companies and nonprofit organizations.

Suburbs, and suburban sprawl, come to a halt and then recede. Towns and cities are reformulated around dense communities composed of shops, stores and homes.

New values, work ethics and behavior of the 21st century take over. Boys are leading the change in values and behavior, just as they did 100 years ago.

[Draves and Coates say boys dropped out of school in huge numbers in the first two decades of the 20th century. Yet it was young men, experimenting with technology, who led America’s manufacturing boom, especially in the automobile industry.

They say something similar is happening today: boys are into the internet and computers. They like to innovate and experiment. They “like taking risks, being entrepreneurial, being collaborative - all behaviours that lead to success in the workforce today”.

But while they are rewarded for their behaviour in the workplace, they are punished in school because they are non-conformist, poor at listening and following instructions, and restless.]

Half of all learning is online. The traditional classroom rapidly becomes obsolete. Education becomes web-based. Brick and mortar schools and colleges of the past century become outdated. All education becomes web-based, providing a better education for both young people and adults.

Audio presentation by William Draves (5 minutes)
PDF of Draves’ workshop presentation

(Hat tip: Bill Edelman)

Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 01/17 at 03:12 PM
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2005 Montana Heritage Project

1910 wildfires brought about changes

From USA Today:

On Aug. 20-21, 1910 - a firestorm of biblical proportions raged across Idaho, Montana and Washington.

Three million acres in the Bitterroot Mountains exploded in flames. Whole towns were incinerated. Eighty-five people were killed, including 78 firefighters, dozens of them burned alive. Smoke drifted across the country, darkening the skies so much that street lights remained on all day in Watertown, N.Y.

The fire became known as The Big Blowup and so traumatized the nation that Congress for the first time decided to spend federal money to fight forest fires. The government eventually required that all reported fires be extinguished by 10 a.m. the next day.

The irony is that the lessons drawn from The Big Blowup contributed to the fix the United States is in today, with more than 5 million acres burned this year so far in the nation’s worst wildfire outbreak in decades.

By aggressively fighting blazes, the government prevented wildfires from performing the housekeeping role nature assigned them. Over the years, forests became overgrown with trees and vegetation that can fuel fires even more catastrophic than those seen before man began interfering.

The result: giant blazes like those burning now on more than 850,000 acres in Montana and Idaho, many in the same Bitterroot Mountains.

‘’People have been trained to hate fire,’’ said Mark Petersen of the Lands Council, a Spokane-based environmental group. ‘’But fire is to our ecosystem what rain is to a tropical rainforest.’’

In the forest primeval, natural wildfires burned brush off the forest floor and opened the pine cones that seeded new trees. Indians used to set fires to speed this work.

When the West was first settled, forests were thinned by timber companies that logged the trees and burned the logging debris, and by ranchers looking to increase pasture land.

‘’The last herder coming out of the mountains would set a fire to ensure good forage the next year,’’ said Leon Neuenschwander, professor of fire ecology at the University of Idaho.

Before The Big Blowup, forest fires were fought primarily by timber companies seeking to protect their investments.

But the fire of 1910, and large fires in the 1920s, led the federal and state governments to create well-trained, standing armies of firefighters, Neuenschwander said.

To extinguish fires early, the nation built roads and telephone lines into the forests, set up fire lookout towers and built campgrounds to concentrate tourists rather than having them spread out. Many of those facilities were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Depression.

World War II brought a temporary stop to aggressive firefighting, because most of the men were at war. But the end of the war saw a bounty of surplus equipment like bulldozers and airplanes added to the war on wildfires.

‘’In the 1950s, fires were suppressed almost instantly,’’ Neuenschwander said.

And the woods were transformed, especially pine forests of the Northwest that were used to big fires at least every 30 years.

The forests became denser, often with undesirable trees that were not resistant to fire. Trees that could not get enough sunlight or water were left stunted or dead, infested with bugs and easy to ignite.

In forests that had just 30 big trees per acre, flames used to stay close to the ground. Now flames dance across the tops of forests crowded with 300 to 3,000 trees per acre.

‘’That’s a fire almost impossible to fight,’’ Neuenschwander said. ‘’The flames are 90 feet tall instead of 3 feet tall. The fires we have now are hot, real hot, and resemble nothing of what the fires of 1910 would have looked like.’’

Federal firefighting policy changed a bit in the early 1970s, when some fires in the wilderness were allowed to burn themselves out.

After big fires in 1988 and 1994, federal policy was changed again, this time requiring the Forest Service to create plans for specific areas, showing which fires would be fought and which would be allowed to burn. But many plans have yet to be written.

Faced with tinderbox forests, the nation has the option of setting fires to clear growth, allowing loggers to remove trees or suffering huge conflagrations, said Robert Nelson of the University of Maryland.

The Clinton administration has shown a preference for prescribed burns to clear away growth, Nelson wrote recently in The Washington Post. But those can be controversial. It was a prescribed burn that went out of control and destroyed more than 200 homes in Los Alamos, N.M., in May.

More logging is complicated by political disputes between environmentalists - suspicious of any logging - and timber companies, who say they must remove the biggest trees in order to make money.

The Clinton administration has sharply reduced logging in the national forests. However, The New York Times reported Tuesday that the administration wants to expand nationwide an experimental effort in Flagstaff, Ariz., to reduce fire danger by thinning out small trees.

Without a change in direction, Nelson wrote, ‘’The West can expect to see even worse fire seasons in years to come.’’

The fires of 1910 were stopped only when rain and snow began falling on Aug. 23. Despite all the advances in techniques and equipment since then, the firefighters in the Bitterroots now are also looking to nature for relief.

‘’You just pour money onto a fire until it rains,’’ Petersen said. ‘’Hopefully it will snow in the next month or two.’’

Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 09/03 at 12:50 AM
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2004 Montana Heritage Project
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