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IT Day speaker says technology is shaking up the world

Harnessing the energy of the body and mind is the key to adapting in a fast-changing world. That's the message a Seattle-based urban cultural anthropologist gave Wednesday at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick.

Those unable to change their belief systems would lag behind, said Jennifer James during the luncheon address at the 10th annual IT Day, sponsored by Lockheed Martin. She was invited by organizers as a last-minute replacement for scheduled speaker Chris Sacca, former head of Special Initiatives at Google, who could not leave San Francisco in time for his presentation.

James said technological changes, particularly in the way people communicate with each other, are shaking up the values different cultures hold sacred.

Changes already are evident in leadership, management and parenting, she said. Those who can exploit technology will help foster an economic shift in society leading to the rise of a new cultural belief system, she said.

"Nerds will inherit the world," James said.

Often there is a lag in the popular acceptance of change, but visionary leaders who can provide "a compelling view of the future" can help ease the transition to a new world view, she said.

Her presentation drew heavily from the concepts espoused by many social thinkers, including Karl Marx and Max Weber.

James often referred to the "adolescent cohorts of the internet" who are united by their love for technology and desire to explore the world.

Kids instinctively figure out the new technology because they are surrounded by it, she said, adding that they also can multi-task.

They are growing up in a world relatively more inclusive and less violent than before that is imbued with a desire for justice, she said. The magical world of Harry Potter reflects this change, she said. Magic is a metaphor for technological wizardry that could be used for social good in an increasingly complex world.

There is also greed and resistance to change in the society, she said.

"We want things we never wanted before," she said.

But civilization today, with its access to information and increasing social intimacy, also is teaching people how to unpack mythologies that sometimes hold them back from looking at the future.

"Self-management and self-discipline is the key," she said.

-- Pratik Joshi: 582-1541; pjoshi@tricityherald.com; Business Beat blog at www.tricityherald.com

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