The Past, Present, and Future(s): Part II!

Dr. Charles F. Urbanowicz / Professor of Anthropology
Department of Anthropology
California State University, Chico
Chico, California 95929-0400
530-898-6220 [Office]; 530-898-6192 [Dept.] FAX: 530-898-6824
e-mail: / home page:

[This page printed from

June 28, 2001 [1] 

© [All Rights Reserved.] For a 50-minute presentation on June 28, 2001 for the City of Chico Management Team, Chico, California. I appreciate the following words of Gregory Bateson: "The essence and raison d'être of communication is the creation of redundancy, meaning, pattern, predictability, information, and/or the reduction of the random by 'restraint [stress added]." Gregory Bateson [1904-1980], 1972, Steps To An Ecology of Mind (NY: Ballantine Books), page 133.



Today's presentation unabashedly draws upon numerous lectures and public presentations, the most recent of which was on Monday June 25, 2001 (for the SIR 110 [Sons In Retirement] organization in Chico); that presentation was entitled The Past, Present, and Future(s) A version of today's paper was also presented at a Chamber of Commerce Luncheon in Redding, California, on March 12, 2001, and was titled "Where Does The Future Come From? (Subtitled, "You Haven't Seen Anything Yet!); both of those papers (as well as this one, and earlier words of mine) are available on the World Wide Web.

"I quote others only the better to express myself."
(Michel Eyquem de Montaigne [1533-1592] French philosopher/essayist)

I am an anthropologist: an individual who is interested in people and the interactions of people with the environment about them (including people interacting with people). I received my Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Oregon in 1972, based on fieldwork in the South Pacific Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga. After teaching at the University of Minnesota for 1972-1973, I joined the faculty of Chico State in 1973 and my wife and I have been living here since August 1973. Our son graduated from Chico High in 1990 and from CSU, Chico in 1995 and is employed in the area. We have two grandchildren (aged 3 and 5). Why all of this (seemingly) unimportant background information? I adhere to the following statement:

"A play [or a classroom lecture or a public presentation] should make you understand something new. If it tells you what you already know, you leave it as ignorant as you went in [stress added]." (The character John Wisehammer. In Timberlake Wertenbaker's Our Country's Good [based upon the novel The Playmaker by Thomas Keneally], 1989, Act II, sc. 7, page 89.]

The term "ignorant" is too harsh but I will try and give you some new information and perspective on how I have seen this community and area "evolve" in my 28 years in Chico. Perhaps I will encourage you to look at what is going on in the greater-Chico-area in a slightly different way: not a new way, not a bad way, but a different way. To be different is not bad, and my summary statement of Anthropology is as simple as the ABCs: The Appreciation of Basic Cultural Diversity Everywhere! 



An anthropologist by training (perhaps that is a new fact for some of you), I am also interested in the theatre (perhaps another new fact): you are all involved in various aspects of the City of Chico and are all experts in your chosen fields. I will not comment or make suggestions on any specifics of city or county planning activities, but....perhaps I can provide some insight based on my own perspective, or my attitude. As the distinguished CSU, Chico professor Harlen Adams (1904-1997) stated it (and Harlen was an extremely active community member): "The most important word in the English language is attitude. Love and hate, work and play, hope and fear, our attitudinal response to all these situations, impresses me as being the guide." (I was exceedingly fortunate to have shared the stage with Harlen for a few moments in the 1996 CSU, Chico production of La Bohéme.) What is your "attitude" to these meetings? To the (sometimes strained ) "Town-Gown" relationships of Chico and CSU, Chico? To anthropology?

As an anthropologist, the concept of evolution forms the basis of my theoretical perspective. Life is cumulative and we have evolved and (should we survive as a species) we will continue to evolve. Evolution is a neutral scientific term used to describe that an organism has adapted to its environment and may be able to pass DNA onto the next generation. Period! I am also interested in Charles Darwin (1809-1882) and on February 12, 2001, there was a "Human Genome" televised press conference (the 194th birthday of Charles Darwin as well as the 194th birthday of Abraham Lincoln [1809-1865]). The press conference certainly stressed evolution; evolution is not goal-oriented and does not imply value-laden progress but describes a process that has been occurring for billions of years.

Where will the human genome project take us? Can we "predict" the future, based on our understanding of the past and knowledge of the present? On May 24, 2001, The Sacramento Bee had an article on "Genome Science" up to the year 2040 (when I shall, hopefully, be a healthy 98 years of age): predictive genetic tests in 2010, gene-based designer drugs by 2020, complete genomic sequencing for individuals by 2030, and by 2040: "Serious debate will be underway about humans possibly 'taking charge' of their own evolution [stress added]." Robert Cooke, 2001, Genome Science Tracks Life From The Ground Up. The Sacramento Bee, May 24, 2001, page A19. I think, however, the debate is already taking place for the proverbial genie (or, in this case, gene!) is already out of the bottle; on May 18, 2001, an article in The Sacramento Bee pointed out the "designer babies" that are already among us, "created" by fertility clinics:

"An experiment that altered human genes in such a way that could affect future generations has led two researchers to recommend federal regulation of fertility clinics. .... the birth of a baby whose genes had been altered in such a way that it could pass the change to future generations.... a fertility clinic engineered a human embryo so that it contained mitochondrial DNA from the father, the mother and from a woman who volunteered some cellular cytoplasm that was inserted into the embryo [stress added]." Paul Recer, 2001, Alarms Raised By 'Designer Babies.' The Sacramento Bee, May 18, 2001, page A8.

The Associated Press article, by the same author, in The San Francisco Chronicle the same day added a bit more information concerning the unregulated fertility clinics:

"...100,000 babies have [already] been born in the United States as the result of research conducted and privately funded by the nation's 370 fertility clinics." Paul Recer, 2001, Altered Genes In Baby Lead To Call For U.S. Regulation. The San Francisco Chronicle, Page A1 and A18, page A18.

With my anthropological interests, I am (unfortunately) reminded of the 1818 classic work by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley née Godwin (1797-1851) and her Frankenstein; or, the Modern Promethus, and the phrase "I beheld the wretch--the miserable monster whom I had created." It was her husband Percy Shelley (1792-1822) who acknowledged in a preface to the first (and anonymous) edition that "the event on which this fiction is founded has been supposed by Dr. [Erasmus] Darwin, and some of the physiological writers of Germany, as not of impossible occurence." (George B. Dyson, 1997, Darwin Among The Machines: The Evolution of Global Intelligence (Addison Wesley), page 22.) This Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802) was the grandfather of Charles Darwin; all of life is cumulative and we build on what has occurred in the past.

Why Man Creates

In going through my notes and preparing for today, I came across the following words of Jane Jacobs in Government Technology: "The more variety, the more diversity, the more growing and living things in an ecosystem, the more resilient it is to misfortune." In other words, don't have all of your eggs (or plans or development projects) in a single basket: diversification is what evolution is all about! Some of you may have seen the August 2000 issue of Government Technology (which has a subtitle of Solutions for State and Local Government in the Information Age). Jacobs was interviewed and the description for her was as follows:

"Jane Jacobs has been called one of the influential thinkers of the 20th century. With the [1961] publication of her book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, she changed the way people think about cities, redefining urban studies and economic policy.... She has just published a new book, The Nature of Economies, in which she proposes a radical notion that is breathtaking in its common sense: Economies are governed by the same rules as nature itself [stress added]." Blake Harris, 2000, Jane Jacobs: Unraveling the True Nature of Economics. Government Technology, Vol. 13, Issue 11, pages 18-25, page 18.

Incidentally, the May 2001 issue of Government Technology, Vol. 14, Issue 4 (and information is available at has a special issue on the "workforce" with several interesting articles, including items on creativity, demography, and training. The April 2001 edition of GT had an interesting little article on a "paper cellular phone" which is "disposable, is as thick as three credit cards and comes with an hour's worth of calling time and a hands-free attachment" for $10.00 (page 11). Ten dollar throw-away! (A similar "disposable cellphone" article appeared in The Sacramento Bee of March 15, 2001, page D3; that disposable item, however, was in the $30 range!)

As an anthropologist, and a Darwinian evolutionist to boot, I do research to support my opinion or attitude:

"I love quotations. Maybe it's a symptom of a short-attention-span, instant-gratification age, but I'm a sucker for a well-stated tidbit of brevity and wit. For me, quotes do with precision what reading does in general: they confirm the astuteness of my perceptions, they open the way to ideas, and they console me with the knowledge that I'm not alone [stress added]." John Winkonur, 1990 [editor], W.O.W. Writers on Writing (Philadelphia: Running Press), page 1.

In an article about the economy in April, one could read the following:

"Even amid a slowdown, the U.S. economy supports a healthy commercial Darwinism in which stronger stores devour the weak [stress added]". Lorrie Grant, One Store's Death Is Another's Opportunity. April 16, 2001, USA Today, page 8B.

Consider the following about some dot-com bombs, failures, fiascoes, or fiscal melt-downs: "According to one Darwin expert, being fit, smart and strong all matter, but the species that thrive are the ones that are most adaptable [stress added]." Bob Rosner, The San Francisco Sunday Chronicle, April 22, 2001, page CL11; and in the aforementioned Government Technology of June 2001, one can read about desktop operating systems and the phrase, "How will the desktop OS evolve?" (Shane Peterson, 2001, OS Options. Government Technology, June, pp. 28-33, page 28); in USA Today on June 18, 2001, one could read of "One Darwinian theory making the rounds...." (Del Jones, 2001, Late To Bed, Early To Rise Puts CEOs Ahead In Rat Race. USA Today, pages B1 and B2, page B1.) Evolution is real!

I honestly believe that various human beings have a "fear" of evolution, not because of the past but because of the future! Every generation believes itself to be "the best" and well-adapted to the environmental situations, yet, chances are our children and our children's children will be "better adapted" to their environmental situations (in a relative sense) than we are, and that scares us and causes us to forget the past and decry the value of thinking in an evolutionary, diversified, or adaptable sense. As the most prolific author Michael Crichton (an M.D. who also has an M.A. in Anthropology) stated it:

"He had a term for people like this: temporal provincials--people who were ignorant of the past, and proud of it. Temporal provincials were convinced that the present was the only time that mattered, and that anything that had occurred earlier could be safely ignored. The modern world was compelling and new, and the past had no bearing on it [stress added]." Michael Crichton, 1999, Timeline (NY: Ballantine Books), page 84.

The past has a bearing on the present and on the future; but we cannot predict the future! The Pursuit of Destiny: A History of Prediction was published last year by Paul Halpern, Professor of Physics (University of the Sciences, Philadelphia, PA), and this volume is called to your attention. Halpern deals with "predictions" from the "Oracle at Delphi" (Greece) to contemporary times (computers and chaos theory), a scope which I am certainly not going to cover today! Suffice it to say, individuals have been interested in "predicting" the future for a long time: perhaps ever since Homo sapiens, or pre-cursors of Homo sapiens, realized that today developed out of yesterday and that which is occurring right now develops into tomorrow. Or, perhaps, as the phrase over the entrance to CSU, Chico's Kendall Hall states it, in a little different way, "Today Decides Tomorrow." I also, however, appreciate the following from Eric Blair (1903-1950), also known as George Orwell, the British author who gave us 1984: "Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past."



"One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown
is the belief that one's work is terribly important." Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947), philosopher and educator, once remarked that "it is the business of the future to be dangerous" and perhaps it is even more dangerous trying to predict the future: we can't predict it! However, the decisions we make today influence our choices about what we will do tomorrow. But can we "predict" tomorrow? I argue that (#1) we cannot predict the future (because by definition the future is the "time that is to be or come hereafter") and (#2) there is no such thing as "future shock" but merely individual unawareness of various aspects of "the present."

In addition to being selectively being unaware of what is occurring around us, we also have a tendency to selectively forget that which came before us : what we developed out of! This is, perhaps, similar to what Stewart Brand referred to in The Wall Street Journal of June 5, 2001, when he was quoted as follows: "We're building amnesia into our civilization, which is probably a non-robust thing to do." (This was in a fascinating article by David Bank, pages B1 and B4, entitled "Rosetta Disk Is Foundation's Gift To Future Linguists" where 1,000 language translations of the first three books of Genesis will be etched onto an artifact and preserved for the future generations!)

The January-February 2001 issue of The Futurist, the publication of the Washington, D.C. World Future Society, had an article on "Cultural Amnesia" and the author wrote that "Like Alzheimer's disease, cultural amnesia is a progressive and debilitating disease" because of various "memory killers" including the passage of time, selective memory, technology, and materialism. (Stephen Bertman, 2001, Cultural Amnesia: A Threat To Our Future, The Futurist, Vol. 35, No. 1, Jan-Feb, pages 46-51). The delightful Sue Grafton phrased the cause of our "memory problems" in a similar way in her 1999 "O" Is For Outlaw publication: "Our recollection of the past is not simply distorted by our faulty perception of events remembered but [also] skewed by those forgotten [stress added]." Sue Grafton, 1999, O" Is For Outlaw (NY: Henry Holt & Co), page 25.

Consider, if you will, the following dates and, if you were alive, where were you and how were you living?:

"It is sometimes difficult to grasp the effects of constant doubling. Suppose that in 1959, when the first transistor was printed on silicon, a patch of seaweed in the Pacific Ocean [the largest geographical feature on this planet at ~64,000,000 square miles] measured one foot across. The seaweed patch doubled in size every year just as chips have doubled their number of components. By 1964 it [the seaweed patch] would have measured 32 feet across; 1964 chips contained 32 components. By 1970 it would be 2000 feet across. By 1984 it would have choked the entire Pacific [stress added]." James Martin, 1987, Technology's Crucible, page 15.

When the Intel 4004 microprocessor was introduced in a calculator in 1971, it could handle a whopping 400 instructions a second and in 1981 the IBM PC could handle 330,000 instructions a second. Where were you and what were you doing, (and how old were you) in February 1986 when the following full-page advertisement appeared in Time magazine (February 10, 1986)?:

"IT'S SO FAST, YOU'LL FLY THROUGH YOUR WORK. Introducing the NCR PC6. Whoosh! That's information up on the new NCR PC6. The PC6 is NCR's most powerful personal computer yet. It's powered by the advanced Intel 8088-2 microprocessor. So you can process information nearly twice as fast as the PC XT.™ At that rate, you can load programs faster. Recall files in an instant. Calculate in a flash. And get home earlier. The PC6 stores a lot, too--up to 40MB of hard disk space, or about 7,575 single-spaced typewritten pages. Of course the PC 6 is compatible--running over 10,000 business software programs. In fact, a special switch lets you operate at either 8 MHz or 4.77 MHz, allowing you to run software that some other high performance PCs, like the PC AT,™ can't run. And, just in case, you can get a built-in streaming tape back-up system to guard against accidental erasures, disk damage, or coffee spills. The NCR PC6. To see it, fly on down to your NCR dealer today [stress added]."

What did become of the tremendous "diversity" of those "10,000" business software programs? It is now fifteen years later, a company by the name of "Miscrosoft" has become dominant over diversity and in December 2000 and February 2001, we saw the following:

DECEMBER 11, 2000: "Intel Corp. says it has scored a scientific breakthrough that someday will help computers run about six times faster than they do now. ... it has built the world's smallest transistor, one that's about one-sixth the size of what's currently being produced. ... Intel's just-released microprocessor contains 42 million transistors and runs at 1.5 billion cycles a second [1.5 gigahertz]. With the transistor of the future...the company will be able to pack 400 million transistors onto a single chip. The company estimates that chip will run at 10 billion cycles a second. Intel said that the transistors are so tiny that a stack of 100,000 of them would be as thick as a sheet of paper [stress added]." Dabe Kasler, 2000, Intel Claims Speed Breakthrough. The Sacramento Bee, December 11, 2000, page D1.

February 21, 2001: "'New products and new technology will lead the way out of recession,' Intel Chief Executive Officer Craig Barrett said yesterday in a keynote address .... He also showed a 2-GHz version of the Pentium 4, the company's flagship desktop process, which so far is shipping at speeds up to 1.5 GHz. The faster version is expected by the end of the year." Henry Norr, 2001, Intel Banks on New Chips. The San Francisco Chronicle, February 21, 2001, page C1 and C14.

As an aside, it was the politician Geraldine Ferraro (remember her?) who once said the following: "It was not so long ago that people thought that semi-conductors were part-time orchestra leaders and microchips were very, very small snack foods." To Continue:

May 16, 2001: "Computer runs at quantum light speed. University of Rochester researchers have built a computer that manipulates light to achieve some of the same mind-boggling speed promised by quantum mechanics. The difference is that light waves offer an easier way to speed computer calculations than so-called quantum computers, which require very fine control of small physics particles to perform operations, says an American Institute of Physics bulletin. While conventional computers use electrons to perform tasks sequentially, the new computer allows researchers to use light to create 'interference' patterns so that searches of databases, for example, are executed almost instantly [stress added]." Anon., 2001, USA Today, May 16, 2001, page 6D.

May 21, 2001: "International Business Machines Corp. is expected to disclose today that its disk-drive engineers have developed a technique that will lead to quadrupling disk capacity during the next two years, enabling hand-held computers to hold several movies and laptops to hold hundreds of music CDs. The researchers have found they can sandwich a layer of ruthenium just three atoms thick between two magnetic layers to dramatically increase disk-drive density. ... many disk-drive experts had postulated that densities above 20 gigabits or 20 billion basic elements of information would be impossible....[now] The technology eventually will permit drives with up to 100 gigabits per square inch [stress added]." William L. Bulkeley, 2001, IBM Readies Denser Disk Drives. The Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2001, page B5.

What will it be like in fifteen years, or 2016? You ain't seen nothing yet! In keeping with my reading for information to support my "evolutionary" point of view, I noted the following from The San Francisco Chronicle of May 28, 2001, in an article entitled "Germ Warfare: Battle Against Computer Viruses Escalates" and how "The virus was encrypted and programmed to mutate as it spreads [stress added]." (Carrie Kirby, May 28, 2001, page D1 and D3, page D1) Evolution is real!

As I asked you to think about the dates that I mention and ask "where" were you and "what" were you doing, consider that in 1973 International Business Machine introduced the Mag Card II, a "typewriter" (remember those?) with an electronic memory for $11,800. In 1973, I began my first year at CSU, Chico, and my beginning Assistant Professor salary was $12,500/year! In 1973, I certainly could not afford to spend (invest?) 99.4% of my total-yearly-salary on a "typewriter"(!) and in 2001, were I beginning my academic career, I certainly could-not-afford NOT-TO-INVEST 1% or 2% of my total-yearly-salary on a fantastic computer! And articles from June 2001 are as follows:

June 8, 2001: "IBM Finds Method To Make Faster Chips. ... has invented a way to manipulate the atoms in silicon so that computer chips can operate as much as 35% faster while using less power....with production set to begin on such chips for use in a wide array of its computer products by the end of 2003 [stress added]." David Armstrong, 2001, The Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2001, page B5.

June 10, 2001: "Intel Unveils Huge has created the world's fastest silicon transistors....The new technology, which would not be incorporated into processors until 2007, will let computers run 25 times faster than the top-of-the-line Pentium 4 [currently at ONE billion five-hundred thousand cycles per second?!]....The first 'fully transistorized' computer, built by IBM in 1954, had 2,000 transistors. Intel's Pentium 4 chip, by comparison, has about 42 million. About 1 billion new transistors can be squeezed into a microprocessor with the new technology.... [stress added]." Associated Press, 2001, The Sacramento Bee, June 10, 2001, page A4.

June 25, 2001: "Just two weeks after Intel announced the development of new technology it said it would enable processors to reach speeds of 20 GHz [twenty billion cycles per second], IBM today will announce another advance it says will enable chips to hit 100 GHz as early as 2003. ... [Initially for] high-speed communications equipment....[eventually] the new transistors will also show up in future handsets that combine the functions of cell phones, Internet access devices and multimedia players [stress added]." Henry Norr, 2001, Big Blue Designs Faster Chip. The San Francisco Chronicle, pages B1 and B3, page B1.

Remember that "special switch" from 1986 that let the user "operate at either 8 MHz or 4.77 MHz"! The science facts of 2001 were probably viewed as the science fiction ideas of 1961; perhaps by 1971, those "science fiction" facts were being considered by someone as not too fanciful and they might have been on some drafting table by 1981; by 1991, the "science fiction" of 1961 was probably in "Beta Testing" and is now in full-scale production; therefore, what will be the "science facts" of 2041 (when I hope to be 99 years of age and in relatively good health) that are being laughed at in 2001?

"Soon Diagnostic Tools May Include Cameras Swallowed Like A Pill. Researchers are finding a less invasive way to look inside a patient's body. ... The new procedure, undergoing clinical trials, instead uses tiny cameras encased in small capsules that the patient swallows as easily as a large vitamin. The cameras travel into the small intestine, flashing two pictures every second. About 50,000 photos are transmitted to a special belt worn by the patient, and the information is later downloaded into a computer. After their journey, the cameras are passed unnoticed by the patient and can be flushed down the toilet. The cameras cost about $300 [stress added]." Tara Parker-Pope, The Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2000, page B1.

Not only computer for people, but computers for computers! "Next up: so-called self-healing computers. IBM has pulled a number of efforts together into one grand, multibillion-dollar research and development project dubbed eLiza [stress added]." Peter Burrows and Heather Green, 2001, Less-Is-More Computing. Business Week, June 18, 2001, pages 104-105, page 105. And please see Wired, July 2001, and an article aboit IBM entitled "Gene Machine" (by Oliver Morton, pages 148-159) where the following appears: "What today's fastest machine can do in a day--some 330 million billion calculations--Blue Gene will do in five minutes" and "Blue Gene will help make big iron [computers] smaller and cheaper, spawning self-healing tabletop teraflops [one trillion operations per second!] that model everything from epileptic fits to financial derivatives [stress added]." That's only teraflops [1,000,000,000,000] on the home machine because "Blue Gene" will do 1,000 teraflops, or a petaflop [1,000,000,000,000,000] in the laboratory since "Blue Gene" will require more than a "1.5 megawatt electricity supply--enough for about 400 homes--and could easily end up needing more" BUT will only be a computer "cube" some 40 feet on each side!



The passage of time brings us a good deal of information, yet we all "forget" information ("passage of time, selective memory, technology, and materialism") and how do we deal with information? What is information? The distinguished anthropologist Gregory Bateson (1904-1980), once a Trustee of the University of California System), wrote that "...what we mean by information--the elementary unit of information--is a difference which makes a difference.... [stress added]." Gregory Bateson [1904-1980], 1972, Steps To An Ecology of Mind (NY: Ballantine Books), page 453. If you know "everything" of what I've just spoken to you about (or what you have just read) then you haven't received any new information; so let me continue. Bateson also wrote the following powerful words: "The unit of survival [or adaptation] is organism plus environment. We are learning by bitter experience that the organism which destroys its environment destroys itself [stress added]." Gregory Bateson [1904-1980], 1972, Steps To An Ecology of Mind (NY: Ballantine Books), page 483.

This phrase has stuck with me for almost thirty years and I strongly argue that if we, as individuals (and as a collective), are to survive we must (a) be aware of and (b) adapt to the ever-changing environment around us, including the fast-paced electronic world. Darwin borrowed some words from the eminent sociologist Herbert Spencer (1820-1903): namely "survival of the fittest." As an individual (and an anthropologist) aware of the past, living in the present, and looking to the future, I find (and often see) an organic (and clearly Darwinian) metaphor applied to changes in city and state planning, transportation and electrical consumption and education. As I stated in Redding in April, or just the other day in Chico: "you ain't seen nothing yet!"

In his quote, Bateson went on to write about the human mind:

"The unit of survival [or adaptation] is organism plus environment. We are learning by bitter experience that the organism which destroys its environment destroys itself. If, now, we correct the Darwinian unit of survival to include the environment and the interaction between organism and environment, a very strange and surprising identity emerges: the unit of survival turns out to be identical with the unit of mind" [italics in original; stress added]." Gregory Bateson [1904-1980], 1972, Steps To An Ecology of Mind (NY: Ballantine Books), page 483.

Minds must change, or individuals who have the minds must change their attitudes and opinions; and universities and colleges and towns must change, because they must:

"'We used to educate farmers to be farmers, factory workers to be factory workers, teachers to be teachers, men to be men, women to be women.' The future demands 'renaissance people. You can't be productive in the information age if you don't know how to talk to a diverse population, use a computer, understand a world view instead of a parochial view, write, speak.'" Byrd L. Jones and Robert W. Maloy, 1996, Schools For An Information Age: Reconstructing Foundations For learning And Teaching, page 15.  

The Renaissance (that time of re-birth and the revival of learning beginning of the 15th Century) developed into the period known as the "Enlightenment" and I believe that we are entering a new enlightenment: the information out there ("a difference which makes a difference") is amazing, but, we must all work at evaluating it, foraging for it, gathering it, and hunting-it-up! (Re-call my ABCs for Anthropology? Please note my EFGH!) If you "surf" the web (and I do), please surf carefully and evaluate wisely: below you have some examples for information concerning "Charles R. Darwin" available on the web, and note the different amounts of data generated by different search engines: evaluate carefully! Please consider the following for some search engine hits for "Charles R. Darwin" on June 25, 2001: Google had 111,000 items; All The Web had 60,021 items; Northern Light had 48,816 items; and Raging Search / Alta Vista had 71,457,566 items!!! Note that on April 26, 2001, "Google" had 97,500 items for "Charles R. Darwin" where "All The Web" had 32,750 items and "Northern Light" had 48,825 items. Obviously, just as with people, all "search engines" are not created equal!

There are problems around us, from not enough information to too-much-information from too many sources! You probably saw that on March 30, 2001, the official census numbers showed that California is the most populous state in the United States with 33,871,648 residents (~12% of the USA) and on April 30, 2001 (USA Today, page 1), it was reported that "The world's 6.1 billion population increases by nearly 9,000 people each hour." Some 15,020 individuals are born each hour and 6,279 die each hour for an increase of 8,741, or 146 individuals a minute around the world. So, for this 50 minute presentation, the world will have a net increase of 7,300 individuals (roughly speaking).

To bring the data closer to home, please see for the most recent growth information for the United States of America: on June 25, 2001 (~9:00am Pacific Standard Time), the US population was given as 284,511,951, with a net gain of one person every 12 seconds in the USA. So, for this 50 minute presentation, the USA will have a net increase of 250 individuals (roughly speaking), and California's share will be....? Chico's share will be....?

We live on a small planet and going back to Bateson ("The unit of survival [or adaptation] is organism plus environment") as well as Jacob ("The more variety, the more diversity, the more growing and living things in an ecosystem, the more resilient it is to misfortune") we must be #1 aware of environmental degradation and #2 having everything look like everything else! Diversity is important, be it in the world of nature or the world of culture! 

Billy Joel (born 1949)



"The average person now changes jobs 8.6 times between the ages of 18 and 32, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Such upheavals in the labor market have forced colleges to adapt....[stress added]." Emily Bazar, 1999, Number of Students Over 40 Soaring At College Campuses. The Sacramento Bee, August 24, 1999, pages 1 and page A10, page 1.

In 1960, after I graduated from high school (Jersey City, New Jersey), I attended New York University (New York City) and 40 years ago I flunked out of NYU; born in 1942, and based on my nineteen years of experience to 1961, there is no way I could have predicted that in 1971 I would be conducting fieldwork for my Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Oregon in the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga (after completing four years of service in the United States Air Force from 1961-1965) and there is no way I could have predicted that I would be here today, in 2001! We cannot predict the future but we certainly can work on inventing it, if we understand the past ("evolution") and have an awareness of the present.

My wife and I, and our nine-month old son, arrived in Chico in 1973 and there is no way we could have predicted that he would marry a fellow Chico State student in 1993, graduate in 1995, and that we would have two grandchildren (ages five and three) in the year 2001 and our son and his family would be living in Chico. Likewise, there is no way I could have predicted the growth of this area; indeed, elementary schools were closing when we came to Chico in 1973 (Hooker Oak Elementary School comes to mind) and now look at the "permanent portables" that seem to abound! Growth and development appear to be inevitable when one now looks around and Chico has increased in size and it will continue to grow:

"This year [2001] could set new records for Chico building, if what's going on at the Planning Department is a measuring stick. City Planning Director Kim Seidler said it's typical for cities to see a 'winter lull,' or a time when planners aren't seeing people filing the papers necessary to build projects. Not so this year. ... Chico needs 'roughly 1,000 units a year' until 2020, according to [Jim] Mann [of the Building Industry Association]." Michelle MacEachern, Building Shows No Sign Of Slowing. The Chico Enterprise-Record, February 19, 2001, pages 1 and 8A. 

The numbers are going to increase and there will be changes and growth in California and the nation:

"Almost 70,000 acres of California's open space was devoured by a growing population lured to the state by its booming economy from 1996 to 1998, according to a state report released Wednesday [October 11, 2000]. The urban sprawl is driven by California's influx of roughly 700,000 people a year [stress added]." Open space continues vanishing act in state. (Associated Press) The Sacramento Bee, October 12, 2000, page A3.

On Sunday, June 24, 2001, an article appeared in The Sacramento Bee (Alvin D. Sokolow, How Much State Farmland Is Disappearing? pages L1 and L6) based on research from University of California, Davis, now provides the figure of "only" 49,700 acres of California farmland disappearing each year! Incidentally, the CSU, Chico campus (excluding the University farm, is approximately 119 acres (so approximately 417 Chico State campuses disappear every year in California!).

Changes are occurring in our environment on a daily basis. There are changes in the landscape, changes in communication, and changes in interaction with other human beings.

"[Children] Born during a baby bulge that demographers locate between 1979 and 1994, they are as young as five and as old as 20, with the largest slice still a decade away from adolescence. And at 60 million strong, more than three times the size of Generation X, they're the biggest thing to hit the American scene since the 72 million baby boomers. Still too young to have forged a name for themselves, they go by a host of taglines: Generation Y, Echo Boomers, or Millennium Generation. ... Most important though, is the rise of the Internet, which has sped up the fashion life cycle by letting kids everywhere find out about even the most obscure trends as they emerge. It is the Gen Y medium of choice, just as network TV was for boomers. 'Television drives homogeneity,' says Mary Slayton, global director for consumer insights for Nike. 'The Internet drives diversity [stress added].'" Ellen Newborne et al., Generation Y. Business Week, February 15, 1999, pages 80-88, page 82-83.

As with my ABCs, in reading, speaking, thinking, and (hopefully) understanding evolution, combined with rapid technological changes (not to mention "memory killers"), it is easy to understand and sympathize with Jared Diamond when he wrote the following:

"...for almost the whole of our evolutionary history, our repository of knowledge lay in the memories of people, not in books. Therein lies a sad but potent reason for the status of old people being so much lower in many modern, literate societies than in traditional nonliterate societies: many individuals in literate societies no longer believe that their elders are important repositories of knowledge and thus do not perceive them as valuable. In addition, technology is now changing so quickly that certain kinds of experience are soon outdated, as is made clear to me when my eighteen-year-old students watch my sixty-three-year-old eyes glaze over at their efforts to teach me how to use computers" [stress added]." Jared Diamond, Threescore and Ten. Natural History, December 2000-January 2001, Volume 109, Number 10, pages 24-35, page 28.

As an anthropologist, I attempt to keep my eyes from glazing over; I study the present, with an eye on the past, to anticipate (or invent my) future; I read, talk to people, surf the web (various addresses are provided for you), and travel.

Your attention is also called to, the Great Valley Report, which some of you are probably already aware of; as an article in The Sacramento Bee pointed out (on May 13, 2001) concerning "Valley Towns In The Digital Age" some will prosper and some will not:

"Valley cities that intelligently position themselves to be part of the new economy might see their prospects soar. And those communities that ignore the opportunity do so at their own peril." Daniel Weintraub, 2001, Future Shock: Valley Towns In The Digital Age. The Sacramento Bee, May 13, 2001, page L5

I enjoyed the article in The Enterprise-Record of May 28, 2001, dealing with "Western Cities" and the following statement:

"We should take all the city managers from every city in the West and take them to Los Angeles for six months,' says James Corless, California director of the Surface Transportation Policy Project. Why? 'To learn about mistakes.'" Anon., 2001, Booming Western Cities Struggle to Avoid Following in Los Angeles' Sprawling Footsteps. The Chico Enterprise-Record, May 28, 2001, page 2A.

In my classes I talk about "change" and as an anthropologist I have traveled around the world to see many of the "things" that I lecture about in the abstract: as an individual interested in Darwin, my wife and I have been to the Galápagos Islands as well as Darwin's home in England. We have been to Machu Picchu in Perú (and when one sees the "city" that was carved out of a mountain-side at an elevation of 7,000 feet, one knows that the term "primitive" is an exceedingly DUMB term). In 1997 my wife and I were fortunate to visit Cahokia, a large Native American city constructed between 800 A.D. and 1400 A.D. in the state which we now call Illinois (so named for the French term Illini or the "land of the Illini" after the Native American Algonquin word meaning "men" or "warriors"). The city had a population of several thousand, until it faded away through over-exploitation of the immediate environmental resources. (See Roger G. Kennedy, 1994, Hidden Cities: The Discovery And Loss of Ancient North American Civilization [NY: Penguin]).

"Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is located on the Mississippi River across from St. Louis, Missouri. This area was first inhabited by Indians of the Woodland culture about A.D. 700. By about 900 the Cahokia site was the regional center for the Mississippian culture with satellite settlements around it. After about 400 years, the population began to decline and the site was abandoned by 1500. In the late 1600s the Cahokia Indians came to the area; it is from these later Indians that the current name is derived. However, it is the building accomplishments of the earlier Indians that make this site significant. They constructed more than 100 earthen mounds, 87 of which have been documented. It is estimated that these industrious people moved 50 million cubic feet of earth in woven baskets to create this network of mounds. Monk's Mound, for example, covers an area of 14 acres and rises in 4 terraces to a height of 100 feet. Atop this would have been a massive building another 50 feet high. As the largest prehistoric earthen construction in the Americas, Monk's Mound is a testament to the sophisticated engineering skills of these people. (Inscribed in 1982) [stress added]. []

In discussing the present, I follow Bateson and the importance of environmental awareness; in discussing the future, I believe in the following: professional forecasters cannot predict the future--no one can. All we all do is make educated guesses and that is the best we can do. I am reminded of the following phrase: a futurist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things that were predicted yesterday didn't happen today! That definition is right in the league with the one about a consultant: an individual who takes the watch off of your wrist and tells you the time! Look around you and see what is happening now and take your best guess, for that is all we can really do. "Imagination, it appears, is the only limit.... [stress added]." (Jon Swartz, 2001, "...and wear computers on our sleeves." USA Today, June 26, 2001, page 6E).

I am really an optimist when it comes to the human condition for as Churchill once remarked on his own optimism, "It does not seem too much use being anything else." The wonderful Jane Goodall (born 1934) wrote the following in 1999, and I thoroughly believe in it:

"My reasons for hope are fourfold: (1) the human brain; (2) the resilience of nature; (3) the energy and enthusiasm that is found or can be found or can be kindled among young people worldwide; and (4) the indomitable human spirit [stress added]." Jane Goodall [with Phillip Berman], 1999, Reason For Hope: A Spiritual Journey (NY: Warner Books), page 233.

The future is real and tangible for all of us until the moment we cease to be alive (and that is an entirely different story) and while we absolutely cannot predict the future, we can certainly build and invent it! Finally, on "teaching" and computers (since that is what I do at CSU, Chico, I "teach" and utilize computers), I end with the following three items: I enjoy teaching and appreciate the following:

"A teacher affects eternity;
he [or she!] can never tell
where his [or her] influence stops."
Henry Brooks Adams [1838-1918],
The Education of Henry Adams, chapter 20

"Any teacher who can be replaced by a computer deserves to be!
[stress added!]" (David Smith; as cited by Mike Cooley, 1999, Human-Centered Design.
Information Design, edited by Robert Jacobson (MIT Press), pages 59-81, page 73.

And from Clifford Stoll:

"What equipment do you need for an ordinary classroom? Desks, chalkboard, and an eraser. The center of the classroom isn't a thing, but a person [stress added]." Clifford Stoll, 1999, High-Tech Heretic: Why Computers Don't Belong in the Classroom and Other Reflections by a Computer Contrarian (NY: Doubleday), page 94.


Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
and part of the Leonore Overture, No. 3, Op. 72A
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This presentation draws upon earlier ideas, words, and items on the web (from most recent to oldest): [June 25, 2001 presentation] [March 2001 presentation ] [February 2001 Galápagos Islands]
South American Research: Words [with S. Urbanowicz] [October 2000] [August 2000 South American visuals] [May 2000 presentation ] [March 2000 presentation ] [July 1998 Gambling/Gaming presentation ]'98_Millennium_Paper.html [January 1998 presentation ] [October 1997 on Teaching] [September 1997 on Sabbatical trip] [1991 presentation on Education and Technology] [1990 presentation on Science Fiction/Science Fact] [1977 presentation on Evolution, Technology, and Civilization]

Other Interesting (and somewhat appropriate) web sites include: [US Census] [City of Chico Official Web Site] [Chico Chamber of Commerce] [March 19, 2001} California North State Economic Summit] [US Department of Commerce} Bureau of Economic Analysis] [Great Valley Report] [Quality Digest Home Page] [Your Health} Your Community] [For My World} On The Environment] [The Forbes/Milken Institute Best Places 2001] [American Lung Association} State of the Air 2001] [The Jane Jacobs Home Page @ The University of Virginia] [Government Technology] [Brookings Institute} Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy Home Page] [Anthropology in The News] [About Anthropology] [The Rosetta Project] [Images From World History: Mississippian Civilization: Cahokia] [World Heritage Sites} Cahokia Mounds] [Cahokia Mounds Links] [Cahokia] [US News & World Report} August 16, 1999] [Archaeology Web Sites]

As well as: [Darwin Day] [The Silicon Valley Cultures Project] [The World Future Society] [Future Predictions} Various] [Google Web Directory} Society->Future->Predictions] [An Illustrative Speculative Timeline of Future Technology and Social Change] [The Official Dilbert Web Site] [Official Darwin Awards]

and finally [Why The Future Doesn't Need us} Provocative article by Bill Joy} co-founder and Chief Scientist of Sun Microsystems]

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Monks Mound is ~790 feet East-West, 1,037 feet North-South and is ~100 feet tall).


The Campus of California State University, Chico.


CSU, Chico, with Butte Hall indicated (and Butte Hall is 100 feet East-West x 89 feet North-South and is ~100 feet tall).


From: J. M. Faragher et al., 2000, Out Of Many: A History of The American People (NJ: Prentice Hall), page xlviii.

Monks Mound And Adjacent Area. (From: Cahokia Mounds Tour Guide (1996) (Cahokia Mounds Museum Society, Collinsville, Illinois)



Monks Mound, Cahokia, Illinois, superimposed on the campus of CSU, Chico on Butte Hall.
Note that Monks Mound is 790 feet East-West, 1,037 feet North-South and is ~100 feet tall.

Monks Mound, Cahokia, Illinois, superimposed on 411 Main Street, Chico, California.

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1. © For a 50-minute presentation on June 28, 2001 for the City of Chico Management Team, Chico, California. I appreciate the following words of Gregory Bateson: "The essence and raison d'être of communication is the creation of redundancy, meaning, pattern, predictability, information, and/or the reduction of the random by 'restraint [stress added]." Gregory Bateson [1904-1980], 1972, Steps To An Ecology of Mind (NY: Ballantine Books), page 133; perhaps I have communicated my message with this presentation! To return to the beginning of this page, please click here.

To go to the home page of Charles F. Urbanowicz.

To go to the home page of the Department of Anthropology.

To go to the home page of California State University, Chico.

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© [Copyright: All Rights Reserved] Charles F. Urbanowicz

26 June 2001 by CFU

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