Aris Silzars Display Technology Consulting

DISPLAY CONSULTING

 

A Global Village...December2000

"Some time ago, I returned from a visit to a foreign country." Factually, this is a correct statement. I had indeed returned to the USA from a trip to attend the International Display Manufacturing Technology Conference, IDMC 2000, in Korea. But how wrong it felt to utter such a phrase since at no time during my visit did I feel that I was in a strange land or among "foreign" people.

From the moment I arrived at Seoul's Kimpo airport, I could spot a few familiar faces. Yes, the crowds were large and the lines were long. But it was really no different than arriving at an airport in the USA. Most of the people I didn't recognize, but several I did -- just about the same as for a typical stopover in Denver or Chicago.

On arrival at the Sheraton Walker Hill Hotel, I was greeted with the sight of familiar faces everywhere. Now, for sure, this didn't feel like a "foreign" land. The warm greetings and friendly discussions made a certainty of that. There were the typical stories of delayed flights and missed plane connections. There were discussions of the latest career paths and technology developments. A few discussions turned more introspective, comparing opinions about the credibility of certain companies or individuals. Moment by moment and hour by hour, old relationships were strengthened and new ones formed.

The next several days of the technical conference were filled with the absorption of as much technical content as we could possibly sponge up -- while continuing to evaluate it all in yet more small-group and individual interactions. Early on the first day, we already knew that this conference was going to be a good one. The quality of the technical papers and the attendance figures soon confirmed it.

The setting for the evening banquet was the outdoor garden court of the Sheraton hotel. The warm late-summer evening with a clearing sky -- following an earlier heavy rain -- made it seem that we were indeed the recipients of mother nature's blessing. The winding Han river lay below us, with hills and city lights all around. In this setting, while sharing a meal with colleagues from all parts of the world, it was simply not possible to rationalize that in times past some of these friends and colleagues -- based on territory or by political decree -- would have been designated as enemies.

The entertainment for the evening was a selection of traditional Korean music including string instruments, a flute, singing, and a drum quartet -- not all at once, but in turn. To my classical-music-trained ear the music was a fascinating and interesting blend of ancient and modern. It seemed to bridge all time and aural space. The tonality was more western than what I typically associate with an oriental scale. There was, simultaneously, a simplicity and intricacy that could be appreciated on many levels. Music is the great expression of the soul of a country and a culture. Music causes the spirit to soar and emotions to surface. It becomes a great and positive unifying force among human beings everywhere.

It was in this spirit that Prof. Sungkyoo Lim moderated the evening„s ceremonies. His closing remarks, expressing the unifying energy between the warm outdoor evening setting, the rousing effect of the music, the good food, and great conversation, for me captured the full measure of why we gather together -- to build lasting relationships that cannot be built any other way.

Now, before you conclude that I am a gushing sentimentalist, one who clearly does not appreciate the new world of electronic communications and the value of the Internet, let me suggest something I think is at work here that is creating a change of historic proportions -- and yes, it is something to do with the Internet.

Communications, thanks to the Internet, are becoming instantaneous, location- independent, and virtually free. That means we can reach anyone, anywhere in the world, at any time. Therefore, without much thought at all, our sphere of influence and sphere of communications is broadening to cover the globe.

How do we decide with which of the six billion residents of this planet we should communicate? After all, most of us can't manage more than a few hundred "serious" relationships at any one time. Clearly we do it based on common interests for business or personal reasons. What is so important about this is that new groupings of individuals are forming based on something other than geography.

Think about the future impact of this. For centuries we have organized ourselves into cultures, tribes, societies, states, kingdoms, fiefdoms, empires, and countries, all based on geographical boundaries. Borders were the walls between these entities and the people were contained within them.

But now? The European economic boundaries have already mostly disappeared. And in the future? Groupings by geographic region will make little sense. With worldwide communications and a global economy, what is there to protect? What is the value of a piece of land except as a place for one's residence or a business location? Your neighbors become all those people worldwide with whom you communicate and exchange ideas. The new "countries" will be based on common interests or economic associations. However, we may each belong to several of them. This has to be a scary thought for our tradition-bound leaders and politicians. How do you "rule" a group of people when you can't even figure out who they are, or where they are? For this reason, I am sure that geographically based government entities will survive for many years to come. However, they will have less and less influence on the operation of world society and the world economy. We will be driven by our interests and our ability to form those relationships that are most meaningful for us. They will span the globe. And that is also why we are likely to travel more rather than less in the coming years. The relationships we build through electronic media eventually demand to be strengthened by personal contact. Just as the electronic office created more paper instead of less, the Information Society will create a greater need for worldwide personal contacts, not less. The more we communicate the more we will want to get to know each other even better. In my opinion, this is a good thing.

As I often travel long distances, through many time zones, my awareness grows that this earth is a finite resource, a finite place, and all that we have to work with. For now, there is no other. This global village is ours to develop and to enjoy. But, we must appreciate its limitations. The Information Society that we are helping to facilitate with our display activities will most certainly help to do that.

You will be reading this column during the December Holiday Season, and the members of the international display community will be celebrating that season from the perspectives of many cultural traditions. Please allow me to thank each and every one of you for the many great activities that you have allowed me to participate in during this past year, for your tremendous support of our Society, and for the many important contributions you have made to our successful year. May this season give all of us the wisdom to appreciate the wonders of this world and continue on the path to make it an ever better place for each of us. This is our global village -- our home.

Should you wish to express your thoughts to me on this topic or others you may reach me by e-mail at president@sid.org, or Email, by FAX at 425-557-8983, by telephone at 425-557-8850, or by mail at 22513 SE 47th Place, Sammamish, WA 98075.