We hapless humans have much to legitimately worry about. No era has been without significant problems, but fundamental shifts have occurred in the world's climate and in the world's economies, real game changing shifts. Still, there's much to be hopeful about. A positive change is also in our midst. If, as Marx said, power is in the hands of those who own the means of production, that means is available to an increasingly egalitarian many. And not because we wiil all work in factories and on farms.
1. mobile devices with internet access
Smartphones and tablets already empower employees at all kinds of organizations.
Accessible from any internet-enabled device, social media makes it possible to gain social value from a network much wider than individuals could build themselves. Not everyone is equipped to expand to such a universe, but many around the world are practicing every day. Furthermore, social media platforms are changing the ways business is conducted, including the expectations for organizational collaboration. There's so much out there to read about this. Keywords: enterprise 2.0, Social Customer Relationship Management (SCRM), online communities.
Not so long ago high technology knowledge was held by a few with certain education, experience, and personal inclinations. While this base has enlarged, these people are being joined by the non-elite high technology users integrating devices, software, and services into their lives. At the same time this high technology became more socialized - more user friendly; in many ways, more standardized. That is, we understand the concepts better, enough to allow for customizing, hacking and jailbreaking. We have the devices, and we can get information about how it works even from people we don't know.
3. the coming employment boom
New employment will not necessarily mean many new jobs created by The Man. During this period of employment doldrums, those who have jobs are said to be lucky and should keep their gobs shut. But of course that's not how humans live. We grow and learn new skills. And the organizations where we work are not fixed - objectives shift, new owners have their plans, power bases fluctuate. So in the not too distant future the large number of employed people worldwide who want a different work situation are going to get up and go. Then, there's the entrepreneurial spirit of those without jobs with the resources and ability to create their own going concerns. People will be motivated to create their own disruptive innovations.
All of this builds the foundation for punctured equilibrium. If we can say that high technology is an element of culture (which it is) and evolves like anything else that evolves through iterative change in a gradual but dynamic environment, punctured equilibrium is a rare event when this evolution shoots forward rapidly and exponentially That is, the previous seemingly balanced state is punctured, possibly radically altering the socio-cultural landscape. While there will still be highways and elementary schools and milkshakes, powers will have heaved. The backlash will come from those accustomed to centralized knowledge and "the means of production". But who's going to argue against productivity; it's just more opportunity. If knowledge and access to technologies are power, a more distributed way of conducting our lives will have a power of its own.
Read up on punctuated equilibrium on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punctuated_equilibrium
Experience researcher in high tech and built environments with an anthropology provenance.