Consumerism, Technology Fueling Rapid Change


Key Trends In These Areas Driving Dramatic Changes in Today’s Society

PITTSBURGH, PA, October 12, 2007—Trends in consumerism and technology are combining to radically change today’s society, says Dr. Lowell Catlett, a futurist and keynote speaker at this year’s International City/County Management Association’s (ICMA) 93rd Annual Convention. Catlett, who consults extensively for government and private industry, says that in a rapidly changing world that has seen people’s lives altered extensively the last 10 years people can expect even more changes in the future.
Regents professor of economics, agriculture, and genetic engineering atNew Mexico University, where he is dean of the College of Agricultureand Home Economics, Catlett contends that consumerism, driven by thegrowth of the middle class by more than a billion people worldwide, isa key force changing society. We left a world of production, he says,where we knew how to do everything and moved in to a world ofconsumerism. With the goal of self-actualization fueling behavior,people are demanding more and higher quality products and services.

This has substantial implications for the future, says Catlett, and hasgiven rise to an economic principle: people afford what they want. Whatwas luxury to one generation is becoming a necessity to the next. Thisconsumerism is also fueled by the fact that people are living longerand have more money to spend. In short, we are becoming a society wherepeople will pay anything for the convenience of getting what they want,when they want it, and where they want it.

Technology is also a key driver of future changes, says Catlett.  Thesechanges are not only altering the way people live and interact, butalso they way they view reality. Some of these changes include:

  • The iPod, which provides music on demand, will replace beer as the college student’s most important item.
  • Cell phone technology will figure prominently in future changes in society.
  • Smart technology will move to cars, which will be able to interface with banks and emergency service providers.

Thanks to the wireless trend, the difference between reality andvirtual reality will fade, as more and more people turn tothree-dimensional virtual reality worlds.

The ICMA convention was held at the David Lawrence Convention Center inPittsburgh, PA. ICMA is the premier local government leadership andmanagement organization. Its mission is to create excellence in localgovernance by developing and fostering professional local governmentmanagement worldwide.


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