back at the turn of the century and millennium, CNN did an excellent summary of the previous thousand years, summarising the major achievement of each century. They gave each century a single entry summary, and then drilled down in huge detail. The microsite is still available and still worth reading: see it here.

Their summary is as follows:

  • 11th century: sword
  • 12th: axe
  • 13th: stirrup
  • 14th: scythe
  • 15th: sail
  • 16th: compass
  • 17th: telescope
  • 18th: furnace
  • 19th: machine
  • 20th: globe

They followed with this with some visions for the future, categorised under a number of headings, including: disease, education, faith, food, sports, money, artificial intelligence, national parks, space, fashion and music. Check it out here.

As we reach the end of the first decade of the 21st century, I wonder what our century will be defined by? It’s way too early to say, of course, but early contenders must be: biotechnology, energy, climate and communication.

At the end of a decade, it might be fun to look back to the last century of decades and try and do a similar exercise now. Here is my starter-for-ten. Do you have any improvements on my list?

  • 1900s (1900-1910): globalisation
  • 1910s: end of empire
  • 1920s: women
  • 1930s: depression
  • 1940s: war
  • 1950s: rebuilding / communism?
  • 1960s: space
  • 1970s: turbulence / ?
  • 1980s: greed / capitalism?
  • 1990s: internet
  • 2000s: war on terror

What do you think might define the next decade? I’d bet on biotechnology.

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