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Pittsburgh, PA, United States, 2007/10/12 - 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).
Regents professor of economics, agriculture, and genetic engineering at New Mexico University, where he is dean of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics, Catlett contends that consumerism, driven by the growth of the middle class by more than a billion people worldwide, is a 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 of consumerism. 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 has given rise to an economic principle: people afford what they want. What was luxury to one generation is becoming a necessity to the next. This consumerism is also fueled by the fact that people are living longer and have more money to spend. In short, we are becoming a society where people 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. These changes are not only altering the way people live and interact, but also 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 and virtual reality will fade, as more and more people turn to three-dimensional virtual reality worlds.
The ICMA convention (conventionconnection.net) was held at the David Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA. ICMA is the premier local government leadership and management organization. Its mission is to create excellence in local governance by developing and fostering professional local government management worldwide.