Your future, now

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

This week is special. It’s a concept issue, a step beyond “themed” issues like we’ve done with marijuana and bike riding. It’s based on a theory for what’s going on in society called RenGen, Renaissance Generation, that I first came across at a newspaper conference. Essentially, the theory says societies have evolved in cycles, and that death comes before birth on a societal level. Sometimes, the society born is beautiful. Think the Italian Renaissance. There is an explosion of thought and creativity.

I felt immediately the fundamental truth of this theory. I look around and see a lot of radical change in our society. Death: Daily newspapers, local radio, novels, bedrock ethics in many professions, hard media music recordings, land lines, the social contract, ownership, artistic and intellectual elitism. For every one of those losses, there’s a digital mirror image springing from technology.

This theory is wholly optimistic. Things are going to die no matter how we feel about it. The people who will benefit from these changes are the ones who can let go and grab opportunities in the new reality.

Look around you. Have you noticed that more people are producing art for others than ever before? Think about how your friends are making artistic digital photographs and posting them on Flickr and Facebook. Maybe you know a blogger. What’s a blog, but a new mode of artistic self-expression? Even in the analog world—at least in Reno, Nevada—we have 10s of thousands of artists participating in Burning Man or Nada Dada or Artown.

This new world is collaborative in ways never before seen—government with nonprofit, business with art, church with state. It cuts across the old definitions which have been turned on their heads: What do conservative or liberal even mean anymore?

This could be a Golden Age, folks. And RenGen could just as easily be called RenoGen, because we’ve been caught in its riptides for at least a decade.