Happy New Year and Happy New Decade Greetings from Gizmo

Another year has passed, and a new decade awaits us.
Some say this will be the most significant decade in more than 100 years. By the end of it we will probably know the direction Western civilisation will be heading for the rest of the 21st century.  And the news may not necessarily be good even though we all hope dearly that it will.
Sitting here in Sydney Australia today I am surrounded by thick smoke from the scores of bushfires burning throughout the State. Hundreds of homes have been lost and sadly many lives. Ominously the weather forecast for the coming weekend suggests the carnage is not yet over. Thankfully I’m located in a relatively safe area though with these wild fires and catastrophic weather, the truth is nobody is truly safe.
Like the fires in California last Summer, these fires are unprecedented. The warming of the Arctic is unprecedented. The droughts in sub-Saharan Africa and the lower half of South America are unprecedented.
Now this is not an essay on climate change. Rather the point is that we demonstrably live in unprecedented times. And in a world of such grave uncertainty, nobody can predict what the 2020s will bring.
That same situation applies to the Internet. The invasion of our privacy is unprecedented as is the wealth, power and dominance of Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Apple.  Also unprecedented is lack of will from National Governments to reign in the excesses of these corporations. 
If I awoke one morning in 2025 to hear the news that the internet had been sold to the tech giants, I would not be totally surprised. That’s because we live in times where anything seems possible however outrageous. Now I don’t think this will happen and dearly hope that it won’t, but the point is that it could.
This sounds pessimistic but the very same uncertainty could also lead to some unexpectedly positive developments in the 2020s.  For example, there is growing consensus that many of the negative impacts of the internet are a direct consequence of the dominance of advertising.  I fully agree, and in initiatives like the rewards tokens model being used in the Brave Browser, you can see the possible emergence of alternative funding models.  Indeed, the Gizmo’s Freeware website survives largely on voluntary donations rather than advertising alone.
So, let’s hope that in the 2020s the age of advertising dominance of the internet will pass and with it the evils and excesses that have flowed from it.  If that is the future of the internet, then we all can look forward to it.
But the future is the future and now is now so on behalf of all the volunteers who keep the Gizmo’s website going, may I wish you and all our valued site visitors, peace, good health and prosperity in 2020.

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I don't think it will be any fun in South Eastern Australia right now but I do so wish you people would stop using the term "unprecedented". These fires are absolutely not unprecedented. It is so easy to check and see there have been devastating fires just about every decade in recorded history. What is likely to have led to these seeming to much worse is the mismanagement of the National Parks, something not being readily reported in the mainstream.
Just stop and consider, the eucalyptus has evolved to thrive as a result of wild fire. This evolution has occurred over millions of years - hardly as a result of human intervention.

I agree Astrolabe.

As with many things it’s a given the media will make the most of any natural disaster for their own purposes so we should always expect sensationalism and exaggeration to be part of their reporting strategy.

I’m originally from the UK and as a keen angler I hated it every year when the rivers were dredged and the weeds cut making these areas un-fishable until everything had moved downstream. Now this doesn’t happen anymore because it costs money. Over the same period thousands of houses have been built on flood plains and the combined effect with the lack of waterways maintenance has made the annual flooding worse, but still it always happened naturally. Just look at the locations of the affected areas and you see places such as ‘Water Lane”, “Bankside” and “Riverdale” etc. These names have been in place like for ever and were originally chosen for a good reason. :)

Now I’ve been living in Brazil for the past 16 years and every year we have the ‘fire season’ in the Amazon region. Almost certainly human intervention has conspired to make this worse but it’s still a natural event although you would never know that from the international press reports and ‘celebrity’ lectures. Here also they allow properties to be built in high risk areas for land slippage and yet it’s a ‘major disaster’ when a few hundred slide down a mountain or a poorly maintained dam bursts.

This is not to diminish in any way the pain and loss caused to those affected but the reasons why and potential preventative measures are highly complex. Unfortunately most of the more effective potential solutions are also the most costly and approval for this level of expenditure is never going to get passed by any mainstream political group. MC - Site Manager.

Longo Vivas Tempore et Bene Sit (live long and prosper)

I didn't know you were from Australia . Everyone in Canada that I know is wishing Australia well. The two biggest problems we all face today is climate change ( man made or natural) its still a serious problem . The second problem is the uneven distribution of wealth which is causing political problems just about everywhere,
and some climate deniers will use the second issue to do nothing about the first . One day hopefully reason will return .
Happy New Year Bob F.

Thank you Gizmo!

Although humanity's outlook is (as you rightly pointed out) quite bleak, as long as there is life, there will be hope.
This helps me to overcome paralyzing pessimistic sentiments.
There is no denying that we are heading at an ever-increasing pace, to a stronger tyranny led by the powers that be.
But as with any mafia, there will come a pivotal time when they will battle amongst themselves and unfortunately, the ordinary population will suffer the consequences - but a new day will come out of these ashes!
Common good and respect for the rights and dignity of each person will prevail!

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Prayers for Australians and others who suffer such atrocities you mentioned.