Clay Shirky on Openness in an Online World

The NYU interactive telecommunications professor looks for a balance between open and closed systems, but believes technological threats could close everything down


Smithsonian magazine's 40th Anniversary Issue

Faster, More Urban, More Diverse
Richard Florida, Director, The Martin Prosperity Institute, University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management
The changes to our urban and rural areas will reinvent our education system. Our economy will be less real estate driven, people will be more flexible, and the divisions between home and work and life will all fade away.

How "Discreet, Unobtrusive Technology" Will Transform Cities
Bill Mitchell: Director, The Media Lab's Smart Cities Group, MIT
Cities won't look like "some sort of science-fiction fantasy," but it's likely that technological advances and information overlays will change the way we live in significant ways.

A "Fabric of Knowledge" to Save our Seas
Sylvia Earle: Oceanographer & Founder, Mission Blue
The information revolution may turn everyday people into ocean conservationists.

Global Vaccination Efforts to Battle AIDS
David Ho: Scientific Director & CEO, Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center
The HIV/AIDS epidemic will still be with us in 40 years. But we will know a lot more about the virus than we do today—and therapy will be much more effective.

More People, in More Cities, Living Longer
Joel Cohen: Mathematical Biologist, Rockefeller University
In 2050 there will be about 9 billion people in the world. The vast majority of them will live in urban areas, and will have a significantly higher average age than people today.

Eating Slow, Real, Local and Fresh
Nina Planck: Author, "Real Food"
In the future, there will be more small slaughterhouses, more small creameries, and more regional food operations—and we'll be healthier as a result.

The Next Pope Could Be Black
Father James Martin: Jesuit Priest and Author of "The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything"
The Catholic Church will be "a different color" in 40 years. And there will likely be female priests.

A Looming "Disaster" for European Muslims?
Joan Wallach Scott: Historian and Social Scientist, The Institute for Advanced Study
Unless the countries of Europe figure out how to accommodate Muslim immigrant populations, there will be increasing numbers of riots, and increasing divisions along economic, religious and ethnic lines.

Fewer of Us Will Be in Prison
Robert Perkinson: Author, "Texas Tough: The Rise of a Prison Empire"
The U.S. is now incarcerating on a level so out of sync with it's own history—and with what other industrial democracies are doing—that the system is bound to change.

Planting Crops Could Be Like Paying Taxes
Glenn Roberts: Farmer and Owner of Anson Mills
The ethical responsibility to grow and preserve and sustain land-raised systems will survive and those cuisines that are based on land-raised cuisines that are place-based will return and thrive.