Something vast is happening right now. After several hundred years of design engineering built around adding function through ever increasing complexity some of us are moving to a subtler, wiser paradigm of functionality brought closer to some functional ideal through things like further optimization of proportion, materials choice and simplification.
Our computers and cars show where we have been. Each year there are more parts per car, more lines of code per application, more expensive and scarce materials to increase speed, decrease fuel usage.
A Flip video camera gives us a taste of new ways of doing things, providing a better user experience at much lower cost through unrelenting simplification, fewer parts, fewer functions, and simple, transparent design.
Are we perhaps, as a civilization, finally ready go grow past our nouveau riche adolescence into a way of living characterized by doing fewer things well rather than ever more things more flamboyantly?
For a hundred years we have told and read stories of elder races who live lives of beauty with minimal but flawlessly designed possessions, of disciplined grace, in close relations with the living beings surrounding them. Lives that accept a certain degree of vulnerability that comes from that connectedness but also achieve a degree of awakeness and capability from that same interrelated way of being.
Maybe, after this past hundred years or so, we're finally ready to explore what it will take to head towards that way of living rather than just conceding the high ground to fictional elves and fairies and dome-headed space aliens.
I really do hope so.