Nicholas Negroponte: Peer-to-peer is key. I mean that in every form conceivable: cell phones without towers, sharing leftover food, bartering, etc. Furthermore, you will see micro-wireless networks, where everyday devices become routers of messages that have nothing to do with themselves.

Nature is pretty good at networks, self-organizing systems. By contrast, social systems are top-down and hierarchical, from which we draw the basic assumption that organization and order can only come from centralism.

Companies cannot really see beyond their current customer base. They explicitly or implicitly do things to protect their current customers. And the last person to want real change is your customer. This is why most new ideas come from small companies that have nothing to lose.

Standards are often used to protect the incumbent or a domestic market. China is doing this at the moment, to its own peril. We have seen this time and time again. When the French did it for TV [with the SECAMsystem], it cost them a great deal and failed miserably. If only the Chinese would look at history.

But the long term is brighter, not because people will get smarter or less protective but because standards, as we know them, will play less of a role. More and more will be down in software, like software-definable radios, so you can download a new device (a new standard) as needed, vs. build it into a product (as we did with physical items, like plugs).

More here.