Virginia Postrel is a political and cultural writer who is a contributing editor for The Atlantic, editor-in-chief of DeepGlamour.net, and the author of The Substance of Style and The Future and Its Enemies. She is currently writing a book on glamour for The Free Press. She previously wrote an economics column in The New York Times for six years, served as editor of Reason and has worked as a reporter for Inc. Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Individual Rights and is a popular blogger and speaker. She was educated at Princeton University and lives in Los Angeles.
Virginia Postrel: Well I am optimistic on balance. So if I had to pick, I would probably pick an optimistic scenario. Although I could convince myself of really, really bad scenarios as well. Everybody is dying from smallpox, from biological warfare, or there are loose nukes everywhere. Or everybody retreats into a new futilism because there is a big question. One of the big questions going forward is, how physically secure will people feel? Whether it’s from whatever. And if they don’t feel physically secure, where will the threats be coming from? So that’s a big question mark. But let’s take the optimistic Virginia. I think that if, especially if people are allowed to experiment, and we’re able to tap the kind of dispersed knowledge and dispersed creativity that exists in a world with 6 billion plus minds in it, there’s a lot of positive that can come out of that, including countering the creative people who want to do bad things to other people. I have a great faith in the ability of people to muddle through incrementalism, and problem solving that is improvisational and sort of done on the fly. It doesn’t always work, but people are very creative when confronted with new situations. And I think people have collectively an amazing adaptability far more than people sort of acknowledge to themselves. Recorded on: 7/4/07