"We need to dream our future now," urged Celebrated Canadian thinker and new media consultant Derrick de Kerckhove. From his home on the shores of Lake Ontario, he explained the networking site Twitter marks "a huge moment in the maturation of the Internet." "It is the pulse of the people. It indicates the interconnection of everybody and the possibility of instant reporting. Remember that guy who landed in the Hudson River? Within minutes it was a global phenomenon. It's reporting in the absolute present," said the former director of the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology. Facebook, MySpace, Linkedin, Twitter, blogging, instant messaging and other social technologies are examples of connected intelligence. They empower people, turning them into on-the-spot data relayers of everything from police take-downs to Mumbai terrorist attacks and Haiti earthquakes. He applauds the WikiLeaks whistleblower. "It's ridiculous not to recognize this as another maturation in the system. Now we can get the real news, we are not victims of ignorance." WikiLeaks is a global, social, emotional response to lies. It's an appeal to human decency, a push toward planetary transparency. – Times Colonist
Dominant Social Theme: Can't we all just get along?
Free-Market Analysis: We have begun to notice the following emergent sub dominant social theme: The Internet will bring the world together. On the surface is sounds naïve, but the academics are starting in on it, and that means an explosion of windy speculation about how the Internet will change the way the world relates to itself. Of course this fits right in with the power elite's larger promotion – that the world is globalized and growing moreso.
From our point of view the effects of the Internet may be entirely the opposite. The Internet may be a force for fragmentation rather than consolidation. Just because one is able to connect with others around the world, doesn't mean inevitability that the world draws closer together from a geopolitical standpoint. Knowledge of another culture has nothing directly to do with politics. "Globalization" is an artificial phenomeon driven by an Anglo-American power elite eager to consolidate further power.
The aticle excerpted above makes the case that technology will provide the glue for such a movement. But social networking sites are not websites and we have our doubts about WikiLeaks, as well. And we are not sure that "reporting the absolute present" is a change-maker either. But perhaps we have to look to the future to appreciate what the Internet can accomplish. Here is another perspective, courtesy of a feedbacker who yesterday provided a link:
The exponential rate of technical progress will create within 40 years an Internet that is a trillion times faster than today's, a global media, a global education system, a global language, and a globally homogenized culture, thus establishing the prerequisites for the creation of a global democratic state, "Globa," and ridding the world of war, the arms trade, ignorance, and poverty. Whether Globa can cope with the rise of massively intelligent machines occurring at about the same time is far less certain. – KurzweilAI
This perspective, too, emphasizes the potential of the Internet to globalize culture, but its thrust puts us in mind of the 20th century science fiction books that boldly predicted world government, human-like robots and space travel. These and others miracles were to be mundane part of the 21st century but they have not come to pass as yet. It is far easier to make predictions than to do the heavy lifting.
We are led to believe that humans are not capable of relating to more than 150 people at a time. This makes sense, given our tribal past. The idea that technology will suddenly enable an individual to relate internationally has little or nothing to do with the day-to-day reality of the average human. The prediction that the Internet will somehow help develop a new global language is equally speculative in our view. Humans use language to relate directly to each other, usually on a face-to-face basis. It begins with the mother and child, not video-conferencing.
It seems to us that, absent government coercion, the Internet will continue to empower individuals in terms of direct action and human knowledge. Human beings ultimately use tools to master their own environments, not to create a one-world, global villages. Only the power elite is truly interested in global governance, so far as we can tell; most people just want to be left alone.
Globalization has been generated by corporate brands, international treaties and military activities. It is an unnatural, artificial occurrence driven by regulations and dictats. We recall that the Gutenberg press gave rise to a rediscovery of ancient knowledge and the vibrant city-states of the Renaissance. This is often how technology operates; it empowers the individual within a chosen society. It makes people more sophisticated and worldly, but that is a great deal different than speculating that individual cultures will be dissolved by electronic communication. We would think, rather, they might be enhanced.
Yes, the Internet, in its more powerful incarnations, will provide new avenues for self-expression and for building's one knowledge base. This in turn should lead to increased INDEPENDENCE and more vital local societies with their own customs and practices. It is a kind of puerile fantasy to predict that because people can speak to one another over long distances or even derive detailed knowledge of other cultures that the world – absent coercion – shall somehow develop, spontaneously, a global culture.
Would you, dear reader, having the ability to more powerfully examine other cultures, willingly give up your own? Without coercion, would you shed your language, values and familial rituals; or would they evolve without losing originality and even peculiarity? People are more complicated than single, serial inputs. The Internet (in the foreseeable future, anyway) may enrich without homogenizing; a broader frame of reference does not invalidate or undermine one's own cultural experience. The nearer-term outcome of an expanded and increasingly powerful Internet may well be energetic subsidiarity and enrichment of one's own experience and lifestyle rather than a homogenized, global community.
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