Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Our Global Village as a Single Consciousness

The first person to popularize the concept of a global village and to consider its social effects, was Marshall McLuhan. His insights were revolutionary at the time, and fundamentally changed how everyone has thought about media, technology, and communications ever since. McLuhan chose the insightful phrase "global village" to highlight his observation that an electronic nervous system (the media) was rapidly integrating the planet -- events in one part of the world could be experienced from other parts in real-time.

Marshall McLuhan believed that the media is the message: change the media, change your mind. His idea that our medias are extensions of who we are, made us wonder, how does television, internet and cell phone technology change who I am? He believed that the extension of any one sense alters the other senses and changes our world. Our many technologies change many of our senses. How does that effect our lives?


McLuhan once remarked that the one thing a fish is not aware of is water. The water determines everything the fish does yet the fish is blissfully unaware. The point is that we are the fish and technology our water.

Concerning the new status of man in technological, and media-dominated society, he said: "If the work of the city is the remaking or translating of man into a more suitable form than his nomadic ancestors achieved, then might not our current translation of our entire lives into the spiritual form of information seem to make of the entire globe, and of the human family, a single consciousness?"

What do YOU think?

43 comments:

Neil said...

McLuhan, somewhat strangely, was received as very much telling us he had the answers, that these were very much part of his private consciousness, his abilities as an individual. I don't agree with this, though there were some who thought J.L. Austin provided some relief in 'ordinary language'. I'd go more with Molly's interpretation - the eventually soiled message from McLuhan was 'the medium is the message' and strangely we have adopted this in presentation above context, the so-called 'soft skills' of manipulation ahead of factual analysis. I would say the patronising voices of presenters in Blue Peter style (OK in Blue Peter) have become factual - facts in the sense of telling us we can stay in perpetual childhood and no real facts will be revealed. There's a good paper on relativism in Stanford EP on line and also a paper 'Visions of rationality' by Valerie M. Chase, Ralph Hertwig and Gerd Gigerenzer available as a link in it.

I would guess that making sense of many available voices could be had in a better understanding of our "technology-water". The idea though, is presumably not to become a hive of single consciousness in subordinance to a 'Queen' or any technology, but in the paradox of individuality and collective - in a form of consciousness that is better, perhaps in a form of rational relativism in which we understand what we are relative to.

Alexander M Zoltai said...

A cartoon and paper that may add to your conversation:
http://tinyurl.com/6xadye

~ Alex

veryheaven said...

reading your headline i instantly felt like "yeah, right"
for me at the moment thinking...the internet/wireless lan technique could be seen as a substitute or an extension to intuition and spiritual connection we would like to have displayed to believe in ;-) a newly revealed bridge (long forgotten) to (re-)connect all people on the planet.
*
who sang "unite as one"? it´s a cool idea to overcome separation and to recall out of our memories the feeling of being all in one, worshiping sweet, caring and loving dependancy.

Jim Murdoch said...

As you mention it I do think that today's technology connects mankind in a way never before possible. I can communicate with people in the Philipines who I may never meet, and certainly would not have had the opportunity to do so otherwise. It may be a computer problem or a blog topic which brings us together. Maybe I read his or her article, or forum entry, or I respond to their blog entry, or receive a response to mine. For whatever reason we have been brought together, our minds have connected and the global consciousness has expanded, just like I know you Molly, yer we have never met nor otherwise communicated.

There is, I believe, a deeper communication happening here, and particularly when such topics as this one are being discussed. Minds are being opened to new possibilities and before unknown realities. More are becoming aware that more than just technology and the Internet are holding us together. Yes, the Internet may well be the tool to accelerate global consciousness to the extent that has been elsewhere predicted. It certainly is a tool which is rapidly bringing the physical world together. The same is true also of the spiritual, sub-conscious world.

Francis said...

McLuhan was, in fact much more reflective and thoughtful about the way modern societies are developing than the pop culture usually gives him credit for. Inspired by Molly's post, I "surfed" (itself a phrase which was possibly coined by McLuhan) around a bit and came across the following passage from "The Gutenberg Galaxy":

"Instead of tending towards a vast Alexandrian library the world has become a computer, an electronic brain, exactly as an infantile piece of science fiction. And as our senses have gone outside us, Big Brother goes inside. So, unless aware of this dynamic, we shall at once move into a phase of panic terrors, exactly befitting a small world of tribal drums, total interdependence, and superimposed co- existence. [...] Terror is the normal state of any oral society, for in it everything affects everything all the time. [...] In our long striving to recover for the Western world a unity of sensibility and of thought and feeling we have no more been prepared to accept the tribal consequences of such unity than we were ready for the fragmentation of the human psyche by print culture."

It struck me as eerily prophetic, given that it was written almost half a century ago. The point is, of course, that the "consciousness" (however we choose to understand that) emerging in the global village is amoral and, at the same time, infinitely malleable. If there is evolution or development here, it does not necessarily have to be in a positive direction - or a negative one. Probably, like everything human, it is both - and incredibly complex at that. Within this context, our individual attitudes and actions DO matter, more than ever, perhaps, given the growing practical networked interconnectivity in our society. What does it mean to me that I was able to buy the notebook I'm typing this on for € 699 because many of the components were possibly produced by a Chinese peon working 60 hours a week for € 25 a week? That the rest of the chicken of whom I bought 500 g. of deep-frozen prime breast for € 2.99 in my local supermarket, has been sold at dumping prices in Ghana, putting local farmers out of business and possibly endangering the health of all who eat it, because the necessary cooling chain hasn't been followed through? That young Russian girls are prepared to let themselves be criminally exploited as prostitutes in the west because they believe the fairy-tale of Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman" and decide that anything is better than the drab, dreary struggle for existence they experience at home?

The global village is, in many ways, a frightful jungle. Interdependence also means (or should mean) mutual responsibility and solidarity. But these are the aspects of which we hear nothing from the gung-ho proponents of untrammeled free-market globalisation. And the most important and powerful parts of the media are controlled by them, thus letting some messages through and ignoring others. The medium is the message - Rupert Murdoch knows that very well indeed.

Molly Brogan said...

I hear you, Francis. Marshall McLuhan has some very interesting youtube videos and by the looks of them, I would say that he would wholeheartedly agree with you. The way the media is used is very telling, and McLuhan comes off as somewhat of a prick in his outspokenness about it. But he was the visionary, the one who saw all of the possibility in technology so many years ago. And the practical application fell (and continues to fall) short of that. But I think we are closer, and the possibilities are closer to more of us than ever.

I think also, that we really have gotten around our problems with TV hand feeding us pablum with the advent of the internet and also the cell phone becoming more of a personal communication device (including internet, GPS, etc.) We have more choices in our sources of information and more information than ever to choose from. One of McLuhan's idea that I liked the best was that the more immediately we can access information, the more our consciousness raising will accelerate. I find myself googling everything to look up more info on whatever I am considering. We keep a lap top by the TV so that we can dig deeper. What a world!

Neil said...

I tend to agree with this interpretation too (of McLuhan). One can find something a bit similar in the much earlier work of Vehlen and obviously the Frankfurt School. The Internet has improved things - but is a bit shabby with all the spam. I saw on of our politicians early tonight talking about inflation and wages (Shell tanker drivers have just got 14% over two years after a strike). I wondered if he knew he was coming out with the same platitudes from the 1970s in calling for restraint and calling this a special case. Reporting isn't ahistoric - it denies history and replaces it with an eery smaltz. There's a big report on policing and communities today - but that could have been written in the 1970s too. It takes no account of how bureaucracies actually deal with people, or of the political appeal content of its own message.

This from New Scientist.
Hartline's computer model assumes that people value a product more each time one of their friends buys the same item – and allows for the effect dying off as more friends join the trend. If advertisers have access to the network of people's data they can exploit this effect, in what Hartline calls an "influence-and-exploit" strategy. A company would first give away free or heavily discounted products to a select few individuals with the most influence. After that, they would offer the same product to their friends at increasing, carefully calculated prices to track a product's growing appeal. That should maximise a company's possible income at each successive step.

False friendsSocial networking sites hold all the information advertisers need to carry out such a strategy, says Hartline. "An online service provider's biggest asset is the data they have about their users. It's how Google is making money hand-over-fist," Hartline suggests, "and that's also true of social network services." He admits that it can be difficult to judge whether online "friends" really do influence one another. However, he adds that it should be possible to filter false from true friends, for example by looking at the communication patterns between them, or whether they share mutual friends.

The influence-and-exploit tactic may find favour with some users excited at the prospect of being commercially rewarded for their popularity, says Angela Sasse at the Human Centred Systems lab, University College London, UK. Ad fatigueBut many people are becoming weary of marketing, she adds, or have other concerns. "The vast majority of individuals are not aware of how much of their information is being stored, and when they do become aware, they object to it." Hartline agrees privacy is important, but says market influences will weed out bad behaviour. "Any company would receive a lot of bad press if it did something that wasn't a legitimate, value-adding service," he says. "I'm sure there will be some that use data in inappropriate ways, but hopefully they won't survive."

Arrgh!

Molly Brogan said...

Will we, you and I, Neil, now get ads for Guinness and Shillelaghs for poking people? We like them... Here in the states, data mining is one of the objections to free internet in cities, as the providers have found that this will fund at least part of it. I say, I never look at ads anyway. Another part of the free enterprise flux and flow. If I am really going to be transparent, I have nothing but pity for anyone tracking my activity and tastes.

Neil said...

Indeed Molly - anyway sad enough to be mining me can't have anything I want!

Molly Brogan said...

I wonder what the revolutionary spirit of the 1970's would have been like with more of the "simultaneous happening" in McLuhan's vision that we see now:

"Mcluhan saw each new media invention as an extension of some human faculty. In The Medium is the Massage he notes, “All new media are extensions of some human faculty” (Mcluhan and Fiore 1967:26). The book illustrates some examples; the wheel of the foot, the book of the eye, clothing of the skin and electronic circuitry of the central nervous system. In terms of the “global village” the last extension is the most important. He saw us as breaking our ties with a local society and, through our new electronic extensions, connecting globally to a new world of total involvement. “We now live in a Global Village…a simultaneous happening” (Mcluhan & Fiore 1967:63"

Neil said...

I think we have that sense of global wrong Molly. There's been plenty of bull in the managerial wind over local-global rather than multinational, but I mean in the way that I feel so rootless. I don't amount to much - but compared with people where I'm living now I have traveled extensively and had lots of experience they never will, an education they probably can't really understand at all. In a way this has done nothing for any of us and you'll find them in 2nd life or something if they are on line, or gambling in the new bingo clubs. We carry something very connected in our genes and probable common origin but are still tribal, groupist small-worlders. I'm not recommending this - I just think the actual model we need isn't put to us very often and it's not as catchy as Mcluhan's and means we need to change the money system very radically.

Molly Brogan said...

Yes! Part of McLuhan's global village includes the concept of re- tribalization that may be part of what you feel:

"The electronically induced technological extensions of our central nervous systems, which I spoke of earlier, are immersing us in a world- pool of information movement and are thus enabling man to incorporate within himself the whole of mankind. The aloof and dissociated role of the literate man of the Western world is succumbing to the new, intense depth participation engendered by the electronic media and bringing us back in touch with ourselves as well as with one another. But the instant nature of electric-information movement is decentralizing--rather than enlarging--the family of man into a new state of multitudinous tribal existences. Particularly in countries where literate values are deeply institutionalized, this is a highly traumatic process, since the clash of the old segmented visual culture and the new integral electronic culture creates a crisis of identity, a vacuum of the self, which generates tremendous violence -- violence that is simply an identity quest, private or corporate, social or commercial."

and he would probably agree with your insights into education:

"Because education, which should be helping youth to understand and adapt to their revolutionary new environments, is instead being used merely as an instrument of cultural aggression, imposing upon retribalized youth the obsolescent visual values of the dying literate age. Our entire educational system is reactionary, oriented to past values and past technologies, and will likely continue so until the old generation relinquishes power. The generation gap is actually a chasm, separating not two age groups but two vastly divergent cultures. I can understand the ferment in our schools, because our educational system is totally rearview mirror. It's a dying and outdated system founded on literate values and fragmented and classified data totally unsuited to the needs of the first television generation."

Here is the whole good interview with playboy:

http://www.columbia.edu/~log2/mediablogs/McLuhanPBinterview.htm

Neil said...

The frightening thing is when he wrote this Molly. There has been no real sea-change in teaching attitudes and methods in this time, even though we can supervise at a distance and distance learning is coming on. We still really value the three 'r's way ahead of using what is available - an the essay-report is still the main assessment tool. Very few teachers even consider this kind of radical view and teacher training even less so - it is starkly set in a hogwash past. We haven't even worked out that school can be anywhere with a screen, or even that one might go to talk about what has been screened, and even design one's own screenings. Literacy and numeracy are still dominant in ways they need not be.

Molly Brogan said...

I agree, and this is why I did not go into teaching, although I have been doing it in one capacity or another all along. McLuhan was a professor at University of Wisconsin, Madison in one of the finest communications departments in the country. And still, not much progress, although when he was there, the students were rioting and chicken wire was all over the windows in the neighborhoods.

Buckminster Fuller headed the design department in the 60s and early 70s at SIU where I attended, and he also had the same type of experience. These men certainly changed paradigms, but people are still struggling to understand the change.

Neil said...

I fancy the change we need to spark the rest is in the ability for people to have more ideas demonstrated to them in ways they can understand. This can't be 'edutainment' though - some risk has to be involved with emotional engagement. This has been lost in academe here - targets and the like are responsible and the over-management of everything by a cadre of semi-idiots. I have a feeling that 'plenty' threw up these semi-idiots and we haven't recognised how much more we can actually do as teachers because of technology. We need rid of these people almost as desperately as a fat organisation needs to delayer.

Molly Brogan said...

I wonder if the truly brilliant ideas always stand alone until the mainstream knowledge base can be formed and folks can catch up with them.

Pat said...

Perhaps we need to develop an holographic aspect to the web that can allow people to download holographic demonstrations rather than textual dissertations. Just a thought for the future. ;-)

Molly Brogan said...

Meet me on the holodeck, Number One!

Pat said...

I wish I could. But I think the concept of a holodeck would lend itself to all manner of abuses. For example, it could be a playground for paedophiles, rapists and murderers. Or allow for the most heinous of tyrants to create a real Hell for their opposers. But, many forms of technology have that ability to be used for good or ill. Like anything else, it still requires a bit of self-restraint on the part of the user.

Neil said...

Interesting point Pat - very complex morally. This may be off-beam and I don't want to disrupt Molly's excellent thread - I needed to be reminded of this. The family next door to us are scrotes - don't like the word but little else works to describe them. We've tried to get them help - but the social services (as we all know) are hopeless with their heads buried in the sand. The nature of this 'sand' would bear examination. The social services people are convinced they have experiential-professional knowledge and understand much better than everyone else - we just don't understand the resourcing issues, false reporting and so on. Molly - you sound as though you must have been on the inside of this once? I was a cop - so I was trained to hate social workers. At some point, the agencies declared there so no threat to the welfare of the kids next door. They missed all the evidence and tried to smear us when we pressed. Now everyone next door has a criminal record, except the kid who is too young to be allocated one - he's lovely at the moment, but is already doomed to be disruptive. Over time, the scrotes have shown themselves to be scrotes - but in the process they have deceived many officials who like to think they are smart and can tell who is telling the truth. More effort has been expended by the agencies in trying to 'ignore' the problems than would have been had they addressed them, and more effort has gone on defending the agencies and covering up blunders than on the real problems. It's obvious from the inside of this as a victim that administrative
power prevents people teaming up, sharing experiences and resources and so on to try to get the real problems sorted. I know enough about networking to know we could easily link up victims and provide cheap representation and so on, and prevent the kind of lying the scotes use to evade changing their lives. In a way, it's like we have all the technology but are waiting for some diesel for the generator - though the behavioural complex of vested interest is a complex. In the meantime, a criminal couple who have blodged welfare all their lives and dealt drugs, now act as neighbour fences - produce a second generation as their kids (girls) are nicked for burglary and so on. The smack each other about and seem full of 'values' that went out with the Ark in the 1970s. It's so obvious to me as an academic what is going on, yet the agencies behave in almost as childish a manner as the scrotes, and are actually as vicious towards the real victims (us, the kids next door, the neighbourhood, kids they engage in crime etc. - one vulnerable kid in particular has been exposed to them).

I guess my point is that it's not just brilliant ideas - it's almost any knowledge that doesn't suit petty mind sets, and that chronic form of self-justification we are supposed to grow out of.

Pat said...

Scrotes' Law: You may not be agle to fool all the people all of the time; however, if you fool the right people at the right time, the rest of the people won't matter.

This makes a 'scrote' a social genius who can who can pull the wool over the eyes of any clever dick. Although, perhaps not able to pull the wool over the eyes of a clever ex-dick who happens to be a neighbour. ;-)

Molly Brogan said...

Interesting that you bring the scrote story up, Neil. Part of my bit to social services was launching a local welfare to work program for the state of Illinois and the first thing I did was gather all the agencies that served teen parents in the country together to coordinate efforts. The communication level was high and everyone ended up saving time and resources and all of the cracks to fall through were tightened up. It is amazing how small a county gets and how many people are effected by families like the scrotes. But with this kind of synergy, when someone got a call - they knew what was what. But this kind of grass roots effort (I used a future by design model and modified it) takes some from the top whose influence can get the major players together, and some hard word at the bottom, of those running the programs and willing to see it through. I like Pat's idea, but reversed. With the right people meeting, any thing is possible.

The holodeck might alleviate some of this for society though. If we are allowed to play through our psychological drama to a harmless yet responsive hologram, we may save our fellow humans a bit of suffering. We each, at some point, have to own our dark AND golden shadows before we can let go the charge on either when we see it in the world around us. After all, they ARE us.

ornamentalmind said...

As a very simple observation, when it comes to societal rules and how this game is played, the foundation is lying.

Neil said...

I find it very hard to get 'major players' to drop silly attitudes - everyone is playing politics as though they have picked up the lying habits of the politicians. It's a weird consciousness that one has to confront or elide.

ornamentalmind said...

Neil, thanks for the 'new' word...to me at least. (elide) It appears to be slightly different from what I thought might have been a typo. (elude?)

As to it being a 'weird consciousness', I guess it seems all too normal to me. And, you seem to have a fight/flight reaction to it, no? Reading your posts this year has led me to the conclusion that you do wish that there was more true justice/morality when it comes to your case at the very least and perhaps to the entirety of law enforcement at best. Is the general gest of it? Going with that assumption, I have the urge to give advice. First, acceptance would aid in dealing with reality. Once that occurs, true compassion for another human being's ignorance might arise. And, of course, I could use this myself! I attempted to use two methods in one here.

In the "Descent into Lanka Sutra", the Buddha says:

My teaching has two modes:
Advice and tenets.
To children I give advice,
And to yogis I give tenets.

Neil said...

Elision arises a lot in academic text these days. I prefer sleight-of- hand, but one soaks up a lot of rot. It has something to do with the seduction of text. I would say postmodernism, forgetting the upper- class junkies of art, is about liberty, freedom, justice and fraternity and the recognition that major legitimating discourses do not really address them. I'm really a simple man and don't like people being shit on, and often not even able to say that this is happening to them. The idea and practice of compassion for ignorance in individuals is essential in teaching - though fails if one can't recognise one's own and demonstrate that.

Felix said...

> I'm really a simple man and

Neil, I think you know that I respect your posts, your political positions (which seem to parallel mine), your Marxist/anarchist bent, and your intellectual labor. However, sentences like that above make me cringe: I hear the same words from Bush and Bush-ites throughout the States. Is there something wrong with complexity?

Neil said...

I'd have to agree Felix, though this doesn't stop me feeling simple anger and the rest. Many people are so experienced in being ripped off by the complex that they tend to think anyone being complex is lying to them. I'm not suggesting we sink into emotivism - though I am sure this behavioural component is sadly neglected and most argument arises from failures to grasp irrationality early enough so that we end up in rationalisation, not attempts at 'ideal speech' - indeed even most academic 'argument' is little more than politesse and etiquette. I am regularly sickened by this, though can offer complex reasons. I think you would take my general point that much is relative to frames of reference and that we do not explore the variables of such relations very well - indeed such attempts are quickly killed by fear of 'anything goes' or some heavy-handed 'realist' position. One can find quite a good exposition of the wrong kind of complexity at perspicuity.net/sd/pub-choice.html - Leon and I converse from time to time. Complexity can bring intentional vagueness into play in order to maintain and exploit power relations - typical tricks in public choice and administrative power. Our legal systems are full of it. I would fully defend a more genuine complexity - though if one reads social science one quickly realises much complexity is a very simple exploitation of 'super-literacy' and a retreat from real problems as experienced. I would be sorely tempted with Bush in my cross-hairs, but know this kind of simplicity is no answer - I might just become the next Bush. There are simple temptations in 'complexity' and we need to be aware of them. No offence taken here Felix - you merely made a good point we should expand on - though I hope I have let my defensiveness show - if you know what I mean.

Francis said...

In the end, Neil, I suppose we're getting back to very old problems - I'm reminded of Plato's Republic and Laws. There is amazing complexity in everything, we only need to look at individual human relationships (!), but decisions, in the end, are often quite simple. The point is, of course, the basis for the decisions made and this demands much more openness in public affairs than is usually the case. What is sadly absent in our societies is more emphasis on and respect for ethics.

Getting into politics is a difficult choice. Politicians are in a Faustian position - but it's even more insidiously subtle than Mephistopholean temptation. Politics is about compromise, horse- trading. Sometimes this can be positive. One of major vectors in the strategy of those working for peace in Northern Ireland was to get Sinn Fein/IRA into the decision making/taking responsibility process. But, more usually, I think politicians - if they are honest with themselves (and many seem to have totally lost this capacity too along the way) - one day wake up and realise that they have, in fact, sold their souls, the only problem is, they cannot quite work out at what stage - there was never a clear moment of choice, rather an incremental weakening of vision, a gradual erosion of moral will.

An example of the point I'm trying to make is the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. I don't want to go into the rights and wrongs of the Kosovo war, what is interesting here is the fact that it marked the first participation of German troops (Luftwaffe) in combat operations (and that not even on German soil!) since 1945. The decision to participate was made by a coalition which included the Green party (which has many roots in the radical anti-war movements in Germany on the 70s and early 80s) and was passionately pleaded for by the Green Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer. Talk about poacher turned gamekeeper! That, I suppose, is one example of what complexity can do to you!

Neil said...

Very pertinent Francis. The ironies in versions of Faust are very telling. My own guess is that our 'enslavement' to capitalism is the problem - yet saying this means almost nothing in-itself. I'm on about a need to change motivations, but also to retain motivations that overcome selfish and barbaric tendencies - a new world of habit. I'd favour sorting Mugabe out - but not to replace him with the next
despot and so on. All very complex. I very much favour a lot of self- reliant local communities with some kind of global connection and the realisation that we need to form ourselves so as not to become the prey of idiots with guns, idiot religions and so on in habits where the free-rider (lazy, crooks and so on) cannot make our lives a misery and in which we can have dignity without celebrity and abuse of riches. Yet how do we get to any of this, even in thinking, without making anyone not singing from our hymn sheet into 'kufr'?

Molly Brogan said...

This part of McLuhan may apply here too.

"system is reactionary, oriented to past values and past technologies, and will likely continue so until the old generation relinquishes power. The generation gap is actually a chasm, separating not two age groups but two vastly divergent cultures."

Molly Brogan said...

we can hope that we are moving into something much more seamless, as the change occurs more rapidly and frequently. I don't see as much of a chasm between old and new. Perhaps my sons would not agree...

ornamentalmind said...

The author of the above, Marshall McLuhan was born in 1911 and died almost 30 years ago. Much of his writing took place in the 1960s, about a half century ago. The above quotation for example is from an article in Playboy from March 1969.

Since we have gone through at least one generation (about 30-33 years/ generation), and are well into a second one, we should be able to evaluate the credibility of what he said.

Having lived through the 60s and read a lot of Marshall's works, when I look around today, if anything, I see 'the world' as being worse off. So, this gives me little hope about anything learned from such presentations.

Molly Brogan said...

I see an amazing amount of change in the past half century, especially in the field of information technology, and I think that much of what Marshall McLuhan's predicted in terms of societal change as it relates to technology rings true. My mother read from books and went to the library to research. My children saw libraries as antiquated (until I showed them the rare book rooms.) Information is one search engine entry away and I think this has allowed enormous leaps in our individual development and communicative abilities. What is worse and what is better is always relative. The tools available to each generation that were not available to the last cannot be denied. History tells us the effects of the tools on culture - yet history itself can depend on the viewpoint of the writer.

Francis said...

Yes, Molly, but tools are only tools. The discovery of iron led to both ploughshares and swords ... It all depends on how we use them.

Molly Brogan said...

the media is the massage

Neil said...

The postindustrial, information society was posited by Jean Jaures, the French socialist at the turn of the century (1903). He was amongst millions who tried to stop WW1. There is no doubt electronic access has changed a lot, yet money is still really needed to do research in any depth. This too is changing, as one can engage people in 'talk' at considerable distance. However, the net is broadly a very trivial place as are the markets for games and so on. With all the TV channels, quality is actually down and we still have no basic educational material or much sign of breaking the super-literacy requirements for research through the new technology.

Molly Brogan said...

"we only need to look at individual human relationships (!), but decisions, in the end, are often quite simple. The point is, of course, the basis for the decisions made and this demands much more openness in public affairs than is usually the case. What is sadly absent in our societies is more emphasis on and respect for ethics."

We discussed this earlier, but I do think that the technology is
ushering in this age of ethics, as a short video from a cell phone can
be uploaded to youtube and posted for the world to see at any time.
It happens more than we know and individuals, especially those in the public sector, are forced to behave differently. Will thinking differently follow? I know that my experience is different than many of you, but I have seen significant social change by working within the system and presuming that those in charge want change that is best for their families and constituents. I have seen people working together, communities changing for the better, and children thriving because they grow up in a place where they are supported and given opportunities to explore their potential. The whole county pulled together with state, federal and local resources to reorganize and move forward. It can be done but it takes time, hard work, and faith that the people involved truly want what is best. There is a lot of crap along the way that comes up that needs to be overlooked so that things can move forward, but if people are working together with an understanding, anything is possible. I have seen it.

It is also interesting that software is currently being developed that
researches the pulse of humanity by what is published on the internet
- how many times the words love, hate, terror, healing etc are used,
especially after a significant world event. Without much investment
or coordinated participation, we can now examine the reactions of
humanity by the words they use on the web during and after. We are
finding ways to study with current technology that, again, change the
paradigm of self examination.

Molly Brogan said...

http://www.momentonearth.com/mosaic/

here is another look at what a synergistic use of technology can do

Neil said...

Ethics is key - though it's also clear that we are a long way off. This is evident in a lot of threads in here. Argument is more of a pastime than something that we can use in changing habits. I didn't particularly like momentonearth, but can see possibilities as technology develops.

Molly Brogan said...

can see possibilities

Maybe that is all it takes! Certainly, this is what McLuhan saw - and folks are still mulling his ideas. I was finally able to navigate to a page on momentonearth where I could see parts of the film from several of the directors chosen around the world. What an interesting and monumental editing job! I very much liked the ability to see what was happening in the same moment in so many parts of the world, and I also liked seeing so many different parts of the world - it was like tasting many different flavors, we are so vastly different, and so much the same. Even if all this film did was give folks a glimpse of a world view, it has given us a big step. And this step is available to anyone with computer access.

Neil said...

I agree Molly. I've tried to use film for a long time in place of words, but rarely have the facilities to do this because universities are so backward and so much of the money gets stolen by 'suits'. I have hit a non-technical problem in that many students can read film either - in fact they may be worse at this than they are with words and numbers. I would have all the main content of my lectures in recorded form and use a lot of film clips to make relevant points. Things are moving, but we are limping along. Even being able to tell multiple stories would be a great help. The efforts are immense at the start but clearly tail off. I started in 1983 with computer interactive video - lots of whirring!

Molly Brogan said...

It does boil down to funding so often. What fun we would have if money were not the issue! Big screens, cameras in our computers - that might change the nature of these discussions - seeing everyone during the conversation, hearing their voice, listening to, instead of reading their ideas. We may be able to add ethics as we type slowly, edit and re-edit before sending off.

It is key to do the best we can with what we have in the moment. I don't think may of us know how to use much of what is available to us already! And it is there, at our finger tips. I suppose that at some point, the economy of time to explore our technological options comes into play...