4016 Fall07 Questions and Discussion 2
This week's class question:
What are the parallels between the different perspectives of Gray and Friedman and Dyson and Mitchel? What is the most important from your perspective?
This week's respondent: Tucker
Something to look at after reading Freeman Dyson's article on biotech, and if you don't have ten minutes, the last 2-3 minutes are most poignant. (Warning: some harsh language in the clip, maybe not something to watch with young children around.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIvNopv9Pa8 --Tucker 15:53, 9 September 2007 (EDT)
Something else to look at as an artifact of globalization-- there is probably a short conversation to be had around this: http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/08/16/arts/metal.php --Tucker 11:53, 12 September 2007 (EDT)
Another article that brings another aspect of horizontal information and globalization to mind from today's news: http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/09/12/indonesia.quake/index.html I'll introduce its relevancy in class, though it may be immediately clear to some of you. --Tucker 14:01, 12 September 2007 (EDT)
And some words we may want to take a closer look at tonight:
--Tucker 11:53, 12 September 2007 (EDT)
I think this was a great assignment and an interesting way to kick off our semester in the History of Communication as many feel we are currently living an unprecedented period of transition hallmarked by rapid advances in communications technology, and our authors this week spent most of their words addressing the present and spotlighting the future.
Along with the excitement surrounding the daily breakthroughs (or break-ins as some would have it) there are a growing number of questions lifting out of the increasingly networked masses. One way I like to consider the world these days is through a carefully chosen word: acculturation. Exposed to massive amounts of information and its new delivery systems in increasingly inescapable ways, societies are becoming acculturated to the shrinking world and the processes by which the shrinking is happening. The word is good-- culture is in there, and one of my biggest interests in the history of communication is our shared human history as one of cultural birth, death and mutation.
To compare and seek parallels between Dyson, Mitchell, Friedman and Gray, I found it useful to plot their voices visually. For one thing, it's easier for me because I'm a visual learner. For another, I can only hold so much information in my mind at a time before my thoughts collapse. For yet another, some parallels emerged while I was doing this that may not have were I to construct an "A is to B is to C is to D" analysis before discussing and sharing ideas with you all in class.
Of course, in this map of voices there are many points left out, necessarily, otherwise the thing would be huge. Regardless, the last two columns of my map, "emergent powers of organization" and "continually deferred expectations and anxieties" contain the topics I would like to talk about in class, in addition to the ideas highlighted in red. There's much to be said about each, and I expect everyone will have their own take on the meanings and relevancy of my chosen passages.
I'd like to add here, for example, that there's a great connection between Dyson's description of "green" vs. "grey" technology and the discussion of globalization more clearly addressed in both Gray and Friedman. Dyson writes that:
- "For the first five of the ten thousand years of human civilization, wealth and power belonged to villages with green technology, and for the second five thousand years wealth and power belonged to cities with gray technology. Beginning about five hundred years ago, gray technology became increasingly dominant, as we learned to build machines that used power from wind and water and steam and electricity. In the last hundred years, wealth and power were even more heavily concentrated in cities as gray technology raced ahead. As cities became richer, rural poverty deepened."
This speaks directly to Gray's analysis of Friedman's lack of consideration for the "rounding" of the world through increasing economic disparity from the mechanical flood of his interpretation of Friedman's conception of globalization and the goodness of global flattening. Globalization at present seems to thrive primarily on Dyson's "Grey" technology-- the simple, the powerful, the productive, the efficient. The clearest example of "grey" technology in my mind is the world's dominant sources of energy-- oil and coal, both of which are being sought after and consumed at increasing rates, damaging the environment and people everywhere. The sources of raw energy, however, may be considered the basal requirement of globalization in the capitalist context (a context which deserves a conversation on its own, posing questions about the assumptions around capitalism and globalization, or even Americanization and globalization, which may or may not be the same beast depending on those very contexts). In Dyson's view, however, the Biotech Future and its horizontal waves could mitigate the anxiety and concern were power sources more carefully and intelligently thought about, sought after and ultimately used.
There's a stark contrast between Mitchel's description of the "decay of information" and Friedman's "self-organizing communities" in the form of the "open source newsroom". There exist many unanswered questions about the impact of the increasingly horizontal spread of information creation, for example, and what others have called "The Cult of the Amateur".
To go a step further, another aspect of this "decay of information" in the context of globalization may be seen in the way our world is increasingly describing globalization itself. A passage from Steger's "Globalization: A Very Short Introduction" (which we'll be reading later) speaks of this very clearly:
- "Business Week, The Economist, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times are among the most powerful of dozens of magazines, journals, newspapers and electronic media published in the wealthy countries of the Northern Hemisphere that feed their readers a steady diet of globalist claims. Globalism has become what some social and political thinkers call a 'strong discourse' -- one that is notoriously difficult to resist and repel because it has on its side powerful social forces that have already pre-selected what counts as 'real' and, therefore, shape the world accordingly. The constant repetition and public recitation of globalism's central claims and slogans have the capacity to produce what they name. As more neoliberal policies are enacted, the claims of globalism become even more firmly planted in the public mind."
I would like very much to present this idea to Friedman for comment.