When we walk in the forest, we do not realize that we see only half of this massive living system; the other (invisible) part consists of the roots that connect the trees to the earth and to each other.
In today’s society, we can distinguish active living beings around us, but we do not realize that we are linked together by (invisible, or symbol-and-myth based) cultural relations operating within a myriad of electronic hyperlinked social networks.
Culture is what distinguishes one group of human beings from another. It is a fundamental means of defining oneself and a group or groups. This differentiation is made possible because a group of humans expresses its values by certain symbolic representations, written, pictorial or sonorous.
Then, when there is a fundamental change of structure the group adopts a new set of symbols (forms of writing or making meaning).
50,000 years ago humans began to use reason. That process replaced natural selection with culture. The first symbolic thought became one of the first known forms of media-based expression or representation: Lascaux. : About 18,000 years BC :
If a society is a building that functions through the vehicle of a common dream (aka vision), it is the society’s culture that gives it cohesion. Since information shaped into opinion is energy, culture becomes information’s vehicle, offering the possibility of identifying and developing a common direction.
In the future, effective cultural diversity woven into purposeful collaboration will be humanity’s most precious jewel.
If technology changes culture, it is culture that makes new technologies accept change.
A society is an area of common knowledge, a territory, a history and, above all, a will. Unfortunately, today there is no more desire for a common dream and future because the trust between members of society has for the most part disappeared. For a bunch of « ME’s » to become a « WE », we must be able to look towards a common horizon together towards a plan that is culturally accepted by all actors. This possibility becomes an impossibility if confidence no longer exists between the actors (as is currently the case).
Elites are aiming for the next election as they think about the next generation
Matthieu Ricard, Advocacy for Altruism, 2013.
Human beings live in a multi-tiered society: individuals, informal groups, formal groups and society. Each level is an organizational environment in which culture and language are influenced by various forces.
All levels allow for both the breakdown of information and citizen participation :
Unfortunately, thanks to the Web today’s culture has rapidly become an instantaneous snapshot culture – people squeeze all the content into capsules of just a few minutes.
For citizens, the fragmentation of both content and attention effectively cancels any significant capacity to link information together in meaningful ways. Thus, understanding and effective reliable communication are often blocked. Citizens then forget or revise the past by focusing only on current events while immediately disseminating them on the Internet. Being riveted-to-the-screens transforms citizens into spectators and society into an info-spectacle about which each element must be blogged or tweeted in order to exist.
Now we live in an era in which the capabilities of digital media can easily bypass national legislations (chapter 3). Because it is a space where we define ourselves collectively, we cannot leave it to others who want to dictate what we are.
Culture in general could become the next victim of the globalization desired by these major consortia. Observations about the process of « dumbing down » are growing all the time, accompanied by waning support for cultural initiatives and resources. This represents a major setback for humanity.
A complex system
In the United States, Martin Luther King (I Have a Dream) or Johnny Cash (Man in Black).
The major change
Completely anesthetized by the daily vision of life, citizens now cannot distinguish the magnitude of the mutations underway that they will experience by the year 2020. Not only is the technical structure of communication now shifting from mass media to a global public space, and a global economic structure, it is in the early stages of a shift from a capitalist dead-end towards some new yet-unknown model. For example, experiments and initiatives in the arenas of P2P and the commons are growing rapidly.
In the future, it is societal structure, and as a result culture, that is going to experience the most profound scope and depth of change :
If we stop analyzing our society according to computer science and instead analyze the situation according to information, a comparative assessment can help us better understand the different phases of change.
Internet 1 and Web 1.0 (data) :
- Users: 1% of the population of the globe, the pioneers were mainly mathematicians, military and academics.
- The theory of communication: mass media (that is, a broadcasting).
- Economic strategies: a search for productivity.
- Literacy: computer science and telecommunications.
Internet 2 and Web 2.0 (information) :
- Users: more 20% of the world’s population, first information workers, then the emergence of adolescents.
- The theory of communication: Two-Step Flow of Communication (peer-to-peer pointcasting).
- Economic strategies: socialization and personalization.
- Literacy: media-based crafting and interpretation of content on multiple platforms.
Internet 3 and Web 3.0 (2020 ?) (knowledge-based) :
- Users: maybe 50% of the world’s population will be networked.
- The theory of communication: The Multi-Step Flow of Communication (narrowcasting between groups and niches); multi-stage communication (local-regional-national and individual-group-state).
- Economic strategies: consensus-building for decision-making.
- Literacy: idealistic, new media-based forms of writing.