Mat Van Den Art's Blog

3.1 Communication Revolution

Posted in MDes Dissertation by matvandenart on August 11, 2010


In his presentation Howard Rheingold relates the old story of human competition and survival of the fittest with economic, social and environmental challenges we as a global society face today. Howard Rheingold in the presentation based on his book SMART MOBS introduced the possible answer in the form of “coming world of collaboration, participatory media and collective action”

Spark, preceding explosion of new communication ideas and inventions is always ignited by the need as a result of unprecedented social, environmental or historic change.

In the prehistoric era of climate change when our kind’s survival stood before a great challenge of hunting enough mammoths to survive heavy winters, contemporary society living in remote small groups of individuals recognized the need to overcome the sense of competition and fear from each other and started first prehistoric communication/collaboration process which ultimately resulted in the current social structure.

The rapid economic and socio-cultural development of the late medieval society in Europe created in 1454 favourable intellectual and technological conditions for Gutenberg’s invention of printing press. This invention resulted within decades in widespread literacy. Literacy subsequently initiated the evolution of new forms of collective action in the spheres of knowledge, religion and politics, followed by scientific revolutions, the protestant reformation, constitutional democracies possible where they had not been possible before. Not created by the printing press but enabled by the collective action that emerged from literacy.

The entrepreneurial spirit of emerging capitalism and the new communication technology available increasingly made its impact on medieval modes of production, fostering economic thinking and improving the efficiency of traditional work-processes urging subsequent industrial revolution. One revolution led to another. Communication revolution encouraged social collaboration followed by technological advancements. However, technologies often tend to develop faster than general cultural understanding of their implications. In the present, human society is continually in the process of developing descriptions and understanding for communication using digital technologies as a medium or environment – in social, economic, and aesthetic respects.

Form of global capitalism which evolved in the early years of 20th century and which social, environmental and political implications has been accelerated by digital revolution enabling human race to master its qualities,  connecting international knowledge in engineering or medicine and giving privileged people freedom of choice. However, with increasing spread of economic globalization it is increasingly difficult to understand, communicate and properly interpret complex monetary, environmental and social processes involved. Modern society stands before the challenge of understanding and solving complex global collaboration, communication and interpretation processes involved in the greatest social change in human history.

In spite of the fact, many individuals in Western world profit from the capital globalization, our current inability complexly understand, evaluate and unilaterally react to the processes involved in current economic, social and environmental changes exposes certain parts of the world at great risk. People are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the everyday consumer decisions and actions of people living on the other side of the globe. Caused by structural problems of globalized capitalism.

Video 12 )

Our consumer decisions are causing pollution, nature and human labour exploitation, disruption of communities and in many cases death. This all is happening in the era when present-day communication technologies possibilities of complex interactions in digital communication go far beyond the simple ‘pointing and clicking’ that offers nothing more than a sophisticated form of looking at a work or the type of interactivity where a user’s act triggers one specific response.

The seeming inability to communicate, interpret and solve challenges of today means we either do not have necessary communication technologies available to us or we have failed to operate properly those we currently posses. We are facing the devastating fact, our current communication methods seemingly lack the ability to interpret complex data sources necessary to reveal complex processes involved in current social and economic change. We are left blind and dumb when controlling and assessing impacts of our social and economic habits to other people’s lives.

When an empowering technology like the web makes it possible for individuals to express themselves freely and to connect their ideas with others, who may or not agree with them but to ignite a dialogue that begins to improve those ideas and through the sharing of perspectives, come up with new ideas, that’s a very exciting and revolutionary prospect.25


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  1. Content « Mat Van Den Art's Blog said, on August 11, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    […] 3.1     Communication Revolution […]

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