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The Media Zeitgeist: The Masses as Cultural Hostages and Consumers of Converging Technological Gizmos, Zines and Meme

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Digi-Reality And Environments In Our Present Technological Societies..

The World, Today, Is Home To 7.2 Billion Gadgets, and they are multiplying five times Faster Than We Are... Welcome to Digiphrenia..   "No other technology has impacted us like the mobile phone. It's the fastest growing manmade phenomenon ever -- fro

The World, Today, Is Home To 7.2 Billion Gadgets, and they are multiplying five times Faster Than We Are... Welcome to Digiphrenia.. "No other technology has impacted us like the mobile phone. It's the fastest growing manmade phenomenon ever -- fro

Zeitgeist and stuff: The consumption conundrum

Zeitgeist and stuff: The consumption conundrum

Delete Key Billboard - Media Imitating art or is it Art imitating Media - Media today in an extension of ourselves

Delete Key Billboard - Media Imitating art or is it Art imitating Media - Media today in an extension of ourselves

Zeitgeist Toys

Zeitgeist Toys

Given contemporary media and its gadgets, it has been noted that the National Security Monitored Domestic Communication of American Journalists

Given contemporary media and its gadgets, it has been noted that the National Security Monitored Domestic Communication of American Journalists

The Ads are not only watching us but dictate what we see, hear, smell, eat, feel, think and do. The are what we are and what they say they are and ought to be, do, act, live-like and so on

The Ads are not only watching us but dictate what we see, hear, smell, eat, feel, think and do. The are what we are and what they say they are and ought to be, do, act, live-like and so on

Zeigeitst for every iPod. The 'sixities', the 'seventies', the 'eighties' and  the 'nineties'  - each decade having particular cultural and artistic elements that comprise the overall sense of "Zeitgeist" for that era

Zeigeitst for every iPod. The 'sixities', the 'seventies', the 'eighties' and the 'nineties' - each decade having particular cultural and artistic elements that comprise the overall sense of "Zeitgeist" for that era

The confluence and Kaleidoscopic and morphing of the Zeitgeist where change dissolves outdated systems of politics and media in favor of technological redesigning and and an extensions of ourselves

The confluence and Kaleidoscopic and morphing of the Zeitgeist where change dissolves outdated systems of politics and media in favor of technological redesigning and and an extensions of ourselves

In a decaying society, art, if it is truthful, must also reflect decay. And unless it wants to break faith wtith its social function, art must show the world as changeable. aAnd help to change ti

In a decaying society, art, if it is truthful, must also reflect decay. And unless it wants to break faith wtith its social function, art must show the world as changeable. aAnd help to change ti

Cultural Dysfunction As Caused By Technique Enhancement

The media today has power far beyond our common understanding of the spirit of the times. This power and influence the media wields is by means of Technique. Whether we are talking about the printing press, radio, television, Internet or emerging technologies, the media's interests have always been profit and the shaping of men's attitudes.

These profits drove the development and the facilitated for the proliferation of nascent technologies. By craftily manipulating this technique of orchestrating and redirecting men's attitudes and behaviors, these new technologies were presented as the furtherance of democracy and modernizing of the way men communicated with their world and the enhancement of their appreciation of these new gadgets.

Jacques Ellul wryly observed: "Technique, as the universal and autonomous technical fact, is revealed as the Technological Society itself in which man is but a single tightly integrated and articulated component. It is a description of the way in which an autonomous technology is in process of taking over the traditional values of every society without exception, subverting and suppressing these values to produce at last a monolithic world culture in which all non-technological difference and variety is mere appearance".

Ellul says that, 'technique has become indifferent to all traditional human ends and values by becoming an end-in-itself'. It seems like technique rules and controls and shapes men's attitudes and behavior.

It's easy to see that we are living in precipitous times. The media today is in the hands of the Corporate few suited for the shareholders and advertisers. It is known by many that humans possess the ability to alter their destiny than they did before, thus it's the duty of the democrat to regulate this technique and power, and to work so that social decision-making and power may be made as enlightening and egalitarian.

Jacques Ellul states: "Only the naïve can really believe that the world-wide movement towards centralism results from the machinations of evil statesmen. The intellectual discipline of economics itself becomes technicized. Politics in turn becomes an arena for contention among rival techniques. The technician sees the nation quite differently from the political man: to the technician, the nation more than another sphere in which to apply the instruments he has developed.

"To him, the state is not the expression of the will of the people, nor a divine creation nor a creature of class conflict. It is an enterprise providing services that must be made to function efficiently. He judges states in terms of their capacity to utilize technique effectively, not in terms of their relative justice. Political doctrine revolves around what is useful rather than what is good.

"Purposes drop out of sight and efficiency becomes the central . As the political form best suited to the massive and unprincipled use of technique, dictatorships gains in power. And this in turn narrows the range of choice for the democracies: either they too use some version of effective technique-centralized control and propaganda-or they will fall behind. Public opinion provides no control because it too is largely orientated toward "performance" and technique is regarded as the prime instrument of performance, whether in the economy or in politics, in arts or in sports."

Manipulation of Mass Consciousness

As Ellul notes in the excerpt above,technique or technicized environment, be it the state or spheres of communication/media operations, has no regard for the 'will of the people' nor justice. It is only interested in efficiency and effectiveness, to the detriment of public opinion, which becomes left out of the equation by both the politicians and the technician. Either the people fall within the matrix of 'propaganda' or 'centralized control' as set forth by both the technician and politicians, or the will be left behind and they will fall behind.

This affects the public view of culture and its role with regard to the state and the technician. The purpose of uniting all different races and culture, at times is sacrificed for those inflammatory and rabidly passionate ideas of divide and conquer. The public,viewer or cyber-user, in this case, becomes left out if they attempt multiculturalism or unity of races, or harmony amongst the races.

The history of how the media monopoly has become concentrated into the hands of the few, one needs to understand the geo-politics of information. Through slavery and colonialism, the people who decided what's news, were the very people who had the power to disseminate and control what is news.

Douglas Rushkoff encapsulates this perspectives in this way: "We live in an age when the value of data, images, and ideologies has surpassed that of material acquisitions and physical territories. Gone are the days when a person's social stature could be measured by the distance he had to walk to see smoke from his neighbors camp.

"We've finally reached the limits of our continental land masses; we've viewed the earth from space over national broadcast television. The illusion of boundless territorial frontiers has been destroyed forever. There's simply no room, nothing left to colonize". Technique has narrowed the gap between underdevelopment(backwardness) and modernization.

"Efficiency has replaced the gradual and slow change and evolution of technology and its application and consumption by the public. The public has been effectively pacified by automation having been fine-tuned to technique and efficiency, making man not understand what the rule of technique is doing to him and to his world, leaving man beset by anxiety and feelings of insecurity.

"The spirit of the times in the media today has long been put on re-set when the television children of the sixties were exposed to techniques of psychology, conditioning, sociology and marketing. When these 50s kids grew up with programming developed and produced by themselves products of media of the day.

"This included techniques of 'thought control, pattern recognition and neurolinguistic programming' and used them to create television that changes the way we view reality and thus reality itself'."(Rushkoff). This feat was achieved through smart packaging.

Rushkoff summarily posits thus:

"The messages in our media come to us packaged as Trojan horses. They enter our homes in one form, but behave in a very different way than we expect once they are inside. This is no to much a conspiracy against the viewing public as it is a method for getting the mainstream media to unwittingly promote countercultural agendas that an actually empower the individuals who are exposed to them.

"The people who run network television or popular magazines, for example, are understandably unwilling to run stories or images that directly criticize the operating principles of the society that its sponsors are seeking to maintain. Clever young media strategists with new, usually threatening ideas need to invent new unthreatening forms that are capable of safely housing these dangerous concepts until they have been successfully delivered to the American public as part of our daily diet of mainstream media.

"The more harmless or inane the forum, the more unsuspecting the audience". In this manner, then, the free flow of ideas is controlled and language distorted as to how we deal, address and understand our reality and politics.

"The viewing public has been lulled into a false sense of entertainment, information and data sphere trough technique and effective efficiency. We have been hardwired together through devices like cable television, telephone systems, personal computer; we have been rendered as remote conduits of Twitters, cell phones and other new and emerging technologies. The media and all its concomitants have become the extensions of ourselves as the nervous system extends itself throughout our torsos."

Rushkoff observes: "If we are to understand the data sphere as an extension of a planetary ecosystem or even just the breeding ground for new ideas in our culture, then we must come to terms with the fact that media events provoking real social change are more than simple Trojan horses. There are media viruses. This term is not used as a metaphor. These media events are not like viruses. They are viruses Our present consciousness has been designed and controlled by technique embedded in present-day emerging technologies/gizmos.

Interrogating Technique

The spirit of our times in terms of present-day media is packaged in several myths and half-truths zines and memes. The common lie being that we are giving the people what they want-the lie and myth that these new technologies will set us free. Yes, people are given what they want at an affordable prices, but being enslaved to the media programs and products. This is an era of technological dependency wherein all has been made to view everything with a herd mentality.

The First Amendment, the freedom of speech and democracy has been extended to and covers the corporate and commercial activity exclusively. McChesney says that: "when commercialism penetrates everything, and when noncommercial public life diminishes or merges with commercialism, the capacity to distinguish between the two is compromised". With The Corporate Media and their think-tank ideologues aggressively advertising they became the leading definers of memes/zines and behavior of this new age media.

In the age of Obama, we see now, more ominously than ever, radio, television, internet, television being used by some racist organizations to wreck all public good offered by the new president, in the wake of America's economic debacle, solutions towards reviving the melt down, met with vicious, vitriolic and rabid racism.

The Convergence of these nascent Technologies, has been used and coalesced negatively against the Health Care Proposal that has been bandied around by the Present Obama administration. Insurance companies and pharmaceuticals all jumped into the fray and are using every available issue to create discordancy and civil disorder, in the form of Town-Hall gatherings.

During the Presidential Primaries we saw the revamping of all media apparatus, phone banks, Shortwave radio and right wig web sites proliferate rapidly. Now of late, mid to late 2009, we saw the media used to create a Tea Party counterculture, hosted by right wing radio, television and internet groupies up to the motley crew of bussed in hecklers and sign holders(Most signs racist and unbecoming of civil order and society), racism boiled over.

Some on TV land and internet Blogs pointed out this is due to the fact that Obama is President and also African American; we are seeing gun-toting gunslingers, Deathers, Birthers, and the whole bit display vociferous race baiting and hate. This was achieved through emerging and converging and old technologies about in the Media ecology by corporate media moguls and their minions, by dictating discourse and dominant ideas, leaving an unhappy population dominated by technique.This can be gleaned from the Social Media environs.

The technique developed by mass media in dealing with racial minorities and others outside the mainstream involved symbols and stereotypes. The mass media, because they dealt with a wide audience, came to rely on symbols and stereotypes as shorthand ways of communicating through headlines, characters and pictures.

Dramatic portrayals such as those of rich bankers, heroic cowboys, or old spinsters were used so audiences would understand the character the first time it appeared on the screen or in the short story. At the same time, newspapers used symbols such as 'right wing," "Left wing," and 'moderate " in headlines to characterize people or parties in different places on the political spectrum.

These symbols were a useful shorthand for the mass media, because they allowed the entertainment and news media to capsulize much more complex personalities and issues in a shortened character or term.

Thus, when the audience at a western movie saw a man come on the screen with a white hat, they knew he was supposed to be the hero in the western. Or when the term "leftist" was used in a headline that meant that the group to which the term was applied was on the liberal extreme, bordering on socialism/communism.

(As Obama is often accused of being, by the Tea "Baggers" Party) The terms themselves were useful because they became symbols that triggered stereotypes, which Walter Lippmann long ago described as "pictures in our heads." The symbol was the term that called up a whole set of characteristics ascribed to those associated with the term in the minds of the mass audience. It was those characteristics that became the stereotype/and vice versa, in the mentality of the audience.

Media Zeitgeist, Memes and Zines

Today's Media Zeitgeist, memes and zines compound the present day race and social relations. Genesis P-Orridge and other meta media activists feel that they can break the tyrannous linage that constructed the media sphere. Genesis succinctly states: "Studying, exploring, and exposing the gaps in our postmodern, highly edited media reality, virus formulators learn that the deepest, darkest power of the media is its ability to break through the perceptions of Linear Time.

"What I'm really saying is that the enemy resides in the concept of heritage and inheritance. The medium it uses to maintain its life is the culture. It's patently obvious that time is not linear. This is the imposition of an impractical and inappropriate construct. Things are really in chaos. But the policing of this inept construct damages and cripples us psychically, emotionally, intellectually and even physically".

Understanding the media, human communications will help plant the seeds of civility and social growth. Although we have been relegated to the back in terms of political discourse and production, we have the ability to deconstruct the news media that has been formulated and packaged for us by the professionals. With the spirit of the times, we can revamp and change media zeitgeist.

It is doubtful that anyone ever really changes culture in the sense that this term is ordinarily used. What happens is that small Informal Adaptations are continually being made in the day-to-day process of living. Some of them work better than others. These adaptations eventually become technicalized as improvements, and the improvements accumulate imperceptibly until they are suddenly acclaimed as"break-throughs." Steady, small improvements in airplane design have snowballed into machines undreamed of couple of decades ago.

If a person really wants to help introduce culture change, he should find out what is happening on the informal level and pinpoint which informal adaptations seem to be the most successful in daily operations. Bring these to the level of awareness. Even this process can only accelerate change, not actually control it in the manner desired by men of action. This is because the out-of-awareness nature of the informal is where all changes start. To paraphrase Dobzhansky. 'life is due to the dynamic interaction of living substance with itself and is not the result of either change or design.'

Culture Is Communication;

In considering man's total life as communication we see a spectrum covering a wide range of communication events. It is possible observe complete messages of differing duration, some of them very short (less than a minute) and others covering years and years. In general the study of culture deals with events of fairly short duration.

The study of government and political science may involve messages that take years to unfold. Sentences can be meaningless by themselves. Other signs may be much more eloquent. The significant components of a communication on the level of culture are characterized by their brevity as compared with other types of communication.

The fact that communication can be affected in so brief a time on the cultural level is often responsible for the confusion which so often occurs in cross-cultural exchanges. According to Berry: "The one cardinal error... is to assume that man is free to choose his own long-term future. He is indeed free to choose it within narrow limits. Like a snake compelled to move through a tunnel, he may move from side to side, experimenting with this way of life or that. But there is only one forward path to unending technological expansion."

According to Lorde, the future for race relations lies in teaching people about the existing realities in society provide mechanisms by which people can learn to function well in diverse contexts. Teaching and learning are essential future undertakings that will help facilitate a smooth transition to[and through] the twenty-first century.

Peccei(1981), president of the Club of Rome, an international body that is active in future related concerns, calls the: "creation of a movement of innovative learning on the broadest possible bases; promotion of the development of alternative projects for the future by mobilizing the creativity of the young; and stimulation of a fundamental renewal in our current way of thinking."

The appeal above points towards the importance of our commitment to learning as society becomes more and more complex. Peccei also stresses the centrality of learning and argues that we should learn "to live in consonance with new, fantastic, half-artificial world of our own creation."

By examining the new technology that has rapidly swept the global scene, we begin to discern that the global presence of the Internet has serious future implications for intercultural communication. For instance, it was practically impossible for social groups opposed to oppressive domestic policies of certain countries in the Southern hemisphere to communicate their concerns to groups outside of their countries.

Through the Internet, like-minded groups residing in different continents exchange views on democracy and human rights that are shaping political behavior in countries that were once isolated from wold public opinion.

With such power to access national and cultural groups in different parts of the world, the potential for collaboration is heightened. So, however, is the potential for the destruction of cultural norms revered by certain societies. A major dispute on the telecommunications law recently passed in the United States government is a case in point.

The dispute surrounds the transmission of cild pornography through the world wide web. Such content is offensive to some cultures. Even in the United States where freedom of expression is guaranteed, several groups fight consistently against the practice of using the world wide web for the sale of content featuring child pornography.

Besides the issue of child pornography and other controversial content, the Internet represents one of the most effective ways people can learn quickly about other cultures by visiting websites that specialize in providing such information. The potential for the new information and communication technologies for promoting intercultural understanding through rapid information sharing, places them at the cutting edge of information packaging that could help quell international tension.

And people becoming culturally depended children on the technology without any type of knowledge being siphoned and understood by those who would want to know more. The speed of information permeating all types of existing cultures and societies in its beginning stages, needs to be understood much more clearly as to its affects and effects in propelling all these societies into the technological cultures and societies cultures.

And this can only happen on personal level, family structures, neighborhood collectives, universally for culture and nations and within the spheres of human civilizations. For example, email exchanges between the governments of various countries can facilitate the clarification of issues that otherwise could lead to misunderstandings resulting in conflict.

We can take a few teachable moments from the election of Obama into Power by interrogating how technology worked how the media was controlled and dictated to by the masses within their social telecommunications and cultural miasma. Information sharing holds the best prospect for the future in terms of the positive impact of the new technologies on the promotion of intercultural communication and understanding.

By the same token, caution is required in determining the nature of the information that is transmitted so as not to cause unnecessary cultural damage domestically or internationally. Furthermore, as the level of complexity rises, it is becoming apparent that the future of intercultural communication rests on our willingness to learn from each other regardless of our origin, creed, race, gender, class or orientation.

McLuhan has another way of addressing the issue above, that of misunderstanding of cultures throughout the world, and the way information is disbursed and thus creating damage to local and other international cultures. It is well know that technology has spread its wings world-wide, and now most people are acclimated to its coming out, usage and not yet of its effects on them in a knowledgeable manner.

McLuhan writes: "Any approach to environmental problems must be sufficiently flexible and adaptable to encompass the entire environmental matrix, which is in constant flux. Effective study of the media deals not only with the content of the media but with the media themselves and the total environment within which the media function."

The reaction and self application of people to the new media zeitgeist is summed-up cogently by McLuhan when he says: "People are beginning to understand the nature of their new technology, but not yet nearly enough of them — and not nearly well enough."

Most people, as I indicated, still cling to what I call the 'review-mirror' view of their world.

McLuhan adds:

"This means to say that because of the invisibility of any environment during the period of its innovation, man is only consciously aware of the environment that has preceded it; in other words, an environment becomes fully visible only when it has been superseded by a new environment; thus, we are always one step behind in our view of the world. Always Looking in the rear-view mirror of our past.

"Because we are benumbed by any new technology — which in turn creates a totally new environment — we tend to make the old environment more visible; we do so by turning it into an art form and by attaching ourselves to the objects and atmosphere that characterized it, just as we've done with jazz, and we're now doing with the garbage of the mechanical environment."

Everyone is affected by the proliferation and the new technologies and techniques embedded within the media, regardless of where human beings are, their beliefs, culture and day-to-day existence. As McLuhan has so expertly observed "Because of today's terrific speed of information moving/streaming/splurging, and this has affected early man who led a complex, kaleidoscopic life precisely because the ear, unlike the eye, cannot be focused and is synesthetic rather than analytical and linear.

"...By their dependence on the spoken word for information, people were drawn together into a ' tribal' mesh; and since the spoken word is more emotionally laden than the written — conveying by intonation such rich emotions as anger, joy, sorrow, fear — 'tribal' man was more spontaneous and passionately volatile.

"Audile-tactile tribal man partook of the collective unconsciousness, lived in a magical integral world patterned by myth and ritual, its values divine and unchallenged, whereas literate or visual man creates an environment that is strongly fragmented, individualistic, explicit, logical, specialized and detached."

Man is Homogenized by Culture

McLuhan tells us that:

"Look a bit closer at both nationalism and industrialism and you'll see that both derived directly from the explosion of print technology in the 16 Century. Nationalism didn't exists in Europe until the Renaissance, when typography enabled every literate man to see his mother tongue analytically as a uniform entity.

"The printing press, by spreading mass-produced books and printed matter across Europe, turned the vernacular regional languages of the day into uniform closed systems of national languages — just another variant of what we call mass media — and gave birth to the entire concept of nationalism.

"The individual newly homogenized by print saw the nation concept as an intense and beguiling image of group destiny and status. With print, the homogeneity of money, markets and transport also became possible for the first time, thus creating economic as well as political unity and triggering all the dynamic centralizing energies of contemporary nationalism.

"By creating a speed of information movement unthinkable before printing, the Gutenberg revolution thus produced a new type of visualized centralized national entity that was gradually merged with commercial expansion until Europe was a network of states.

"By fostering continuity and competition within homogenous and contiguous territory, nationalism not only forged new nations but sealed the doom of the old corporate, noncompetitive and discontinuous mediaeval order of guilds and family structured social organization; print demanded both personal fragmentation and social uniformity, the natural expression of which was the nation-state.

"Literate nationalism's tremendous speed-up of information movement accelerated the specialist function that was natured by phonetic literacy and nourished by Gutenberg, and rendered obsolete such generalist encyclopedic figures as Benvenuto Cellini, the goldsmith-cum-concodottiere-cum-paiter-cum-sculptor-cum-writer; it was the Renaissance that destroyed Renaissance man."

In the end, McLuhan synergizes his perceptions as follows: "The electric media are the telegraph, radio, films, telephones, computer,television, internet, cellphones, and so forth, that, all of which have not only extended a single sense or function as the old mechanical media did — i.e., the wheel as an extension of the foot, clothing as an extension of the skin, the phonetic alphabet as an extension of the eye — but has enhanced an externalized our entire central nervous systems, thus transforming all aspects of our social and psychic existence.

"The use of the electronic media constitutes a break boundary between fragmented Gutenberg man and integral man, just as phonetic literacy was a break boundary between oral-"'ribal' man and 'visual' man."

The change of visual man has been extended and replaced by media that has become social media, which in turn integrates man with machine, and machine erases and dictates a new culture that is beholden to technology and technical memes and zines. In the final analysis, technological technique and its gizmos has become human communications and culture.

It is important that we begin to realize that as mass consumers, that as we imbibe on the new communication, writing and print cultures we'd be better off understanding and knowing how this process came along and how and why we say it homogenizes us. Postman writes:

"As the twentieth century began, the amount of information available through words and pictures great exponentially.

"With telegraphy and photography leading the way, a new definition of information came into being. Here was information that rejected the necessity of interconnectedness, proceeded without context, argued for instancy against historical continuity, and offered fascination in place of complexity and coherence.

"And then, with Western culture gasping for breath, the fourth stage of the information revolution occurred, broadcasting. And then the fifth, computer technology. Each of these brought with it new forms of information, unprecedented amounts of it, and increased speeds (if virtual instancy can be increased)." This gave rise to and spawned the present technological zeitgeist we are all part of and participating in, by being enabled by these new technological techniques and their constantly merging and emerging gizmos.

Postman goes on to give us a structure of the media and we can now begin to get a picture of how and why we get sucked-in wholly and completely and made part of the culture and communication systems, and as consumers, become homogenized by the magnanimity and depth, breadth and extension (in the McLuhan sense) of all forms of media and communication entities along with a new language and its meanings and effects on the mass media consumers.

Postman informs us as follows:

"It is also worth noting that the proliferation of all the media and communication system bring along with it environmental zeitgeist infused with the memes and zines which are a by-product thereof. Postman informs us about the architectural structure of these forms as follows: "In the United States, we have 20,000 billboards; 11,520 newspapers; 11,556 periodicals; 27,000 video outlets for renting video tapes/[DVDs]; more than 500 million radios; and more than 100 million computers.

"Ninety-eight percent of American homes have a television set; more than half our homes have one. There are 40,000 new book titles published every year (300,000 worldwide), and every day in America 41 million photographs are taken. And if this is not enough, more than 60 billion pieces of junk mail (thanks to computer technology) find their way into our mail boxes every year.

"From millions of sources over the globe, through every possible channel and medium — light waves, airwaves, ticker tapes, computer banks, telephone wires, television cables, satellites, printing presses — information pours in. Behind it, in every imaginable form of storage — on paper, on video[DVD], audiotape, on discs, data tapes, film, and silicon chips. ...Information appears indiscriminately, directed at no one in particular, in enormous volume and at high speeds, and disconnected from theory, meaning, or purpose."

This has a debilitating effect of rendering all who use and depend on these gadget, and the viral world closer to ignorant and incapable of thinking for themselves. Postman observes:

"All of this has called into being a new world. I have referred to it elsewhere as a peek-a-boo world, where now this event, now that, pops into view for a moment, then vanishes again.

"It is an improbable world. It is a world in which the idea of human progress, as Bacon expressed it, has been replaced by the idea of technological progress. The aim is not to reduce ignorance, superstition, and suffering but to accommodate ourselves to the requirements of the new technologies[ultimately being held hostage to them]. We tell ourselves, of course, that such accommodations will lead to a better life, but that is only the rhetorical residue of a vanishing technocracy.

"We are a culture consuming itself with information, and many of us do not even wonder how to control the process. We proceed under the assumption that information is our friend, believing that cultures may suffer grievously from a lack of information, which of course, they do. It is only now beginning to be understood that cultures may also suffer grievously from information glut, information without meaning, information without control mechanisms."

Understanding Culture of the Internet

Hall talks about culture in its entirety as a form of communication. He sees culture as formal, informal and technical and understanding what all these mean. "Since man progresses from formal belief to informal adaptation and finally to technical analysis," writes Hall, "a theory of change is also implied in this tripartite division."

Hall feels that, "Little is said about mass-communication media such as the press, radio, television and the Internet, which are the instruments used to extend man's sense." He mostly investigates and writes that he is focused on the one of the ways in which man reads meaning into what other men do.

"Language is the most technical of the message systems. It is used as a model for the analysis of the others, In addition to language there are other ways in which man communicates that either reinforce or deny what has he has said with words. Man learns to read different segments of a communication spectrum covering events of a fraction of a second up to events of many years.

"We must learn to understand the 'out-of-awareness' aspects of communication. We must never assume that we are fully aware of what we communicate with someone else. There exists in the world today tremendous distortions in meaning as men try to communicate with one another. The job of achieving understanding and insight into mental processes of others is much more difficult and the situation more serious than most of us care to admit."

Hall continues: "Culture hides much more than it reveals, and strangely enough, what it hides, it hides most effectively from its own participants. ...Simply learning one's own culture is an achievement of gargantuan proportions for anyone. To forestall atrophy of his intellectual powers, man can begin learning about those areas of his own culture which have been out of awareness. He can explore his own frontier.

"Once I was addressing a group of principals on the subject of culture. We were discussing the need for Americans to progress in their jobs, to get ahead, and to receive some recognition so that they would know in a tangible way that they were actually getting someplace… One of the audience said to me, "Now you are talking about something interesting, you're talking about me."

When the man in the audience learned something about himself, the study of the culture got lost in the shuffle. He did not seem to realize that a significant proportion of the material which was highly personal to him was also relevant cultural data.

The best reason for the layman to spend time studying culture is that he can learn something useful and enlightening about himself. One other most effective way to learn about oneself is by taking seriously cultures of others. It forces you to pay attention to those details of life which differentiate you from them. It involves new ways of looking/seeing and knowing at things."

The masses become cultural hostages of the new zines and memes because most of them have not yet understood the role of culture as communication and understanding how it helps them to be able to deal with other and the new emerging languages and their meanings-that is, the environment in which these meaning or the new cultural and linguistic meaning that are emerging form the preponderance and confluence of these new culturally relevant ways of communicating given our new technical and communicative ways.

Man can only manage to escape the far reaching effects of the new techniques, gadgets and technologies by paying attention to the fact that they are also fully part of their modern and contemporary culture, which when experienced and understood might empower all to manage the coming and already here of the present technological future and societies which are all now clearly embedded/ensconced within the World Wide Web(Internet) - and have become extensions of ourselves.

Cultural Entropy Of The Media Ecology

The Culture of Emergent Media Ecologies and Digital Tools

Kahn and Kellner write: "Since the blossoming of hypertext and the Internet from the early 1990s, the emergence of a utopian rhetoric of cyberdemocracy and personal liberation has accompanied the growth of the new online communities that formed the nascent World Wide Web. While the initial cyberoptimism of many ideologues and theorists of the 'virtual community'(Barlow; Gates; Kelly),Now seems partisan and dated, debates continue to rage over the nature, effects, and possibilities of the Internet Technopolitics.

"This is about the innovative developments occurring between the Internet, other new media, and general populations, and how new World Wide Web forms are influencing and being influenced by technopolitics and culture." It is the memes, the inter-exchange disseminating, proliferated and affected within these systems that I say in this Hub, affects the mass-consuming public, and who ultimately become cultural hostages and enmeshed within these viral memes and zines.

The masses are held cultural consumers of converging media because of the preponderance of emerging, converging, interconnected and what Rushkoff calls "Trickle-down media". "Underground artists and writers can utilize mainstream cultural icons like Bart Simpson, the President, or Amy Fischer much more purposefully and pointedly than can their overground counterparts because they are unencumbered by the pressures of a corporate environment or mass media or mass-media censorship," writes Rushkoff.

Rushkoff further informs us thus: "There are two ways to market 'memes' without entering mainstream and being subjected to the scrutiny of overground exposure. The first is to use alternative formatting-low-status, 'trickle-down media,' including video games, comics, trading cards, and fantasy role-playing games(now of late, the 'Wii').

"This merchandising sometimes makes use of popular iconography like Ren & Stimpy, or major political figures, but twists it for more satirical purposes or even toward activist agendas. These media can be thought of as bottom feeders in the 'data ocean'. The other marketing style is to self-publish 'memes' that ate too radical for mainstream outlets in the hope that they might "trickle up".

"Thousands of 'zines' [self-published magazines] and independent book publishers have sprouted throughout the United States and Europe ranging fro income-tax avoidance to anarchy. The proliferation of self-distributed books and 'zines' has led to an entirely new philosophy of publishing, in which sampling with attribution or even downright plagiarism is encouraged and copyrighting is scorned.

"Alternative forums of all kinds give media activists low-cost, highly resilient, and provocatively interactive viral shells for the 'memes' they wish to disseminate The fact that these media are not taken too seriously also keep them from appearing too threatening. Like kids' television, which is not intended entirely for children, seemingly innocuous 'zines, comics, and games are packed with deeply threatening 'memes'.

"Moreover, the formats themselves are designed to reflect a value system in which the concepts of interactivity, interconnectivity, [and intra-activity] interactivity, feed back, iteration, and viruses are always of the universe.'(Rushkoff).

These clog and morph into the newly embedded meanings and message-systems which become the new cultural effects and affects and shows how people in a way people become handcuffed and through convergence and divergence, transformed and conditioned to the dictates of the new 'zines' and 'memes' cruising through the viral universe and language consciousness and development of the mass consuming culture and societies.

There are multi factors which are in play in changing and making the consumers of the new cultural communication cyber-surfing media hostages. One of these aspects are the techniques embedded with the new emerging Media ecologies which bring forth new language systems and meaning/realities which affect the users, who then end up creating a world and existence around and within or with these emergent media ecologies are experienced by them and people all over the Globe/Web World.

"Some claim that the Internet's role, as the primary engine driving the ecological arrangement of today's media, is simply to produce a proliferation and cyberbalkanization of 'Daily Me' news feeds and fragmented communities," writes Sunstein.

Kahn and Keller note: "In our view, the continued growth of the Internet and emergent media ecologies ultimately have to be thought together as a complex set of digital tools for organizing novel relations of information and global-local, cultural interaction" [ Kahn; Kellner], Contemporary "media ecologies" extend Marshall McLuhan's notion of 'media environments that constantly evolve as new media and technologies'(McLuhan).

While people have lived in natural place-based ecologies for a long time and have mixed elements of place with those of industrialized cultural space in modern urban ecologies. Today's media ecologies relate people throughout the globe and constitute a virtual world space that is a complex amalgam of ever-shifting global and local spaces and places.

In this networked and interconnected, [converging and merging], world, emergent media ecologies exert and contain a variety of sociopolitical, cultural, and historical forces that interact interface with people as they become media producers and consumers-A new reality and environ of media use and interactive communication.

If emergent media are to remain tools for human users rather than instruments of mass dehumanization, then the technoplitics of such emergent media ecologies must be virtually retheorized from the standpoint that is both critical and reconstructive and subject to active transofrmative practice (Kahn; Kellner). Knowing and Understanding Media Ecological Environments is going to be essential for the still coming future

Embedded Techniques For Media Hostages

The Emergent Cyber/Viral Ways of Knowing and Techniques

According to Disinfopedia, 'Echo Chambers' is a colloquial term used to describe a group of media outlets that tend to parrot each other's uncritical reports on the views of a single source, or that otherwise rely on unquestioning repetition of official sources. In the United States, the Republican Party uses a network of conservative foundations, coordinated by Philanthropy Round(the Koch Brothers and their ilk), to support an echo chamber of think tanks, industry-friendly experts and subsidized conservative media that systematically spread its messages throughout the political and media establishment.

Typically, the message starts when conservative voices begin making an allegation. for e.g., Democratic candidates are engaged in "hate mongering", and this time around it was spun by Glenn Beck who retorted in bellicose manner and trumpeted that "Obama was racist against Whites" such type of belligerent and irresponsible statements have been made by the Tea-Baggers, along with their placards, voicing their messages, 'memes' and 'zines'.

Columns start getting written on this theme, which spreads through the subsidized conservative media, and eventually begins appearing in places like the local newspapers and tabloids and becomes talking points and "accepted fact" throughout the media and social Media enclaves. There are a myriad techniques and ways of knowing that are applied to the mass media consuming, in-as-much as there are different discourses about the new emerging and social media from other media outlets as noted above, with their own applications.

We shall now look at the various way the 'spirit of the time'(Zeitgeist) manifests itself on the internet and the media and spirit of the media today on the web and throughout the social media, with their 'memes' and 'zines'-plus the effects and affects thereof of such environments and realities.

Identity Theft

Nathaniel Sheppard wrote on this subject in 1998 in the following manner: "A Television program recently explored one on of the down sides of the Internet - the surreptitious gathering and dissemination of information that is used by some unscrupulous individuals or crime rings to steal consumers' identities.

"I looked up my own name with AOL's Net-Find and discovered several listings for Nathaniel Sheppard that included telephone numbers and street addresses with detailed nine-digit zip codes. Three of the listing included a middle initial I have seen on junk mail, but my parents did not give me.

"But they correctly included 'Jr.' in the name. One listed my current address, a second my former address and a third put me in Cincinnati, a city I have visited only three times. The other listings had me in Toledo, Ohio, Syracuse, NY; Berkeley, Ohio, and Denver. Investigation continues into whether these are mere coincidences.

"The Federal Trade Commission [FTC] says that advances in computers technology have made it easier than ever for anyone to get detailed personal information about others. That is a good thing when it helps law enforcement track down criminals or missing children, enables banks to prevent fraud and provides us with information to help us make intelligent decisions. But it also means we as individuals, companies, associations and even governmental bodies must safeguard that information."

Sheppard continues to inform us that: "A cottage industry of individual reference or 'look-up] services has sprung up on the Net. For a fee, they will provide detailed profiles on individuals, including spending and bill payment patterns,involvement in civil and criminal litigation, driving and property records, social security numbers and other intrusive bits of information.

"Identity theft — the appropriation of a person's name, address, social security number or other personal information for the purposes of fraud — goes to the heart of personal privacy. Identity thieves may use consumers' identifying information to open new credit card accounts,take out loans in the victim's name, or to steal funds from existing checking, savings, or investment accounts. Then numbers [of such cases] seem to be exploding and also the easy availability of information electronically creates the risk that tis will increase even further.

"Among those crimes are the submission of fake medical bills to private insurers and the running up of tens of thousands of dollars of debt under assumed names. A recent case brought by the Secret Service illustrates the problem. In 1997, a computer savvy Maryland couple pled guilty to running up ore than $100,000 in debt under stolen identities.

"They also admitted to routinely using Internet databases to select their victims. Congressional testimony has shown the impact of identity fraud on consumers can be substantial. Reputations and credit standing can be ruined. One woman became the target of an arrest warrant for a domestic battery crime she did not commit.

"A department store clerk whose identity had been assumed by a shoplifter spent years unsuccessfully looking for work in the retail industry. "Consumers mainly discover that they've been victimized when they apply for credit or for employment and their credit report is pulled," Medine said. By then the damage has been done" (Sheppard).

According to Sheppard: "Most people, accustomed to print and broadcast, have a high expectation of privacy, say Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center,, a Washington-based public interest research group. "You could read the morning paper, listen to the radio, or watch TV and no one would that you were doing any of those particular things," he says.

"This is not simply protection but the specific ability to withhold disclosure of your identity — the right to remain anonymous. Not so in Cyberspace. When you go on tour on the Net, many eyes may be watcing. If you visit certain areas, such as chat rooms or post to message boards, you may wind up on some junk mailer's list and begin receiving unwanted ads for sex and other services.

"And when you visit sites, information collected from you may be passed on to online database services that in turn sell the data. In a report to Congress in June on privacy online, the FTC said protection of consumers' privacy online is scarce and efforts to promote voluntary adoption of very basic information practices had fallen short."

Sheppard informs us thus: "The commission surveyed more than 1,400 Web sites and divided these into six samples representing all US commercial Web sites. Of these, 92% collect personal information on users but only 14 percent provide notice of their information collection practices and a mere 2 percent have comprehensive privacy policies.

"Most disturbing was the commission finding that 89 percent of the 212 children's sites surveyed collects personally identifiable information from children. The FTC said there are four information practice principles that are essential to making sure the collection and dissemination of personal information are conducted fairly: notice, choice, access and security.

"In June 1997, an association of look-up business known as the Individual Reference Services Group [IRSG] announced its intent to address Internet privacy concerns through self-regulation. The FTC said in its report to Congress that so far, those efforts have been inadequate."

Sheppard concludes with some advices: "So what can you do while the industry is trying to clean up its act? First, think twice about providing personal information or data online. Use a nickname as a screen name and don't use your full name in the personal information section of your internet browser.

"Ask the managers of sites you visit about their policy on collecting and releasing information on users and drop those whose policies make you uncomfortable. Fire up a Net Search engine such as Yahoo!, Alta Vista or HotBot, or use AoL Netfind to see what information comes on you. You also should should use the search engines to lookup "Internet Privacy." This will give you a list of articles and sites that provide guidance on the issue. And check out the FTC's site at

"The FTC site will give you links to the three major credit bureaus - Equifax Inc., Experian and Trans Union Corporation - and forms you can send electronically asking them to not disclose your personal information for promotional purposes. Now that you have a little more information about road conditions on the Internet, continue to enjoy the ride. Lon on or be left behind." (Sheppard).

It is important for us to note that the issues discussed above are the 'spirit of the time' as this relates to the use of computers and people interacting with the probes in the sites they find the Net. The media ecology has changed drastically in the past decade, and the techniques, 'memes' and 'zines' are very quick to go viral, and until the users take notice, this will go on as it does today. Although the article above was written in the 1990s, it is still relevant to today's reality wherein a lot of people are suckered into scams that they are still not wary of, even today.

Health and the Internet

The electronic media ecology is not mostly a negative place as we learn from Sheppard about the fact that "Surfing the Net can be Healthy", article, wherein he writes:

"My wife says that I snore and my 7-year-old son concurs. I don't recall making noise in my sleep and tend to doubt the veracity of their assertion. I went online, nonetheless, to look for information on snoring just in case, I ever develop the condition. What I found was astounding. Not only was there a lot of information on snoring, and a more serious, related illness called sleep apnea, but a plethora of information on a wide variety of well-known and obscure medial and psychological problems.

"There are numerous "message boards" (online discussion forums) in which people and medical professional discuss illness and treatment options. It was like bringing an auditorium of medical experts and a well-stocked library right onto my desktop. I could probe a seemingly endless stream of health questions without the long waits and blood-pressure-rising costs such access involves in the real world.

"As with anything, though, there are caveats. Just as smut peddlers and obnoxious bulk mailers have invaded private e-mail boxes, some quacks have thrown their 2-cents worth of potentially dangerous nonsense into medical discussions."

Sheppard further informs us thus: "Science in cyberspace is no substitute for your physician, but it certainly can empower you with the knowledge to take a bigger role in the care of your body and mind. Using search engines such as HotBot ( and Yahoo! (, Alt Vista ( and the search term "medical" on America Online, I was able to zero in on several illnesses common among African Americans.

"HotBot turned up 1,574 responses to the search term 'high blood pressure and African-Americans' and these ranged from a simple description of hypertension and its causes to studies underway and recent developments in treatment. According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure kills about 60,000 African-Americans each year.

"One of the many links from HotBot was to a page by the association site (www.amhrt/hbpfactor.html) that listed factors that contribute to high blood pressure, including high salt intake, being overweight, heavy alcohol consumption, use of oral contraceptives and lack of exercise. the search also yielded a report on a study published in October 1996 in the American Journal of Public Health, by Harvard researcher Nancy Krieger, which found a correlation between discrimination and high blood pressure in African-Americans."

According to Sheppard: "Another study, by a John Hopkins Hospital researcher, found that an increase in potassium, either through supplement or eating more potassium-rich foods, could help lower blood pressure. Using Alta Vista, I found more than 100,000 documents after entering a search for "diabetes and African-Americans," including a link to

"Another link was the Diabetes Texas World Wide Web site, which provided grim statistics indicating that nearly 6 percent of African American men and 8 percent of African-American women have diabetes and that Blacks experience higher rates than other groups for three serious complications of diabetes: blindness, amputation and kidney failure. Another site ), also accessible through Yahoo! gives diabetes index on African-Americans, Native Americans, Mexican-Americans and other minorities.

"It focuses on diet, such as some African-Americans' apparent penchant for drive-through hamburgers and other fat-laden foods, as a major contributor to diabetes. Specific searches for prostrate and breast cancer, heart disease, glaucoma and plain-old heartburn also produced reams of material from experts."

Sheppard offers this final conclusive piece as follows: "For more general searches, try logging onto Yahoo! and then clicking on 'health' in its menu. This takes you to a page with links to health news reports, a listing of online chats and programs on health issues, alternative medical therapy such as acupuncture, herbology, chiropractic, holistic, homeopathy and gemstone therapy.

"Click onto "indices" on the same page, and you are taken to a page with links to 26 medical sites. among these are Achoo, a directory of Internet health care sites; Health A to Z, a site of health resources and topics catalogued by medical professionals; health and medical newsgroups (discussions between people with like illnesses); Mollykat's Survivor's Resources, which deals with sexual abuse, domestic violence. ritual abuse, depression, physical and mental health and multiple personality disorders.

"Yet another jumping-off point is the Virtual Medical Clinic (, a site that lists its objective as To help patients make informed medical decisions in conjunction with their physician. The site, run by physician Michel Bazinet, provides information on more than 50 medical topics, such as AIDS, cirrhosis. brain tumor, Alzheimer's disease and Attention Deficit Disorder.

"It also contains a cancer support group. Or try the keyword search "medical" on America Online to get to its Medical Services Community and an impressive lis of medical information links. With each main site you have a chance to either look up information on medical problems, treatments and medicines or to forward questions to medical professionals who can answer them. But don't abandon common sense.

"If advice or information seems too hokey or too much like mumbo jumbo, it probably is. Always consult your physician before trying any online suggestions. By the way, I learned that in the remote possibility that I do develop documentable snore, I can undergo allegedly painless laser surgery and make sure that my entire household gets a good night's sleep.s Log on or be left behind

The Net is a place where man is finding out more about themselves and various things. How one find serious or not serious data or information on any topic, is what is at present the present-day zeitgeist... Here are Web Addresses for medical links:

Medical Newsgroups

alt.arthritis;;;; alt.infertility;;;

Other Medical Websites

Medscape(; Oncolink (; MedicineNet (; American Medical Association (; Minority Health Resource Center ( Hypertension Network (

The Good And The Bad Of Verbal Convergence

Some Of It Is Information; Some Propaganda

It is important at this juncture to look at and consider the relation between good and bad effects, the press and Information; or, one may add how the converging memes and 'zines' collude and combined to culturally hold its users or agents hostage. For this, we defer to Jacques Ellul who informs us that:

"It seems to be a simple matter, for example, to distinguish between Information and propaganda. But, closer study of the problem reveals that it is practically impossible to make such a distinction. Considering but a few elements of the situation, the problem of information is today no longer that of the necessity of transmitting honest information-everybody agrees on this point. On the moral level it is a commonplace that we ought to transmit.

I merely inquire, "How do we get it?" To remain on the moral level is simply not to understand the situation. The concrete situation, to take but single example, is something like the following: Over the wires and into the offices of the Associated Press pass daily up to 300,000 words of World News , approximately equal to an enormous volume of 1000 pages.

From this mass of words,it is necessary for the Associated Press, in competition with all the other World Agencies, to choose, cut, and re-expedite as quickly as possible, perhaps a twentieth part of the whole to its subscriber.

Ellul continues to add: "How is it possible to select from such a flood just what should be retained, what is true, what is possibly false, etc.? The editors have no criteria, they are at the mercy of whatever comes in, and (even when they judge in good faith, and knowledge) they must essentially judge subjectively. Then again, even if the editor had only true news, how should he assign it a coefficient of importance"

"To do so is his business, and here the stereotypes of the editor are true enough: The Catholic editor will deem the news of the latest Vatican Council of great significance, information which has not the slightest importance to the Communist editor.

"What we have to do with here is not a question of bad faith, but of difference of perspective on the world. The result is that we never know, even under the most favorable circumstances, if a given piece of information is subjective. And we must always bear in mind that this information, whatever it is, has been worked over by at least four of five different Paris of hands."

Ellul concludes thus: "My reasons for maintaining that good effects re inseparable from bad are now, I trust, clear. And, as communications improve, the freer will be the flow of the news and the more available to all agencies concerned. These factors will play an ever greater role, making the difficulties of editing proportionately more difficult, and the chance of selecting absurd than sound news ever get."

We see that the words, the 'memes' and 'zines' that compose and proliferate in our vocabulary and semantics, have a way of making us cultural hostages to them and the means through which they are acquired. It is in this spirit that McLuhan wanted us to appreciate that human technologies, like all other artifacts (to adopt the Anglo-Canadian spelling he naturally used), are 'outerings', or "Utterings" pf our human faculties.

Technologies, whether they be devoted to communication or not, are thus extensions of our humanity, not the cold, alien, external forces envisioned by the paranoia of bad science fiction. Seen as utterings, technologies and thus be seen as utterances, as rhetorical tropes we use to express and enhance our humanity, and can therefore be read and analyzed for their cognitive, social and cultural effects.

True also to the medieval philosophy he knew so well, he wanted us to see that Nature, including humankind, is a book we can read, if we can only know and decode its language and analyze its significance. Such a methodology should have an interpretive power akin to that of the medieval four-level exegesis of the Book of God - the literal, the figurative (allegorical), tropological (moral), and the anagogical (eschatological) level.

McLuhan makes a distinction between "content" of a medium and its 'message,' as well as his observation that manifest content of any communication is always less important than the cognitive impact. The fact that technologies of communication exercise a large measure of control over the content of what is communicated.

In a nut nuts hell, McLuhan's extension of the research conducted in the relationships between orality and literacy may provide some reasonable explanations for many of the cultural changes taking place that give contemporary observers alarm:

"The erosion of "canons" of literature, the apparent decline in literacy among college students, and the creation of an arid postmodernism that denies the existence of intrinsic meaning in texts, to name but a few. We know that the key to understanding why the "achieved values" of "Gutenberg mechanical culture" are today being undermined lies in the ways in which our various technologies condition our senses and sensibilities." (McLuhan)

But perhaps the reluctance on the part of others to take such matter seriously is tied to their reluctance to recognize and admit that technologies, and even powerful, hybrid combinations of technologies, are fundamentally extensions and expressions of our deepest humanity which remains handcuffed by the 'zines' and 'memes' which are dictated to by the technique of the gizmos and their ways of dissemination these is a way that is held hostage, that is, what this media zeitgeist is all about, and its subduction of culture, in the process. I further discuss below, the Cultural aspects of Electronic Media Zeitgeist.

Electronic Zeitgeist

Synthetic Synergy

"Zeitgeist" means "the spirit of the times," and this again simply means "the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era."

According to Manuel Castells, "Because culture is mediated and enacted through communication, cultures themselves, that is our historically produced systems of beliefs and cods, become fundamentally transformed, and will be more so over time." We also come across this definition by Jessica Evans and Stuart Hall who write:

"Certain themes imbued with visual metaphors and terminologies of looking and seeing have become the staple diet of cultural and media studies: the society of the spectacle and the simulacrum; the politics of representation; the male gaze and the possibility of a female gaze; the 'mirror stage' fetishism and voyeurism; the reproduction of the image; the 'other' as the projection of racialized discourse.

"It may thus appear contentious to claim, as we do, that "visual culture" has been somewhat overlooked in the rapid expansion of cultural media studies throughout the past decade and a half. Contentious because, after all, the work of Barthes, Benjamin, Lacan and Foucault, with their clearly visual concerns — not to mention a host of others — forms the canonical foundations upon which much cultural and media studies rest."

So that, "Information society," "network society," and "media society" have become central concepts to describe the contemporary society.Recent technological and social developments seem to be characterized by a fast transformation that shakes the old traditions and steady structures of our communities.

Our thinking, our daily activities, and the very survival of homo sapiens are heavily interlinked with technological innovations and media cultural systems. The basic problem concerning communication and information technology continues, however, to be the lack of research carried out from the perspective of the humanities and social sciences.

Accounts based on technical and techno-economics premises — as well as various strategies by governments and central administrative agencies — can be easily found. Qualitative and critical research focusing on such issue as values, morals and social implications of technology is rare This despite the fact that the role of information technology can be considered so central as to justify What W.C. Zimmerli's view of it as the "Cultural Technology" or our time.

We have to really and incisively delve into the Cultural Media Zeitgeist in the context of this Hub as a critical, multi-disciplinary anthology that discusses, e.g., the theories, problems and possibilities of multimedia communication, computer interaction, hypertextual representation of knowledge, contemporary utopias, television broadcasting, semiotics of media, and sexuality in the cyber age.

Instead of technological determinism or trendy techno-optimistic rhetoric, this Hub has been an attempt on an analytical approach to contemporary media, future technologies, and electronic texts, which help to describe and clarify the information and media saturated culture or our time; the possibilities and problems it brings.

For instance, we read from Sherry Turkle that, "Computer technology not only 'fulfills the postmodern aesthetic' as R. A. Lanhnam would have it, heightening and concretizing the postmodern experience, but helps that aesthetic hit the street as well as the seminar room. Computers embody postmodern theory and bring it down to earth."

According to Castells, "It is obvious that semiotic, aesthetic and philosophical codes of contemporary media channels — both in the form of traditional 'mass media' and in the recent forms of s-called 'new media' [Internet, multimedia, hypertext, virtual realities, etc.] — define the millennial Zeitgeist of the coming years. Through the powerful influence of the new communication system, mediated by social interests, government policies, and business strategies, a new culture is emerging: the culture of real virtuality.

This culture of ('real') virtuality emphasizes the technical, psychological and dromological aspects of communication. What characterizes the new system of communication, based on digitized,networked integration of multi communication modes, is its inclusiveness and comprehensiveness of all cultural expressions. Therefore, we can expect to be immersed in all kinds of ever expanding communication — including masses of information overload, worthless data thrash, and seducing media soma.

When we begin to understand the breadth and depth of the Cultural media Zeitgeist, we then begin to wrap our hand around the technological, economical, occupational, spatial and cultural nature of how and why users or consumers are held hostage of these converging technological gizmos and their disseminated zines and memes: that their effect and affect on us and how this has changed and shifted the Media Ecology paradigm form the traditional modes of Mass Information.

According to Webster and Castells, "It is no coincidence that computers,information networks and media technologies in general have held a central position in the recent cultural theoretical and philosophical debate in which both sides of the 'information society' [Technological Society-a la Jacques Ellul], and the 'postmodern' state of culture have been emphasized."

"In fact," according to Poster, it seems that the philosophical analysis of new media and information technology brings up a conflict. These technologies (hypermedia,computer networks, virtual reality, etc.), are generally closely associated with cultural postmodern(ism), the indicators of which are, e.g., global databanks, electronic communications, and the principle of operating in real time."

Beyond this, "The media [cultures] appear to be sketching the sort of qualitative definitions which are often associated with postmodernism, such as the superficiality and brokenness of our world [view], as well as the fragmentary discontinuity of the surround field of phenomena." (Inkinen)

At the same time, though, the media are presented as the Meta Narrative of our time, the total conquest chaos(entropy)?, and an ambitious utopian landscape. Sherry Turkle informs us that, [m]uch of the conversation about electronic mail, bulletin boards, and the information superhighway in general steeped in a language of liberation and utopian possibility. It is easy to see why. To date, a user's experience of the Internet is of a dizzying free zone. Onit information is easily accessible. One can say anything to anyone. [...]."

Over the last few years, themes such as the 'new communication paradigm,' 'digital economy,' 'techno society,' 'interactivity,' 'cyber culture,' 'cyberocratia,,' etc., have been topics of never-ending discussion. Unfortunately, more often than not, comments have been focused on defending or criticizing.

Critics like Tom Forester, for example, consider the information society utopia to be unrealistic. Forester has shown in his biting article, "Megatrends or Mega-mistakes? What Ever Happened to the Information society? ("the paperless office," "the electronic cottage," "the cashless society," "computerized teachers,," , etc.), have failed to come to pass.

It appears, vice versa, that the computer has brought new social, psychological, and ethical problems into the Western society, examples of which are unreliable programs, computerized crime, copyright violations,hackers,crackers, computer viruses, questions of privacy, and general information overload. According to Forester:

"The truth is that society has not changed very much. The microchip has had much less social impact than almost everyone predicted. All the talk about future shocks, third waves, megatrends, and post-industrial societies must now be taken with a large pinch of salt. Life goes on for the vast majority of people in much the same old way.

"Computers have infiltrated many areas of our social life, but they have not transformed it. Computers have proven to be useful tools — no more, or less. None of the more extreme predictions about the impact of computers on society have turned out to be correct. Neither Utopia nor Dystopia has arrived on earth as a result of computerization."

The doyen of Media Ecology Marshall McLuhan gives us his take in the following manner:

"[...] Computers offer the potential of instantaneous translation of any code or language into any other code or language. If a data feedback is possible through the computer, why not feed-forward of thought whereby a world consciousness links into a world computer? Via the computer we could logically proceed from translating languages to bypassing them entirely in favor of an integral cosmic consciousness somewhat similar to the collective unconsciousness envisioned by Bergson."

"The Spirit Of The Age" - Media Zeitgeist Redux-Part Deux

McLuhanite rhetoric is well suited for expressing the "spirit of the age" ("Zeitgeist") stressing global media,electronic technology and transitional culture. Considering the society and technology of today. McLuhan's writings on electronic culture, television age, global village, hot/cool media, etc., have been prophetic…

And, as a creative dissident, his energetic vision, often seems unbelievable in its eloquence in the academic world and/or a theoretical realm with its many original and futuristic ideas(and this in the 1960s-which is still more than relevant today and into the future). This fact about McLuhan has be encapsulated by Benedetti & DeHart in the following manner:

"There are different reasons for McLuhan's revival. For the first time since television achieved domination of the culture in the fifties and sixties, there is a new wave of technological innovation that seems on the verge of radically remaking our world — a wave signified by the Internet and virtual reality.

"Personal computers, first used largely as glorified typewriters, now seem capable of linking individuals into an electronic, instantaneous, global communication network. These developments have sharpened our belief that an old-fashioned, content-based approach is inadequate to understanding technology.

"A comprehensive, effects-orientated approach — an attempt to grasp the whole pattern of change, including the innumerable and often ignored side effects of technological development — seems more fitting. McLuhan is the master of this approach."

McLuhan writings were ahead of his and our time, and this point is made clear by Kevin Kelly who writes: "Everyone thought McLuhan was talking about TV, but what he was really talking about was the Internet - two decades before it happened... McLuhan's strange ideas seem perfectly obvious in light of the Web, e-mail and cyberspace."

And in a more expanded sense, Jonathan Miller provides a critical view of McLuhan in this manner:

"[...] In fact, he [McLuhan] sees the more recent developments in electronic technology as offering a God sent escape from the slavery exerted by wheels and levers. For in a somewhat confused way, he has identified the circuits of the electrical engineer with those of the human nervous system itself, and invites us to acknowledge that through TV and radio we have given ourselves the opportunity of communicating with one another through media that can reproduce the plural simultaneity of thought itself.

"Through these media images and sounds can be flashed upon the attentive mind with telepathic speed; and, since the various mechanisms cam be inked in a vast network, electronic man has reconvened the tribal village on a global scale."

A theorist of mass communication and media culture, McLuhan has been quite justly called a prophet in his own time. He saw the irresistible impact technological change had on the world and society, providing new ways to explain them. Such terms as "vortex," "sensorium," "sensory impact," "extension of man," "global village," originally coined by him, have become part of the language.

Particularly popular has been McLuhan's idea of a global village brought together by the mass media telecommunications infrastructure which seems to be an ideal analogy for picturing an Internet-style global information network.

It is this infrastructure with its communicating speech patterns that this Hub was exploring. As this Hub develops, we will now go much more deeply into how these 'zines ' and 'memes' function effect and affect us, change and modify our communication methods and lifestyle, along with thinking and doing things in our day-to-day lives. This will be keeping up with "the spirit of the times" [Zeitgeist-Cultural Media Zeitgeist].

Extending Friendships and Interests

Online spaces enable youth to connect with peers in new ways. Most youth use online net-works to extend the friendships that they navigate in the familiar contexts of school, religious organizations, sports, and other local activities. They can be “always on,” in constant contact with their friends via texting, instant messaging, mobile phones, and Internet connections.

This continuous presence requires ongoing maintenance and negotiation, through private communications like instant messaging or mobile phones, as well as in public ways through social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook.

With these “friendship-driven” practices, youth are almost always associating with people they already know in their offline lives. The majority of youth use new media to “hang out” and extend existing friendships in these ways.

A smaller number of youth also use the online world to explore interests and find information that goes beyond what they have access to at school or in their local community. Online groups enable youth to connect to peers who share specialized and niche interests of various kinds, whether that is online gaming, creative writing, video editing, or other artistic endeavors.

In these “interest-driven” networks, youth may find new peers outside the boundaries of their local community. They can also find opportunities to publicize and distribute their work to online audiences and to gain new forms of visibility and reputation.

Self-Directed, Peer-Based Learning

In both friendship-driven and interest-driven online activity, youth create and navigate new forms of expression and rules for social behavior. In the process, young people acquire various forms of technical and media literacy by exploring new interests, tinkering, and “messing around” with new forms of media.

They may start with a Google search or “lurk” in chat rooms to learn more about their burgeoning interest. Through trial and error, youth add new media skills to their repertoire, such as how to create a video or customize games or their MySpace page. Teens then share their creations and receive feedback from others online. By its immediacy and breadth of information, the digital world lowers barriers to self-directed learning.

Others “geek out” and dive into a topic or talent. Contrary to popular images, geeking out is highly social and engaged, although usually not driven primarily by local friendships. Youth turn instead to specialized knowledge groups of both teens and adults from around the country or world, with the goal of improving their craft and gaining reputation among expert peers. What makes these groups unique is that while adults participate, they are not automatically the resident experts by virtue of their age. Geeking out in many respects erases the traditional markers of status and authority.

New media allow for a degree of freedom and autonomy for youth that is less apparent in a classroom setting. Youth respect one another’s authority online, and they are often more motivated to learn from peers than from adults. Their efforts are also largely self-directed, and the outcome emerges through exploration, in contrast to classroom learning that is oriented toward set, predefined goals.

Implications for Educators, Parents, and Policymakers

New media forms have altered how youth socialize and learn, and this raises a new set of issues that educators, parents, and policymakers should consider.

Social and recreational new media use as a site of learning. Contrary to adult perceptions, while hanging out online, youth are picking up basic social and technological skills they need to fully participate in contemporary society. Erecting barriers to participation deprives teens of access to these forms of learning. Participation in the digital age means more than being able to access “serious” online information and culture. Youth could benefit from educators being more open to forms of experimentation and social exploration that are generally not characteristic of educational institutions.

Recognizing important distinctions in youth culture and literacy. Friendship-driven and interest-driven online participation have very different kinds of social connotations. For example, whereas friendship-driven activities center on peer culture, adult participation is more welcome in the latter, more “geeky,” forms of learning. In addition, the content, ways of relating, and skills that youth value are highly variable depending on what kinds of social groups they associate with. This diversity in forms of literacy means that it is problematic to develop a standardized set of benchmarks to measure levels of new media and technical literacy.

Capitalizing on peer-based learning. Youth using new media often learn from their peers, not teachers or adults, and notions of expertise and authority have been turned on their heads. Such learning differs fundamentally from traditional instruction and is often framed negatively by adults as a means of “peer pressure.” Yet adults can still have tremendous influence in setting “learning goals,” particularly on the interest-driven side, where adult hobbyists function as role models and more experienced peers.

New role for education? Youths’ participation in this networked world suggests new ways of thinking about the role of education. What would it mean to really exploit the potential of the learning opportunities available through online resources and networks? Rather than assuming that education is primarily about preparing for jobs and careers, what would it mean to think of it as a process guiding youths’ participation in public life more generally? Finally, what would it mean to enlist help in this endeavor from engaged and diverse publics that are broader than what we traditionally think of as educational and civic institutions? Taking note of the changed reality and environment from analogic to digital, that too, must be taken in notice.

A Sense of Wonder - Jason Silva - Zeitgeist Americas 2013

The Spirit Of The Time-Time Erasure of the Past

"When You give people too much information, they instantly resort to pattern recognition to structure the experience. The work of the artist is to find patterns." (Marshall McLuhan)

"The name of a man is a numbing blow from which he never recovers." (Marshall McLuhan)

"The Next Medium, whatever it is--it may be the extension of consciousness-will include television as its content, not its environment, and will transform television into an art form. A computer as a research and communication instrument could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization, retrieve the individual's encyclopedic function and flip it into a private line to speedily tailored data of a salable kind." (Marshall McLuhan)

The spirit of the time is nigh, and Marshall McLuhan was talking about this change. Even for us, as we see the change that is happening, we are aware that western media-driven societies began to morph, and quickly, to the point where around where in the twentieth-century that time not only seems to be moving more quickly, but is beginning to feel funny, too. There's no more tolerance for waiting of any sort.

"We want all the facts and we want them now. To go without email for forty-eight hours can trigger a meltdown. You can't slow down, even once, ever, without becoming irrelevant. Music has become more important because music is a constant. School reunions are beside the point because we already know what our old classmates have done. Children often spend more time in dreamland and cyberspace than in real life. Time is speeding even faster.

"And then the economy collapsed in a weird way that felt like a hard-to-describe mix of Google, New York times's website, pop-up ads for Russian pornography websites, and psychic radiation emitted by all those people you see standing by the Loblaws produce section at 6:15 on a weeknight, phoning home to see if spinach is a good idea.

"All this information and more has overtly, osmotically, or perhaps inadvertently damaged a collective sense of time that has been working well enough since the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the Middle Classes. This "time sickness" is probably what killed the economy, and God knows what it's up to next.

"Everywhere we look, people are making online links-to conspiracy, porn, and gossip sites; to medical data sites and genetics sites; to baseball sites and sites for Fiestaware collectors. To sites where they can access free movies and free TV, arrange hookups with old flames or taunt old enemies-and time has begun to erase the twentieth century way of structuring one's day and locating one's sense of community.

People are now doing their deepest thinking and making their most emotionally charged connections with people around the planet at all times of the day. Geography has become irrelevant. Our online phantom world has become the new us. We create complex webs of information and people who support us, and yet they are so fleeting, so tenuous. Time speeds up then it begins to shrink.

Years pass by in minutes. Life becomes the strange experience in which you zooming along a freeway and suddenly realize that you haven't paid any attention to driving the last fifteen minutes, yet you're still alive and didn't crash. The voice inside your head has become a different voice. It used to be "you." Now your voice is that of a perpetual nomad drifting along a melting landscape, living day to day, expecting everything and nothing." (Douglas Copeland)

In 1962 MCLuhan wrote:

"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 independence, and superimposed co-existence."

With those words, McLuhan anticipated, four decades earlier, the Internet. And he added to this by saying, Environments are invisible. Their ground rules, pervasive structure, and overall patterns elude easy perception. McLuhan's "The medium is the message" means the ostensible content of all electronic media is insignificant; it is the medium itself that has the greater impact on the environment, a fact bolstered by the now medically undeniable fact that the technologies we use everyday begin, after a while, to alter the way our brains work, and hence the way we experience our world.

Marshall McLuhan

Social Video-The Emerging and Converging New Trend

We are only just over halfway through 2013, but we are already seeing some significant trends in the social video space.

We are only just over halfway through 2013, but we are already seeing some significant trends in the social video space.

Emerging Social Videos To Capture The Watching audience's Approval

The following article and the videos posted in it was written and composed by David Waterhouse which he dubbed:

"The Emerging social Video Trends of 2013 - Part "1

We are only just over halfway through 2013, but we are already seeing some significant trends in the social video space.

It’s not surprising. If you thought a week was a long time in politics, it feels like a lifetime in social video. Every day we are seeing more and more brands setting out to create content that will engage the web.

The results have been simply staggering. Over the last few months we have seen brands, large and small, make a big impression online. 'Moonwalking ponies,' 'dogs driving cars'...even an unfashionable brand like Kmart enjoyed incredible social video success thanks to the kind of joke that would not look out of place on an 11-year-old’s social media profile.

And with good reason. Video consumption is rocketing, with Cisco even predicting that in less than four years’ time, video will be bigger than Facebook and Twitter, making up 69% of consumer internet traffic.

With such a huge rise in people now watching online, brands have been quick to follow. Online video advertising was the fastest growing category of ad spend in 2012, with 30% annual growth. Within three years, online video spend is expected to rise to $10B.

But what are the biggest trends we have seen this year?

1. Brands creating their own dramas

Let’s face it, 2012 – it was emotional. Hello ‘Empty13’. That's right, after being moved to Olympic-sized tears by P&G and inspired by Red Bull’s record-breaking space jump over the last 12 months, there hasn’t been a great deal on the calendar for 2013.

Last year offered up a wealth of opportunities for brands, which had their pick of awe-inspiring, headline-grabbing events to build social video campaigns around.

But this year there is has been no Olympics to inspire us, no election to bore us or even a Mayan apocalypse to not worry about.

Following a hectic year of global events, the global watercooler has been running a little dry. In fact, our diaries have been as bare as Mitt Romney’s of late.

So it’s no surprise brands have been creating their own dramas and events to build their campaigns around. Here are some examples of how brands have been filling up their content calendars.

Tapping into the zeitgeist plays a key factor in creating contagious content — in fact it is one of the key social motivations for driving sharing. So when there’s a vacuum of real world events, it’s only natural that brands should turn to the Internet for inspiration.

This has been happening for years, with mixed results, but in the last 6 months we’ve certainly seen an intensification of brands’ interest in meme culture.

The most prominent example of this is Harlem Shake. Many have called it the natural successor to Gangnam style, but what really made the dancing meme stand out from any other is the sheer number and speed of the number of parodies.

Around 40,000 Harlem Shake videos were uploaded in just the first 11 days, giving a cumulative total of 175 million views. That’s simply staggering.

Gangnam Style inspired a lot of parodies, but there was a central video as a reference point. With Harlem Shake, every man and his dog wanted to do their own version. In fact, you almost felt like you had missed out if your office, sports club or group of friends hadn’t donned the helmet and danced around like loons.

NBA team Miami Heat's video is the most popular among brands, but Manchester City FC, Seaworld, the Norwegian army, Facebook, and even Unruly produced their own Harlem Shakes in the first few days.

The Harlem Shake v1 (TSCS original)

Racial Biased Videos

With now more than 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube alone, we have a seen a lot of brands taking a few risks with their content in 2013 to get cut-through.

As more and more advertisers embrace their role as content creators, it seems only natural that more and more are increasingly pushing the boundaries and being more controversial in their content output.

Creating controversial content is high risk and does not always go to plan — just ask Hyundai and Mountain Dew - but sometimes it can drive awareness in an increasingly crowded space, especially during a year with no tent-pole events.

It has certainly paid off for brands like Kmart, with its recent “Ship My Pants” video — the 11th most shared ad of all time — and Paddy Power, whose campaigns regularly push the boundaries — one of which, 'Ladies Day,' was among the most complained about ads of 2012.

Kmart's "Ship My Pants" Commercia

On The Video Meme: Punk Ads of "Pranvertising"

With very few events in the calendar, it’s hardly surprising that some brands have decided to create their own stunts for people to talk about.

These “punk” ads or “prankverts” — a phrase first coined by AdWeek following the success of Pepsi Test Drive to describe brands contrive an event in a public space and trick supposedly unsuspecting members of the public into joining difficult situations — are nothing new.

For example, in 2011 Carlsberg created the cinema from hell and awarded couple brave enough to sit down — it was one of the top 10 ads of the year.

But in 2013, possibly fueled by the mammoth success of TNT's Dramatic Surprise the year before, we have seen a real shift in focus to these types of ads.

Pepsi’s Test Drive, in which NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon takes a car salesman on the test drive of his life, has been the most popular so far, attracting more than 2.58 million shares since its launch on March 12.

However, there has been a load of ads that have enjoyed a lot of success using this technique over the past six month. Some of the most notable examples are Nivea Stress Test, Carisberg's Friends Test, Adobe's Street Retouch, THIN!'s Public Loo Shocker, Renault's Va-Va-Voom, plus Murder Elevator and Beauty Salon Scare for horror movies, Dead Man Down and The Last Exorcism 2.

But why are they so popular? Research has found that the secret of sharing success is eliciting the strongest possible emotions from your viewers — and capturing people's reactions to a stunt is a clever way of doing this.

What better way to make people emote than to make them question how they would respond in the same situation?

Many of these prankverts also work well because they combine the content triggers ‘hilarity’ and ‘surprise’. In other words, viewers were surprised by the fact that brands have put credulous consumers in compromising positions and were amused by the ensuing results.

Media Plugged-In or Unplugged?

Sounds simplistically surreal, I’ll grant you, but it’s seemingly lost on a generation of MEDIA management anxiousness when many are power whining about the NEED to unplug but they either don’t do it, make a big deal about extrication, or find themse

Sounds simplistically surreal, I’ll grant you, but it’s seemingly lost on a generation of MEDIA management anxiousness when many are power whining about the NEED to unplug but they either don’t do it, make a big deal about extrication, or find themse

Digital Zeitgeist

It has become much more difficult to unplug plugged-in media gadgets and the viral soup and stream that is 24/1/365 on. These gizmos offer a lot of distraction and time consumption that beckons upon the user to be attached to, tun-on onto and engage in games and social media, and so forth.

Compass is smashed and we’ve lost our way to truly listen and respond to our own interior landscape of minds, bodies, and gut instincts giving way to amped up high stakes media drama and either/or thinking.

This “all or nothing” polarity as people struggle for life balance and media management really circles back to that same very innate survival skill I experienced this week…

…Learning to TRUST your brain and body to KNOW when something’s not right. (e.g. food, fitness and relationship dependencies, wired ways/media overload, stress, family habits, take your pick…) Admittedly, I don’t submit easily to illness, controlling forces and, so yes, it was a huge deal for me when I opted out of hugging the porcelain bowl any longer to take a ride to the ER for fluids.

For instance, there's too much Tweeting, Media addiction, Virtual Farm games; Teen's Have online friends as strong family; Facebook about to reach saturation point? Brains constantly plugged-in onto computers without let-up; Digital devices are making us less creative; so that, living in a mediarized environment and using gizmos is not a big-deal for the young ones, and Ng Hwee Koon reports:

Unlike those of us who have had to migrate into a digital world, Generation Z* children are true digital natives who have never known life without mobile phones or the Internet.

Unlike the previous generations, they have never known the limits of desk bound computing. Instead they live in a world where everyone has at least one mobile phone, with the Internet increasingly available in their pockets.

So just how different does this make the kids of today? Mr Richard Gerver, an internationally renowned speaker and Education Advisor to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, describes them as the “on demand” generation.

They expect immediacy and personal control — as can be seen from the way they listen to music, download only what they like, and create their own playlists. For them, a world without Google, Facebook, YouTube, music and games downloads, and IM has never existed.

As a result, there is a growing disconnect between how kids are learning on their own and the way lessons are taught in the formal education system, says Associate Professor Looi Chee Kit from the National Institute of Education and Founding Head of the Learning Sciences Lab, a research centre for learning and teaching.

The challenge, he thinks, is to design curricular activities that are relevant to students’ daily lives so that they would continue to pursue them on their own, beyond the classroom.

What’s the strategy?

The way not to do it is to try to confine technology in education to a computer or a laptop meant only for word or data processing. This, says Mr Gerver, is “patronizing and limiting”.

We also don’t want to be constantly nagging or banning our kids from activities such as gaming or social networking, which will only make them very controlled," as one 12-year old puts it.

Mr Gerver tells Challenge in an e-mail interview:

“We must remember that this generation do not view technology as we do. They aren’t dazzled by it, and they expect and demand more from it. To them technology is a facilitator and is temporary.”

Indeed, today it’s iPad and Kindle; tomorrow it will be something else.

Hence as we seek to harness their abilities to help them grow, we need to first be conscious of what makes them different.

Our teachers have observed that in the classroom, the students’ infocomm technology (ICT) experiences translate into the ability to multi-task, and a preference to communicate by texting — be it SMS or IM – as opposed to the act of speaking up.

They also prefer graphics and multimedia content to reams of grey text. At the same time, they tend to have shorter attention span than children of the past, and are less focused.

Says Ms Chea Seok Choo, a teacher at Rulang Primary with 30 years of teaching experience:

“Children today are distracted by many alternative sources of information. I am constantly amazed by their intelligence. They are very capable and can learn on their own at a single click..."

"To them, school is just [a place] to socialize and interact with their friends.”

Indeed, kids today want to be friends. They want to be connected and have no use for hoity-toity airs from their teachers, or anybody.

One then has to ask: If the voice of authority no longer speaks to this generation of children, how can the old way of learning with one teacher talking to a class of 40 students work?

It is unlikely to. Not even if you use “newer” tools like PowerPoint, tablet PCs and visualizers (instead of white boards and overhead projectors), because, according to Alexandria School, a Secondary 3 student from a well-known school, such lessons — which are already the norm for her — are “boring”.

Teachers as Action Researchers

To make learning “as exciting as Disneyland” (as Mr Gerver envisions it to be) some of our schools are already experimenting with new methods that make teachers “action researchers”.

For example, Prof Looi helped Mayflower Primary put in place a “Group-Scribbles” system that works like a virtual notice board with sticky notes that students can “write” on. The teacher poses questions and students “paste” their answers onto the board.

Rather than doing it the traditional way, where teachers might have struck fear in class by pinpointing out students to answer questions, this system creates a “safe learning environment”.

Students, now cloaked by anonymity, can respond without fear of ridicule. The entire class, including the teacher, focus more on the ideas generated rather than on the person giving the answer.

In this way, teachers can gauge the students’ conceptual understanding from the general response and are able to help correct misconceptions, if any, on the spot.

A similar system using “” is used in Ngee Ann Secondary without anonymity by Ms Rachel Poh, an English Language and Literature teacher. By tapping into students’ natural inclination for text messages, she has seen dramatic results.

Compared to the past when lessons wind to a quick close from a lack of interaction, the students were so engaged that they answered not just her questions but also commented on their classmates’ answers — behavior commonly displayed on Internet forums and social networking sites. The session was extended to allow the students to continue posting their comments after they went home. Now, that’s homework on demand.

Getting more to join the Bandwagon

The results from all that experimentation have been encouraging, with pilot studies by the Ministry of Education (MOE) showing that students found ICT-integrated lessons to be interesting and engaging.

For example, in Marsiling Secondary, about 80% of students who used an online collaborative environment in their lessons reflected high motivational levels, with a majority participating actively in online discussions.

MOE also has a range of workshops to help teachers pick up the necessary skills to respond to this new learning environment. From 2010, it will train more than 1,000 ICT Mentors to raise the level of ICT used in schools. To foster collaboration and the sharing of ideas and resources, the ministry has also created ICT platforms such as edumall2.0 and iSHARE.

Informally, schools that have experimented with ICT are also enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge. Kranji Secondary, for instance, has been organizing the “National ICT Sharing Session” since 2003. The session usually sees some 600 teachers from across Singapore gathering for an afternoon at the school’s 40 classrooms to trade notes on their ICT projects.

Children Are being brought up on Technological gadgets and techniques

More and more children are distracted by current technologies. Therefore, the objective is to create a school environment that encourages face-to-face interaction to build students’ collaborative and communication skills, and to develop a curricula t

More and more children are distracted by current technologies. Therefore, the objective is to create a school environment that encourages face-to-face interaction to build students’ collaborative and communication skills, and to develop a curricula t

Mediarized Digital Media Environments of the Present Futre

So that, the objective is to create a school environment that encourages face-to-face interaction to build students’ collaborative and communication skills, and to develop a curricula that helps them become successful learners and confident individuals. These are the life skills that educators agree would help our children tackle the unknown future in their world.

Therefore, the objective is to create a school environment that encourages face-to-face interaction to build students’ collaborative and communication skills, and to develop a curricula that helps them become successful learners and confident individuals. These are the life skills that educators agree would help our children tackle the unknown future in their world.

Digital Zeitgeist

The students today are to be exposed to the emerging gizmos and their media techniques, “To not only survive but to thrive in the world that is now about exponential change, uncertainty, globalisation and communication, they will need to be self-conf

The students today are to be exposed to the emerging gizmos and their media techniques, “To not only survive but to thrive in the world that is now about exponential change, uncertainty, globalisation and communication, they will need to be self-conf

Upgraded Facebook and YouTube In your Computer Now

The Digital zeitgeist of the present future if full of many new ideas and applications/operations that needed to be clarified more often than not. What is happening on Facebook and on YouTube bears looking at much more closer. We learn this bit from Guerrilla And Chalk that:

Facebook has begun rolling out Embedded Posts that let people add public posts from Facebook to their blog or web site. When embedded, posts can include pictures, videos, hashtags and other content. People can also like and share the post directly from the embed.

Why it’s interesting: Up to now, one distinctive difference between Facebook and Twitter has been openness; FB being a walled-garden (talk amongst friends only), while the Twitter is an open party (friends and anyone else who will listen). However, Facebook’s efforts over recent months have indicated a shift to make its content more accessible outside of just your circle of friends – Graph search, hashtags, following users without friending and now embedding"

At this juncture I refer the reader to read-up the newsfeed on 'EdgeRank' online for further analysis and breakdown on Facebook's Newsfeed Algorithm. So that, we further learn from G&T that:

Story Bumping

Previously, the news feed would rate all the stories published since the user last logged on, and show users only the ‘best’ (i.e., top ranked) ones when they did log on. With Story Bumping, Facebook draws from the back catalogue and considers ALL the posts the user hasn’t seen, basically helping show users more new material. From Facebook’s initial testing of 7,000 users, Story Bumping leads to an 8% increase in (brand) page interactions.

Last Actor

The Last Actor feature keeps track of the last 50 people or pages you interacted with and gives these people or brands a small bump in relevance. Brand pages will want to try and stay in that magic 50 to increase the likelihood of their posts being seen by fans.

Chronological by Actor

Facebook users have always been keen to see updates in the order they were posted. Facebook will attempt tackle this with chronological tweaks, so that you see posts from the same friend or brand in chronological order. Useful for following live, real-time updates for a sports match, TV program or similar.

Why it’s interesting: These updates, particularly Last Actor Signal and Story Bumping, are looking to reward people and pages who have a compelling story to tell, and in an engaging way. Posts that are inherently good (offer value to the reader) should typically enjoy more time in their followers’ feeds. It is therefore more important than ever to ensure, as brand guardians, the quality of our story in print and TV is matched on Facebook, as well as other social channels.

What’s happening? YouTube has created a Top Fans feature, making it easier for creators to keep in touch with their most influential and most engaged fans. Announced last week, Top Fans will feature a dashboard for creators, a feed of Top Fans’ activity and the ability to post content exclusively to Top Fans. Plus, if a creator syncs their Google+ and YouTube accounts, creating a circle for their Top Fans, they will be able to access demographic information about them.

Megan O'Neil informs us that:

This afternoon at VidCon, YouTube previewed a new feature called Top Fans that sounds like it’s going to revolutionize the way that YouTube creators engage with their fans. The feature will make it easier for creators to engage with their most influential and engaged fans, as well as glean demographics about these fans to aid in potential collaborations and beyond.

In a panel called Kissing Babies and Couch Potatoes: Lessons from Politicians and TV to Drive Your Watch Time, YouTube Product Manager Sherry Listgarten previewed the new feature, which will be revealed in more detail later today during the YouTube Keynote at VidCon Industry day.

We’ll update with more information after the keynote, but what we’ve gleaned so far is as follows:

  • A Top Fans dashboard will exist as a new page inside the Video Manager
  • Creators will be able to view a feed of the latest activity from the most-engaged and influential fans instead of having to wade through hundreds or thousands of comments
  • Creators will be able to sent out exclusive postings only to top fans
  • When Google Plus is connected to a creator’s YouTube channel and they’ve created a circle of top fans, they will be able to view demographic details about these top fans

Listgarten said, “We think there’s a lot of potential here. It’s very early days, but we’re really excited.”

Up to this point, with the emerging media and gadgets, we keep on asking the question of the topic of this Hub, as to whether the users of Social Media and YouTube are being harnessed and rammed-down deeper into these new upgrades,or liberating the, The Judge is still out on this matter until we can ascertain their effects/affects in the very new future.

Digital Culture as Catalyst for Change: Arts Education and Creative Rights

Putting Things into Perspective

Media Communication Jargon

Media Communication Jargon

The Spirit Of The Times In Africa Is Helter-skelter

I think, if you want to capture the African zeitgeist, the spirit of the times, you can do that best through crime stories. — Helon Habila -

I think, if you want to capture the African zeitgeist, the spirit of the times, you can do that best through crime stories. — Helon Habila -

The Spirit Of The times? See The Real Time Of the Zeitgeist

The South African Zeitgeist: Who Is Fooling Who? The ANC And Its Voting Polity In Focus....

This then must be desperation on our government to begin asking people to pray for the ANC... One thing the ANC is doing very much of is going door-to-door rallying to get the vote for its party-and the poor are telling them off-but I often wonder if it really does matter, for the very people they are canvassing, are going to vote for them, in the end.

But what is apparent to the underdogs(the poor of South Africa) the ANC is scared. This may not bey readily apparent to a casual viewer, but there is some desperation that is rearing its uncertain head from the ANC potentates.

This is a very serious and crucial time here in Mzantsi for the ANC and it adherents/followers/sympathizers, and just borderline observers(and the number of these is growing by day). The unravelling of the movement is heavily downplayed, and there is now more lies about how:

The ANC laid Foundation For South Africa's Success…

"The African National Congress has in the last 20 years laid a foundation for the country's future successes, party NEC member Thoko Didiza said on Monday.

“When we look back we can say yes, we have not completed the agenda of transformation, but have laid the foundation,” she said during an elections debate by leaders of various political parties at Unisa.

"South Africa's negotiation process before 1994 enabled everyone to engage with each other.

“History is very important when we reflect on this journey of 20 years...1994 saw South Africans agreeing on a broad agenda to take the country forward.”

"The Democratic Alliance, UDM, ACDP, and Cope agreed with Didiza that the country is a better place compared to pre-1994, but that more needed to be done.

“While others enjoy the fruits of democracy and freedom, the majority is still suffering,” said DA Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane.

Black people are landless and unemployment was growing.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said South Africa was becoming more of a welfare state than a developmental one.

“There is a heavy reliance on social grants...most South Africans do not have a good story to tell.”

Joan Downs, of the ACDP, said lack of access to education takes the country backwards.

“We acknowledge that the health system has improved, but access to education is still limited to a minority 1/8of 3/8 white people.”


Now, we really have to begin to read carefully what is happening or said by our leaders. This is really the problem, because the government throws out 'memes' and 'zines' at us, coughed in high-rigged PR-spin jargon… but, in reality, it has begun to make our leaders look ridiculous and true frauds.

Information amongst the poor is in the form of Newspapers and the radio stations/TV and CableTV, by those who can afford it;-the Internet - is still remote, but many people who can afford it, buy time to receive it, and this media angle is fraught with censorship and rigid control by the present government.

So the government is trying the PR technique that says that, "If you tell a lie more often and long enough, it ends up being the truth." The repetitious format used in commercials is the modus operandi of the Media/Communication and its systems here in Mzantsi. The commercial spots on TV have begun to seduce the viewers subliminally. The news presentation and format take on that characteristic. The government and its PR advisors/along with the sponsors of the programming, are in cahoots in hoodwinking the Voter.

What I am onto here on this part, is educing the reality of our confounding and dumbfounding messages and messaging systems which are corralling us to a predetermined end. It is imperative for us to begin to "Understand The Media." We still can talk and discus all topics, but the new technologies and their emerging and merging techniques, need to be fully understood by many-a-lay-man-and be utilized for his emancipation and freedom.

Thoko Didiza is a cog in the machine. She matter-of-factly informs the readers that: "The African National Congress has in the last 20 years laid a foundation for the country's future successes,"
This a response from a reader on this article"

Moe khan:
"ANC laid foundation for SA's failures... Alternative headline... "

Someone who thinks they know how to manipulate their ANC puppets to parrot such senseless retorts really does not understand the relationship of the ANC and its people. Meaning, the PR puppet masters and propaganda spinners may have ANC under their control, but it is the people they are trying to apply propaganda to and attempting to put into action that are not really easily manipulable.

One of the prerequisites of propaganda for it to work is have an educated population. This government is countering this technique by Dumbing Down its populace, which is what universities prepares the next generation to be able to manipulate its own society. So that, the more educated you are, the less aware you are that you are a victim of propaganda and the more you are ready to spread your ideology to tother who will in turn reinforce you and be reinforced by you in a horizontal process.

Leaders are not telling you what to think (directly), you are being told by your peers what to think and you pass along this information to others to inform them what to think. Then when this ideology reaches a substantial portion of the population, and when you demand the leaders to comply, they reluctantly do so (which they had originally intended to, but they'd rather do something else that is lucrative and crooked than to let you know their good intentions).

This is what the article above tries to tell us and informs us to do. This is what the National Executive Committee of the ANC of the ANC wants us to know, through their mouth-piece, Thoko Didiza. What is perplexing is the way the government uses the media towards its own ends. Whenever the media is not in lockstep with their ideology and objectives, it is the media that is accused of spreading all the malice about the ANC. But When it suits them, they use the very same media to propagate their intentions and policies, etc.

Repeating their lies often has this time around brought the ANC face to face with the people in its door-to-door voter campaigns, and I have hinted a bit about it above. The poor, when asked why they vote for the ANC, often say that there is no one else to vote for. My contention is that if then that be the case, the people will have to find a way of removing these cronies from power and replacing them with legit leaders appointed by and accountable to the people who put them in power-within the structure of the ANC(which for now is a pipe dream).

The problem is the creation of the ANC of an elite crew/class, which they falsely accuse of derailing its rule. They have managed to put in place people who have the same elitist ideas as they have, and when things are not going their way, they blame the elite. Worse, when the people decry their state of existence and poverty, the ANC tells them to hassle very hard, and that the media and the elites are out to bring down the ANC.

The ANC responds to the people's poverty and suffering in the same elitist way, far flung from and oblivious to the people's realities of the Concentration camps; they have no concrete way of responding to the poor, and issue palliatives, homilies and vague answers that makes them seem aloof from these dreaded decrepit living conditions of the subjects. The following article by Babalo Ndenze, Lebogang Seale and Piet Rampedi, makes my point eloquently and in an erudite manner:

Angry Citizens Confront ANC Leaders

The ANC’s charm offensive in the Eastern Cape and Free State was met with cheers, jeers and tough service delivery questions from disgruntled residents who complained about poor or inadequate services.

The party’s senior officials, including President Jacob Zuma, his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize and secretary-general Gwede Mantashe got the message first-hand after the ANC dispatched them to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, and to the Free State areas of Mangaung, Sasolburg and Welkom.

The ANC’s top brass took the party’s campaign trail to the two provinces to sell the “good story," and to rally support for the party ahead of the May 7 general elections.

While they were warmly received by some residents, others raised concerns about poor services and unfulfilled promises in the delivery of housing, water and jobs.

In Sasolburg, Mantashe met residents complaining about leaking, cracked and incomplete RDP houses.

In ward 13’s Iraq township, a woman grudgingly accepted the ANC’s T-shirt emblazoned with Zuma’s face.

“I don’t like this man sitting here,” said the woman, who did not want to be named, as she rolled out the folded T-shirt and pointed at Zuma’s picture.

A visibly embarrassed Mantashe tried to calm her down: “Don’t vote for him [Zuma], then — vote for the ANC.”

But the woman would have none of it, continuing with her protestations: “I only vote because of Mandela. This one sitting here (on the T-shirt) — he must go. He must give others (a) chance.”

Mantashe later defended Zuma’s leadership in an interview with The Sunday Independent. He said the woman’s statements were “not a representation” of other residents, and blamed the negativity around Zuma’s administration squarely on the media and sections of society.

“The media has been talking about the president negatively. The question of the president and Nkandla doesn’t come only during elections. It’s a preoccupation and obsession of the media and the elite,” said Mantashe.

Mantashe’s election trail in townships around wards 1 and 13 of the Metsimaholo Municipality at first got off to a good start, with residents chanting pro-ANC slogans.

His message to residents was unambiguous as he moved from house to house: “We are asking you to vote for the ANC on May 7.”

Many people grudgingly accepted his request, while complaining about the water seeping through their houses’ walls and floors.

Most residents grudgingly accepted Mantashe’s invitation.

“Yes, we will vote for the ANC, but my house is wet [waterlogged]. The toilets don’t flush because there’s no sewerage (pipes). We are using pit toilets,” said Jane Ncwane, 49, who lives with her four children.

Mantashe said the protests in Bekkersdal, west of Jo'burg, which resulted in last Thursday’s violent clashes between angry residents and the party’s Gauteng provincial leadership, were born of anarchy, rather than genuine concerns.

“It wasn’t as if what happened in Bekkersdal couldn’t be expected. If you have concerns and don’t talk to people (ANC leaders), then there’s something more than a protest. It’s anarchy,” Mantashe said yesterday.

Gun-toting people believed to be bodyguards escorting Gauteng Housing MEC Ntombi Mekgwe and her entourage had to fire shots to disperse angry Bekkersdal residents who barricaded the streets with burning tires, rocks and debris to stop the ANC leaders from conducting a door-to-door campaign in the area.

In Port Elizabeth, Zuma was greeted by loud cheers and jeers during his campaign in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.

He was accompanied by provincial ANC chairman Phumulo Masualle, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, ANC Youth League national convener Mzwandile Masina and chief whip Stone Sizani.

His whirlwind tour of the region saw him visiting a number of communities in Walmer, Jacksonville, Motherwell and Uitenhage.

Walmer residents told Zuma of their daily struggles with their poorly built government houses, which flood after rain. “The rain leaks while we’re sleeping. During the night, everything happens,” said Nowandile Mayekiso, 65.

Another resident, Pumezile Dumezweni, added: “We’ve been waiting for you [Zuma]. Our beds are rotten from the rain. But we will definitely vote for the ANC. We are just mopping (because of the leaking roof) now.”

Dumezweni lives with two unemployed adult children.

However, Zuma got a different reception a few kilometers away in the colored township of Jacksonville, a DA-controlled ward.

Police were forced to create a human chain to contain disgruntled residents.

One of the placards carried by residents read: “Where were you at the beginning of the [housing] project? You come and show your face now that it is election time.”

“There’s gangsterism and selling of drugs. It’s always been a problem, especially the gangsterism here in the area. Since this morning, we knew our president was coming, so we prayed, because we just want peace among the people,” said resident Cindy Coetzee.

Another resident, Annie Lomberg, said the rectification that needed to be done on their houses had not been done.

While Ramaphosa was generally well received during his walkabout in the Bloemfontein central business district yesterday, with young and old posing for pictures with him, he was also confronted by disgruntled residents who demanded jobs and housing.

One of them, Vincent Kgoe, a 41-year-old street vendor, told Ramaphosa he had lived at the Phase 10 informal settlement for 10 years without his conditions improving. He said he needed basic services such as water, electricity and housing.

“I also want to live like other people. I am unemployed. I am hustling here at Central Park, selling cigarettes,” Kgoe said, who added he would still vote for the ANC.

Ramaphosa said the ANC-led government was on its way to improving Kgoe’s living conditions."

I had to insert this lengthy article from the authors above because that is what is happening throughout the country as the ANC canvasses and traverses the country for gathering the vote in order to reach a certain percentage and rule over the same people who made them aware about their grievances, and they are going to get the same treatment, as it has been for the past 20 years-when the elections of 2014 are over. The people know this, but they resignedly and grudgingly vote for the ANC-as the article points out above.

As for the DA and other fledgling parties on the ballot, they are just that: weak and really ineffective as to whether they will be able to untangle/tap into the type of vote that the ANC is receiving-that's not about to happen very soon. Hellen Zille seems not to understand the Africans of Mzantsi and their struggles. The others who are the African faces in their parties are just opportunistic and working to gain materially or otherwise from this system.

So, the media is used to keep us entrapped and ignorant as to what is going on in the world/our own world. I have pointed out above about the nature and structure of media feeds/access/information for Africans, and the Internet is still hard to come by, without one becoming bankrupt. So, the media really is controlled by those with big capital, and the rest of us(the poor and wretched masses) are there for their taking. Or are We?...

I paraphrase Jacque Ellul who writes that:

'Propaganda makes its victim believe that he/she is immune, hence easier to manipulate. What would universities be doing with these modern textbooks that claim education will prevent one from being victimized in propaganda? Well, it seems that they prove Ellul correct.

Ellul says that Nazi and Communist propaganda is the easiest form to withstand and modern scholars claim that we must be eternally vigilant from falling victim to such insidious forms of propaganda as we witnessed with the Nazi and Communist regimes.

Yet modern advertising campaigns use short term techniques that no one bothers to condemn. So we focus on the vertical integration and pretend that the horizontal integration is non-existent, demonstrating propaganda at work in our society without opposition.

The same technique described above is what we are experiencing here in Mzantsi. The way the ANC has been carrying on in a carte blanche fashion, ignoring what the people are telling them, and seemingly have 'all' the answers, and pretend that the reality that they are canvassing in is what matters-but choose to focus of issues that have no relevance to basic needs of the power, and ignore the poor's direct please and complaints-just pooh-poohing them away.

It is this way, Ellul's warning demonstrates propaganda at work in our present-day society in Mzantsi, without any opposition, because in reality, 'horizontal integration is nonexistent', to echo Ellul

This then brings us to the sobering reality I had averred upon above: We Need To Understand The Media And All It Merging And Emerging Gizmos And Techniques. In the spirit of the times that is so filled with instability and dread, it is up to some of us to begin to dissemble the past distorted myths and begin to put in place positive and progressive media that embraces the peoples concerns and, lives, history and so forth in the fore-front. We need to control our Zeitgeist, much more expertly and with confidence

Phil Donahue and Amy Goodman On The Media

Neil Postman on Cyberspace, 1995

Manipulated reality


Place-Based Knowledge In the digital Age

Thomas Fischer writes:

In Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the archdeacon holds up a book before the cathedral and says, "This will kill that. The book will kill the edifice." Of course, we know that the printing press did not "kill" buildings. We still have cathedrals and books, and indeed, most books wouldn't survive very long unless stored in buildings.

But we also know that the book changed cathedrals, which had been thought of as "books in stone," with the stories of the Bible depicted in the statuary and stained glass of those buildings. We still have cathedrals today, but they no longer have to serve also as books, and so they have changed in fundamental ways, becoming more abstract in form, more diverse in function, and largely shorn of their didactic ornament.

I mention this because we find ourselves at another moment in time where we could hold up a digital device—a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or e-reader—and declare, in front of either a book or a building, that, "This will kill that." While we know that such devices will not "kill" books or buildings for that matter, we have also gone far enough into the digital revolution to sense that digital media—and spatial media like geographic information systems—seem destined to have the same kind of effect as the printed book did beginning some 500 years ago.

This brings to mind the observation of Marshall McLuhan that each new technology "turns its predecessor into an art form."2 Books will indeed survive the onslaught of downloadable e-books, but as we depend less and less upon books for information or even as the most convenient way to access information, we will increasingly value them as an art form, as McLuhan put it—as beautiful objects and works of great craftsmanship, exemplified in the rise of popular institutions such as the Minnesota Center for the Book Arts.

And what about Victor Hugo's claim that books ultimately trump buildings? Downloadable e-books have not "killed" the library as a building type, but as happened with the cathedral after the widespread adoption of the printing press, libraries have increasingly become places where people go to have experiences that they cannot find anywhere else. Like the modern cathedral, the modern library will likely have a greater array of functions; play a more social and less didactic role in people's lives; and, at least partly, lose the primary purpose they once served of storing large quantities of books. It may be that, in the future, we will go to libraries to admire the craftsmanship of books and then interact with others about what we have learned from the information we have downloaded on our portable devices.

The biggest effect of the digital revolution, though, may be less material and more metaphorical. As McLuhan argued, the "medium is the message," with major changes in media leading to changes in our metaphors and to the meanings that we ascribe to the world.3 The mass-produced book led to a view of the world as a kind of machine, a metaphor that reflected the very thing that made this new media possible: the printing press. And that change in metaphor, in turn, led to many of the revolutions that followed: the Protestant Revolution in the sixteenth century, the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century, the Democratic Revolutions of the late eighteenth century, and the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century.

Digital Revolution


The machine metaphor lasted well into the twentieth century and paradoxically gave rise to the very technology—computers—that would ultimately overturn that metaphor. In the early twentieth century, we still heard people talk about the world in mechanistic ways, with intellectuals like Leo Tolstoy calling the body "a living machine" and Le Corbusier calling the house a "machine for living in." Later in the last century, we still heard such mechanistic analogies, such as the physicist Stephen Hawking regarding the "brain as a computer."6

Computing, though, also gave us the Internet. And with that, along with the miniaturization of computing in mobile devices, we have gradually realized that computers represent not just a faster form of computation but an entirely new medium, which has brought with it a new metaphor that increasingly dominates our view of the world.

It took machines, in other words, to move us from a mechanistic view of reality to a networked one. We no longer view the brain as a kind of computer, but instead as a neural network; no longer speak of society as a well-oiled mechanism, but instead as a social network; and no longer see the human body as a machine, but instead as part of the web of life.

This shift in metaphor matters even more than the media that has prompted it. We will, of course, continue to use machines just as we will continue to use books, and so our material world will remain layered with technologies of the past as well as the present. But when we start to think of ourselves and see the world differently, big things begin to happen, as we saw in the wake of the printing press.

Human relationships and social structures change, as we have already seen in the "Arab Spring" revolutions taking place in areas like North Africa, fueled by the crowdsourcing capabilities of cell phone technology; in the micro-lending revolution in the developing world, enabled by the financial transfers possible through social networks; or in the green revolution going on around the world, empowered by our access to information formerly out of reach of ordinary people. The metaphor may ultimately be the message that matters.

The Ecology of Being

This metaphor of the world as a network or web will alter our intellectual lives as well. The old machine metaphor privileged physics, mechanics, and engineering—three of the fields most closely associated with mechanisms. The new web metaphor, instead, draws from fields like biology and ecology, seeing in their understanding of how natural ecosystems work a parallel to the networked world we now occupy and informing us about human ecosystems and how they relate to each other in particular places.

The increasingly weblike way of seeing the world, in turn, has profound implications for how and in what form we will seek information. The printed book offers us a linear way of doing so. We begin at the beginning—or maybe at the end, with the index—and work forward or backward through a book, or at least parts of it, to find the information we need. Digital media, in contrast, operate in networked ways, with hyperlinked texts taking us in multiple directions, social media placing us in multiple communities, and geographic information systems arranging data in multiple layers. No one starting place, relationship, or layer has privilege over any other in such a world.

The linearity of the book, compared to the multiplicity of the web, leads to an even more fundamental shift in how we assess reality: from a temporal to a spatial one. Like reading a book, we see time as an arrow, a linear path with starting and ending points.

While we learned from Albert Einstein that we could slow time down depending upon how fast we accelerate, we cannot reverse time or occupy different speeds of time at the same time. But that is not the case with space. Like the web, we can manipulate space, move in multiple directions within it, and reverse it—tear a space down, for example—if we choose.

The worldwide web, of course, often seems spatial. It connects us to people and places not in, and often far from, the actual spaces we occupy. Indeed, this new weblike way of engaging in the world appears to have collapsed both time and space, making everything that ever existed anywhere in the world immediately available to us, as if temporal or spatial distance no longer mattered.

Such effects, however, disguise the essentially spatial nature of digital media. The laterally linked and complexly networked nature of the web gives it a spatial form, conceptually if not always physically. And the layering of data and simultaneity of information through the web makes it place-based, even if that "place" exists in virtual space.

This line of thinking, in turn, suggests that the current way we store information—through digital documents and files—and distribute it—through e-mail, e-books, e-zines, and the like—may represent a transition stage in this technology. Such formats mimic the forms that emerged from the printing press and paper technology and, because of their familiarity, have enabled us to adapt to the access of digital information more easily. But they also reinforce a linear way of thinking about information inherently at odds with the weblike way in which we increasingly see the world.

GIS will eventually become a major way—perhaps the dominant way—in which we will access information in the future because of the essentially spatial nature of that software. Rather than see information as discrete bits, accessed linearly and temporally, like moving along a necklace of data, GIS layers information spatially, linking it according to its relevance to other data on a given layer and according to its relevance to all the other layers in a given place. It allows us to "map" information, which may become the primary way we organize, access, and distribute knowledge in the future.

This use of spatial tools to match the spatial nature of a web will have a profound effect on how we think about information itself. The book led us to see information in highly discrete ways. By packaging related content between two covers, books encourage us to see knowledge as a set of distinct disciplines, each with its own discourse and eventually its own set of assumptions and use of language that made it increasingly hard for anyone else not in that discipline to understand.

And by sorting information according to disciplines, books enabled us to think of knowledge divorced from any particular physical or conceptual space. As a result, we can take almost any subject—say, water—and find that topic addressed in myriad ways by many disciplines—the sciences and social sciences, literature and history, art and poetry—all located in different places in a library and all addressed in different ways through different disciplinary lenses.

That way of organizing knowledge has served us well in the last several centuries as we have sought to understand and control the world around us. But it's gotten in our way in recent decades, as we have come to realize the damage we have done to the world and the threat that that poses to our civilization and to us.

It has led, for example, to what Adam Smith called the paradox of value, when he asked, at the beginning of The Wealth of Nations, why we so value diamonds that have so little real use, and why we don't value water, without which we cannot live.7 By dividing information into discrete, disciplinary units, we have created what we might call the paradox of knowledge: in which we have so much information about the world and yet remain so ill informed about our effect on the world.

Technological slate-i-Book


This suggests that we may need to arrange knowledge differently in the future, not according to disciplinary categories, but instead according to spatial phenomena and, as Smith would say, to the things without which we cannot live. GIS offers one way of doing so. While the data-rich digital mapping of GIS arose, initially, to ease geographic analysis and enhance spatial decision making, it has the potential to organize knowledge in ways that align more closely with the ways in which the world itself is organized: spatially.

That may make sense in spatially oriented fields, like geography, forestry, or planning, but how, you might ask, does that make sense for fields that appear to have no spatial equivalent: philosophy or pharmacy, history or histology, literature or linguistics? It's a good question, but maybe the wrong one to ask. It may be that we need to stop asking how to preserve our disciplines, which, for all their value, remain abstractions of or at best partial views of the world, and instead start asking how to preserve what remains of the natural world, which our disciplines, if they have any value, need to serve.

Spatializing Knowledge

How might GIS help us spatialize knowledge? Rather than organize knowledge by type or discipline, we could use GIS to embed all the knowledge relevant to a place in the myriad layers of information about it. And as we scroll over a place, we can select the pertinent layers and begin to see the relationships among disciplines and the connections among data. So many talk about the need for interdisciplinary, but as long as we organize knowledge in disciplinary silos, the connections among disciplines will continue to elude us. When we instead begin to organize knowledge spatially, the connections come to the fore, as we focus less on the layers and more on the overlay of them and on their relevance to particular situations.

This, of course, may seem too much to ask: the reorganization of knowledge and the spatializing of education. We have, however, managed over the last couple of centuries to temporize education. Every field has a history, and almost every one requires that students study the history of the discipline as part of knowing it. Indeed, historical understanding has become such a part of what we define as an educated person that we take it almost for granted, but it wasn't always so. It wasn't until the nineteenth century that we assumed, as Georg Hegel argued, that we couldn't fully comprehend anything without knowing its history.

In the first decades of the twenty-first century, we need to see that the same holds true for space as much as it does for time. We cannot fully understand any field without also spatializing it, without also seeing how it relates to every other discipline as they come together in particular places, with a given group of people, in specific social and environmental contexts. We need to know how disciplines evolved over time, but we also need to know how they, so to speak, hit the ground and how they play out as part of the web that constitutes the whole of a place and of the people there.

This does not mean that we should see such spatial analysis as an end in itself. Except for historians, we rarely study temporal phenomena—history—as an end in itself. In most fields, history serves as a means to an end, as a way of better understanding how the present came to be and what the future might hold. The same is true for a spatial understanding of our fields. Except for a few fields, like my own field of architecture, which does study space as an end in itself, most disciplines will likely see this weblike, spatial turn in our thinking as a means of understanding their subject in new ways. Space represents, like time, and a priori condition, as Immanuel Kant argued—a precondition to everything else, and so having a sense of the relationship of space and time—how a field evolved spatially as well as temporally, what happened where as well as when—will increasingly become necessary to fathom how we have done so much damage to so many places and to the cultures of so many people on the planet even as we purportedly know more about them.

The spatializing of knowledge via its mapping onto places has another advantage as well: it becomes a visual way of conveying information across the barriers of language and to the growing percentage of the human population that remains illiterate. The book divides the literate and illiterate and, as such, has helped reinforce the power of the former over the latter. Hugo understood that when he had the archdeacon hold up the book as killing the building. The medieval cathedrals spoke to both the literate and illiterate and, in some respects, the book made large stores of knowledge inaccessible to the latter.

The digital divide threatens that as well, with the wealthier parts of the world having much more access to information than the poorer parts. The web and cloud computing may help end that division by making most of what we need to know available at low cost, with "dumb" devices able to access information anywhere in the world. But there remains the problem of literacy, as well as translation, and so closing the digital divide through such devices will only partly close the gap that exists between those who have access to knowledge and those who don't.

We may never close the latter until we spatialize knowledge through the use of visual tools like GIS. Enabling people to see the information relevant to their lives, whether or not they can read, and to map it to the places they know to understand the conditions that affect their lives, could have a transformative effect in empowering those who have been left behind by the book and even by the early incarnations of the computer.

GIS may represent the leading edge of computer mapping and visualization technology, but it also signifies, in some respects, a return to the world that Hugo's archdeacon saw as threatened. This brings to mind the observation of the novelist and semiotician Umberto Eco—that modernism represented a premedieval condition, which suggests that our post-postmodern world may have more characteristics in common with the medieval world than we have recognized.8

If the medieval cathedral tells its stories in stone and glass, GIS tells them through layers and overlays. Both do so visually and spatially, both speak to viewers whose language or even whose literacy may not matter, and both reveal relationships and meanings that no book could ever capture. At the same time, the medieval cathedral and digital cartography both have the power to move us to action, to help us see things with our own eyes and without the interpretation of an author who might want to edit what we know or affect what we think.

Just as the book helped give rise to the Protestant Revolution, in which people wanted to read the Bible for themselves and make up their own minds, so too might the visual and spatial power of GIS someday give rise to a secular version of the same, in which people, protesting the power o