Ethics and Law in New Media/Towards the Information Society

*Theobald’s question of ‘mind-quake’, refers to a sudden change in our society. Mainly it is provoked by development of technology. Young people don’t have many problems with adapting and introducing new phenomena in their lives; they learn fast. In not such a good situation are older people. The rate of new things that appear in their lives is too rapid, and even if we divide the adaptation process into smaller to make it easier to understand, it’s still very difficult.

For example, my father has a quite modern mobile phone (actually more modern than mine) but he uses it only for calling. He was almost “forced” to buy it, because there was a very good promotion and only “stupid” people wouldn’t grab the chance.  The phone has:  mp3 player, photo camera, radio, voice recorder, games, internet… My dad doesn’t even know how to write a sms.  So, my younger sister, who is 9 now, does everything for him. It took her only a couple of hours to understand the system and use it. We were trying to explain to our dad how to use at least some features and till now he has learned how to turn on the mp3 player and how to read a sms. I don’t think that he is going to progress more.

Another example that comes to my mind is about the radio. When I was younger and herd some interesting song in the radio I could listen to it and maybe sing a bit (if it was in the language that I knew). Nowadays the situation has changed a lot: you hear the song, you remember few word, type them into google and find the song. Then you download it, watch the official video on youtube, post or read some comments, go to wikipedia to read about the band, look at the pictures of the band, check if in the future they will have a concert somewhere close to your living place. Somebody may mix the song and post it, recieive some comments, listen to other mixes and so on…

Meanwhile, if you were in the 90s you would hear again the same song on the radio still not know who is the singer…

* Pick one of Handy’s paradoxes, find a good real-life illustrative case and describe it

The paradox of time. The application of modern technology means less time is needed to make and do things. People should have more spare time. But time has become a competitive weapon and getting things done quickly is imperative. As a result, many of those who work have less time than ever before.

Quite similar thing says Eriksen in his book Tyranny of the Moment: Fast and Slow Time in the Information Age (2001). He notices that modern technology was introduced to our lives with intention to complete our tasks faster and have more free time. But nobody expected that it will have just an opposite influence. The society wants us to be easy accessible and available almost all the time. Even when we go on vacation we take our mobile phones with us. We become slaves of the new technology and when not able to use it we feel like on detoxification. They become parts (McLuhan – extensions) of our body.

I think it has a lot to do with the phenomena of procrastination; at least I very often have  this problem 🙂 I had this great video on youtube but while looking for it I found more and more (a bit procrastinating:))  so I’m embedding two of them:

I think procrastination is a very good example for the paradox of time. You think that you have plenty of time do complete one task and the tool (a computer with internet, usually) allows you to do all kinds of things that take only few minutes so you don’t panic and check your email, read an interesting article, chat with some friends and so on. The perfect place for that is of course facebook 🙂

* Pick one of Castells’ features of network society and write a short analysis

the culture of true virtuality – the network becomes a real medium and cultural enviroment, whose symbols will become cultural reality (today, a perfect example is Second Life).

Talking about this issue there are two names coming to my mind: Baudrillard and Virilio.

According to the first one people live in the reality that doesn’t exist – modern society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs and some of them realize that under them there is nothing. Simulacra create our culture and we relay on it so much that we lose the relation with the real reality, that in the end stops existing.

For Virilio there are 2 parallel words and both of them are equally important. Instead of one person now there are two: the virtual and the real. He sees it as a split of human being; it’s not a stimulation but coexistence of two separate words. And it’s quite possible that one day the virtual word will win over the real word. You could actually see it taking some geeks for example: they prefer to live in a basement of their parents and not go out ever, but have plenty of friends online and reach their goals – as being the first in CS, etc.

There is the question if the internet modifies our lives, or our needs modify the internet? It’s like Copernicus’ dilema: who is in the center of attention and who is going around?

We make nice pictures only because we want to upload them and show to our friends. If you don’t have any new pictures from your holidays it means that you have stayed all the time at home and did nothing interesting.

We even start comparing our everyday situations to the virtual live. (your face expression looks exactly the same like the one on skype…) We start using emoticons while writing on paper. We speak to more people online than in real live and often it’s more comfortable. We forget how to count in memory, we write in short sentences, we don’t need to remember anything — because there will be always almighty Google.

Step by step we become unable to express our feelings and ourselves in general.

Welcome to brave new world!..


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