Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Thing/thing society

I've been hit with the 'Postmodernism vs. Marxism' virus. It's in my email - lots of email - people are sending me articles - stop already - you are missing the point of what I am saying.

It’s not about political definitions – the world has already passed that stage – open a door and look at what’s happening in the world today. There are no more political movements, we are only being distracted by religion, race and gender inequalities.

What I really think people are discovering is that they are confused by all the communication that we receive - all the differences of opinion and all the technology that is being introduced into equation.

Communication is being defined by the current relationship between people and their gadgets. People are becoming concerned that their lives are being forced to play by cyberspace rules. No more beneficial government shepherds directing the sheep - no more beneficial corporate leaders providing a working class with opportunity. What we have is an ever growing menu of choices. we are being forced to make our own decisions.

For western society - this is new.

OK - that's sounds hack but I'm talking about the combination of ubiquitous communication and the ever increasing pace of change combined with 'what am I suppose to do today?' complex.

We are not living in Multi User Domains (MUDs) but some people are starting to consider our virtual live as real. Others are even considering our real lives as just one more window in a multidimensional social space - a mixnet of on and offline lives.

Like Herz in 'Joystick Nation', we are starting to comprehend the increasing importance of simulation (not stimulation) in our daily lives. More and more, we are starting to make decisions using 'what if' scenarios.

Clearly, society can not be understood in terms of any systematic theory but if we accept society’s opacity we can learn at least to navigate its contours more effectively.

A sociologist would suggest that the rise of postmodernism is associated with the defeat of the revolutionary movement. A mass movement of the working class was derailed by the 'western leadership' who sought to turn the mass movement into legalistic and parliamentary channels.

In place of a battle against the ideology of the ruling class we are manipulating a kaleidoscope of competing social ideologies - not political parties.

At the same time, on top of the battle to define the global society, we are starting to see a continual struggle to decompile and reconstitute the 'self'.

Us. But more than us. Not 'thems' but 'its'.

There is a clear linear movement from family/family to place/place to people/people to our current situation of people/thing.

In the near future, we will be entertained by the fascinating developments of artificial intelligence and the shifting ground of the debate around the ability of computers to have intellectual ability and display emotions. It's just a matter of time, dear readers, just a matter of time.

Humans and machines will occupy the same social and intellectual space - it just not clear whether the machine will be forced to pass a social Turing test .... or we will be distracted by the hype and fail.

Our failure to come to grips with the current societal trends will be the defining mark in history and the start of the thing/thing society.

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