Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

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It’s hard not to find a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote that is not both powerful and still fitting in today’s world of politics.  This one really stood out while trying to digest outgoing Mayor Morris’ statement from her lawsuit that read :

“the Mayor, who lost the election by more than 4,000 votes, believes the online turmoil harmed her bid.”

Neil Postman’s book “Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology” is a must read for anyone wanting to get informed on the ever changing role technology plays in communications.

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Here is the link to Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Technopoly-Surrender-Technology-Neil-Postman/dp/0679745408

You can download the entire first chapter titled “Judgement of Thamus” by downloading this pdf:
http://teach.boxwith.com/context/postman-technopoly.pdf

There is no doubt in my mind that this book doesn’t adorn Phyllis’ bookshelf.

Postman extrapolates on several points made by the late Harold Innis ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Innis ) , fellow Canadian and the father of modern communication studies.  Harold Innis was the man Marshall McLuhan claimed his work was a footnote to.

One section I found interesting was a comment similar one of my previous posts ( http://christopherwatts.posterous.com/blogs-are-whatever-we-make-them-defining-blog ) where A Guardian article was outlining how technology is fostering a shift from economical to ecological.

I have included it below:

“technological change is neither additive nor subtractive. It is ecological. I mean ecological in the same sense as the word is used by environmental scientists. One significant change generates total-change.

If you remove the caterpillars from a given habitat, you are not left with the same environment minus caterpillars: you have a new environment, and you have reconstituted the conditions of survival; the same is true if you add caterpillars to an environment that has had none. This is how the ecology of media works as well. 

A new technology does not add or subtract something. It changes everything.

In the year 1500, fifty years after the printing press was invented, we did not have old Europe plus the printing press. We had a different Europe.

After television, the United States was not America plus television; television gave a new coloration to every political campaign, to every home, to every school, to every church, to every industry. And that is why the competition among media is so fierce.

Surrounding every technology are institutions whose organization, not to mention their reason for being, reflects the world-view promoted by the technology. Therefore, when an old technology is assaulted by a new one, institutions are threatened.

When institutions are threatened, a culture finds itself in crisis. This is serious business, which is why we learn nothing when educators ask, will students learn mathematics better by computers than by textbooks?

Or when businessmen ask, Through which medium can we sell more products?

Or when preachers ask, can we reach more people through television than through radio?

Or when politicians ask, How effective are messages sent through different media?”

The institution of MorMac clearly felt threatened by social media. 

To those on the outside it was a completely irrational fear.

If they simply had embraced the tools and the technology they would have found a way to connect with their audience : the public.

Instead their shear ignorance caused them to retract and react as though they were 17th century Luddites.

Postman doesn’t leave out mentioning the Luddite movement, here is a relevant section:

“We also must not omit mentioning the rise and fall of the much-maligned Luddite Movement. The origin of the term is obscure, some believing that it refers to the actions of a youth named Ludlum who, being told by his father to fix a weaving machine, pro-ceeded instead to destroy it. In any case, between 1811 and 1816, there arose widespread support for workers who bitterly resented the new wage cuts, child labor, and elimination of laws and customs that had once protected skilled workers. Their discontent was ex-pressed through the destruction of machines, mostly in the garment and fabric industry; since then the term “Luddite” has come to mean an almost childish and certainly naive opposition to technology. But the historical Luddites were neither childish nor naive.  They were people trying desperately to preserve whatever rights, privileges, laws, and customs had given them justice in the older world-view”

It’s the last sentence that stood out to me.

I have a hard time envisioning a functioning democracy, let alone one that is exalted as setting the “gold standard”, if it fails to keep pace with the tools of communication that provides its very framework.

Obviously Martin Luther King, Jr. did too.

I am confident that we will not have the same communication breakdown with our incoming council.

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