Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you… I mean, I am not the most optimistic person in the world, and having to sit through eight of my posts must be excruciating, and I would like to congratulate you for the achievement.
So, since this will the last entry I will be writing for this blog, let’s tap into something juicy this time.
Consider this as my thanks for your patience =D
Chow Chow 😀
Throughout the past eight weeks, we have explored the many theories and phenomenon that are incubated as a result of the birth of social media; Twitter, eExtremist, Wiki-Leak, Produage, Social Politic, Smart Technology and Avatar, and in details we have studied their impacts and significance to our current real world.
However, as a Social Scientist, although the current world is important, we are no anthropologists, and our focus lies into the future and not in the past.
So for us, the big question is: What happen next?
– Would we all become cyborgs as smart technologies continue to evolve?
– Would the virtual community makes us all better-equipped people?
– Would collective intelligence replace education institutes or even academic research?
– Would fifth estate leads us into great political transparency?
– Would produsage enslaves us into becoming the minions of infotainment?
– Would social platforms leads to the decay of the English Language?
– Would the merge of internet lead terrorism into the cyber sphere?
Many academics struggled to answer those sort of questions, and that is because for each answer they have proposed, more questions arise. For example, the manifesto of cyborg, surely it explained the phenomenon of why people are so addicted to the technology, but yet it still failed to explain what will happen to those people who defy the use of technology to the extreme. Another example, collective intelligence might lead us into a bigger and better pool of knowledge, but it still failed to estimate a time within the foreseeable future that when will information become purely accurate.
Each theories failed in their own way to explain the future.
Because they all had it wrong.
Surely, internet itself is a technology we never had before its invention, but the function of it is no new idea.
Internet in a social platform, is a community.
Internet is a new world, and just like the world we are living in right now, a world occupied by humans.
And why, why would anyone expect us behaving radically differently when the people are the same, only in a different place?
Therefore, when it comes to future gazing, I favour particularly the theory of normalisation by David Resnick from the University of Cincinnati. His theory was that;
“Cyberspace has been transformed from a virtual state of nature into a virtual pluralistic civil society with commercial activity, organised interest groups and parties, and an emerging legal regulatory structure”.
(Politics on the internet: the normalisation of cyberspace, 1998)
Throughout time, we are exposed to numerous chances to a different world, a fantasy world, such as the world of story telling, than the world of theology, then the world of written language. Initially, the world is often affiliated with magic, or lore, or innovative stuffs, but as time goes by, the world becomes progressively more structured, and assimilated into ways similar to our real world. Look at the Greek mythology as an example:
They started off with multiple Gods with amazing powers and abilities, living above us and all mighty… however, as times goes on, the concept of marriage, birth, war, death, emotions started to surface in the history of the mythology (not to mention the close affiliation the god world has to the human world such as Cupid as the God of human romance, further indicating how human needs to base the fictional world in the real world for the sake of some familiarity), the world of Greek mythology has transformed from a pure world of powerful figures into a world parallel to the real ancient world of Greece.
As much as we want to go wild and be awesome and cool and imaginative, it is in our human nature to search for the sense of familiarity. We can only comprehend progressive and “familiar” changes, and we are utterly un-perpared to make any radical changes.
There is an old saying for this: “I want changes, but I don’t want big changes”.
Therefore, I remain doubtful when academics goes on and on, and skip right into the debate of utopian and dystopian. To me, the very existence of utopianistic and dystopianistic argument is in question.
Sure, if you see it in the eyes of collective intelligence or virtual community, utopianistic idea is sound; with all the freedom of information and markets of ideas and contribution of knowledge, seems like the cyberspace is a breeding ground for prosperity and freedom.
However, aren’t we forgetting the cyber law, and the many other public, social and private regulation that comes with it?
Of cause, if you see it in the eyes of cyborg manifesto and produage, dystopianistic idea is valid; with all the media monopolization and the governmental restriction of information, seems like the cyberspace is nothing more than a black hole for amnesty and citizen rights.
However, aren’t we forgetting the people’s power, and the fact that institution such as Wiki-Leak is at work?
How can be pick either side of the argument when both sides have major fallacies that yet to be solved? I mean, are will going to determine the quality of a car when you know it works well in summer time but not in winter time?
Though, one thing is certain though, and it is that the online world is progressively becoming more similar to the world we are living in. For instance, marriages, relationships, discussion, exchange of goods, work, education and so go on… they are things starting to emerge within the cyberspace.
And you know what? they are things already existing in our real world! Therefore, rather than saying the online world is going to turn into something so new and so unpredictable that we cannot even begin to imagine, we should examine our current social conducts more closely, as the fact remains that we are simply transgressing the already existing social conducts into the online world with a little bit of a twist rather than creating a new set of social morale all together.
Surely, there will be changes to our traditional social custom. Just like in the olden day Religion is the one true fact and now most of us rely on hard science. However, the fact remains that we need a source of information about the world, and although the method of investigation has turned from superstitious to empiricism, the urge of information seeking remains the same, and never will be a day when we can live without knowing. It is in our nature and it is something socially unchangeable.
Same to the virtual world. Although there is now another world for human to play with and be innovative and creative, progressively, human nature will take place, and we will go back into the search of familiarity. We cannot cope with radical changes, we simply cannot.
“I want changes, but not big changes”.