Thoughts on HAND

My initial thoughts while reading the Hand article were that the idea of a “Global Information Culture” (p 16) is a nice idea, but still far from reality.  The ‘western’ modern world, or first world nations may have access to this, but there are still large parts of the population that do not.  How will their needs be addressed in the new ‘cyber-republic?’

In the past we were spoon fed our information through the various media.  We saw what the media producers and governments wished us to see.  There were limited viewpoints produced simply because of the costs associated with distribution, or due to government restrictions.  For the most part we accepted this information as fact because we weren’t aware of any alternatives.

With the advent of the internet, information is readily available at little to no cost to produce and distribute.  Government restrictions on the types of information shared can be bypassed, and the ‘truth’ will get out.  But who’s truth is it?  How do we know?  Why would the farmer in China who has never been anywhere question his government’s politics if that was all he ever knew?  If his government continued to speak out against capitalism, why would he seek to question those beliefs?  Even though more information and another ‘truth’ may be available to him, why would he choose to seek that out… unless someone were to show it to him.

Even though the internet allows us access to many viewpoints and many ‘truths’, do we as a culture seek out alternatives to the traditional, or we do simply continue to go with what we know?


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5 Responses to Thoughts on HAND

  1. Jeremy Keith Knox says:

    Some interesting observations here Kevin, and I think you are right to highlight the issues of informational variety and multiplicity implicated in digital networks. As you say in your first point, the ideal of a global information culture exists concurrently with issues of the digitally disadvantaged. I think there are very interesting questions to be answered around the sudden digitisation of cultures who do not share the technological heritage of the West, but also great promise in the egalitarian potential of the social web. As Hand seems to imply, web technology seems to embody both the idealism and panic of its critics, depending on their disposition.

    Your final question gets me thinking about the value and worth that societies and cultures place on digital information. Despite the propensity to which the West, and countries like South Korea and Japan, can be thoroughly immersed in digital networks, to what extent does this engagement affect core cultural beliefs…if such things exist? I found it interesting that Carol mentioned a potential ‘desensitisation’ in relation to violence in the eXistenZ clip last night. Having access to so much information, so many ‘truths’ as you say, have we become in some way desensitised to ‘truth’? And is that a positive or a negative desensitisation?

    A thought provoking post Kevin, thanks!

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  3. This is an interesting topic that you are discussing guys. I agree that for the most part that people don’t seem to seek out truth but merely accept information that is presented to them; how else could we explain the phenomenon of mass media and corporate network news channels? Perhaps we have become desensitized to truth due to information overload, or perhaps we are just growing lazy. Its a pity, but perfectly understandable that the most readily available news and information sources are those promoted by government and the corporate sector, and of course come packaged with some agenda or other. If we are only exposed to such information sources then it must affect our core cultural beliefs significantly.

  4. Neil David Buchanan says:

    I think there’s another dimension in that people or “information users” end up following the information outlet/ supplier that matches their perceptions of the world. For example, during the protests in Egypt, you could watch CNN turn the event into a restaging of the American Revolution. Maybe people are swallowing packaged content because that’s what they want and feel safest with. I was thinking about online culture and how much prepackaging we accept. How many of us start from scratch and build our own online identities and how many select from the drop down menus? I think it’s a great topic for exploration!

  5. Not too sure that I agree with your point about feeling safe Neil. It seems to me that every time I look at mainstream news or corporate media, it’s overly sensationalized and aimed solely at keeping the audience scared enough to remain passive and maintain the status quo. But I think you are definitely right about people accepting an opinion that fits their world view. I makes me wonder if we naturally prefer not to question things or is it something that we’ve learned to do. Definitely a great topic to dig into further!