One web, one mind
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
The web seems to have a merging effect on collective thought. Since we all get most of our news from the internet, we all think of the same things or we have a particular topic in mind roughly around the same time. Funneling Content
If there is such a thing as a funneling effect of thought, how does it actually happen?
It is a very simple concept. All that is needed is to control the distribution of ideas via main web sites or news distribution channels around the world.
Noam Chomsky argued this particular topic a few times: mind control and the role of the media. (I have to mention Chomsky, as what discussion of this nature would be complete without his point of view.)
In a nutshell, we have a democratic world-society with manufactured consent, i.e., a very orderly and controlled society via news outlets since we can no longer be controlled by force.
In our information age, this type of thought control is a bit harder to achieve since the web is still a relatively uncensored medium in democratic countries; however, when someone high up there in the power pyramid gets spooked about something, there is no telling what editorial waves hit ISPs and news outlets.
Interestingly enough, while editing this entry, the Toronto Star reported
today that "The Conservative government has taken steps to keep the public from seeing images of flag-draped coffins when fallen soldiers are returned home from Afghanistan." So, censorship does exist, even in Canada.
But even without this "guiding" hand, there seems to be this invisible funnel of main topics for humanity to discuss. Of course, we live in the same world so some topics have to be in our collective mind: oil prices, the Iraq world, global warming (if it really is an issue), etc., etc. Sometimes, though, some topics are more predominant than others.Zbigniew Brzezinski
, who served as United States National Security Advisor in the Jimmy Carter era, wrote a book titled Between Two Ages: America's Role in the Technotronic Era
in which he "prophetically foresaw a society," as quoted by Jim Marrs in Rule by Secrecy
, "...that is shaped culturally, psychologically, socially, and economically by the impact of technology and electronics--particularly in the areas of computers and communications." Perhaps we are just seeing Brzezinski revelations 30 years after his book was published (October 1976).Funneling the Mind
If such effect exist, could we actually create a global consciousness that we can tap into?
This is more of a conspiratorial type of topic, which I have nothing against, but there has to be a bit of pragmatism to explore this particular theme.
For example, I visit news.google.com, wired.com, and slashdot.org daily. Would you be able to figure out what I am thinking about or what major themes are running through my mind right now?
In a way you could, with the minor caveat of my readings of real books and hard copy newspapers: similar to everyone else, I have different interests and if I feel that I am getting good information from a few sources (web or paper), I stick with them. Thus, these particular sources are, in effect, manufacturing my consent.
Of course, you can not blame the owners of these media outlets for expressing their own opinions or selling their own agendas. As in any market, we, the consumers, need to be responsible and get as many points of view as there are out there and then, and only then, make up our minds about anything--ignorance should not be an excuse.
It is, in fact, a buyers market: if The New York Times seems to have one point of view about the war on Iraq, why not try the Wall Street Journal, or an independent media outlet. One of them will have to be telling the truth. After all, journalist are supposed to be reporting on real events, and now with 3 or 4 different sources reporting on the same snapshot of time, we should be able to choose which point of view we are going to believe given our background, beliefs, and experiences.The Effect on Business
Does any of this have any effect in the business world? I believe it does, but I do not know to what extent. For example, are companies hiring Internet Chief Officer that harvest the web to see what anyone is talking about them and thus make organizational decision from the results?
I think this has been tried before, i.e., a consulting business model harvesting everything that has been written on the web and report daily on the "main" themes. I would call it "a corporate brand manager."
It is a hard endeavor, but very implementable, i.e., write your own search bot that specializes in "your" company and ignores everything else. (I tend to think that this function actually resides in the laps of Marketing departments in the corporate world--if it is not, it should.)
All and all, I think we do have a global consciousness that is created by the events
all around us. Since everything we do is now connected, we should get as many points of view as possible before making up our minds about what is really happening.
With so many choices, it is too easy (not to say irresponsible) to let a few shape our consciousness--usually the ones with the stronger points of view are the ones that have the most interest to convince us of anything (most of the time, it is not to our advantage).
On that note, long live the free (as in speech) internet, which allows me to still express my own personal point of view on the topic of one web, one mind.