‘Shift happens’ video on Information Age changes
I just watched a PowerPoint ‘video’ that made me smile. It’s about the growth in information technologies, such as the geometric increase in ‘information’, the changing of technology-based occupations, the eonomic expansion of China, and the spread of MySpace (which would be the ’11th largest country in the world’, if it were a country … of course, how large would Telephonelandia be?). The video is not great quality, but there’s some interesting facts that slide by accompanied by a sort of bagpipe-drenched New Age soundtrack. For example, 3000 new books a day are published, so why are you reading a blog?
The ones that really strike me as interesting, from the perspective of an anthropologist of the ‘New Economy’, are the suggestions that sheer increase in amount of information, number of Google inquiries, and computing power will fundamentally transform basic social, economic, and psychological human realities. For example, the video editors ask to whom all the questions now posed to Google were addressed ‘B.G.’ (Before Google).
The commedy in this is that, if anyone looks closely at the most common search terms, it’s usually starlets, common news items, or pop culture ephemera (for example, week ending 18 May, top 10 searches on Google: Jerry Falwell, Halo 3 beta, (American Idol contestant) Melinda Doolittle, Kim Kardashian (Paris Hilton friend and amateur sex tape… errr… ‘performer’), Preakness (horse racing), Shrek the Third (in theatres near you), Taylor Swift (teenage country singer & Internet phenom), Phoenix Suns (having a very good year, including on Google), Yolanda King (rest in peace), and Opie and Anthony (vulgar and recently suspended radio hosts).
Although it would be nice if the massive increase in ‘information’ brought about a fundamental change in human nature, until ‘what is the meaning of life?’ or ‘how do I become a decent, conscious human being?’ make it onto the list, I suspect we’re in for more of the same. The steadily growing anxiety in the US about population growth in China and India leading to the end of ‘American Empire’, however, is interesting to watch. The fear of being ‘out-bred’ seems to be a persisting subtext of it all.