Skip to content

‘Shift happens’ video on Information Age changes

5 June, 2007

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.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 5 June, 2007 11:56 am

    Has quite a doomsday feel to it, despite the apparent wonder all those amazing statistics (were supposed to?) generate. I was reminded of The Matrix or Terminator with their visions of machines exceeding human capacities and subsequently taking over. Did I also get a whiff of cultural nationalism, a fear of incorporation by some larger entity, in relationship to China and India’s apparently overwhelming capacities? In fact, that’s the overriding feeling I got from the video: a sense that the contemporary world (as the US knows it) could be assimilated without a trace by the dizzying pace of change and the newly emerging gargantuans of globalisation.

  2. 7 June, 2007 5:58 am

    It was like reading Harper’s Index to the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack, except instead of the statistics coming from the lefty Harpers folks, they came from some crotchety young neocon mumbling as he typed his PowerPoint presentation, “The Chinese and the Indians are going to take over the world!”

  3. a crutchfield permalink
    13 June, 2007 2:20 am

    Great video-It really made me think of how the world is changing and how we Americans have to make changes in order to keep up with the rest of the world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: