04 March 2007
WATCHING J&W. FAM DON'T GET HIL TELEGRAPH SCENE. NO REL EXP COMM $$$
For a while now I've been scoffing at our communications revolution by repeating the observation that nothing that's happened recently matches the opening of the Atlantic cable, when getting an answer from London to a question sent from New York went from two weeks to one hour. Now, I'm starting to wonder whether computers and communications (two categories quickly becoming one) are working a qualitative change on human society. One possible effect is that technology is making lawyers of us all. Law schools famously teach students to "think like lawyers," which means the ability to recognize issues in a set of facts and to know where to look for the answers. In an ever more complex world, where the scope of expertise is becoming constantly deeper but constantly narrower, power belongs to those who can tease relevant data out of chaos.
Who does this empower? Young, affluent English speaking white men, mostly. Wikipedia already worries about this bias (they think it's a bad thing). Google, on the other hand, is a tool explicitly meant to reinforce the dominant hierarchy. So, is this a revolution or a counter-revolution? Will technology change the human condition? Is cheap access to the filtered sum of human knowledge a good thing? What talents does such a society reward?
Posted by David at 9:14 AM