A lot has occurred in the world’s news in the last couple of weeks, and maybe some things should be all added together because even though separately reported, combined they make a difference. That was seen, although not entirely at the UN General Assembly this last week, with Barack Obama said he is sad for the uprisings the Islamophobic You Tube video caused, while at the same time arguing for our Constitutional protection of free speech as a foundation for democracy for everyone. Of course even the newly elected leaders of Muslim countries argued against free speech, not realizing that without cell phones, computers, and the internet, the new democracies in the middle east may not have developed as they did.
Today free speech is a reality for much of the world that is now connected by cell phones and computers, that are quite capable of transcending the differences in languages between all the varied countries on this planet. Earlier in the week, Google one of the largest sources and conduits of information in the world announced they are purchasing NIK software which can provide a photo processing and editing capability to their network. Photographs as much as speech are a part of the stories individuals tell to each other over the internet and cell wireless networks.
Also this week a technology dispatch in The Atlantic reported that Harvard University neuroscience research had found why people share on the new social media networks. It is because the sharing activates the brain’s reward system, increases dopamine activity. This reward apparently comes from the activity of sharing information, telling your story to others and they doing the same. Apparently the sharing for each is a rewarding experience when it is about the person telling the story, and to some extent the listener. Maybe checking one’s e-mail or FaceBook pages is not just an idle task but plays into our basic motivations. Looking back to simpler, earlier times when people lived in villages the culture was learned from story tellers amongst the older generation, what public schools are supposed to do today.
These and many more new technology capabilities change our culture and are ways of connecting with the world and each other. Because conservatives are very afraid of change, and are trying to hold it back is not a solution, it just creates more problems. The world continues to get smaller and has become the global village Marshall McLuhan described 50 years ago. Now we need to learn how to live in that village and get long with our neighbors. It is happening inadvertently, the Foxconn factory making iPhones in China has workers who are beginning to realize they are important and must be taken seriously; and a factory of workers in Pakistan was not and most died in a fire. The world is beginning to know these things. So now, how do we encourage and help with understanding throughout this world we all influence and participate in to make it work for everyone?