Thursday, December 01, 2005

What is New Media?

As life and society evolves, it responds to the market forces of scarcity or abundance, and those who adapt the best to the new realities are favored, while those who cannot/will not, face extinction -- and until then, are plagued by chronic, persistent, overwhelming difficulties in their lives more than most.

It is the fatal failure to adapt. Such persons will even insist and demand that the rest of the world must change to suit them -- rather than the appropriate response of personally and individually changing -- as the best response. It might be that before a universal law granting the right of way to all pedestrians, at all times, anywhere, one is unfortunately struck down and killed by a car driver who hasn't gotten that news yet.

Clearly over the last half century, the world is a very different place than it had been for most of history. The greatest change is that those things that were once scarce, because of science and technology, have become plentiful. But the human being, having evolved over millions of years, favored those who could adapt to scarcity, hardship, and struggle. However, when those conditions of scarcity change to abundance in one's own lifetime, many cannot adapt and will perish by their failure to adapt.

The obvious case is to eat as much as one can because food might be scarce and unreliable. Many will eat themselves to death because they don't make the adaptation to unlimited food resources. One is now more likely to eat themselves to death rather than starve to death.

An even greater change, has been the explosive growth of information -- so that one is likely to become dysfunctional not because of ignorance, but more likely from overinformation. Information is no longer scarce, as in the days of the first appearance of the school on the prairie and frontier newspaper, but one has trouble now avoiding information intruding in our every waking moment.

The result of overinformation is paralysis -- that one is so overwhelmed processing the information, that they cannot act appropriately in a timely manner. Eventually, one cannot act effectively at all. One's entire time and energy are consumed in processing information -- endlessly.

Modern information processors recognized that they had to filter out the extraneous before they let it take root in their minds -- avoiding and eliminating all the distractions, diversions and pettiness that was not their urgent sphere of influence, their actual living and concerns -- in which their actions could make a vital and critical difference. So being able to detect the significant and significance became the prime skill -- or one could not tell every bit of trivia, deception and manipulation from the cherished truth of the matter.

Such an evolution in information and communication processing, is what is being defined as the new media (style and culture), as opposed to the old mass media done more. It is also called, personalized media -- information that one wants, rather than what somebody else wants us to know. This is a huge shift in the power dynamic that threatens the way we've been accustomed to do things.

Many who had tremendous power and influence in the old media, will only have as much as the next guy -- even if it is more than anybody had before. But the hierarchy of information and control has been dissolved -- and those who benefited most by the old arrangement will of course fight until their dying breath to maintain the old status quo. Meanwhile, the rest must go on to create the new possibilities of information and communications -- as the most critical aspect of any discussion of the future.


At December 01, 2005 11:52 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Characteristic of the old (media) writing style is always writing down to the reader -- to establish and reinforce the dominance of the writer to the reader. Often, a struggle for who is the superior ensues -- with each posturing and trying to intimidate the other. So language is used to disguise what they don’t know rather than reveal what they do know. The objective is dominance rather than equality.

The new (media) writing style has equality of knowledge as its objective -- to equalize/share the knowledge rather than to develop a dependency and co-dependency, which is the dominant relationship of less developed cultures and civilizations. Thus, equals never engage -- and if they do, may spend the entirety of their communications in this mutually exhausting struggle for dominance. So people of this persuasion seek out others that are less able -- because the drive to dominate is the categorical imperative.

Of course, this assures that one’s circle will be of inferior people. Whether hiring, marrying, befriending -- one will select inferior people -- or make them so. That’s very damaging and destructive to all -- consuming as much as producing actual good and goods, in many cases.

The new media allows one to identify and be around competent and formidable others -- which is the preferred society of intelligent people. The most intelligent people, choose to be around people of at least as great an intelligence as themselves. The old media objective is to manipulate and control as many people as possible. That was the only way people knew how to be.

At December 01, 2005 12:27 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

So it is, that that kind of old culture supported the mass media and the cult of media superstars -- that they controlled, as well as created. One of the symbolic turning points in that demise, was that although Dan Rather in his time was anointed the next “voice of God” to succeed Walter Cronkite, there was no one to succeed Dan Rather in that similar fashion -- although everyone working in the mass media hoped for that person to be them. It would have been like being the Pope in the secular world.

It was a crushing blow to many careers and egos, but the signal of its time, that the old superstar system, was no longer in effect -- and even the reference to “icons,” was the language of that past. The “people of knowledge” were mostly in this vast conspiracy because they were its chief beneficiaries -- in the age celebrating fame over significance and substance. Mass media was the Age of Image. Image was everything -- so to fool as many people as possible, became the objective.

But people everywhere, recognized that reality, truth and authenticity were even greater values -- and that caused the mass media culture to wither without its best. These are changes so fundamental, they are referred to as “paradigm shifts,” in which everything one thought one knew about the world, may actually be false, and one has to learn everything all over again, in this better understanding of the world.

Those who have a tremendous advantage in the new world are those who can learn; those who are disadvantaged and threatened by extinction are those who either cannot or will not learn anything new. They will go down trying to impose the old ways on a fast changing world. Old media will enable that dysfunction; new media, will allow one to adapt as needed -- pretty effortlessly.

What is needed in the political leaders of this time are those most favorable to this greatly enhanced possibility of life -- rather than those who will support a dying and dysfunctional way of life and status quo -- that will become increasingly for their adherents, a living death.

At December 01, 2005 12:37 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Life is an ongoing process; there are no final victories.

It's always been that way -- continually getting better, even though the defenders of the status quo want to convince us that change always makes things worse. Maybe it makes it worse for them -- but it makes it better for just about everybody else.

That's why the defenders of the status quo are inevitably demagogues.

At December 01, 2005 12:44 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The best place to work if one is a demagogue, is the mass media.

At December 02, 2005 11:28 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

So in this age of mass media demagoguery, the solution is to determine those media least biased, partisan and manipulative, and avoid exposure to the hate-mongering of toxic, dysfunctional people who poison the thought environment of a healthy society.

That is the more perfect society that is the objective of every life.

At December 04, 2005 9:10 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The major difference between the old (mass) media and the new (personalized) media, is the difference between the old information processing and the new information processing. In the former, information is treated like things -- that have to be accumulated, and that gives it its value. Thus it is believed, that more is better. However, one quickly runs out of memory -- and so as an extension of memory, one develops storage capacity -- like books and hierarchic authority. But there’s a limit to how much any human can process in that old style.

What is needed is key information that implies the understanding of all the important information -- without having to search them down individually and personally. One is limited to how much each person physically puts into the effort. The smarter and more efficient way, is to not have to reinvent the wheel each time -- starting from scratch. That would be information processing as a collaborative undertaking -- as opposed to the old competitive model.

This requires information to be shared rather than hoarded, controlled, manipulated -- by the powers that would like to be, or remain so. So information is used in the service of that inner control group rather than to the benefit of the larger society. Thus the division between those in the know -- and the masses, which is the premise of the old mass media model

In the emerging new media model, one moves further based upon reliable core data -- quickly recognizing the flaw when conjecture replaces self-evident truth. Many will insist that there is no difference between opinion and fact -- and argue that everything is opinion, or everything is fact. The philosophers of old, called that distinguishing the truth from the shadow, or illusion of truth.

So some have dedicated their time and energy to improving their understanding of the truth -- while others, the people in mass media, have focused their energies on improving the illusion of truth. But just changing the illusion, is not going to change the fact. Modern information processors recognize that instantly. The bullshit detector is built up front -- and not at the end, consuming valuable time and energy, distracting one from the essential, simple, and obvious truth. Processing stops immediately upon the recognition of flawed (invalid) information. There is too much information, to go through everything offered until the end; every single piece of information must be packed with the truth, and corroborated with every other.

Which means, it cannot be ad hoc truth -- each bit unrelated to every other bit. A valued piece of information integrates all the previous information into a new, greater whole, more than the sum of the parts. The old understanding thinks that the many different pieces of information are separate and isolated from every other -- rather than that there should be a unifying, integrating truth -- which is the great contribution of Albert Einstein to modern understanding.

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