For years the media argued that it was the new world system we were facing that posed such fundamental problems. The new system had been developed for the first time by the Soviet Union, and was being piloted in a socialist economy that was supposed to be “more capitalist than our own”. But we now know the old system was far too bureaucratic and had to be overhauled to become more competitive. How could the system work better if we just had the tools to play it? Well, there was only one way to deal with this new technology – to get it to become more like us. This meant giving it a name (and therefore an acronym) and using it to our advantage: sharps.
So to understand the new digital world in which we live we need to make some key distinctions. The digital world in which we live is actually quite new. It has a long history: to the Romans, who were the first to think about the internet, it represented a new age of commerce and trade. To the Greeks, the internet was a means for communicating across vast distances, especially trade. These days digital communications are widespread and ubiquitous, with mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and even desktops and laptops being used for most ordinary of activities. It has become all too clear that this is nothing new – what is new is the way that we have managed to apply it effectively to everyday life, without much thought at all.
In their book “Citizens’ Communication: the Art and Business of the Internet” authors Daniel Dennett and Ray Kurzweil show how our technological “progress” has turned our lives into ever more interconnected. For the first time the world becomes much more integrated in the world around us; new information is constantly being transmitted, so that even if you are far away from home, if you have a cell phone with internet access it can help you get there. We have become hyper-connected to the rest of the world and to our neighbours – there are now more people connected to each other in the same country than were connected to each other in 2000. Our homes are being equipped with CCTV cameras and wi-fi links, so that people can monitor each other and help each other. The internet was only the beginning.
But then things changed, and we didn’t notice. In the early 2000s, we had become much less interconnected, with the net becoming an expensive luxury rather than a necessity (as it is now with mobile internet) – when we were “connected” to the rest of
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