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Networking - a modern phenomenon? - Comments

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 1 by Schrodinger's Cat

Are we seeing some kind of expansion, through technology, of the networking capacity of the human brain? The implications of this are startling, if you consider that social networks were extremely important in the recent "Arab Spring" and "Occupy" moments. It is also noteworthy that terrorist groups also use modern communications technology to keep in touch.

Transhumanists would argue this is all heading towards some 'singularity' event. I'm not so sure. I don't think people have fundamentally changed at all, but that we've emerged from a relatively recent past in which social repression was the 'norm' and are now reverting to the true social nature of our species.

I think greater social freedom, indeed the very fall of repression itself, has arisen as a direct result of greater communication. I'd argue that prior to the emergence of cities and the development of feudal systems and kings, mankind was probably every bit as communicative with his neighbour as he's now turning out to be again.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 19:12:35 UTC | #915097

ShinobiYaka's Avatar Comment 2 by ShinobiYaka

Yet many young people in today's digital communication age have social networks much larger than this: some have literally thousands of friends on Facebook.

I think that’s a fairly elementary misunderstanding, people collect friends on Facebook like children collect Pokémon cards, the more “friends” the more “popular” you are, most people with hundreds if not thousands of social contacts could not name more than a handful, I have cable television with hundreds of channels, I actually watch three with any regularity I suspect I’m not unusual in this.

If you watch young people using Facebook you soon realise that they are interacting with a select few preferred contacts, but often “surf” their contacts if bored, I seriously doubt that adolescents are memorising, categorising and prioritising hundreds of contacts on social networks, there seems to be a slight confusion between what the system is doing on a presentation level on one hand and the extent of user interaction or participation on the other.

“Online social network size is reflected in human brain structure”

LOL

My hypothesis is online social network size is it usually driven by gender and age and probably self-image…

If there is a long term impact of the internet it will be its influence on technology and social issues, technology has always been driven by data storage and access, each revolution such as writing and printing has increased the available stored knowledge and it is this access to knowledge that has driven technological and social changes, the internet is an almost unlimited global data storage and access system, it’s the ease of use and access to this shared knowledge that will be the engine of change not any “cognitive” adaption.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 20:50:08 UTC | #915131

Steven Mading's Avatar Comment 3 by Steven Mading

The Facebook definition of "friend" is merely "someone I wanted to talk to ONCE, or look at a thing they said ONCE, or needed to befriend in order to see the full content of their page." In some cases the thing you "friend" isn't' even a person but an idea, as in "Friend this page to show support for this political cause."

The reason there's more "friends" in online genres than in person has nothing to do with any sort of change to Dunbar's number in young people. It's purely a change to the definition of "friend" so it doesn't really mean "friend" anymore.

In the past people were also capable of having thousands of other people they vaguely interacted with at least once or twice here and there. They just didn't have Facebook around that forced them to completely mangle the English language and use a totally broken definition of the word "friend", and so they didn't call everybody they vaguely interacted with on rare occasions "friends".

What Facebook calls "friends" people used to call "acquaintances" or "contacts".

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 22:59:34 UTC | #915166

-TheCodeCrack-'s Avatar Comment 4 by -TheCodeCrack-

I'm a 24 year old without facebook or any other social media website. I must have a mincroscopic orbital prefrontal cortex.

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 00:10:16 UTC | #915184

ShinobiYaka's Avatar Comment 5 by ShinobiYaka

Comment 4 by -TheCodeCrack-

I'm a 24 year old without facebook or any other social media website. I must have a mincroscopic orbital prefrontal cortex.

Nah! You probably have a social life…

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 00:29:08 UTC | #915189

Helga Vieirch's Avatar Comment 6 by Helga Vieirch

Well the comments so far are reassuring and even hilarious. I agree with all comments, save for that of The Code Crack. A 24 year old without Facebook or Twitter, for instance, is almost inconceivable. You must be strong minded, extremely rational, or too busy with LIFE to waste your time this way. I know young people with many social networking sites, including some I have never even heard of before.

Which makes you wonder what "a social life" actually IS. For the Hadza, in the research study and video I linked to, the social network WAS a fair representation of real relationships. These people actually saw one another fairly often, and made efforts to share a camp together at least part of the year. The whole subsistence round was like a mobile swinging around this social network, setting individuals and family groups in motion around the landscape, sharing camps with different groups of friends and relations every few weeks. A constant round of visiting and exchange.

The Kua San ( a Bushman group), with whom I lived in the Kalahari, were like this too. It is a common pattern among mobile foragers. Since this appears to be the oldest form of human economy, it might explain the source of "the true social nature of our species" that Schrodinger's Cat thinks we are now "reverting to".

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 05:25:31 UTC | #915224

nancynancy's Avatar Comment 7 by nancynancy

I don't know whether or not social networking sites have changed the brains of human beings. But I do believe internet companies like Facebook and Google are blatantly violating a basic human need that has not changed -- the ability to opt out of a network and maintain some shred of privacy about the messy details of one's life.

Several months ago, I cancelled my Facebook account. Yesterday morning I stopped using Google cold turkey and switched over to Duck Duck Go, a privacy-oriented search engine which does not gather or share any information about a user's web searching habits or activities.

It's impossible to predict exactly how all of the information collected about us might be used in the future. But marketers and other organizations are compiling large and strikingly sophisticated profiles of individual users. We should not be lulled into a false sense of security about our online activities because all the little tracks we leave can much too easily come back come back to haunt us in our real lives. Forewarned is forearmed.

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 08:29:47 UTC | #915242

Helga Vieirch's Avatar Comment 8 by Helga Vieirch

Comment 7 by nancynancy I don't know whether or not social networking sites have changed the brains of human beings. But I do believe internet companies like Facebook and Google are blatantly violating a basic human need that has not changed -- the ability to opt out of a network and maintain some shred of privacy about the messy details of one's life

This seems logical. In every society, people are granted the right to do certain things in private, and this is to some extent an attribute of mutual respect as individuals mature. Thus, in many societies, "going potty" with Mummy watching is fine when you are two but embarrassing when you are six, an outrage when you are twelve, unthinkable when you are older. Flirtation between a couple tends to be acceptable "in public" only to a certain extent, for sexual acts however, people tend to seek privacy.

On the other hand, there is a point at which things we may display publicly are curtailed, not due to a respect for our individual right to privacy, but rather due to public censorship or social control. Even display of body parts as unremarkable as knees and shoulders might be considered inappropriate in some cultures. As we know, in parts of the Middle East, display of a woman's hair is even forbidden. It is considered private, and intensely intimate, to a degree that display of breasts might be in Western society, especially circa 1950.

A similar degree of privacy is generally accorded to certain details of one's behaviour and circumstances. Having sex before marriage, become the parent of an illegitimate child, or engaged in adultery, in some times and places, was enough to get a person publicly stigmatized, banned, or even killed. Activities labelled "sinful" were as bad as those considered "deceitful", "depraved" or "criminal". In fact the boundaries between all these are often blurred.

That is the problem with networks.

Networks are a vehicle of social control, to some extent, aren't they? They lay our lives open, not just to social gossip, but to the likes of Homeland Security. In this age of official paranoia, this can be extremely dangerous. Moreover, they spread information that can make the individual (and their immediate circle) vulnerable to more than being misunderstood in certain jurisdictions. Details of personal finances, residential arrangements, travel itinerary, and even such things as religious (or non-religous) sentiments can all be subject to censure. Worse, such information may put a person in danger of financial predation, unemployment, or violent criminal acts from complete strangers who infiltrate social networks.

If you admit very few people to your sphere of intimates, in a society where wide and "open" social networks are considered normal, you may be considered reclusive, snobbish, or even, (worse case) suspect. Some people might even suggest that the more private you want to be, the more you have to hide.

Prudence and privacy are all very well, but, taken too far, they might tip into paranoia and secretiveness.

We are, obviously, in an age of expanding social networks. What is private and what is public is apparently being renegotiated, especially among the younger generation. This might a new trend in humans, or, as some suspect, a reversion to the larger and more open information sharing networks typical of cognitive adaptations to long term survival in a foraging economy.

However, as your post clearly indicates, this might be a perilous age for such a trend.

Given all the Twitter commentary out of Iran during their various uproars of late, and, given the importance of social networks for dissemination of information, from the inside of movements like Occupy, however, I wonder if the consequences of NOT having these expanding networks might be even more perilous, at least for the future of humanity as a whole.

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 17:00:12 UTC | #915305

aroundtown's Avatar Comment 9 by aroundtown

I have felt for quite some time that we lost a tremendous advantage when we abandoned the tribal traditions. In a tribe there is accountability and regardless of your standing within the group you still had a connection. I find it alarming at times to see people living in a small community for years and they have never met or talked with the neighbors. Very disheartening to my way of thinking. Regardless of how many electronic friends we may have the substitution for actual interaction is a poor trade.

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 19:52:41 UTC | #915361

danconquer's Avatar Comment 10 by danconquer

Thanks Helga, really interesting set of links there. I did hear this matter being discussed on Radio4 just the other day (I forget which program, though someone here will no doubt recall). However I'm not sure about the question "Is this the beginning of the next phase in selection pressure on our species, with respect to cognitive function and overall intelligence?"

The thing about selection pressure is that the catalyst of it is survival and, even more critically, reproduction. It does seem to me that in economically developed, technologically advanced nations, 'reproductive success' has now become sufficiently de-coupled from almost every imaginable type of selection pressure. Indeed it is fairly plausible to speculate that those who are better at social networking are more likely to be the kind of more ambitious, career-oriented individuals who occupy the higher socio-economic levels at which rates of reproduction actually tend to be even lower still.

We live in an age now where, for better or worse, your reproductive success is determined merely by the simple choice of whether or not one wishes to have children; it has little, if anything, to do with selection pressures anymore. It's almost just another lifestyle choice as banal as any aspect of consumerism! And so for that reason I tend to align more with scientists who argue that homo sapien has effectively reached a 'dead end' in terms of evolving through natural selection.

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 20:55:48 UTC | #915390

StephenH's Avatar Comment 11 by StephenH

Anything wrong with this picture?

Morning visit to GP Electronic entry system, and then take seat (no more talking to the receptionist)

Fortunately, they have not yet replaced the GP with a cyborg, or some automated telephone system (though it's probably not far away)

Visit to supermarket (trend seems to be, to try to get people to use the automatic checkouts) Scan your own goods, pay and leave, no more interaction with checkout staff

I need to top up my phone... so i use the automated telephone system

I need to pay my tv licence... again automated telephone system

With everyone getting addicted to the social networking sites, and playing around with their phones all day long... i think the good 'ol face to face banter is beginning to disappear

Oh well... there is always the pub

When pubs install automatic self-service for food and drink.. i will officially throw in the towel

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 21:39:31 UTC | #915405

Helga Vieirch's Avatar Comment 12 by Helga Vieirch

Comment 11 by StephenH

Very true. How can you counter this? I can only think of one remedy: get out and deliberately find places where people can interact real-time and face to face. Make and keep friends, stay in touch with family. Invite people over to dinner, join a club, volunteer in some community activity. Make time for face to face interactions. The fact that we can avoid it, more and more of the time, in commercial transactions is surely less important than the fact that, for many, non-commerical face to face interactions seem to be getting harder to arrange, or perhaps too much trouble.

What if that loneliness, that craving for connection, that comes of living in modern industrialized societies, is one of the possible forces that seduces people, not only into on-line networks, but also, in some cases, into membership in religious cults? On-line networks seem the more benign of these alternatives, at least to me.

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 23:31:47 UTC | #915444

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 13 by Premiseless

I think the online access to shadows of rational thought (as opposed to in your face intimate) is in fact, for some, maybe even many, a more conspicuous though dilute provision than anything available elsewhere and in their real local community. Sadly this seems an increasing side effect/ trade off of the human zoo syndrome which has tended more to relentlessly ring fence many away from their otherwise natural community tribal lifestyle integration so common in more primitive codependency groups. Far more people are expendable to the group as a whole and sometimes due deliberations to render them so - also an increasing side effect of competitive consciousness in its various poisons.

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 23:52:05 UTC | #915452

-TheCodeCrack-'s Avatar Comment 14 by -TheCodeCrack-

Comment 6 by Helga Vierich :

A 24 year old without Facebook or Twitter, for instance, is almost inconceivable.

My mate from Uni (also 24 years old), doesn't have a facebook account or any other social media. Most the blokes I know do have facebook (I'd say, 90%), but use it only about once a month, sometimes not even touching it for months on end (as in, their profiles have no activity even though they have upwards of 100 'friends'), and in their case, it has just become a static contact list (like an old telephone numbers book of your friends).

Wed, 08 Feb 2012 03:24:17 UTC | #915495

nancynancy's Avatar Comment 15 by nancynancy

Massive profiles are assembled on everyone who uses facebook. Here in the US on public radio, a show called On The Media ran a one hour special on online privacy this weekend. One casual facebook user (who posted just once a week) requested his profile from facebook, and it was over 1,000 pages long and even included all the text and photos he had previously deleted. For me that show was a wake up call.

Google is even worse because all you need to so is conduct a search, and they are planning to shred their privacy policy even further at the end of this month. You need not even search a sensitive topic like atheism, HIV symptoms or Occupy Wall Street. If, to use a hypothetical example, marajuana users are known to be heavy users of brownie cake mixes, and you happen to do a search on "Duncan Hines Brownie Mix," your online profile can be tarred just by your statistical association with an undesirable group. And in the real world, you may never know the true reason why you were turned down for that job, mortgage or insurance policy.

And this is only 2012. With every passing year, the incursions will deepen as more data are gathered about us and ever smarter programs are developed to analyze that data so the intimate details of our lives can be sold to the highest bidder. That's why I stopped using Google cold turkey two days ago and switched to a privacy oriented search engine, Duck Duck Go, that does not track or collect information on user activity. I have to say it's very liberating to plug the information leak.

Wed, 08 Feb 2012 14:32:20 UTC | #915616

Sean_W's Avatar Comment 16 by Sean_W

It sounds like an opportunity nancynancy. -an emerging market. We can create searchable identities for people. You give us a profile of the individual you want to be associated with searches of all types for you online, and we create it for you. Thankfully we have been creating just such profiles for sometime now so our deluxe identities have extensive histories already.

Let us clone a better you.

Wed, 08 Feb 2012 15:25:11 UTC | #915631

nancynancy's Avatar Comment 17 by nancynancy

Manilla, your service sounds a bit like Reputation.com only it goes further since it doesn't simply scrub away negative information, but it creates and posts positive information about a person that may or may not be true. For the deluxe identity, a person could have the wealth of Carlos Slim, the intelligence of Albert Einstein, and the beauty of Angelina Jolie. Creating a profile like that would take quite a bit of work and cost a hefty sum of money. So anyone who could afford a service like that, most likely wouldn't need it.

Wed, 08 Feb 2012 17:08:25 UTC | #915649

Sean_W's Avatar Comment 18 by Sean_W

Well nancy, there are plenty of folks with more money than sense. ;-P

---//----

As for the OP, in what way is virtual social networking exerting selection pressure on us? To use the example in the OP, does a large virtual social network actually constitute a need to expand beyond this Dunbar number? I did notice the word "close" as in "when asked to keep close track".

Wed, 08 Feb 2012 19:45:26 UTC | #915683

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 19 by aquilacane

Yet many young people in today's digital communication age have social networks much larger than this: some have literally thousands of friends on Facebook. Is this a really big change in human capacity?

Hard to say, having lots of fake friends may actually distract from real friendship. 25 years ago we had an average of 3 really close friends, some studies suggest that has changed to two really close friends, today. Most of the people I know, admit they are only letting friends join because they don't want to be rude. People from work, old school buddies, family friends, potential employers or customers all find their way onto your facebook page despite you not actually being friends.

I think it may be familiarity in a strange location syndrome. You can’t be facebook friends if you’re not on facebook. When I was living in Texas North (Calgary, Alberta) I bumped into a guy who went to my school, back in Ontario. He saw me on the street and ran across to say hi. I recognized him and said hello back, how have you been. All the usual what are you up to stuff. Thing is, I don’t really know this guy.

I figured it was all done and I was ready to go on my way when he asked for my number (email wasn’t around then). “We should have a beer”, he said. Why, I thought? We never had a beer at school, I don’t even think we like each other. Why would you want a beer with someone you never really spoke to? You had five years to strike up a conversation and nothing.

I gave him my number; we had a beer and talked about a bunch of shit that meant nothing to both of us. Hey do you remember so and so? No. How about that person? No, not really. Well… good to see you…

That’s facebook and social media. I do campaigns for businesses that want to get into facebook. They don’t give a shit who you are. It’s not about connecting with their customers; it’s about connecting with anyone… as long as they like us. Make our brand look popular, whoever you are. Only a fraction of the brand likes on facebook are from people who actually use the product on a regular basis.

When I’m asked why I am not on facebook it is a simple answer, I don’t have that many friends, I don’t need it. I may start an art page but I hear those are shit anyway.

My wife has a friend who sends DVDs of vacation pics then quizzes us on them. She is only a friend out of pity and the inability of my wife to be rude. So, I guess we don’t really need facebook to have fake friends.

Wed, 08 Feb 2012 20:42:15 UTC | #915694

Helga Vieirch's Avatar Comment 20 by Helga Vieirch

Comment 19 by aquilacane

I guess we don’t really need facebook to have fake friends.

Oxymoron alert! Can one really have a "fake" friend? I suppose so, for as Shakespeare wrote, someone may "smile and smile, and still be a villain".

I doubt most Face Book friends are actually villains, of course.

Maybe we ought to start calling it "Fake Book"?

Of course, most people post and reply to only a few contacts on a regular basis. I personally doubt is Dunbar's number has been superseded. On the other hand, information flow has been changed. People can go to other sources for on-the-spot reporting, rather then rely on what major media outlets chose to cover and how they chose to interpret, events outside out immediate local area.

The free flow of information, ideas, and opinions is at once liberating and maddening, given the nature of human beings. But surely it is better than limited flow of information?

Wed, 08 Feb 2012 21:27:56 UTC | #915707

Helga Vieirch's Avatar Comment 21 by Helga Vieirch

It is interesting that the following article by Lionel tiger just appeared, concerning Facebook, in the wall Street Journal. It is so relevant that I am going to quote the whole text below.

Zuckerberg: The World's Richest Primatologist

WALL STREET JOURNAL, February 6, 2012

Lionel Tiger

When the first phone line linked two New England towns, the inevitable arrogant scold asked if the people of X had anything to say to the folks of Y. His implication was "no". Why have more to do with (implicitly fallen) fellow humans than absolutely necessary? Why should technology abet friendliness?

Mr. Scold was wrong. One of the most successful magazine launches of the last decades was People, carefully and endlessly just about that, week in and week out, year after year. Europe boasts a strange menagerie of similar publications which ceaselessly chronicle the libidinous events in the lives of minor Scandinavian royalty and the housing buys and sells of soccer stars before and after their divorces. Magazines pay the price of a used fighter plane for the first photo of the baby of certified stars.

People want to know about this town and that other town too. It's their nature.

Primates always want to know what is going on. If it's over the hill where you can't see for sure what's up, that's even more stimulating and obviously important to secure long-range survival. Primates are intensely interested in each other and other groups. It was pointed out in the 60's that in some ground-living species members of the group glanced at the lead primate every 20 or 30 seconds. Think Louis Quatorze or Mick Jagger. Look, look, look - people are always on the lookout.

The human who has most adroitly -if first innocently and in the next weeks most profitably - capitalized on this is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook. Get it? Not FootBook or ElbowBook. The face. It gets you a driver's license and stars send it out to fans. We know that many users' first and classical impulse was acquiring convivial acquaintance with young women. Facebook married that ancient Darwinian urgency to a cheap, brilliantly lucid, and endlessly replicable technology.

The result has been virtually incalculable and not only for Mark Z's lunch money. Nearly one sixth of Homo sapiens are on Facebook. Half of Americans over 12 are on it. It is worldwide and has been joined by other tools of conviviality such as Twitter. We know nearly 15 percent of American already belong to that new tribe. There are others.

Mr Zuckerberg has re-primatized speedily a group of humans of unprecedented number, diffusion, and intensity. His product costs him virtually nothing to produce - it is simply us. We enter his shop, display ourselves as attractively or interestingly as we can, replenish ourselves hourly or daily or by the minute, and do it for nothing. Doesn't cost him a nickel.

And why? Just because we're primates with endlessly deep interest in each other, with a knack and need to groom each other either physically as monkeys do or with "What a nice hairdo/dress/ divorce/promotio n!" as Facebookworms do. There is much to transmit between towns and between people.

Mr Zuckerberg bestrides vast business numbers once dreamt of only toothpaste and soft-drink makers. This reflects a new commercial demography in which the consumer is not someone who wants something necessary, but rather one who seeks to assert simply what he is. And the tool he uses in order to become nothing more or less than an ever more efficient, interesting, and socially prosperous primate is the Facebook page.

The technology is new but the passion for connection isn't. In Paris a hundred years ago pneumatic tubes ran all the through the parts of town which could afford them so messages could be written and sent as if by courier. When I was a student in London, there were mail deliveries twice a day and in some environs three. The homo sapien wants to know, to exchange, to show its face.

And when the counting houses work triple-time recording the riches from all this, it will be sweet comedy to remember that Mr Zuckerberg became the richest primatologist in the world because he gave his customers nothing new, except the chance to be their old ape selves.

Mr Tiger, an emeritus professor of anthropology at Rutgers, is the author of "The Decline of Males" (St. Martins 2000) and with Michael McGuire of "God's Brain (Prometheus Books, 2010)

Wed, 08 Feb 2012 22:46:51 UTC | #915736

DavidXanaos's Avatar Comment 22 by DavidXanaos

I don't have a Facebook account and intent to never ever get one

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 08:22:02 UTC | #916127

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 23 by Premiseless

Comment 19 by aquilacane :

I think it may be familiarity in a strange location syndrome. You can’t be facebook friends if you’re not on facebook. When I was living in Texas North (Calgary, Alberta) I bumped into a guy who went to my school, back in Ontario. He saw me on the street and ran across to say hi. I recognized him and said hello back, how have you been. All the usual what are you up to stuff. Thing is, I don’t really know this guy.

I figured it was all done and I was ready to go on my way when he asked for my number (email wasn’t around then). “We should have a beer”, he said. Why, I thought? We never had a beer at school, I don’t even think we like each other. Why would you want a beer with someone you never really spoke to? You had five years to strike up a conversation and nothing.

I gave him my number; we had a beer and talked about a bunch of shit that meant nothing to both of us. Hey do you remember so and so? No. How about that person? No, not really. Well… good to see you…

Weird to think not many years ago how more limited most peoples circle of associates would be BUT more conspicuously , I think, how isolated certain ones NOW become due the rest connecting more with such new networks rendering random others inclusion less valued. Much more room for lonely others, as a side effect, in a world so on the go. Even families, on a global scale, too easily become estranged for life, to which there is no replacement or more to the point, understanding about the implications of this - especially in the minds of those cosied up in close family networks. It soon reduces into a - like you later say "pity" versus personal functional family evaluation. The human race is VERY dysfunctional about dysfunctionality!

.... She is only a friend out of pity and the inability of my wife to be rude. So, I guess we don’t really need facebook to have fake friends.

Which brings me to wonder at whether there is an increasing likelihood of increasing populations of individuals who ONLY have 'fake friends' in a world so much more liable to render their situations redundant to close, lifelong, associations? A sorta double human zoo effect. Not just the neighborhood zoo but an ever larger virtual one? Weird to contemplate and to me, there is something very respected about the exploitative/corrupting nature of this, as seems to be endemic amongst our species!

The close families emotional 'religion' seems to be retaining its lions share of functionality in a market economy set to gather shares in this techno future. The old theists adage, "To those who have more will be given and to those who have not, even what you have will be taken away." Ruthless!

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 12:34:56 UTC | #916172

Helga Vieirch's Avatar Comment 24 by Helga Vieirch

Comment 23 by Premiseless

...Which brings me to wonder at whether there is an increasing likelihood of increasing populations of individuals who ONLY have 'fake friends' in a world so much more liable to render their situations redundant to close, lifelong, associations? A sorta double human zoo effect. Not just the neighborhood zoo but an ever larger virtual one? Weird to contemplate and to me, there is something very respected about the exploitative/corrupting nature of this, as seems to be endemic amongst our species!

The close families emotional 'religion' seems to be retaining its lions share of functionality in a market economy set to gather shares in this techno future. The old theists adage, "To those who have more will be given and to those who have not, even what you have will be taken away." Ruthless!

Not to worry. By all current indictions, industrial society is due to collapse some time in the next two decades. Then we will see a resurgence of localized food production and distribution, as well as defensive, systems. At that point, even if we have the Net, face-to-face local relationships will assume far greater significance in human survival.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 06:32:42 UTC | #917101

raytoman's Avatar Comment 25 by raytoman

One thing we are finding out in the social media age is that people all over the world are pretty much the same as us. They have typically the same wants and needs, except when distorted by religion.

I have seen many excellent programmes on Al Jazeera recently, many under the heading of The Arab Awakening or Arab Spring.

The movers and shakers of the revolutions appear to be reasonable people who care for their country and their peope and simply want a freer society with opportunity for all. That is good to know. The Western Media is trying to paint anyone who doesn't support the US and Israel as bad or evil and some Republican candidates for their Presidential nomination are talking about a drive for a world wide caliphate that must be stopped at all costs (gets the military industrial complex cash (and vote)).

I suspect humans are still the same as always, not much smarter than when we left Africa. Recently we have recorded lots of knowledge which our brightest and best can leverage to learn more. We are also able to spread knowledge better and faster. Our main problem now is with who controls the knowledge and which knowledge they suppress, which knowledge they distort or invent and what they spread as knowledge (propaganda, religion, dishonest/dangerous advertising).

Julian Assange is one (possibly flawed) example of people who want "secrets" to be exposed and a more open society for all. Freedom of information and knowledge can only be good. Where some knowledge is considered dangerous, there can be agreed authorities that can approve secrecy (e.g.how to make a WMD) and discussion should be encouraged about controversial information and knowledge and how/whether it should be used.

Interesting times ahead but no doubt, religion will f**k it up! .

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 23:37:52 UTC | #920160