Thursday, 21 February 2008

Digital Utopias today and tomorrow

In the spirit of generating some questions before we meet on February 22nd I thought I'd post this link to a utopia that you may or may not have already seen. Please add questions or thoughts on modern utopias to this post and I will endeavor to respond when we meet.


Sarah Rees Jones said...

Why would it matter if print news came to an end and digital news was generated around our supposed individual desires?

Wouldn't this be a Cockaygne of information?

Rebecca said...

i was wondering how a concern with the personalization of news and information can be addressed without undermining peoples freedom and individuality? it seems disturbing that people may get to a stage when the only news they hear confirms their prejudices or at least fails to broaden their horizons, but how could this ever be addressed without compulsory exposure to opposing views? i think sunstein's suggestions are quite unrealistic and don't fully address the scale of the problem he is raising

Olly Fayers said...

Are societies on the Internet in themselves utopias? Second Life for instance - are we being asked to consider it, in itself, as a utopia? Or the same for Wikipedia? Or for the Internet itself? The Internet, after all, depends on material society for its existence. One has to be in society to partake in it, and using a computer from our world to access it. If you publish media like music or photography on the Internet, it will have to have been made in a society with its own laws. You can't actually make it in Internetland without being under jurisdiction of the laws of the land in which your desk chair is sat. This is, I think, why the Declaration For The Independence of Cyberspace seems flawed. A part of society, namely the Internet, can't declare itself independent of the society it is necessarily a part of.

This said, I do think applications such as Skype can be perceived as 'utopian'. For some, being able to converse, almost in person, with those on the other side of the world, or indeed several people on different sides of the world, is an amazing development.

These are my overly-simple initial thoughts on digital utopias.

Sarah Rees Jones said...

Well I have to confess to not having done all the reading yet but...
the internet reminds me of Europeans' encounters with the New World from More to Montaigne to Butler- at first it seemed to offer the opportunity to start over again, to go back to first principles and develop a more perfect society, quickly followed by a honeymoon phase when the noble savages of the internet seemed less barbarous than their cousins in the old world, then finally the realisation that there are no new worlds only refashioned versions of the old (perhaps because human nature doesn't change, after all, and perhaps More knew that all along).

But .... there again this is too negative I think. The educational and information benefits of the digital world are huge- potentially - both in quality and quantity ... and though we are not there yet there seems to be the first real possibility of a mass information which would skill up the human mind (maybe, even if the print version of the NYT disappears .....?). And education of one kind or another is one of the most consistent of utopian goals? I wonder why the video assumes that mass information is dumbed down information - shades of Huxley there?