Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Information Age: Part One

There was an editorial in the New York Times this morning that called attention to the fact that 2008 is the 40th anniversary of the notorious year, 1968, which was filled with political upheaval, a collapse of US efforts in Vietnam, assassinations, and, well, some pretty good music in spite of it all.
Of course, celebrating the anniversary of a year in general is a bit odd.  After all, we might as well celebrate the first anniversary of 2007, the tenth anniversary of 1998, and so on. Of course, the journalist's point was that 1968, and in particular the meteoric rise and violent fall of Bobby Kennedy, was a tragic turning point in the fortunes of this country. Still, mourning over a now-distant moment in history overshadows the opportunities that our own age - or perhaps the near future - provide.

As wired as we are in the western world, the rest of the world is still in the infancy of the information age - a large majority of the world's population still lives shrouded in a nearly medieval control over information.  It's still possible in 2007 to keep a population isolated through ignorance.  The reasons are sometimes political (North Korea being a prime example) and sometimes economic (a newly high-tech India nevertheless struggles to educate and connect its huge population).
Of course, the temptation is to look at our own country and wonder why the wired world hasn't helped our political system - as we sit mired in crisis after crisis. We have wider access to information than ever before - but perhaps we as a people need to learn to employ the power of information more effectively.   The process continues and evolves as individuals and organizations learn to use technology to educate, inform and change the world. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

2008 is also the 400th anniversary of the invention of the telescope.

1968 was such an important year that songs were written ABOUT it!

I think the information age is doing quite well, when I can see a Man in China stand in front of a line of tanks and bring them to a halt! (And that was some time ago!) - SR