Evolving the Network: Politics, Culture, and Consciousness
On March 28, 2008 Reality Sandwich/Evolver
sponsored a panel discussion on the capacity of digital
technology to transform our reality. As moderator Ken Jordan
put it, "What's going to emerge from this digital soup?"
The panelists were Laura Dawn, cultural director of MoveOn; Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky, musician, writer, and filmmaker; Daniel Pinchbeck, author and editorial director of Reality Sandwich, and Peter Koechley, former managing editor of the Onion, now with MoveOn.
Watch the video:
Daniel Pinchbeck began the discussion, noting that he had been presenting these panels to open up a space for cultural/political dialog in the absence of such public forums, and to bring in the spiritual dimension. He also spoke of his participation in the recent World Psychedelic Forum in Switzerland, noting that there is now, after a long hiatus since its prohibition in the late 60s, new work with psychedelic research involving therapeutic applications.
Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky talked of a shift in thinking from mass culture to mass customization that has occurred due to the new digital information technologies, with the quot;melt down" of the recording industry, and the rise of a DJ "gift economy" where people can download, edit, and sequence for themselves.
Peter Koechley noted a power shift since the early days of the Web, with the idea that a group of students with a laptop can make a news page, just like the New York Times has a news page. Now that people are voluntarily doing that work, it's
no longer a strictly professional realm, and there is the potential for anyone to create something that millions of people see.
Laura Dawn spoke of the transition in political fundraising away from a powerful minority of donors to vast numbers of small donors. The ability to raise 60 million dollars in fifty-dollar donations means that old money interests are not in control any more. MoveOn has given real-world impetus to a grass-roots effort. Also there is the shift in news onsumption, where instead of watching the same 10-second loop over and over again, news consumers can investigate multiple sources on a story and understand the larger context for events. The result has been to force accountability of our leaders, something we haven't been able to do before.
Pinchbeck spoke of the history of media and political forms, that new technologies -- such as the development of literacy and the printing press -- have tend to support new forms of social organization. What we have now seems to be the possibility that digital technology and social networking points toward a global, direct democracy based on non-coercive, shared power across all races and classes.
As one panelist put it, "Once the data is available, ten thousand flowers bloom!"
Photo by Susan Buck.Tweet