Thursday, February 02, 2006

The End Of Digital Age


Strange times we are living in, this "Information Age" I mean. Not so long ago, only in last two decades, we observed an extreme leap in our civilization. Our lives are digitilized so to speak. It's quite interesting to see how smoothly we adapted ourselves to this technological development. Computers started to play a very important role in our lives and the discovery of Internet changed quite drastically the perception of "getting information" (I'd written somethings about this while ago; you can check them here and here if you want). Of course, we humans become a technological animal since we learnt to use "tools'. And now, at this step of our evolution, we are entering in a new era. Our technology served everything to us -and still serving-, we become almost superhuman so to speak. Highly sophisticated, developed, powerful but also extremely vulnerable, alienated and lonely we become (But I don't want to discuss about modern-man's problems right now, maybe later)

But there was a splinter thought which scratched my brain that I read sometime ago on journalist Ali Işıngör's website. He made some comparison's with library's and search engine's but mentioned more things, I'll try to translate and sum it up a bit. Internet effects the way we communicate but it also changes our way of collecting and learning information. Search engines and -google of course- are an indispensable medium to gather knowledge (it's open to discussion of course). Personally I don't believe either that search engines -or internet- could provide a sophisticated knowledge. I prefer to visit libraries or special old, antic book stores to search "real" information which you can't find in any search engine! But I don't want to compare the search engines with libraries, it's ridicilous to make that comparison. Our "Digital Information Age Revolution" may have changed many things and made easy for us to get information but we don't get more than short, filtered, encyclopedical pieces of knowledge. It is absurd to believe that last 15 years developments will provide suddenly the 5000 years of human knowledge to everyone.

But it is also true that we depend more and more on Internet. Even the small kids do their home work via internet, univercity students prepare their thesis with copy paste, information gets compact, short and becomes an easily consumable package. To be honest, our civilization and human knowledge slowly shift in to the cyberspace, day by day. We are aware of it but as a natural human behaviour we adapt ourselves to these changes. And here is the thought he mentioned that scratched my brain (ironically I read it on the net):

It was a remark made by Umberto Eco. He is a wellknown professor of semiotics and philosophy of literature but also an expert on middle ages. He shows as one of the main reasons for the middle age, the dark era in human history, a kind of book worm (Stegobium Paniceum I guess). This tiny insect is highly populated in 7th and 8th ages by eating old hand written parchments. And these ages are the time that most of the handwritten, valuable books (jewels of the human knowledge of the time let's say) are disappeared forever from human history, also because of wars, exiles etc. It's indeed the Dark Age of humanity.

Stegobium Paniceum

And this is the interesting point that Umberto Eco asks us: "If we consider the computer viruses as the worms and insects of the 20th century, can't we say that our knowledge and civilization which shifts more and more in to the digital space is under a risk?"

This is really an interesting point which we should think about. Besides the human knowledge is shifting in to the cyberspace, all our financial, genetical, personal data are moving onto the digital space as well. It's a fact that our lives become digital, we are entering to a new era. Can a powerful computer virus (a worm!), much stronger and destructive than we have ever seen, bring us to a digital "dark" age one day?

What if?

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4 Noises:

At Friday, February 03, 2006 5:36:00 AM, Blogger Insane_Racounter..! said...

Interesting post, being a major in computer science i can't agree more with you.. I once had this idea how the identities of humans has shifted in to cyber space, we are reduced to these mere numbers, the very of idea of viewing a
throng of people on the street as just
numbers moving around.. wants to make me look at this world in a different perspec tive.. may be i'll come with a post on this myself..
Again, a thought provoking post

At Friday, February 03, 2006 8:12:00 PM, Blogger . nothing . said...

Thanks Peeps. Our techonological development and our interaction with it is indeed an interesting subject. I'll write more about this subject when I have time but I'd like to see your posts as well:-)

At Friday, February 03, 2006 11:46:00 PM, Blogger Sphinx said...

Whatever is created has the power to transcend its creator, so I assume that a computer virus hurling us into a digital dark age is one of the many possibilities.

There has been nothing invented since the book that has had as much potential for the global spread of knowledge, decreasing gaps in communication and making the planet 'smaller' by bypassing the illusions of time and space.

So I hope that it doesn't happen.

Great post, btw.

"the very of idea of viewing a
throng of people on the street as just
numbers moving around"
...sounds like you are describing the matrix. Nice.

At Saturday, February 04, 2006 9:49:00 PM, Blogger Rishi said...

I just finished reading "Who moved my Cheese?" so I think you guys should read the book if you haven't done so already.

Nice post BTW... but recently I have figured it's better to focus on the positive side to everything. The worst that could happen is nothing. :-)


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