12 October 2010

Did You Know?

The drastic changes of 19th century American expansion share characteristics with the digital revolution. Here are some points for comparison:

1. Americans were heading to the physical frontier then and now we face the digital frontier

2. As quoted in Turner's 1893 text, "We are great, and rapidly--I was about to say fearfully--growing!" We have this paradox today: the digital world is so great and advancing so swiftly. . . but is that frightening? What are the consequences of a digital renaissance?

3. Turner also writes that "the frontier is the outer edge of the wave--the meeting point between savagery and civilization." Much that is associated with the digital world, like informality, is a drastic departure from the expected decorum of the past.

4. Thoreau's Walden is a return to simplicity from an increasingly complex world. Some people resist the digital onslaught of information, like those people who refuse to get facebook.

I found a great video that illustrates our expansion into the digital frontier:

The most significant fact from that movie for me was this: "It is estimated that a week's worth of the New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century."

Now, I don't know how anyone could come up with such a statistic, but it is interesting to note that we truly live in a more complex world since we have access to masses of information.

Do Tibetan students feel overwhelmed as I do with the mass of information in the digital frontier? How do Tibetans in India perceive the digital frontier?


  1. Well I don't know any Tibetans, but I feel overwhelmed! There are definitely wolves and robbers in the digital frontier. Identity theft happens all the time, and maybe there's a sheriff in town but I don't know who he is.
    Perhaps a digital Walden experience will bring us back to our roots. Da Vinci says, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."

  2. How much of that information will actually be useful? Information gathering does not constitute wisdom. Do you think that we could become so bogged down in a sea of information that no one on earth will truly be wise? Or is it just the frontier of a new way of thinking?

  3. Intriguing ideas! I think it's fascinating how savage, untamed lands spurn excitement to innovation in individuals. There must always be a frontier, and pioneers to explore it to maintain forward direction. Along with your idea I found this quote from an article abstract (from a law student contextualizing the digital frontier in regards to law): Among other things, the Article studies the comparison of cyberspace to the American western frontier and the metaphor's construction cyberspace as a "place" whose natural characteristics guarantee freedom and opportunity. This supports an often-made claim that cyberspace is different from real space, and that government should generally refrain from regulating the Internet.