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?

3 comments:

  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."

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  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?

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  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.

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=322522##

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