Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Incredible Shrinking World

Gentle reader, I am a hack.  I am a guy with a keyboard, word processor and a blog and I’m not afraid to use them.  That being said, here is a revelation that has been on my mind for a while now; not to alarm you but the world is shrinking.  That’s right, you heard me; the world is shrinking

Case in point, a couple of years ago I published a blog about some atrocities that were being committed in certain country in Africa.  I mentioned some of the torture and genocide that is endured by the people there on a daily basis as one regime painfully transitions into another.  Well, it turns out I actually had some readers from Africa (yes, from that certain country) check out my blog. 

Pause for a moment and consider that.  I am no one special.  I’m just a blogger from South Jersey who wrote a blog about an injustice all the way on the other side of the earth.

“So yeah, but did it change anything?”

No, probably not; but the meat of the matter is that THEY now know that I know and, further, if I know than other people must as well. 

That is the power of a shrinking world.

We see it everywhere, really.  There have always been technological leaps forward that changed society and culture that make us more global in mind, body and spirit.  The telephone, the car, the television, the computer, the internet, our 3G & 4G connections, and now our social media.  I literally have “friends” all over the world.  I have connected with family and school mates from days of yore and I have only used my mouse, keyboard and trusty internet connection to do so.  In a few pressed keys and clicks of my mouse I can notify the world of just about anything I put my mind to – good, bad or ugly.  I try to keep things light here at Chicken Scratch but I can’t vouch for the next blog over.  Just like in the physical world.

Blogging, Facebook, and Twitter are on the front lines of where things happen these days and, by the looks of things, will be on those front lines (in one incarnation or another) far into the future.  The basic premise, however, remains the same – someone expresses an idea and shares it.  It is therefore not truly a revolutionary problem but an evolutionary one.  People have been getting into trouble for ideas since Eve took that bite from the fruit from that tree.  They are dangerous things.  People begin to think with ideas.  Then people make plans on how to make things better or how to make things worse.  They begin to question.  They begin to seek answers.  People in power and authority often do not like what ideas can inspire – things such as hope, independence, freedom – when you get right down to it an educated and actively thinking populous can be a very dangerous thing.  People will go to war for ideas.  They will be tortured, subjugated, oppressed, endure hardships, and persevere for an idea.  During the most recent revolutions in Egypt and Libya social media and internet access were the first things to go.  Google continues to have problems in places where facts or information or ideas are subject to official state sanction.  Even here, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, we have those who want to purge ideas and crush them so they never have a chance to blossom and grow.  I am pleased to say that currently, to the best of my limited knowledge, the United States is still a place where one can reap the benefits of having a free press and the freedom of speech.    

“May the wings of liberty never lose a feather.” – Kurt Russell’s, ‘Jack Burton’ said from Big Trouble in Little China.  

These days a free press also means a free internet.  People will say, “Print is dead”.  I just don’t buy that.  Yes, the vehicle of delivery of the written word may change but there has never been a better time for a self-publishing blogger to take up their keyboard and put one word in front of the next.  The big boys – the newspapers and magazine companies are still in the process of adapting to the new world order.  They will; it’s only a matter of time. 

“What is that supposed to mean, Evil Chicken?”

It means that when I want up to the moment scoops on news, weather, or anything that may catch my fancy, I’ll do a quick Twitter search to see what the people on the ground have to say during an event – as it happens instead of waiting until the next morning to read all about it in the newspaper.  Social media is instantaneous electronic journalism from primary sources right there – on the ground. 

The instantaneous nature of the new media, blogging and/or electronic journalism scares a lot of people but at the end of the day it’s just another tool in your toolbox for filtering and disseminating information.  As with any tool there are those who know how to use them, those who don’t and those who have some sort of vague nebulous idea of what it could do but instead of reading the instruction manual immediately brand the tool as dangerous.  These are the same people who attend book burnings and complain about how everything that does not unfold as they know it should.  Xenophobes that pine for an idealistic past that they themselves never really lived in but want to make the rest of the known world adhere too. 

“You know… morons.” Gene Wilder’s, ‘Jim’ said in Blazing Saddles.  

And this is the breakdown; those who use the tools, those who don’t and those who are too scared to use them.  Whether you like it or not social media is here to stay.  You can try to take a communication tool away but putting that genie back in the bottle is proving to be more tricky than many governments would like it to be (i.e. the former regimes of Egypt & Libya).  Social media helps give people a voice.  What people do with that voice has always proven to be user driven.  Here’s to vocal harmony.  The world has changed; it has shrunk, incredibly so.  There really is no going back and, as for this hack with a keyboard, a word processor and a blog, I wouldn’t want to.

I don’t believe I’m alone.   

ADDITIONAL NOTE: This morning (the morning after the above monstrosity) I woke up and read a great blog from "Alt Text" at WIRED.  This is a brilliant little blog about Facebook, Google and Twitter called, "Facebook, Google Battle for Hearts and Minds of Jerks" by Lore Sjöberg. Check it out for yourself here:


E. Chicken said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
E. Chicken said...


That's sort of like shouting, "BASE!"