Epistomologists and and psycholinguists tell us that in order think of something we need words to describe it. If this is true it means that, as we enter the Digital Age, our language may not be sufficently developed for us to handle our changing perceptions of reality. In our book Digital Enlightenment Now!, Ossi Urchs and I argue that we need a new vocabulary as well as a new set of values.
Thesis 4: Digitalization and networking create new technical, social, cultural and scientific conditions. In order to appreciate these changes fully we first need to categorize them before we can begin to fully describe and understand their new qualities.
We are already at the point where our perceptions of reality have changed in many ways, as have the conditions under which we experience this new reality. Is a computer game less real than a romp through the woods? Is a love affair on Facebook less exciting than a flirt at the hotel bar? Perhaps the realization that digital experiences are based on binary code influences our assumptions; after all, if the only two possible digital conditions are “on” and “off”, then maybe “real” and “unreal” are also just two sides of the same coin. In fact many of us have already learned that digital information can help us to understand the world around us in a more granular and modular way than ever before; without, it is to be hoped, losing sight of their basic unity in the sense of their inherent interconnectedness.
Digitalization and networking obviously influence the way we experience, understand and handle reality. But in fact the conditions under which we do this is undergoing continual change, too. The pace is so rapid and dynamic, our own experience of it so mind shaking, that we are in danger of forgetting to digest what is going around us on both intellectually and conceptually. The wealth of new developments and experiences in technology, society, culture or science demand and deserve a new way of describing them, a new terminology more suited to the Digital Age. Just as it is difficult to describe Quantum physics using the vocabulary of Newton mechanics, it will be impossible to define the digital world using concepts and phrases originally developed for the Analog Age.