Instead of discussing the future in terms of the past, we need to cast off old-fashioned ideas and concepts and engage in grown-up debate.
Thesis 9: Concepts and experiences from the analog past are increasingly incapable of providing guidance in a dynamically developing digital future. Anyone espousing them in a debate about the Digital Age will seem increasingly out of time or out of place; helpless, in fact.
There is yet another difficulty we must master before we can seriously debate the future of mankind in the Age of the Internet: Are we culturally and linguistically prepared for what we are experiencing or not? Notions and concepts that date back to the analog age are increasingly incapable of describing what is going on. They appear antiquated, even quaint.
Harking back to the great media and technology debates of the 60ies and 70ies of the last century we quickly see just how outdated they are now. The hot-button issues back then such as commercial television or population census are about as relevant today as the number of angles dancing on the head of a pin. Even New Media are no longer new – or news. And the open-ended issues of data protection and privacy, which has been going through increasingly bizarre permutations especially in Europe, have a distinctly old-world flavor in the age of Wikileaks and NSA. Listening to Jaron Lanier bemoaning what he insists on decrying as “digital Maoism” or when Frank Schirrmacher of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” complains that his brain is being “mashed up” by Google one can’t help oneself feeling set back a couple of decades – if not centuries.
The ten theses are at the center of our book, Digital Enlightenment Now!, that was recently published on BoD. I am reprinting them here as a mini-series to encourage debate among DEF members.