Midnight Musing: History repeats, only this time it's digital

As I understand it, there was a time when many places were ruled by The Church. It held sway over all society, and it in turn was controlled by The Clergy. The Clergy was made up of priests who were literate... and those priests who directed them. This hierarchy had pervasive control over all The People who, unable to read The Word for themselves, had their spiritual Life - and, at the time, it would seem their real Life was completely intertwined with their spiritual Life - was fed to them by The Clergy, via Sermons. There were some in The Clergy who had good intentions and did good things for The People - in some cases, no doubt, helping some of The People learn to read - but the history books don't seem to record much about them, because history mostly talks about the winners. The power dynamics between The Clergy and The People were such that - within reason - The People could be exploited due to their ignorance. And, to greater or lesser extents throughout Christendom, they were exploited.

Although The People then didn't have the perspective to recognise their era for what it was, today, with hindsight and a largely literate culture, we refer to those times as The Dark Ages.

I suspect that today, we are in the midst of a new Dark Ages. Except this time, it's Digital. The Clergy today is not made up of a few educated "men of the cloth". Instead, today's Digital Clergy is made up of Technologists and The Marketers who sit atop the Digital Clergy hierarchy. The People are functionally illiterate to this new digital life which is largely intertwined with their analogue lives, and all their understanding is meted out to them by the high priesthood - The Marketers. There are certainly Technologists with benevolent leanings who strive, on principle, to help The People develop the tools that would level the power dynamics, but outside of a few pockets, most of their work goes unheralded. The real power rests with The Marketers who control most of The Technologists (after all, Technologists have to eat, too)... and, with them, they control the messages presented to most of The People.

It is not in the interest of The Marketers for The People to understand the technology on which they depend... so they maintain an iron-fisted control over the message - today's Sermon is The Social Media... The Marketers are shrewd, parleying their social power in the political sphere, almost imperceptibly wresting control from the bumbling historical power class... Their goal is to become the power behind the governments, too (actually being the government leaves them open to scrutiny and there's a quaint expectation among The People that The Government works on their behalf), to ensure that the power of The Marketers cannot be usurped. Thankfully, most of The Technologists are pretty meek and prefer to remain cloistered in their monasteries - content to argue over the arcane complexities of translation, kerning, the meaning of obscure marginalia, fiddling with growing plants and fermenting beverages (The Marketers can't fathom the appeal, but it seems harmless enough and makes them easy to dominate) - making it easier for The Marketers to implement their machinations without principled interference. Should we be expecting The (Digital) Spanish Inquisition?

No comment...

I've suspended commenting on this site because I'm not happy with the proprietary Disqus platform I have been using as it is antithetical to much of the site's content and my own stated positions.

I originally chose Disqus because it helped to minimise the spam commenting that, previously, required a lot of administration time. I justified its use based on the idea that I always use Free and Open Source Software if a viable option exists in a particular domain. I haven't yet found something comparable that works with Drupal... but still, the cognitive dissonance of requiring people wanting to comment on my posts to sacrifice their freedom to do so became too onerous.

If you have a comment (or a suggestion on a Drupal 7-friendly, spam resistant commenting process with good admin and commenter notification recipes! - I recently tried isso, and it's cool, but sadly, not well suited to Drupal, although given it's open source, I might have a go at changing that) - get in touch!