Monday, September 22, 2014

A response to “Farmers, foodporn and ICT literacy: here’s where the tough get going

Icarus had written something on ICT literacy and how meaningful the numbers were. The question posed is that "yes people do have internet access but what do they use it for?" A lot of the time for very trivial things.

I had been thinking a little on the subject of the spread of ideas.

I think one of the most critical developments in human civilisation was the invention of writing which enabled ideas to be preserved and shared. When ideas depended on word of mouth to spread they were unlikely to go very far without being distorted. With writing distortion was reduced, it became easier to understand what had originally been intended. Interpretation will introduce some subjectivity, but less so than in ideas spread verbally.

Printing, which enabled much faster and wider sharing was the next most important development.

While the means for spreading ideas were improving, in the early stages the main barrier to the spread of ideas was literacy. Only a handful of scholars and scribes could read or write. Taking ideas to people meant using town criers or preaching in the marketplace.

Wider levels of education after the industrial revolution, the development of newspapers, the telephone, the telegraph, radio and television all helped the rapid spread of ideas and the transformation of society. From Martin Luther to Marx, ideas spread through books changed societies.

Now we have something unique - an even wider and easier way of spreading ideas than ever before. Previously, to spread ideas one would have to publish something in some established media. Publishing a book was not easy and radio and television were even harder to get into. Even getting a letter published in the newspapers was not that easy.

Now we can publish sitting at home, at very little cost but yet be read by someone from across the globe.

Never have we had such power to spread ideas. It is still in its infancy but as long as people are using it, its potential remains.

All humans are not equal and not everyone will come up with a a thought that is groundbreaking or even serious. Yet, as long as people are logged in, they are potential recipients of ideas. Someone who comes up with something important will find it far easier to communicate it to a wider audience than ever before.

Too often it may seem be a little more than a waste of time, but eventually the medium will mature and the power to transform societies - for better or worse, will only grow. Hopefully it will be the good ideas that win.


Anonymous said...

Agreed, but that cuts both ways: now it's so much more easier to spread any kind of ideas.

Jack Point said...

Yes that is true. A lot of nonsense goes around as well. Just as long as it does not drown out something of use - and no really evil ones take hold.