The information age, its dominance, ever-increasing expansion and information influence on the development of society, culture and even nature gave rise to many interpretations and evaluations.
Modern scholars have shared those who see progress, pluralism, democracy in informatization, and hence globalization, and those who emphasize the danger of a technological revolution and the greater dependence and non-freedom imposed by the global information network. Mass media in our time have become dominant in the cultural space, on the one hand, due to new technologies, on the other – due to the application of social and psychological methods for working with the audience in order to attract more mass to profit. So, new
The system of organization of the culture of smartness, utterly subordinate to previous cultural discourses, began to focus on the world of technology and computer engineering that created hegemony in the state-building aspect around the globe.
At the end of the 20th century, the ideas of the information society had the character of futurological predictions, and later, in the process of improving electronic technology and digital technologies, most of the predicted theorists of events found their real incarnation. Television, the spread of personal computers, the Internet, the development of virtual reality technologies and other technological innovations have begun the era of social networks and as a result of concentration on the technological side of human activity. The most prominent processes characterizing the modern culture are the processes of informatization of all branches of material and spiritual life, but along with them, there are other, not less significant for the era of the event. For example, changes in ideological and aesthetic settings, changes in approaches to scientific knowledge, revision of landmarks in socio-political practice.
Thus, the characterization of society only as “informational” or “post-industrial,” points to a rather limited cut of social reality, mainly related to the development of new information technologies. Franklin Foer runs parallel with the Facebook social network as one of the most influential factors in public administration. “Nobody better articulates the modern belief in engineering’s power to transform society than Zuckerberg” (Foer 63). His conviction is based on the impersonal point of view about the peculiarities of the technological world, which has become an egocentric finding of a modern approach to business. However, according to Foer, algorithms are one of the most significant aspects of this tendency. Algorithms as “recipes” of actions have created a new industrialized, impersonal world that is subject to cars. Thus, any process in a society has the ability to get control from a non-living object that works through the algorithm. This threat, according to the author’s testimony, is the greatest merit of such a service as Facebook. The breakthrough in the world of communications and the development of hacking algorithms led to the formation of the strongest trend towards the impersonalization of society. At the same time, Karen Ho describes the so-called trend of “impressiveness” as a product of a “culture of smartness.” Her personal experience (and the fact that she shares her in the analysis process) give the other side a study of this problem.
According to the author, a new culture of engineering and mathematical thinking has reasons for “the particular college environment, the strength of alumni and peer networks, the cultural linking of success and smartness with Wall Street, the hierarchical narrowing of career options and what constitutes prestige” ( Ho 168). Thus, Wall Street has become the center of the whole “intelligence” of society, rejecting other manifestations of human activity from the culture. This aspect has become a transition point for business informatization, shifting the emphasis from physical labor to controlling algorithms.
Starting from the 70’s and 80’s the concept of post-industrial society develops mainly as futurological and sociological theory, which should describe the impact of the latest information technology on the society. Karen Ho believes that the information and electronic media that provide the technical basis for its use and dissemination have become the basis for work in the banking sector, where she has tried to get after Princeton. “They are declared to be ‘‘the best and the brightest.’’ They quickly become used to the respect, status, and impressive nods from peers, parental figures, job prospectors, and society at large” (Ho 179).
They quickly became the new representatives of the “elite” forming new hegemonic tendencies in the society that was subject to technology. Moreover, the author believes that some accents in education and the “prestige” of certain specialties provoked the “elite” as such specificity of modern business. “As Wall Street investment banks profited exorbitantly from their increasing influence over corporate America in the 1980s, they began to recruit in elite universities in a grand scale, creating the two-year analyst programs for the express purpose of targeting undergraduates directly from college” (Ho 183). Franklin Foer is considering this question from the other side. Social networks that became the main foundations for the information flow have made a great contribution to the impersonalization of society. Technologies and their ability to control caused a change in the cultural paradigm. Thus, the author observes that “there is no doubt of the emotional and psychological power possessed by Facebook” (Foer 75). Thus, the psychological aspect of the dependence on computer technology has become more prominent with the advent of Facebook and the activities of Zuckerberg in general. The opportunities of youth have become larger while data control has become even more threatening in the modern information space. The author also believes that the paradoxical state of reducing the general intellectual level against the background of informatization of society, in the conditions of wide access to almost all information sources, is connected with social networks. This aspect is the basis of the concept of so-called “cold-blooded thinking” which is increasingly characterizing modern society. Growing stream of mass communication messages can unintentionally transform the energy of people from active participation to passive knowledge. Social networks and means of mass communication have evolved from the factor of production and dissemination of information into the form of organization of mass information and communication processes. Moreover, they begin to determine the direction and nature of social processes occurring in society, becoming “agents of and models for socioeconomic change.” Foer repeatedly stresses that “with this sort of cold-blooded thinking, so divorced from the contingency and mystery of human life, it’s easy to see how long-standing values begin to seem like an annoyance” (Foer 77). Thus, the growing threat from modern social networks relates to the trend of socialization of technology, as well as the specification of banking in the Ho study.
According to studies by both authors, distributed information does not produce “meaning,” does not contribute to socialization, but on the contrary “undermines sociality.” In addition, symbols and simulations as the main products of the postmodern paradigm are the powerful means of manipulating the masses. Postindustrial society is directly linked to postmodern ideology since its ontological status determines the power of information, which is characterized by a measure of uncertainty, duality, and relativity. However, even this trend may have certain benefits. Foer argues: “Algorithms fuel a sense of omnipotence, the condescending belief that our behavior can be altered, without our being aware of the hand guiding us in a superior direction” (Foer 77). Thus, the implementation of the principle of imitation of the algorithmic model of the development of society can allow humanity to create a more systematic and constructive approach to development in general. For the rest, Foer also believes that people may be too afraid of this prospect because “that’s always been a danger of the engineering mentality, as it moves beyond its roots in building inanimate stuff and begins to design a perfect social world” (Foer 77). At the same time, Ho considers such domination in the labor market to be a really important indication of the true state of the economy and the educational environment. “In these views of the world, the smartness and elite pinnacle status are to create Wall Street’s cultural superiority and its position as a” model “for meritocratic excellence, which in turn serves as a catalyst and justification for spreading its culture and dominance” (Ho 186). Thus, the so-called “smartness” can become an indicator of the “foolishness” of the Wall Street sector as the main business center of the world.
To conclude, the scientific and technological revolution has raised the question of the use of technology, since the consequences of their application have threatened the existence of humanity itself. Despite the constant hegemony of information activity, attempts to conquer a single center of mass communication are doomed to defeat today. According to researchers, modernist ideology no longer works, because the world is no longer a system with a clearly defined hierarchy and imperative center.
Foer, Franklin. World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech, New York: Penguin Press. 2017. Print.
Ho, Karen Z. Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street. Durham: Duke University Press, 2009. Internet resource.