No Conclusions Required

by MarianneShih

Douglass Rushkoff’s claim that digital technology is biased toward a reduction of complexity addresses those who mistake their digital ventures for tangible life experiences. However, for those that recognize the vast chasm between simplified models and life on Earth, digital technology creates even more complexity.

A brief introduction to chaos theory.

Chaos theory suggests that amidst random assortments of data, order exists. For example, Wikipedia houses around 18 million articles, all written by volunteers.  Anyone with Internet access can dive into any article and edit to his heart’s content, which would make it sound as if other Wikipedia volunteers would be forever relegated to finding and fixing unnecessary or faulty changes. However, Wikipedia’s editing system allows for users to also view an article’s history as well as participate in a forum to discuss what changes need to be made. This is an example of cut-and-dry chaos turned to managed chaos.

The argument that technology polarizes is valid. A single political decision, or even personal characteristic can be used to turn away the masses if effectively broadcast in the media. Mudslinging doesn’t only make its appearances in politics though. Apple is notorious for their “I’m a Mac” ads, which use humor – probably not to soften the blow, but probably more to pacify and entertain their audiences.

Despite my personal efforts to be objective when evaluating politicians, technology, and sources for research projects, bias is inevitable. Many of the sources that I come across during research are less likely to be known as questionable, as there aren’t nearly as many advertisements glorifying historical accuracy and insight (or defaming the attributes of others). While this allows us to read with a clearer mind, it also forces us to find the strengths and weaknesses on our own. For the educated consumer and voter though, there isn’t a way to avoid associating products with big names and success, as corporate manipulation finds its way onto billboards, free t-shirts, magazines, and more. What separates the reasonable from the rash is the ability to discern through observation, lest we fall prey to falsehoods about how we can receive over $245.00 from Microsoft for forwarding emails.

Just because BP claims that the oil spill is being taken care of, does not mean it is. Just because Jennifer Rexford made a video detailing her related afflictions, does not mean that she is right. If we take a look at our surroundings and evaluate our situation, we can become more informed – no conclusions required. But if you must fall under a certain party’s umbrella, do it carefully with open ears and flexibility. After all, you could be wrong.