Newmedia on Fri, 18 May 2012 11:00:04 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Technology DRIVES Social and Personal Change (was Capitalism is FINISHED . . .)

> How could any economy be one thing, especially the digital economy?
Fine question!

Because technology defines the *environment* in which we live -- so
regardless of what "we" bring to the situation, the *ground* of our
experience is the SAME!
ECONOMY means (etymologically) "how we manage our household" and  whether 
its Pretoria or Mumbai or Jakarta or Berlin, in crucial respects  we have all 
been living in the "same" house for quite awhile  now.
This of course is the theme of GLOBALIZATION -- which was already in place  
in the 1950s, pre-saged with the Arthur C. Clarke's initial article on  
geo-stationary satellites intended to "beam" the same television shows to  
everyone on earth.  That is, of course, exactly what happened.
Furthermore, following WW II, one group of elites "managed" the world  
economy -- since they were the "winners."  They set up the UN, the  IMF/World 
Back, the CIA and directly ran the "re-invention" of the German and  Japanese 
economies.  They defined the Cold War down to the level of  "hiring" 
virtually every intellectual and social scientist, as well as the basis  of 
"engagement" on both "sides."  
While there had been many EMPIRES before this, finally it had become one  
Big Blue Marble -- as symbolized by the cover of the Whole Earth Catalog  
(and the subsequent practices of its expansion into the Global Business  
Network and its spinoff WIRED magazine -- which, btw, under the name  "Californian 
Ideology" was a key basis for the formation of nettime!)
Your question also reflects the enormous difficulties social science has  
had dealing with the effects of new technologies -- particularly  in 
economics but also in anthropology and sociology.  Economics has  become largely a 
field of "modeling," in which the requirement for  "quantification" has 
forced the abstraction away from real humans, also  reflected in the "micro" 
demands of CIA-funded "area studies" in which the BIG  PICTURE has been largely 
sacrificed as the people in these fields became the  "specialists" who never 
put together an overview.
I work with the people in the area of "evolutionary economics."  Never  
heard of it?  Well, that's because it is decidedly NOT mainstream for the  
reason that it a) doesn't produce models and b) deals with technology -- which  
most economists consider an "externality" (even though there is general  
consensus that technology is the primary source of economic growth and change)  
and c) tries to understand how the MACRO features of the economy *evolve* 
under  the impact of changing technology.
In particular, Carlota Perez is on my company's advisory board and her 2002 
 Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital (which continues the  work 
of her recently deceased husband Chris Freeman and the group at SPRU) is  
where we all need to *start* in this MACRO economic analysis.
_ ( 
In addition, I work with the tools supplied by Marshall McLuhan -- who as  
perhaps the most important "renaissance(S)" scholar of the 20th century, 
dealt  with the social and psychological effects of new technologies from a 
deeply  researched understanding of Western history, as reflected early in his 
1943 PhD  thesis The Classical Trivium.
As one nettime stalwart "shyly" put it to me in a private email yesterday,  
"Nice one! I disagree with your McLuhanist reasoning but agree with your  
If you don't approach these problems from the standpoint of how TECHNOLOGY  
changes *us* by CAUSING changes in our behaviors and attitudes (since it is 
the  "medium" in which we live, like yeast in a vat <g>) -- which, in turn, 
 *drives* the changes in our economies and societies -- then it seems to me 
that  you will have few CLUES about what is going on.
Here, McLuhan's (posthumous) 1988 The Laws of Media: The New  Science is a 
*foundational* text for understanding our present  situation(s).
The FUTURE has already arrived and we all live in it.  Understanding  the 
*present* is always a very difficult task.  Many opinions are expressed  on 
this list but rarely do they seem to take the opportunity to step back and  
provide a broad enough historic context.  Let's all see if we can "up" our  
game, okay?
If anyone reading this message knows of others who have successfully  
elaborated a body-of-work that provides significant insights into the  
*historical* interaction of new technologies and society over time -- where  McLuhan's 
work traces back to the origin of the alphabet and Perez's to the  first 
Industrial Revolution -- please tell us about them!
What we need is some BIG HISTORY here (and not the  
Big-Bang-to-Global-Warming type <g>.)

Mark Stahlman
Brooklyn NY

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