“théorie du complot” coz everything looks better in French…

Okay, so I read our readings for this week and I know Guildmaster Marko said to write a summary, what interested me and what views I agreed with and didn’t agree with, but I kind of got caught up in a few ideas thanks to the following quote.

“And if we discover that the new medium brings along effects that might be detrimental to our society or culture, we have the opportunity to influence the development and evolution of the new innovation before the effects becomes pervasive.” (Federman, M 2004)

Well that’s nice isn’t it?  I found this quote to have the most impact on me and I apologise in advance for the following rant.

But isn’t it nice to know that there are people out there that are “influencing” new ideas that may have negative effects on our society and culture?  MAY have “detrimental” effects.  Who says the effects are detrimental?  Well, in answer to my own wonderful question, it depends on the perspective taken.  Let’s imagine that an especially innovative group of people create a solar powered smartphone.  They take their genius idea to a phone company, called Pineapple, and ask them to back their creation and get it on the market.  From our perspective a solar powered smartphone would be awesome.  The battery wouldn’t run out, and if it did just sit your phone in the sun for half an hour and voila!!  No need for chargers, phone batteries or to hunt down a powerpoint with 3% charge left. We’d be on a money saving and environmentally sustainable winner!

BUT – and here’s the “detrimental” effect – Pineapple have always sold their wall chargers separately from their phones.  This allowed Pineapple to charge rather excessive prices for their chargers.  So when this especially innovative group of people approach Pineapple with their genius idea of a solar powered smartphone, Pineapple see this creation as a negative.  They predict the sales of their wall chargers will decrease, which will impact production, in turn they will see their profits decrease and have to lay off employees.  And it’s not only Pineapple’s profits that will be effected.  What about the battery company that Pineapple buy their current batteries off?  And electricity companies, whose resources we tap in to every night to charge our phones? 

So, what’s to say that there isn’t some amazing, new, innovative ideas, concepts and creations that would be beneficial to the majority but “detrimental” to the extremely wealthy and powerful minority?  Who, in the end, has the say of what is “detrimental”?

A perfect example of predicting the effects of something new would be that used in our second reading for this week.  On page 5 Jenkins mentions that in the 90s there was a lot of speculation that the internet was going to replace all forms of “old media”.  He uses one example I find quite funny, that this guy, Nicholas Negroponte, predicted the complete collapse of broadcasting networks.  To requote “What will happen to broadcast television over the next five years is so phenominal that it’s difficult to comprehend.”  Well it’s taken about 23 years, but maybe we’ll finally get to see those “phenominal” predictions about broadcasting networks that he seemed so certain of at the time.  Now, what if, when good ol’ Nick had released his bestseller, someone took him seriously and saw this effect he predicted to be “detrimental”?  What would have happened to the greatest innovation of our time if those that saw it as being “detrimental” had the “opportunity to influence the development and evolution” of the internet?  But maybe that actually happened and what we have today is just the product they allowed us to have.  Hmm, something to ponder…

Tune in next week for another conspiracy theory overload!!

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