Feb 8, 2010 Comments Off
This weeks reading’s were interesting and informative articles on our societies integration with networks. This integration has been present for thousands of years, but the importance of networks continues to increase as technology continues to connect us all. As Barabasi drew attention too, networks have been around us ever since civilizations were connected. In the broadest sense, a network is any group of objects connected by another object. A network thousands of years ago was simply people connected by friendships. Now a social network is people connected by machines, and this connection is getting bigger and better all the time. As computers become more prevalent, social networks are growing in size and making it easier for people worldwide to be connected. However, despite all this new technology, the basic principles of networks remains the same. It is these principles that made Paul and MafiaBoy successful. Despite the huge time difference, Paul and MafiaBoy both drew from the fact that, “everything touches everything.”
Now, that doesn’t mean that everybody knows everyone else, it means that their exists a path along almost any network from one object to another. How long is the average path? With humans, it appears that only 6 people separate anyone from anyone else thanks to Milgrams study. As was said in Guare’s play, “I am bound to everyone on this planet by a trail of six people. Its a profound thought.” It really is amazing to think about how connected we all are, how small a world it really is.
But now onto Chapter 10. Castelles spends much time discussing the information economy. He stresses the differences between an information economy and a service economy, claiming that a service economy can still include the typical, burger-flipping, pizza delivering jobs we are moving away from. The distinction is that in the information society, knowledge is the important factor. This is similar to Bells idea of the transition from the blue collar, labor intensive career paths to the white collar workers. While people have been assisted by machines for labor intensive jobs, soon they will be replaced. Furthermore, Castelles says that the information economy has more potential to be exclusionary than the industrial age that preceded it. There is more of a gap between countries that produce and this new information economy than was present with industrial economies. This leads me to another key point of his, the idea of a fourth world country. These fourth world countries are areas separated from, what Castelle called, the global economy.
It is important to point out the distinction here between a global economy and a world economy. Why is it so important? Because Castelle thinks it is. World economies exist with trade and communication. Global economies exist with instantaneous communication, to the extent that individual jobs in America could be determined by individual jobs in other countries, rather than the gradual trends we are used to in a world economy. Back to fourth world countries, what happens to the communities that are isolated and excluded from this new economy? Besides the new category, these areas seem trapped and doomed to fall of our worlds radar.
The final point of Castelles that I would like to highlight is his notion of time. He claims that time isn’t just being accelerated. In our worlds continual search for efficiency time is being in a sense, eliminated. There is no longer an order based on the time of day, there are simple instructions or protocols that are constantly followed. There is now, “timeless time.” Castelles claims that capitalism is eliminating the barriers of time to create a more efficient work place which begs the question, how efficient is too efficient?