Feb 8, 2010 0
Castells’ point in writing this piece was to describe the nature and structure of the “network society,” in which we he believes we live. He focuses on 3 key events which he believes birthed this change: the Information Technology Revolution, restructuring of capitalism, and cultural social movements including feminism and ecologism. To prove his points he provides 9 theses for which he offers evidence in support:
1. Informational Economy
He asserts that the nature of our economy has shifted even from a service based economy to a predominately informational one where knowledge is both the driving factor and the greatest tool for business.
2. Global Economy
He distinguishes this from the “world economy,” by pointing out that the speed and capacity for nearly instant information transfer has allowed the globe to become interconnected and thus operating as one growing evolving consciousness operating in real time.
3. Network Enterprise
Here, reductions in transportation costs and internal decentralization permit the grinding work in business to be performed outside the context of the “office” paradigm.
4. Concept of Flexi-Workers
The changes described in the undertaking of capitalism require a specialized, individualized, in a sense, workforce. This workforce works to complete a project rather than build a business.
5. Social polarization
The focus on technology and its ability to connect parts of the world and diffuse information is taken with a grain of salt by Castells; he believes that this new focus has forced those unable to keep up into a type of economic “black hole,” from which there is little to no escape.
6. Culture of Real Virtuality
To Castells, the same patterns in networking pervading the economic sphere spills over quite seamlessly into the cultural one. Human interaction is perpetually defined and redefined by the waves of new technology improving (or degrading) the nature of such interaction.
Castells has astutely perceived the tendency of politics towards mass-media deformation of other candidates. The media becomes, then, a powerful tool which is frequently used to attain power or to keep it.
8. Timeless Time
His main point here is to demonstrate how the sequencing of events in chronology has been influenced and obscured by the ability to control the biological forces of time.
9. Space of Flows
He concludes with this idea where importance of space is superseded by flows which are derived. Castells believes this is a major source of social domination because less technological advances area are by and large ignored due to their lack of flows.
I believe the shift to an Information Age requires a top-down change. Technology, namely that for purposes of information, is the essential thing required for such a shift. Developments in this new brand of technology are supported and eagerly awaited in the corporate world because of its ability to organize and relay information in a strictly inhuman capacity. For this very reason, computers were extraordinarily expensive and precious before they were publically and widely disseminated. This top-down shift towards a reliance on technology is very clear given patterns in commercial purposes. Today, as compared with 15 years, sees a greater availability of previously exclusive technology. For example, cell use has massively increased, GPS devices which used to cost upwards of $2,000 near their beginnings are now sold at Walmart and the likes for 1/20 of that price.
The nature of this top-down revolution, initially at least, excludes those operating towards the “down” part of the spectrum. However, I believe that the “stepped-up inequality, polarization, and social exclusion,” produced by this reality are becoming less significant as technology becomes cheaper, more advanced, and more greatly distributed.