Lies, death, and change seem to be dominating the attention of the world at the moment. Much of the middle east is in upheaval, many countries overthrowing dictatorships as old as I am. The name Gadhafi to me rings as much nostalgia as the term Reaganomics, and now these things that have simmered quietly for so long have boiled over. And of course in tandem with this is the ongoing saga of Wikileaks, its steady flow of damning documents an informational wealth dispersed in a Robin Hood style from the locked safes of the elite few to the hands of the poorer many.
What’s interesting about both cases is that they highlight that information has become the currency of regimes, both government and corporate, and those regimes are discovering it is growing increasingly impossible to stop information from getting out when people are determined to get it. Like a crumbling levee, for every hole that is plugged, dozens more sprout just from the stress it was not prepared to hold.
At the same time, the reins guiding information are increasingly being held by the public. And not necessarily by their own doing. News organizations are now dominated by more cell phone videos than journalist footage in breaking footage. Blogs are cited, public opinion polls are held daily and the results broadcast as fact, and more and more emphasis is being placed on “the user experience” by allowing people to shape the information they receive. Unfortunately this will only aid us in becoming more divisive, more fickle and easily bored once the endorphin rush of instant gratification and personal celebrity ebbs. The more the balance of information control tips, the more we risk falling victim to our own personalized propaganda.