The Global Village vs. The Global Idiot

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Today, the modern society and the economy is globalizing and integrating. Modern society is a complex system which requires a large amount of information and knowledge, both for organizations and for individuals, in order to be able to deal with the demands of everyday life—there is a growing demand for practical information. As a result, this creates new markets for information services and products. As an example, in order to be able to use an on-line banking system, or to make hotel reservations on-line, a person has to gain a certain amount of knowledge: how to use a computer, the network, and the websites.


As a result of Marshall McLuhan’s controversial revelations about technology and especially the power of the TV medium, the information society will be influenced by the continuing development of media technology and especially social economies. In fact, information technology is the key agent of social development the world over; a disintegrated world economy and a global society is made possible through information networks and time and space separation of information. This is because information can be simultaneously shared by people around the world, regardless of where the information is produced and who produced it.

McLuhan observed that the effect of the invention of electricity and harnessed power, and what he called "all-at-once-ness", was a maelstrom (a metaphor borrowed from Edgar Allen Poe's literary masterpiece on storytelling, "A Descent Into The Maelstrom"). As did electricity and harnessed power, the powerful centrifugal force of the TV essentially made the world smaller and more concentrated place—thus the origin for his metaphor of the "global village." The information economy and society concept is a revived concept for McLuhan’s global village. The global village is now frequently used as a catchphrase for the global information community.

More specifically, television's centripetal force made the world more comprehensible and palpable, as outside reality streamed into our homes. Continuing along the same strand of thought, the internet will also behave on society like a force, but it perhaps is more precise to correlate its power to that of the Coriolis force—-in other words, the media and the internet will work in more of a reflective nature. The energy required to propel the information society will be more deflective from the vortex of power driving the media of the TV.

What Can We Expect in the Next 10 Years?

In the next ten years, the information society will gravitate more to the internet to share its ideas and to draw its knowledge from. As a result, people’s ideas and attitudes throughout the world will mainly be affected by what type of information is available on the internet, and to some degree, what is available to them through other forms of multimedia--such as what companies like Nokia are presently offering or will soon offer.

Additionally, without an increase of international governments to enforce ways to preclude and curtail fraud such as identity theft and ‘cyber theft’, information will not be shared as freely and/or information available on the internet or other forms of media will continue to have an element of mistrust or dubiousness which could in turn affect dampen growth and innovation in the information society.

Contrary to Marshall McLuhan Second Law of the Media that “every new medium takes the older one for its content”, one would think that TV is about to swallow the Internet. However, by turning TV from an analog format to a digital format, it seems as if the computerized environment is making the entire TV environment its content. More and more, the TV and the computer screens are the places where people spend more of their time processing and information, than doing so in their own minds—which has a direct affect on the way information is in turn shared.


Chances are that our thinking will also maintain that linear, tunnel vision shape until a different media emerges which allow people to process and disseminate information differently. Presently, people who spend more time staring at the TV and at their computer screens while surfing the internet are being morphed into global idiots--the essence of McLuhan's metaphor of Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection: We shape our tools and in turn, alas, they shape us.