In my internet wondering I recently came across a college course called Philosophy of Media and Technology, taught by Dr. David L. Hildebrand at the University of Colorado Denver. An excerpt of his course description reads;
“As we are constantly reminded, we live in an ever-accelerating “Information Age,” an era of rapidly shifting images and voluminous data. Students and teachers alike feel overwhelmed by the changes surrounding them, and would like to better understand what these changes mean. Because philosophers have traditionally been concerned with the nature of wisdom and knowledge, they are particularly suited to assess the possible impact that current changes in the technological environment might have upon rationality, ethics, and democracy. For example, are these changes affecting our basic capacity to reason? Could floods of “data smog” and our compulsion to “multi-task” erode our ability to recognize wisdom and produce knowledge? More to the point, if ethical action rests upon justification, and justification depends upon certain forms of language then what does our age’s shift toward repaid visual imagery portend for judgments of right and wrong? And what might be the effect upon democracy—which requires from its citizens such traditional abilities as rational discussion and debate?“
These questions seem incredibly relevant to our current state of existence and should be carefully considered in local, regional, national, and international contexts. Globalization is spreading technology and data at an ever quickening pace… but what about the aspects of globalization that may not be so easily perceived? This information haze hanging around us can be likened to environmental pollution in that we know that it may have terrible outcomes and costly affects on our health (and in this case, ability to even truly think and clearly perceive!), but we still do not know to what extent.
The interplay of media, communication, and culture affects the way we perceive, think, and act, not only through the process of socialization, but on a biological developmental level. From the womb to the coffin, the world we experience and the way we experience it directly affects the way our brain functions and thus everything about the way we make choices and perceive the world. Like that cycle? The boundary between what aspects of human experience are “natural” and what aspects are “socialized” is blurred. We are living in a reality that is formed based on how we communicate and what we communicate, both of which are largely dominated by media and technology. How can we even begin to know what the implications of this really extend to?
All of this relates back to how we decide what we “want” and what we end up consuming… Upon investigating the links provided by Dr. Hildebrand I encountered a term which has never fully registered in my mind before, glorious and sinister: “Neuromarketing” Need I say more? Check out the Neuromarketing Blog. Oh, and if you feel so inclined, buy the book.