Castells

I found this chapter helpful as a comprehensive history of the development of contemporary network society.

Castells writes, “computers, communication systems, and genetic decoding and programming are all amplifiers and extensions of the human mind” (31). I am interested in the social version of this diffusion and expansion of this revolution. Are workers, makers, and users all increasing at the same rate? Do we get to a place where the lines between those become so blurry? I am thinking of the conversation we touched on last week in class about what it means for a specialized craft or skill to also be widely diffused and how that changes its value.

I was also interested in the way Castells addressed “technological superiority” in the beginning of the chapter and how revolutions have “shifted decisively the location of wealth and power in a planet that became suddenly within the reach of those countries and elite sable to master the new technological system” (34). It reminded me the salvage paradigm which we recently discussed in Microcultural Incidents and I am curious if there is a way that the development of technology also works that way. This also seems related to a later point Castells makes about the “cluster” of this development, especially in the US.

There were several points that also reminded me of the Manovich chapter about the work of Alan Kay and the understanding that the computers, software, and the internet were built as systems of trial and error, meant to be built again and rebuilt, expanded.

I found it interesting the way Castells traces the development of the information age centered around power. It seems that there should be a simultaneous movement to understand our morals and ethics around this development, specifically with America as the leader of this evolution. I don’t feel that our collective understanding is caught up to the fast-paced “revolution” of information technology. I am thinking of something like gene therapy controversy. I have questions about literacy and access being developed simultaneously and for this reason, the non-linear dynamic perspective seemed like a potential alternative way of processing, thinking and creating. At the same time, Castells’ historical record clearly points to “consolidated milieus” in a feedback loop of innovation and investment that keeps the developments isolated in a way.