There has been a twenty to thirty year development or seamless transition that has changed the world enormously. This period is called originally when it started from the middle to the end of the 1980s the Information Revolution. This revolution was caused by:
a) the 11/9 or the falling of the Berlin Wall,
c) the Internet and WWW (Word Wide Web)
d) user-friendliness of web browsers (Mosaic/Netscape), and
e) the dot com boom, or major investment in fibre optics.
As Thomas L. Friedman writes in his book The World Is Flat (1.0 – 3.0 or 2004 – 2007) this all lead to the so called Flat Age. The transition from Information Revolution to Flat Age was seamless, because the other would not exist without the other.
This transition, as I would call it, has gone two ways amongst my generation, the first true digital generation, born in 1994. These two ways are total opposites of each other. They can be called orders or races in a sense. As the medieval people were called homo religiosus and the Renaissance man as homo universalis, I see myself belonging to the homo topicus or current human race. Homo topicus basically means interested in news and what is happening currently in the world like the EU financial crisis that is spreading like wildfire.
The other “race” is homo amittere intelligentia or the man who loses his intelligence. What could be added to this is per media visus or per internet, since the use of visual media by young children had depleted their literacy. The Internet contributes to this, because most youth don’t spend their time reading news, but playing games and writing simple English to friends through the social media outlets, like Facebook.
Amongst the youth homo amittere intelligentia per media visus is an increasing majority and thehomo topicus a depleting minority. This is a problem since the information hungry people are needed more than lazy men that use the Internet only to consume entertainment. Actually, logic says that the lazy men aren’t needed at all, but this is an impossible goal since there are always people that are like this.
The development of the division of this two “races” depends much on the country. Even though the flat world, as Friedman says in his book, gives developing countries great opportunities to develop, many experts say there is also the danger that the cultures of the world get homogenized. A level of homogenization has already happened. Almost anywhere you go in the world, the youth is the same. They wear the same clothes, speak of the same things, act the same way. This has come through, yes, the flattening of the world. The most appealing parts of society has migrated around the world and have become the common practice.
Nobody is going to deny that the Internet has made accessing news from all over the world and from many points of views overwhelmingly easy. News has transformed from the privilege of newspapers to free commodities. So, one wonders why homo amittere intelligentia is increasing instead of the homo topicus. You don’t have to be the well-educated child of a rich family to be able to take part in politics. Now, you only need a computer and a modem, as Friedman says.
I see myself this development:
When the Internet was new the traditional homo topicus rejected it and continued with their newspapers and the normal humans just continued on with their lives, but the new race of homo computatrum (or geeks) embraced it and developed it. They saw the opportunities of the Internet. As using computers became easier and easier thanks to the coding skills of the geeks, the normal humans were overwhelmed and didn’t know what to do with the new world of computers. Still, they had to learn, and quickly, since more and more services moved to be part of the new world, the virtual world.
The youth immediately caught on with homo computatrums and gradually the normal people followed. The youth didn’t yet understand how revolutionary the tool they were using could be, and the normal people didn’t want to understand. So, the Internet started mainly to be the channel of entertainment. Videos, music, pictures ect. Later on, the youth grew and became thehomo topicus of the news industry and got a new generation of youth. With their children they suddenly realized what the potential of the Internet was. This lead to the dot com boom and to the news is free standard that seems to be taken as granted.
The normal people became the homo amittere intelligentia race that didn’t understand and kept on with the entertainment part of the new world. The world was (and is) changing too fast for them, but as schools catch on to the modern world and see that things need to be taught a new way, the portion of the homo topicus race is increasing slowly, but surely.
We are all homo computatrums now. By the definition of the 1980s/1990s we are very geeky people. But we are not all homo topicus which seems to be where we are heading. One large reason why this development is so slow, is because the development of schools is very slow. Before teachers can learn how to teach a different way, the teachers of the teachers need to teach the teacher a different way. This means that everything has to change, and the only way to change is to teach new ways to old dogs hoping they will learn the new tricks and teach them to the young dogs.
And that is very hard. But I think we should all read the book Do Hard Things, because the world needs to know how to do hard things, because the world is turning harder and more complicated by the second.
The definition of homo universalis, which meant “Jack-of-all-trades”, is changing. It will change to mean the man of the world and homo ex communi cultura, a man of the common culture. And this is all possible, because of the Flat Age.