Emily Whitesell - Manifesto

1. We should encourage the use of social media as a means of connecting large groups of people in efforts to contribute positively to society.

This statement relates to the ideas presented in Clay Shirky’s book. I agree with the author that the Internet is a revolutionary resource in that it allows people to communicate as they never have before. With social media, large numbers of people from all over the world can come together. I adopted this statement and think that society should do so as well because social media is a powerful resource that has the potential to be a significant force for good in the world. The collective power of people can change the world in dramatic ways. For example, Shirky describes how teenagers used social media to organize a protest of the reopening of the Korean market to U.S. beef (31). The protests put pressure on the President, who ended up negotiating restrictions on U.S. beef. In this way, social media allowed the people to congregate and consequently, influenced government policy. Shirky quotes Mimi Ito, a cultural anthropologist at the University of Southern California who states of the protests, “Although so much of what kids are doing online may look trivial and frivolous, what they are doing is building the capacity to connect, to communicate, and ultimately, to mobilize” (Shirky, 38). The implication for others adopting this principle is that social media will be taken more seriously. It is not just a source of entertainment for young people. If people accept this statement, the use of social media will become more popular among older age groups because they will view it as a powerful tool that can promote positive change. I think that this statement should be considered for the manifesto because social media is an important aspect of technology that is often considered a waste of time.

2. Technology should be used to conserve natural resources.

During the Industrial Revolution, the majority of technology depleted natural resources. Today we have come to a realization of the importance of natural resources. I think that the same technology that destroyed nature can and should be used to restore and protect it. I agree with Lewis Mumford that technology can be used to better the world. Hughes writes, “Mumford argued that technology wisely and morally deployed could bring a better world. He predicted that electric power could eliminate many of the grim and grimy landscapes of the steam, coal, and iron era” (59). In response to Question 3 of Question Forum 1, Megan pointed out that the technology of hybrid cars is already being used to protect the environment. This is just one example of how technology is capable of conserving natural resources. I adopted this statement and think that it should be included in the manifesto because I believe that technology depends on natural resources. In addition, we depend on both technology and natural resources to survive. Disregarding one or the other is detrimental to society. The implication of adopting this statement is an acceptance of our obligation to protect the environment. Another implication is that resources and studies within the field of technology focus on conserving natural resources.

3. We ought to embrace changes in thought processes resulting from the increased use of technology.

This statement assumes that Nicolas Carr’s assertion that technology is rewiring our brains is correct. If electronic media encourages us to multitask or skim passages, it would appear that these skills will become more valuable the more that we rely on this form of technology. Carr writes, “As our work and social lives come to center on the use of electronic media, the faster we’re able to navigate those media and the more adroitly we’re able to shift our attention among online tasks, the more valuable we’re likely to become as employees and even as friends and colleagues” (140). Judging from my observations of technology use in the last few years, I believe that we are becoming more and more reliant on the Internet and cell phones. I do not think that this trend will stop any time soon. I adopted this statement because I believe that in order to compete in a faster society, people will need to adapt their thought process. The implication of this statement is that methods of education will need to change if the system aims to equip students with marketable skills. I think that the focus of education will turn from book knowledge to computer knowledge. I believe that this statement should be considered for the collective manifesto because technology is changing the skills valued in the workforce. This impacts society in many ways, from the way in which we educate young people to how we staff our corporations.

4. The definition of credibility in the field of journalism should adapt as the Internet and camera phones allow the public to contribute video or first-hand accounts almost instantly.

Because of the Internet, people no longer need to wait to get their news from newspapers, television networks, or government officials. Shirky describes how during the London bombings, images from camera phones and blogs posted on the Internet allowed the public to see the explosion before the government had released a statement about the actual cause of the events. Shirky writes “The choice for the police had previously been Should we tell the public something or nothing? By 2005, it had become Do we want to be part of the conversation the public is already having?” (63). I adopted this statement because pictures or videos posted to the Internet by average citizens allow the public instant access to information during crises. I believe that this information is important for people know immediately. For example, during the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, the videos captured by witnesses presented the devastation in a real way. The images also alerted the world so that other countries could come to the aid of the Japanese. I think that this raw footage is timely and accurately portrays the situation. Major news outlets should embrace the contributions of the public if they want to present news as it is breaking. The implication for those who adopt this statement is that average people have become journalists in a way. Consequently, this changes the role of professional journalists. To remain valuable, professional journalists need to offer more than what the average person with a camera phone and a computer can offer. I think that this should be considered for the manifesto because the internet has forced journalism to reinvent itself. The future of journalism and our role as potential contributors are issues that will shape what we consider to be news.

5. Digital technologies such as Skype or instant messaging should not replace face-to-face interaction.

Skype and AIM are convenient ways to communicate with people; however, they should not substitute for face-to-face human interaction. Question 4 on Question Forum 3 posed the question of whether the Internet could substitute for this interaction. In responding to this question, I pointed out that it is very easy for people to misrepresent themselves on online dating sites. Megan pointed out that even on Skype, which more closely resembles a face-to-face conversation, you can “dress up on top and be in pajamas on the bottom.” To me this is symbolic of how easily technology allows people to manipulate how they present themselves. I adopted this statement because I believe that it is wise to have as much knowledge of a person as possible when creating relationships. In addition, a face-to-face conversation is more fulfilling than an online conversation. The implication for others adopting this statement is that they must make an effort to continue having face-to-face conversations with their friends. In doing so, they sacrifice convenience for a more fulfilling and less inhibited conversation. I believe that this statement should be included in the collective manifesto because as social creatures, humans rely on relationships. The adoption of my statement ensures that the humans continue to have meaningful, fulfilling relationships with one another.

6. Countries with limited natural resources should focus on developing a workforce equipped with knowledge of digital technology.

Today, information is commodity more valued than manufactured products. I believe that this affords an opportunity to countries with limited natural resources. This statement reflects Hughes’ observations on the information revolution. He writes, “Because of the primacy of information as the new raw material and creator of wealth, world regions prosper or decline not so much because of natural resources, but because of the capacity of their managers, engineers, scientists, and workers to harvest knowledge as raw material. The global economy supports an international division of labor that locates regional manufacturing of computer components where knowledge and skill reside” (105). I adopted this statement because I believe it may be possible for countries to skip the industrial revolution and jump straight into the information revolution. The Internet provides access to a wealth of information. People can even take classes online from thousands of miles away. The implication for people adopting this statement is that if these people want to promote prosperity, they should focus on making digital technology widely available. If information is highly valued, digital technologies provide the fastest, easiest means of access to this commodity. I think that this statement should be seriously considered for the collective manifesto because it acknowledges a change in values and offers a means of applying these new values to aid developing countries. In this way, the adoption of this statement has the potential to positively influence the lives of humans around the world.