THE SEVENTH MEDIUM
Beliefs, Communications and Cyberspace
By Bruce Bomier
Overview - Our controlling beliefs, religious and secular, will be impacted by cyberspace. They also represent our best hope to wisely traverse this strange new terrain, toward an enlightened destiny.
The Seventh Medium - Summary
The ethics and controls surrounding the Internet and cyberspace must be confronted by both cultures and individuals. How we manage Internet and cyberspace both personally and through formal regulation is complex and critical.
Throughout human history, widespread technical enhancements regarding how we communicate have enriched the human condition while simultaneously creating at least temporary chaos. It was that way with the printing press and, most recently, the institutionalization of electronic media: radio, film and television.
Today, cyberspace, specifically cyber communications or “the Internet”, is emerging as the most powerful and preferred medium of human communication. Consequently, we are witnessing profound enhancements in our quality of life, accompanied by awakened divisiveness, tribalism and Internet inspired violence.
Our ability to communicate with each other and control the world around us has been steadily improving to humanity's advantage. In 1820, by World Bank standards, 94% of humanity lived at poverty levels; today, it's less than 10% and declining. Worldwide, the IQ scores of young 21st-century citizens has surpassed all previous generations. Even in sub-Saharan Africa, literacy has progressed from under 20% to over 60% in the last few decades. How we are able to live is simply safer and better for most societies and individuals, with cyberspace and the Internet empowering humanity.
The lubricant for enhancing our quality life is better communications, allowing enhanced, production, and distribution of services and “things”. Our capacity to understand and enrich the world around us expands on many fronts as our ability to connect grows. Public health and medicine, agricultural and production improvements, and insight thrived as we learned how to more effectively publish, print, and broadcast--- to more effectively communicate with each other.
Now, the technologies of cyberspace, especially the Worldwide Internet, have evolved to provide stunning and powerful communication opportunities. The result has been unparalleled improvement in the most obvious aspects of life including the capacity for self-actualization.
Yet, in an ominous parallel to past glacial changes in human communications, a sinister sort of tribal hostility is emerging. The technical ability for nations, groups, and even individuals to do unparalleled harm is blending with Internet inspired hate, or at least paranoia. The combination is serious and requires both consideration and selective regulation. We are at risk in many ways.
From Scotland to Slovenia, to Sri Lanka, to Sweden there is a reawakening of tribal animosity against “others”. Even global superpowers are turning inward and positioning for hostility or at least exceptionalism, often blended with isolationism.
Cultural/national violence involving genocide in Myanmar and the immolation of thousands at the World Trade Center in America, was inspired and coordinated through the Internet. In the same vein, the murder of worshipers at a prominent black church in South Carolina by a white supremacist, the murder of Muslim worshipers at Christchurch in New Zealand, and the Pittsburgh synagogue shootings by an anti-Semite, were
Cyberspace and the Internet are taking us into an unfamiliar human paradigm requiring a new approach to formal and informal social guidelines and government enforced regulations.
To approach the challenge of rewarding, prohibiting, or outright punishing how the Internet and cyberspace are monitored and managed, societies have typically looked to comparable history, science, and core beliefs, both secular and religious.
Cyberspace, including the Internet, constitute the seventh major communication medium to impacted the human community. Like previous technical advances in human communication cyberspace and the internet are fundamentally changing our cultures and lives.
A thoughtful description of how previous communication mediums evolved historically, a summary of our contemporary scientific understandings of cyberspace and Internet advantages and threats, and especially challenges confronting our belief systems are discussed in the book, The Seventh Medium.