Thursday, 30 June 2011

Blogito Ergo Sum - July 2011

We call ourselves Scroll. And with good reason.

The possibilities of the word are aplenty.
It harks us back to the rolls of ancient papyrus, the sprawling parchments, on which worked painstaking quills of venerable steadfast scribblers - striving to crystallize their thoughts.

And in the modern day, it depicts the click of the mouse or the page down keystroke enabling us to read on beyond the screen.

Yet, in today’s world, is it satisfying to just scroll?

In Cognitive Surplus, his engaging and optimistic story of the connected world,  Clay Shirky ends with an anecdote about the four year old daughter of his friend. In the middle of a movie she was watching on DVD with her father, she got off her couch, ran to the TV set and started rummaging among the wires behind the screen.                           

Contrary to her dad’s conclusion, she was not checking for the presence of actors back there. It was not a childish simulation of personal backstage. Instead, she was wading her way through the cables, hunting for a mouse.

She was not content with watching what was dished out; she wanted to get involved and alter the  action.

The touching story throws glaring light on the virtual reality of the current world. Culture has changed. From consumers content with lapping up the offerings of elitist producers, the world is moving towards universal contribution and involvement. Television and newspapers, erstwhile monopolies of a consumerist community, are fast giving way to a Web 2.0 powered society. Man, the social animal, is clicking his way back to a community that transcends the geographical distances. A community which they don’t just join, but play a part in scripting.

We see the results of the change everywhere – in the modern wonders of decentralised systems, from Wikipedia to the YouTube, from Citizen Bloggers  to Facebook Revolutions.

True, Cogito Ergo Sum has made way for Blogito Ergo Sum.

Predictably, as in the case of any global trend, technological upheaval and changing thought process, this socially networked world has been quickly given the status of a panacea, a silver
bullet, a philosopher’s stone that will turn all that is evil into gold, with a brief intervention of  silicon.

Our previous issues have hinted at how the current world of technological advancements helps us authors embark on the fibre optic cables to circumnavigate the ivory towers of traditional publishers.
In this issue we take a step back and look at some of the pros and cons of the socially networked world. Is it really a solution to all the problems of the world? Or are there booby-traps embedded in the enmeshed social connections?

And in the spirit of the modern collaborative cyber-sphere of social capital, we have tried to capture the thoughts and opinions of readers in our analysis – the results of which are shared in a separate article.
Enjoy scrolling.

Arunabha Sengupta is the co-editor of Scroll and the author of three novels, the latest being The Best Seller

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