Computers & Society/Social Web/Global village

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We begin with a short text:

"The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village."

The quotation is from Marshall McLuhan's Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), p.31. This "global village" is like living "in a single constricted space resonant resonant with tribal drums."

Such a concept of tribal drums brings to mind almost immediately the Indian tribal traditions of North America.

Drums are like bells.
They call to meeting.
They call to prayer.
They call to war.
Without their sound...
...there is no community at all.

Let us imagine that the concept of global village used by Marshall McLuhan in his Gutenberg Galaxy is wrong! What could we possibly mean by this?

And what about the earlier use of the global village by Wyndham Lewis?

Instead of us giving the answer here we invite you to find it for yourself. How would you do that? It seems obvious that you will search using something like "global village" + "Wyndham Lewis"? Try it out!

On a google search there are around 811 hits {2008-05-08}.

Now the challenge is find the text in which it appears.

the medium is the MASSAGE[edit]

Later on (1967) in his book "The Medium is the Massage — An inventory of effects" with Quentin Fiore and produced by Jerome Agel, Gingko Press, "We now live in a global village...a simultaneous happening. We are back in acoustic space." p.63.

And for good measure, a picture of some of the tribe in action is shown p.66-67. This is a photo by N. R. Farbman, for Time, Inc.

The Village[edit]

So! How many people here reading this stuff come from a village? Hands up!
Ha! I thought as much! No-one!

Walled Gardens[edit]

Although the Internet offers global communications, it is still heavily divided by the varieties of language. For example, "Far Eastern" countries have sites in Korean/Chinese/Japanese, which are unreadable and therefore inaccessible to those who don't know the language. Furthermore there are sites on the site that actively block users from that don't have a 'correct' address. As addresses are typically doled out to ISP who tend to have a strong regional presence this creates essentially walled gardens.

Global Village pump[edit]

The concept of the Internet as "Global Village" might be considered erroneous, because communication via electronic means is not entirely analogous to that of real-life interpersonal communication.

The methods of communication via electronic means such as Internet fora, IRC, instant messaging etc. (excluding video conferencing) remove the somatic component from conversation. It is believed that the content of language in conversation accounts for merely 30% of global communication — the remaining 70% is due to body language and tone. The removal of these vital components from the act of communication do not lend themselves to real, meaningful conversation.

Also, the extreme cultural and linguistic diversity of the Internet does not correspond well with the definition of a Village, obtained from Wikipedia:

  • "Villages are normally permanent, with fixed dwellings;"

This would imply that the nodes of communication on the Internet are fixed and unchanging. However it is a widely regarded fact that web sites and links are mostly transient; Indeed, using the Internet as a reference in academia is often frowned upon for this very reason. Perhaps the concept of a "Global Village Pump", à la Wikipedia is more semantically accurate.

The view from India[edit]

Mohandas Gandi declared that "The soul of India lives in its villages". What this implies is that villages themselves have their own character and ambience. However, the Internet as a whole does not conform to this idea; In fact, the chimeric nature of the Internet makes this nearly impossible, as the depth of complexity could never permit such a declaration.