The contrast between the media mergers mentioned above provides another illustration of the failure to shift paradigms. Time-Warner merged with AOL on the assumption that Time-Warner could deliver its vast library of magazines and books (Time) and movies (Warner) to the captive, passive audience of subscribers (AOL). They lost billions of dollars. Google bought YouTube for 1.35 billion dollars. YouTube had no magazines and books and movies. All they had was a space where people were invited to bring their own movies and to view the movies of other people. The Google-YouTube merger will earn billions of dollars.|
The difference between losing and earning billions of dollars is the difference between a poor concept of the person (the passive person of behaviourism in the industrial society) and a good concept of the person (the active and interactive person of humanism and interactionism in the information society).
Web sites which emphasize user-generated content (for example, YouTube to share videos, Flickr to share photos, Google to share information, Wikipedia to share knowledge, eBay to share stuff, Facebook to share lives), collectively defined as Web 2.0, are growing exponentially. People who "live" at those sites are prosumers, who emphasize cooperation over competition, shattering the foundations of the consumer capitalism of the industrial society.
Yet the discussion about the current crisis in capitalism is largely about how long it will be before we recover. That is, how long before we can get back to devouring non-renewable resources and polluting the environment, with the 'optimists' saying "soon" and the 'pessimists' saying "later".
When I say "we still haven't got McLuhan's message", my students say "what do you mean 'we', paleface?" They have got the message that we have moved into an information society and they are immersed in the associated generation of media. The silver lining in our current "cloudy" crisis is that those who have got the message tend to be, on the average, younger. The young are conspiring to outlive us. Let us hope that we have not damaged the planet beyond repair before they have the power to take over its governance.
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