In Edited Clean Version, author Raiford Guins discusses the new era of technology, that has two revolutionary principles. Guins points out that less has not been more for a while now, and that we are fundamentally angry at the policing that occurs in our society. He then establishes how new technologies, products and innovations have changed our attitudes. Less is really more, and self-policing is the best policing. I take a somewhat out of context approach to these new ideas below.
Less is more:
While I am never a fan of sweeping generalizations, as a global society, we have been trending towards a consumerist mind-set. With that has come a quick but efficient sweep under the rug of the idea that ‘less is more’. With new medias, however, this seems not to be the case. A new era in product innovation has begun; phones are marketed for their cameras or ability to talk to us, game consoles are upgraded and cause a mass upheaval to every video game library of the past, and movies can be streamed on-demand from almost any device that has an internet connection (I watched Netflix on my phone for the first time the other day, I didn’t know that was possible).
Can we (and should we) return to the mantra less is more? For those on the production side of digital culture, it would probably be a good thing if we did. They are able to sell more targeting products to a more targeted clientele. For every new product, there is a new market; for every new market, there is a possibility of increasing demand and while maintaining the control over the supply.
Self-policing is the best policing:
With the rise of the internet also came a need for surveillance and policing of the digital realm. We have seen this ebb and flow, both in terms of policy and public opinion. We saw the rise of shows like Dateline NBC’s To Catch a Predator and the use of censorship in arena’s such as the Arab Uprising. In cases of the former, society is appalled that the internet has this function and use, and essentially began to police the arena ourselves through expose reality television shows. For the latter, society is appalled that their freedom of speech be imposed upon. There’s the paradox; we ask that our most common platform for communication, the internet, be censored to follow our own personal goals. Not everyone’s goals can be met, so where do we go from there? Guins argues that when it comes to new medias, self-policing is more popular and more freeing than ever.
The most simple example is parental control’s on a television. Parental controls are now a standard feature of most cable providers, ISP’s and televisions and game consoles, allowing for a concept of self-policing. A mother feels much more in control, and therefore more comfortable, when she can choose what channels her 4 year old flips through. She may not need all those channels or features, but she has the ability to block them at her will, allowing for a sense of self-promotion or preservation. The feeling of policing at such a microscopic level, however, can have larger psychological implications. It stands to reason that the notion of self-policing could diminish the importance of policing and authority, possibly acting as a double edged sword for the industry.