Information Melt Up

Social media was was meant to be an improvement on traditional media. Which it is. But something unforeseen also happened. Former Facebook Executive, Chamath Palihapitiya, has already expressed his guilt, 'I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we've created are destroying how society works.' 

The algorithms that govern the platforms and search engines are now so strong that they only give you what they calculate you will Like. While individuals feel that they are able to express themselves more freely they have also bought into a system that absorbs opposition to their thinking. An echo chamber where every wall, floor, and ceiling is also a mirror. What next? We don't know yet. The world is, in a way, nothing more than a construction of ideas - our political structures, philosophies, ideologies, economies. An entire framework created from the imagination. Therefore a strong enough wave of information could completely overturn and destroy all of that. 

On 9 November 1989 everything seemed status quo in Berlin. People were aware that East Germany was starting to liberalise its draconian system, but the process seemed to be completely under control. Yet that world was about to be convulsed. During a press conference on live TV, Günter Schabowski improvised a slightly mistaken answer to a journalist's question, when he said 'Today it was decided to make it possible for all citizens to leave the country through the official border crossing-points.' People just assumed he meant they could just head for the Wall and be allowed through to West Berlin straightaway. Those who weren't watching, quickly heard from friends and within 15 minutes big crowds were streaming towards the crossing-points. Since the guards at the Wall had no orders to shoot, they let them through. Soon people were clambering up on to the top of the Wall, dancing and laughing and kissing each other. The Wall hadn't literally fallen but it had simply ceased to matter. A flux of unplanned information caused a flood of people and suddenly everything had changed.

Big changes are almost impossible to predict. No one saw the collapse of the USSR coming. And right now no one can tell you what is going to happen next, this is probably especially true for anything to do with the Internet. History is like rising temperature. It is the heat of accumulated information and accumulated complexity. As culture progresses more and more information is gathered, melting up from a fluid state to an almost vaporous state and into an eventual boilover.

 Communication Melt Up, Berlin 1989

Communication Melt Up, Berlin 1989