Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fluid information reality

When I was a kid back in the 20th century, it was a BIG DEAL to be read around the world, and part of the reason was the vast amount of resources needed to accomplish the task.  Someone had to print, maybe translate, and publish in country after country which usually meant you were either very important or had a lot of money yourself.

For a music artist to be in multiple countries was back then considered an extraordinary achievement, so artists might just concentrate on their home country, and look at foreign distribution as a distant possibility, as for records, well, someone had to stamp out those records, long ago, before CD's and now pure digital distribution.

But today an artist can just put up a video on YouTube.

Information moves around our world with a fluidity that has disconnected from money, as the vast infrastructure of the web, and the investment of billions of dollars worldwide to create it, has to a large extent removed money from the information flow equation, so now it is more important to be more interesting.

And I think about such things partly because I have distribution around the world myself, with very little money invested, or returned, like with my open source project.  Checking now for this post--such easy access to information--I see it had 719 downloads from 80 countries last month, which of course was November.

So, I have worldwide software distribution, because information is so fluid, where the downloads aren't even a lot!

That would have been impossible through most of the 20th century, before the rise of the Internet.

So that was 80 countries in just one month, and I'll admit that I didn't even know how many countries there were in the world till I started checking my web stats.  Across my various websites, including my blogs, I am read annually from 100+ countries, every single year.  And it has been that way for years.

(Curious about today?  Checking Blogger stats I have hits so far today from the US, UK, Germany, Finland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Serbia and South Africa, as of 10:49 am PST.)

Now the fluidity of information has dramatic impact on lots of things, including politics!  And it is fascinating to watch political races and see politicians try to use 20th century techniques against a 21st century fluidity of information.

So, for instance, they can spend lots of money on television advertising only to find it is all invalidated by some tweets on Twitter, which go viral, or even worse, a YouTube video which goes viral and maybe even just destroys the candidate.

That couldn't happen in the 20th century.

Then knowing how to manage television and PR, as well as spin meant a politician had a lot of time to crash and burn, with mitigation techniques which required a lot of money.

Today a politician's career can be crushed in minutes.

As information fluidity changes our world rapidly, it is intriguing to watch as people shift, and for me, fascinating to watch as politicians evolve.

Some are already brilliant, effectively using social media while their opponents waste vast sums of money to no avail.

It is a different world than when I was a kid, growing up in the 20th century, and I welcome the change, as it was so boring seeing the same politicians over and over again trotting out the same boring lies.

Today, they have to be much more creative, and, well, fluid.

James Harris