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The (Dis)information Age

The Persistence of Ignorance


Shaheed Nick Mohammed

The (Dis)information Age challenges prevailing notions about the impact of new information and media technologies. The widespread acceptance of ideas about the socially transformative power of these technologies demands a close and critical interrogation. The technologies of the information revolution, often perceived as harbingers of social transformation, may more appropriately be viewed as tools, capable of positive and negative uses. This book encourages a more rational and even skeptical approach to the claims of the information revolution and demonstrates that, despite a wealth of information, ignorance persists and even thrives. As the volume of information available to us increases, our ability to process and evaluate that information diminishes, rendering us, at times, less informed. Despite the assumed globalization potential of new information technologies, users of global media such as the World Wide Web and Facebook tend to cluster locally around their own communities of interest and even around traditional communities of geography, nationalism, and heritage. Thus new media technologies may contribute to ignorance about various «others» and, in this and many other ways, contribute to the persistence of ignorance.


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10 Reasons for Hope 161


10 Reasons for Hope In this so-called “Information Age” or “Communication Age,” ironically, the missing components are reliable information and meaningful communication. Perhaps the terms “Disinformation Age” or “Babble Age” would more accurately describe this gloomy period in history. (Kamalipour, 2010, p. 93). f the preceding arguments paint a dismal picture of the Information Age and the persistence of both ignorance and disinformation, they necessarily beg the question of whether the Information Age can in fact serve to alleviate ignorance and disinformation, or if ignorance and disinformation can ever provide positive social effects. The use of modern information technolo- gies such as Facebook and Twitter have enabled opposition groups in places like Iran and Egypt to mobilize information resources against rampant government propaganda and information repression and other forms of oppression. The infrastructure and conventions of the Information Age have also made it easier to spread socially valuable messages. From HIV/AIDS support groups online to literacy programs via new communication technolo- gies in several developing countries, there are several undeniable benefits of Information Age technology and thinking. The Information Age has made information more plentiful and the myriad of information relationships more complex. As discussed earlier, more information does not automatically mean more knowledge. Greater availability or volume of information does not lead to greater knowledge, social benefits, understanding or peace—but simply to more information. However, the very notion that increased information should necessarily be a social good is simply a social bias of the age itself. Divested of...

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