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The (Dis)information Age

The Persistence of Ignorance

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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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Epilogue: The End of the World 173

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: The End of the World Epilogue he apocalypse, a Christian conceptualization (related to earlier Judaic ideas) of the conclusion of life on earth has persisted throughout modern times. Collins (2000, p. 41) defined apocalypse as “a genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework in which a revelation is mediated by an otherworldly being to a human recipient, disclosing a tran- scendent reality which is both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation, and spatial, insofar as it involves another, supernatural world.” Stewart and Harding (1999, p. 286) explained: The term apocalypse (derived from the Greek apokalupis, meaning uncover or dis- close) refers most narrowly to the revelation of John recorded in the New Testament Book of Revelation. During the Middle Ages, it came also to refer to any revelation, prophecy, or vision of the end of history and the current world order, or to the end- time events themselves. More commonly, the apocalypse is understood as a set of beliefs related to the end of times or life on earth as we know it. O’Leary (1994, p. 7) writes: Apocalypse has been a dominant theme in Christian culture for over two thousand years… In addition to the importance of apocalyptic myth in Judaism and the early Christian church, the rhetoric of apocalypse has been used by such diverse communi- ties as the imperial and papal parties struggling for power in thirteenth-century Eu- rope, by Luther and the German Protestants in their battle against the papacy, by the English Puritans...

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