Once again the crossing of several topics from different podcasts: always a good sign that a subject is somehow indicative of a general mood or trend. In this case, two separate BBC Radio 4 – Analysis podcasts (broadcast on 3 Feb and 17 Feb) covering aspects of the current wave of social movements and social voice falling under the broad labels “anonymous” or “anarcho-populism.”
In addition to the psychological facets of the desire or need for anonymity, and apart from the major trends of rebellion against establishment and blending of social media with a rather introspective desire to forcefully express oneself and ones wishes, the key topics covered touch on justice and certainty, as well as vulnerability and openness. In terms of justice, as one of the interviewees points out, the rule of law has always been based on the fact that a case is tried in the open, that there is no anonymity: exactly the opposite of what is done when documents are leaked or truths/conspiracies are aired in the media by unknown persons. One factor here is certainty, in the sense that a heightened degree of certainty often hardens people in their views and leads them to take matters into their own hands (something undoubtedly made easier by our modern connectedness).
In both cases, the arguments seem to revolve around the relative embededness within society of the two concepts. Overall, it appears to be a sign of degree. After all, a small number of anarchists or anonymous do-gooders is no bad thing: but what happens when more and more people fall into this category? Are these not movements which, paradoxically, are unsustainable once a larger fraction of the population claim to be adherents?
Things will appear the same – unless you know how to look.
Finnish author and mathematician Hannu Rajaniemi, when asked what the future would look like.
In this Analysis podcast, several themes come up relating to media and big data, data, privacy, secrets, and who controls and distributes each of these (government, media, individuals).
The interesting comment is that in the 20th Century framework, ideas, philosophies, and causes were promoted by groups which nucleated around an idea (political parties, unions, etc.) and derived their main strength from “strength in numbers” and could thus influence policy or decision-making generally. Today, things appear to have become more granular: it is possible for an individual to make waves without the backing of a party, and ideology has thus reached a much higher level of granularity than before, highly dependent on the individual.
The government has reason to fear the individual, just as the individual has reason to fear the state.
Bringing together several strands of thought (society, geography, technology, behaviour) the following BBC Radio 4 podcast on The Bottom Line provoked some thinking on how changes in monitoring and networking (in many different contexts, mainly digital) are affecting how we behave.
The most fascinating part, it would seem, is the effect on behaviour. This has an impact on both the individual and society: each individual modified their behaviour (slightly (due to monitoring of some vital sign, for example), and by changes in aggregate behaviour one can observe changes in societal behaviour and modes. There are counter-balancing trends as we yield to a networked digital world, with demarcations and fences, as well as benefits of large datasets.