Originally Posted by mzungu
According to Webster, if we remove the veneer of new technology from society, it could be suggested that it features the same dynamics of knowledge that Hobbes spoke of. What we have today could be seen not as a radically 'new' information society, but rather a continuation of what has come before. That being a 'top down' society in which a small few still withhold the information that matters.
But technology cannot be removed, and although Webster may have merit in the short-run microcosm, in the long-run macrocosm he is in error. Certainly privileged wealthy and powerful groups attempt to keep access to their decision-making information proprietary (i.e., "knowledge is power"), but it's now too late to stop the continuous and rapid expansion of data access, the spread of the web, open source, and related enabling technologies globally. This data access and knowledge are going up geometrically, not linearly, and expanding rapidly to where few can keep up, including the power brokers, who in many cases had inherited, privileged, and exclusive access for centuries. Now we see dot-com billionaires spring up overnight, many of whom are not from the former established past or present aristocratic 1% moneyed class in the US and elsewhere. Such educated, free-thinking, and creative persons would have been burned at the stake 300 years ago, but now they are quickly displacing the old and stagnant aristocratic families as time and data access rapidly progresses.
By analogy, Prometheus (web) has given today's world population fire, and no matter what the Gods of Olympus wish, it's now too late to stop the access to data and expansion of knowledge. Picture today's world population access to data as a rapidly moving normal distribution curve, with access always increasing for the vast majority that occupy and fall within the 68% population mean. Those that occupy the leading plus 1 to 2, and 2 to 3 standard deviations above the mean are no longer the former inherited and privileged upper class, rather those intelligence-gifted randomly occurring in a population of billions of people. Centuries past the curve may have been bi-modal, with one tiny, tiny curve representing the aristocratic holders of data, knowledge, and power, and the much larger, massive following curve representing the vast majority of peasant population that had little or no education, no data access, and no knowledge, where superstitions, folklore, and divine right blood related aristocrats ruled in place of knowledge. Times are changing.