Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Google’s Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward

Modern society has 'broad based' almost everything.
Broad basing does not necessarily mean 'cheapening.' However, it has resulted in the exclusive aura associated with prestigious items such as Swiss watches, platinum credit cards or air travel being diluted.

Of course, it is nice that air travel is now accessible to many households. Budget airlines have made weekend shopping trips a privilege for the middle class. Maybe not flying visits to Milan or Paris but at least short hops to Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur (KL) are within reach.
Commuting by train is passé. Today's businessman takes day trips by plane to attend urgent meetings. All the while breathing that fresh tasting aeroplane air and eating that finely prepared designer airline food!
The airport is much like a bus stop or community center. Finding a seat in a Business Class lounge is harder than locating a seat at La Pau Sat food court during lunchtime.
That's how commonplace air travel is nowadays.
How do these people pay for all this travel and shopping? A platinum (or is it titanium now?) credit card of course. Normal coloured credit cards are not issued any more.
It's not the 'democratization' of platinum credit cards, the Rolex watches or the air travel that bothers me. Those are all good things. They reflect the general affluence which much of the world now takes for granted.
It is the transformation of the written word which gives me pause for thought.
Email and the internet make everyone into an author. Many new authors have little regard for grammar or often even spelling. The new 'hip' writing style, including text messaging, is on its way to becoming mainstream. Today's New Media author is busy writing tomorrow's classic novel.
Don't get me wrong. I am not opposed to the trend.
The internet is a free medium. People may write whatever they like. It is up to readers to decide what they wish to read.  
I grew up in an age of long hand letter writing. As a college student I wrote a weekly 'round up' letter to my family. It was the only economical form of communication with loved ones. Long distance phone calls were a luxury.
The written word was sacred. A letter created its own contract between the sender and the recipient. A letter is definitive, final and lasting. It can be referred to in the future and be reread so often it becomes a part of one's memory.
Today we are creating written content faster than burning a hole in the ozone layer. There are millions of new daily blog posts.
What is so sacred about a mass produced product like a 250 word blog post. Yet the words keep flowing. On this blog and the thousands of new ones started daily.
I don't know what keeps me going. Maybe it's holding a conversation with unknown people that keeps me writing. Perhaps it has more to do with a desire to create my own personal Speakers Corner.

Welcome to the New Cultural Revolution as led by Google.
Google's Cultural Revolution is all about freeing up the written word from the shackles of conventional grammar and spelling.

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