STORIES

Global Consolidation & Cultural Fragmentation: One Process

Optimal Fragmentation

Presence of Media Re-draws Warfare's Battle Lines

World's Fourth Largest Nation Faces Disintegration

Net News' Multiple Facets Bend Journalism

AOLTV fractures TV screen

Techno Schizophrenia

Global Consolidation & Cultural Fragmentation: One Process


2000


Global Consolidation & Cultural Fragmentation: One Process

Joana Breidenbach & Ina Zukrigl argue that the two prevailing images of global cultural, commerce-cultural hegemony and Balkan fragmentation, are actually one process.


12/12/00

History of Human Organizations

Optimal Fragmentation

From "The Ideal Form of Organization," Jared Diamond, Manager's Journal, The Wall Street Journal, 12/12/00 (subscription required)

"History tells us that authority should be neither too centralized nor too diffuse. Organizations, from businesses to states, function best when they are optimally fragmented."

As an example Diamond considers the question of why China, a world technological leader in 1400, lagged behind Europe after the Renaissance, Diamond focuses on ships. China's centralized authority, which covered a very large area, chose to abandon China's maritime leadership and constrict shipbuilding after 1433. By contrast, Europe's political fragmentation afforded numerous competing opportunities for the adventurous. Columbus' proposals failed to get his ships nine times, but Spain came through with three ships.

"And if China illustrates the disadvantages of excessive unity, the Indian subcontinent, which was hyperfragmented politically, illustrates the disadvantages of excessive disunity. Innovation proceeds most rapidly under conditions of some optimal degree of fragmentation."

"The best organization is to break up your business into groups that compete and generate different ideas but maintain relatively free communication with each other."

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12/4/00

Presence of Media Re-draws Warfare's Battle Lines

Stan Crock, Newsweek, 10/27/00

Referring to William S. Lind's October 1989 article in Marine Corps Gazette, the author describes the evolution of modern warfare from 1) massed manpower in lines and columns, to 2) massed manpower, with small groups advancing with new rifles, to 3) the blitzkrieg, avoiding frontal attack, to 4) the greater dispersal of current warfare:

"In the fourth generation, they predicted, combat would be even more dispersed. The battlefield would once again envelop entire societies, as it did in more primitive and ancient cultures. And military objectives would no longer involve annihilating tidy enemy lines, but rather eroding popular support for the war within the enemy's society. "Television news may become a more powerful operational weapon than armored divisions," the article's authors predicted. The distinction between war and peace would be blurred to the vanishing point. "It will be nonlinear, possibly to the point of having no definable battlefields or fronts," they argued. "The distinction between 'civilian' and 'military' may disappear."

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11/29/00

World's Fourth Largest Nation Faces Disintegration

Jay Solomon, Wall Street Journal, 11/29/00, (subscription required)

"Now Irian Jaya is a tinderbox in the world's fourth most populous country at the worst possible time. After years of economic exploitation and military repression, Indonesia finds itself nearly broke and rudderless just when it needs to show its provinces things will be getting better. And the rumblings of tribal, religious and ethnic divisions, heard dimly for years here, are now pruducing new eruptions."

Solomon goes on to list Maluku islands, Aceh province, Riau province, and East Timor as scenes of separatism and sometimes Balkan violence.

The disintegation has a side-effect of environmental fragmentation: "A nationwide rise in illegal logging and slash-and-burn clearing threatens to destroy large swaths of one of the world's largest rain forests and bring back the choking haze that blanketed Southeast Asia two years ago."

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11/14/00

Web-Browser Cubism

Philadelphia architect Mike Rosen has designed a browser which displays multiple Web pages as if you were looking into the inside of cubes.

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11/14/00

Net News' Multiple Facets Bend Journalism

Rewind, Between the Lines, by Eric Effron, Brill's Content, January, 2001

"Hostile reactions to press coverage of the Middle East violence show that in the Internet era hyperinformed citizens see mainstream media in a whole new light.

...The point, though, is that anyone exposed to these sorts of media criticisms is not only becoming more sophisticated about the media he consumes but also more partisan. In a way, it's a direct assault on the still-prevailing journalistic ethic (or aspiration, anyway) of objectivity. The New York Times and other top new organizations, in my opinion, generally try to get it right. But they will never satisfy people who are viewing the coverage from the perspective of a combatant or an insider—and in the Information Age, that's increasingly the perspective of the typical reader, because that reader can now become hyperinformed about the topics she cares about from the sources she trusts— which may mean sources that share her worldview or her prejudices...

But in every one of these cases, there are facts. The truth is out there somewhere, and the press has to keep trying to sort it out. And all this intensive scrutiny might just make the results better.

Still, as we rely more on sources of information that are highly focused and targeted, that serve as extensions, really, of the underlying conflicts, I'm afraid we could also be losing any hope of finding common ground on the most contentious and divisive issues."

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11/3/00

AOLTV Fractures the Picture Plane on TV

It used to be the viewer who broke TVland into little pieces, using the clicker and natural impatience, slicing along the line of time. Now AOLTV has brought us interactivity, slicing space on the screen. Starting with directories and moving on to other services, screen turf breaks into various smaller parts. Microsoft's WebTV offers similar behaviour. This is not great news for the "content" being sliced up. Advertisers are not likely to be pleased by the change of perspective, as their pricey media buys leap in per-pixel cost, with no notice. Stay Tuned.

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8/7/00

"Technology Schizophrenia"

From Deconstructing the Web: Your e-business strategy is not the same as your Web site design.

By Larry Downes, The Standard

"New Internet devices and applications are different not only because they are designed to do different things, but also because the mindset of the person who uses them influences the kind of interaction that makes sense. You cannot shove a Web page onto a cell phone's tiny screen. Even if you could, it wouldn't make sense from the user's point of view. The information I want delivered to my cell phone is different from what I want on my home computer. Web pages are designed for sedentary, reflective use. The phone is for urgent, short communications.

As Microsoft (MSFT) 's Rick Beluzzo put it at The Standard's recent Internet Summit, we are entering an era of "technology schizophrenia, where the same person takes on a different profile and personality with every device and application he uses. Each user takes on a role appropriate to the device, and the roles have different requirements for depth of information, timeliness, interactivity and speed. "You will need a different information interface for each role surfers play."

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Global Consolidation & Cultural Fragmentation: One Process

(From "The Dynamics of Cultural Globalization. The myths of cultural globalization" by Joana Breidenbach / Ina Zukrigl (Berlin)"

"Different worldviews and lifestyles come in touch with one another and can lead to an increase in stereotypes and conflicts. At the same time these different livestyles and orientations mix, leading to a creolization of ideas, goods and institutions. German school authorities have to deal with turkish clothing regimes and gender relations and solve resulting intercultural conflicts. At the same time the Popmüzik of young german-born Turks (which combines elements from western and arabic musical traditions) is highly popular with youngsters in Berlin and Istanbul alike.

Globalization leads to new transnational public spheres, to new communities which often transcend national and regional boundaries (global Hinduism, Latino communities, youth cultures, the professional cultures of businessmen or artists to name just a few). At the same time national comunities are increasingly pluralized and fragmentized, in the course of which less people in a neighbourhood share the same cultural inventory: fight for the same values and speak the same language.

Globalization and localization are from this perspective one process. The local is increasingly a spin-off and part of the global. Cultural peculiarities, e.g. the national cultures of Singapore and Germany, trinidadian or swedish economic practice, italian fashion and californian cuisine have been and are being what they are because of their participation in a global world system and can’t be understood outside this global context."

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