Swiss novelist Max Frisch described technology as "the knack of so arranging a world that we need not experience it." Since Frisch died in 1991, just before the "information age" reached its commercial maturity, he missed some zany interpretations of his wisdom. Greg Collins, a senior vice president of Reynolds and Reynolds Company, offers his understanding of Frisch in Ward's Dealer Business,Feb 1, 2003.
"Unfortunately," Collins laments, "many businesses still approach technology from the `Industrial Age' mentality of days past." Collins' future orientation refers to businessmen using technology to improve business processes, not just to reduce their labor force. "Once the truth is known, it's remarkable how effective people, processes and technology can be" at enhancing corporate profits. Frisch turns uneasily in his grave. Truth and corporate profits go together like Tabasco sauce on vanilla ice cream. Indeed, modern corporations profit from massive fabrication about the products they peddle just as media giants make money from lying in the hourly "news" reports they scream at us. Indeed, we have become accustomed to listening to lies masquerading as truth. Each day we receive thousands of commercial, political and religious "messages" designed to make us do or buy something we don't need to do or buy.
I shake my head in confusion just from living in this Mother of all Information ages. If I turn my radio dial from classical music to "all news when it happens," I receive machine gun blasts of mis and dis-information. From the TV, radio, newspapers, billboards and computer emerge manipulative words, pictures, (spam) sounds and symbols aimed at converting my organism into an advanced purchasing instrument. No one has yet invented the equivalent of the bullet proof vest for the brain, to protect against the cartridges of blather fired at our cerebral cortex.
I assume advertisers and news fabricators (those who invent the lies and those who report them) count on rapid temporal atrophy among the receivers of false information. While the US military still zealously searches Iraq for even a faint trace of a weapon of mass destruction or the scantiest Al Qaeda connection to Saddam Hussein, I can actually feel my brain filter growing overtaxed with bullpucky. Terrorism, orange alerts, snipers, SARS! Who said what, when, where? Huh? How much of my pension did I lose in the market today? Will I still have my job when I get to work? The messages of anxiety penetrate beyond any "facts."
The pushers of commodities, services and ideology have certainly used technology to arrange the world -- not satisfactorily mind you -- into commercially designed messages. Digital media beams them by radio and TV waves to your living room, bedroom, bathroom, as well as to your favorite restaurant, bar and car.