Has there ever been any global phenomenon that achieved the level of social conformity that we have now with smart phones and social media?

@praxeology I don't know if this is meant to be rhetorical, but it's interesting to consider actually.

The Great Vowel Shift comes to mind as an example of mass social conformity. Some theories believed that mass migration related the Black Death caused this:

So, plague comes pretty close?

@paul I am being intentionally provocative but I am quite curious what others think. The vowel shift is super interesting but that was a process of shifting conventions over a long period, bottom-up.

What I observe now something that is centrally controlled with a literally transactional relationship. The new conditions and conventions of everyday life are dictated by product dev teams in west-coast suburbs.

@praxeology historically speaking, the concept of culture and social interactions being shaped by a homogeneous centralized authority is not a new one.

HOWEVER, the scale AND rate at which it is happening is historically unprecedented IMO, due to technologies like smart phones and social media.

@praxeology Francis O'Neill comes to mind: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franci

He was a Chicago police officer that leveraged the Radio (a relatively new technology at the time) and homogenized Irish Music as we know it today.

The Qin Dynasty. I believe this was the era in China where their writing system got unified: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qin_dy

@praxeology if you've ever stood up during the "Hallelujah Chorus" being performed in concert, know that you're probably doing that because a King did it That One Time, and now it's tradition.

@praxeology and who do you think edited the Bible to be the thing we know it to be today?


@paul @praxeology Remember when twitter was all about freedom during the Arab Spring? In the late 80s, Ursula Franklin gives four examples of technologies that started out being sold as liberation, but quickly turned into systems of enslavement. One is the sewing machine, which was supposed to give women freedom, so that everyone could make their own clothes - the reality was production line sweatshops. Another is industrialised food - sold as freeing up time, and indeed people do sew and cook less, but then have to work harder in order to afford food and clothes, when food is flown around the world to iron out the seasons. Another is cars - sold as a hobbyists dream of freedom, but then (at least in the UK) train lines were ripped up, and possibilities of active travel were taken away, and we sit in traffic jams.

@yaxu @paul @praxeology id reccomend ivan illich's 'tools for conviviality', which analyses this process in depth!

@paul @praxeology The fourth one is computers of course.. But really I can't recommend her "real world of technology" enough. She neatly predicts that computing will become technologies of social control, by comparing them to what had happened to sewing machines and baby formula.

@yaxu @paul @praxeology thanks a lot for that! Internally I often feel like technology is a trap made to enslave us, but it goes beyond my capacity to communicate this idea, maybe I can find some right words in her books. There are also recordings of her lectures here https://archive.org/details/the-real-world-of-technology/part-1.mp3

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