The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom? 1999. A nonfiction book by David Brin. Brin considers what a free information society would be like, extrapolating the Big Brother concept of constant surveillance into a society that he thinks might be far freer than what we have now.

It's all very counterintuitive. I went into the book determined to disagree vehemently, and came out rather shaken. Now, even Brin says he's not completely convinced by his arguments, but this is social thinking at its best: extremely thought-provoking. Moreover, Brin is an excellent writer, so the book is a good read rather than inflated pontificating, mindless rambling, or Negropontesque digerati doublespeak.

Everythingites, who are involved in the creation of an information community, may have a particular interest in this book. Highly recommended.
Also a book by Italian philosopher and member or European Parliament Gianni Vattimo.

Vattimo writes about the postmodern society approaching the issue through the concepts of communication, myth and art. I have to say I pass in this text almost entirely the latter two viewpoints because I didn't consider them that comprehensive or they, considering my background, just didn't work for me. Let's mention that I give my recommendation for anyone interested in sociological problems to read the book in which the central father figures are Nietzsche and Heidegger.

Vattimo claims that it's communication that's the most essential part in a society and significant differences between the development levels of different societies are extremely closely related to the way of communication. This is the viewpoint from which he goes through the postmodern idea of the end of history: Because nowadays the communication is instant, live or on-line televisized by many different channels the myth (or utopia) of the one mutual history is gone. Vattimo says that this creates transparency but I think it's rather the Internet that enables the actual transparency because everyone is able to transmit information with low costs. They are not forced just into the role of spectators.

The media has of course an essential part in all this. They make world views complex, even chaotic and they facilitate edification/enlightment. Thus the pluralism of world views explodes into the hands of people and they cannot handle it - at least it still seems like it. At the same time our own experiments are changed to spectacles created by mass media. Therefore the freedom doesn't feel like a freedom anymore - due to the alienation described briefly above. It would be interesting to see if people are able to create new forms of socialization (e.g. E2) or are people going to be accustomed to the postmodern disintegration or is there any yet unthinkable solution for the new questions arisen. What I mean by the "socialization" here is just plain togetherness; not for some ideology or for a mutual principle.

Vattimo says that a new totalitarian regime is simply impossible because the overcoding (Deleuze) nature of such regime is contradicted by the epoch of illimitable communication. With the help of the concept of impossible totaliarianism he may summarize the title: The society of illimitable communication is a transparent one. A French intellectual Peirce used the concept of logical socialism to describe the society Vattimo is talking about here. It's our duty to decide if the highways of communication are one-way only or do we want to be subjects rather than objects: The information is enfolded by power and the transparency is fuzzified by the one-way communication.

Finally Vattimo batters the myth of scientific thinking. The sentence may sound funny but the logic beyond it can be seen if we remember the monocultural historiography. The fact allows Vattimo to claim that the demystification of science is not complete yet. However, the postmodern era and transparency demand a new relation with the myth. Whilst Vattimo wants to demystify the demystification the absolute truth cannot be found anymore. Thus Vattimo comes very close to pragmatists like Richard Rorty. We have to go beyond the paradoxical relation of rationalism and irrationalism, says Vattimo and takes a time-out encouraging us to consider the consequences of the "trick" just made.

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