Did decentralizing top-down media control bring us any closer to the truth-topia we were hoping for?
The church was the first news magnate, says tech entrepreneur Oliver Luckett. It was a top-down centralized network where just few people could access the word of God, and would disseminate that information to the masses. Centuries later another top-down network emerged: print and later television media boomed and set the agenda, relaying information with authority from just a handful of networks. Today’s communication system has a different architecture: it’s holonic, says Luckett, or horizontally disseminated – everyone with a signal and a device can produce, contribute, dispute and report news. So in which system are we better off? Are we any closer to the truth now than we were then? Luckett contends that human emotion has become the editor-in-chief of today’s news, and that to steer us away from misinformation, fake news, and opinion masquerading as fact, it will require a concerted effort in social responsibility – something that we may not be capable of en masse. Oliver Luckett and Michael J. Casey's book is The Social Organism: A Radical Understanding of Social Media to Transform Your Business and Life.
Oliver Luckett and Michael J. Casey's book is The Social Organism: A Radical Understanding of Social Media to Transform Your Business and Life.
If hate is a virus, the U.S. has got it bad. Oliver Luckett presents a fascinating perspective on how the 2016 election divided America, how social media mimics biology, and how the U.S. can start to rebuild.
If you ask tech entrepreneur Oliver Luckett, he’ll tell you we’re at a very interesting phase in the U.S.’s social development. The 2016 election propelled things forward drastically, and the catalyst for that largely has been social media, and specifically Trump’s raw Twitter feed. This forward propulsion? It’s not a good thing – unless you look at it from an ‘if you want to make an omelet, you gotta crack some eggs’ perspective. Sometimes you have to break down in order to build up. "Evolution is not necessarily progress," says Luckett, "it's one of the biggest themes of the book that I hope that people understand… just because something is evolving and changing doesn't mean that it's moving forward in a progressive manner."
In the new book The Social Organism co-authors Luckett and Michael J. Casey offer an intriguing idea: that social networks mimic the rules and functions of biological life. In Big Think’s chat with Luckett above, he weaves an intricate picture of the social virus that has gripped the United States, one that was coaxed out over the course of the 2016 presidential election, externalizing hateful emotions that were buried under the surface – not at all different from the way the HIV virus hides itself in dendritic cells. Concealment makes a virus impossible to kill. It must be ferreted out and the virus triggered.
Liberal America really didn’t see it coming; it was shielded from reality by selective reading and the algorithmic segregation that feeds people mostly content that appeals to their sensibilities, rather than challenges it. The exposition of the nation's true feeling was shocking for some, but the silver lining is that at least the U.S. has now received its diagnosis. "I think that we're now starting to see everything for what it is. I think that we're actually starting to reabsorb our society and we're starting to see it and now we have these individual decisions to make at a very granular level that I don't think we ever thought of before," Luckett says.
Now that liberals are free from their echo chamber and the virus, as it were, is out in broad daylight, we can recognize the fundamental issues that landed the U.S. here and turn it into a moment that leads to action – to the kind of evolution that Luckett hopes will be progressive.
Luckett and Casey's book is The Social Organism: A Radical Understanding of Social Media to Transform Your Business and Life.