Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Publishing from the housetops

Isn't it interesting how email groups, blogs, RSS, Podcasts, etc., have all exploded onto the scene in the last few years.

I recall not too long ago having to write my journals on paper. Now I am in the process of typing them into the computer, so I have ready access to the information, and so all of my descendants can have their own copy. Of course, most of my kids are still in the attitude of preferring to await the highly edited Reader's Digest animatronic Disney version. And in this case, they prefer it to be no longer than a commercial.....

With scriptural verses that suggest the Earth will be flooded with knowledge in the last days, who can say that we aren't approaching such a prophecy's fulfillment in our time? Doctrine and Covenants 87 tells us about each celestial person receiving his/her own white stone Urim and Thummim, which will teach the higher order of kingdoms. This stone is personally programmed to work according to the new name an individual has, which is the "key word." Today, we would call it a "password" as we log onto our favorite site(s) and share our souls with the world.

Where once upon a time, displaying one's underwear (or less) occurred solely on Jerry Springer's show, we now have both visual and literary exhibitionism and voyeurism occurring on a continuous basis. High school restrooms are now locations for victims to be caught on cell phone cameras. Men and women display their own (and others') dirty laundry as a badge of honor. Perhaps this is suggestive of the Book of Mormon's warning on the Urim and Thummim, that one should be careful at what he seeks in it.

But there also is the potential for great knowledge. While many ruin or waste away their lives with technology (how many Paris Hilton photos do you have on your hard drive?), some are using it for great purposes. Knowledge is sweeping the earth, as never before. At one time, nations were able to control the information spread within their boundaries. No longer. It is too easy to spread differing views and ideas over the Internet, cell phones, and other technologies today. While the bad is found, much good is also available for use by the world.

In his book, Revolutionary Wealth, Alvin Toffler mentions an experiment done recently by a physicist in India. He set a computer with high speed connection into a concrete wall near a ghetto in India. Across the street was set up a camera, to watch what would occur. Soon a few street urchins found the computer and within minutes were clicking links across the world. A steady stream of kids started showing up, teaching one another how to use the computer. Within weeks, the kids were doing some amazing stuff, learning about the world, playing games, and starting their own blogs. All of this without a class in computers!

As we continue deeper into the Information Age, we continue seeing more and more people throughout the world entering into new opportunities of knowledge. And as they study the differing views: political, religious, philosophical, and scientific, we will see an equalizing of nations.

Why did the Iron Curtain fall when it did? Because information was streaming into Eastern Europe at a rate too fast for the Soviet Union to quell. Why are many Arab leaders condemning Hizbollah's actions in Lebanon? Because information is now getting around to the people, showing them that Israel and the USA are not the only ones to blame for their problems.

The key now is to ensure that information keeps flowing freely, but responsibly. Protecting innocents from being exploited by information technology is critical. Whether it is child pornography websites, women sold into slavery on the Internet, or the technology to build a WMD emailed to a terrorist, there are grave risks involved in the new technologies. A free Internet will tend to spread information - whether it is good or not, depends upon the people. Garbage In, Garbage Out means that one million monkeys at one million keyboards given one million years will NOT create the works of Shakespeare. It requires mankind to be responsible enough to think through what they are going to post. It requires much reading and study, prior to opening one's mind to the world.

But the danger of imposed restrictions can, in many cases, limit the spread of information. Only the most dire things should be restricted, and that as a protection to innocents who are accosted for illicit events (as those mentioned above).

Why does China impose major restrictions on search engines, such as Google and Yahoo? Because they understand the risk to communism in allowing too much freedom. The Bamboo Curtain can fall just as easily as the Iron Curtain. And they understand that. The trick is to try and allow as much freedom as they'll allow, and hopefully their grasp will loosen over time, allowing more and more information.

While the LDS scriptures teach us that Satan wishes to keep us in the dark, that God fills the universe with his Light. The Light of Christ is in and through all things. It is what animates living things, and causes the rules of nature to operate correctly. And as mankind seeks more light and truth, the world will be able to develop low-tech Urim and Thummim to teach us all the secrets of this world and the physical universe we now live in. Perhaps the day will come when we can all get that permanent upgrade to the celestial version, as well.

1 comment:

BHodges said...

Along with these thoughts I suggest Dallin H. Oaks' April 2001conference address "Focus and Priorities."

"Available information wisely used is far more valuable than multiplied information allowed to lie fallow."