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The world of High Tech – it is almost impossible to convey to someone who was born into a high-tech generation how completely strange and foreign the idea of computers and access was in 1972. We had no internet – there were only hints at personal computers. The biggest technological advance we could put our fingers on was Satellite Communications – how it was possible, in 1972, to be able to communicate with someone without shortwave radio or landline telephone, with underwater cables connecting continents – to get, at the time, crystal clear visuals and high-end sound without the potential great difficulties and crude reception.
We were on the brink of a whole new world – and we wondered if this was a good thing or a bad thing. The good thing was the promise that these new leaps in technology promised to bring people closer together, in ways they were never able to before. The promise, as the pundits and visionaries relayed it, was a new Humanism would develop – we would be closer as a people; all over the world. Our ability to communicate with each other almost instantly saw huge benefits in all sorts of ways.
It never occurred to anyone at the time that such a promise was more lofty idealism than actual practice. I am sure the scientists working on Computer programming and technological advances never entertained the idea of Twitter or Instagram. The idea of Social media was more benevolent, with more of a ‘coming-in-peace-for-all-mankind” aura of exploration than self-obsessed navel gazing.
In 1972 it was witness to the world of infinite possibilities, as this episode of the CBC Radio documentary series “Communications; Towards A New Humanism” examines – the series explores technological advances as conveyed by the intellectual community – it would never occur to the people taking part in this documentary that all the far-reaching plans and abilities would be boiled down to selfies and memes – sometimes the human exponent in this quest for new humanism forgot to take into account that not everybody wanted to do or be the same thing – we’ve been finding that out the hard way ever since the 1980s.
That’s not to say the promise of what was being considered in 1972 was never fulfilled – it has been – it just gets overshadowed by the shiny objects much of the time.
And so it goes – here is that episode of Communications: Towards A New Humanism from 1972.