Post-Industrial

I'm watching Cory Doctorow's Google talk again, and there's a great bit in the first ten minutes where he talks about "The Information Age," which is just the industrial age with a different descriptor tacked on.  It's not really something anyone can make sense of, it's just something people think is a thing because we call the newest technology "Information technology." I've been playing around in my mind with a different model of the age-system of conceiving of the past, present and future.  I'm borrowing from philosophy, here:  the latest 'age' in philosophy, just sort of ending now, is post-modernism.  But post-modernism isn't really ending, because post-modernism is, basically, "Everything after Modernism."

Modernism, like every branch of philosophy, is hard to capture in words.  It's easier to explain than define.  But broadly, it's (a.) a shift in central question from "What is true?" to "How do we figure out what's true?", and (b.) a shift from the perspective of continuous, static society to the perspective of progress -- of things getting "Better," the narrative of myth-to-reason.  The guy to look at for (a.) is Descartes, and for (b.), Hegel.

Post-modernism is even harder to explain than modernism, and I'm far from qualified to make any really definitive statements.  But where modernism suggested singular avenues of increasing progress, increasing systematization, and further and further unity of perspective, post-modernism is a more fractured, diverse, and, frankly, utility-based set of views.  Modernism would say "X is true."  Post-modernism would say "X is a useful perspective for analyzing this particular situation."

I think what we're looking at coming up is not a new entity-focused era, but an era defined by the absence of, or contradiction of, previous entities.  We're not looking at an "Information age," we're looking at a post-industrial age.

At least, that's how it looks to me.  I think it's a pretty useful perspective for analyzing this particular situation.