Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Reconciling conflictive values, can the internet provide a solution?

Mindy restarted me on thinking about identities again, and by chance I found an interesting discussion about identity in Joi Ito's blog, a very popular blogger. He advices, "You MUST remember that identities are like names. You are NOT your identity. Your identity points to you. Everyone has multiple identities." That we as entities, shouldn't get mixed up with our identities. He also says that "a multitude of identities is an essential component in protecting privacy and interacting in an exceedingly digital world".

Reading the very interesting discussion that follows, I feel the undercurrents of conflicting values among the many discussants. Joi is a Japanese, educated in western thinking and technology and I believe he is trying to reconcile the values of both infuences. Asian society places a higher value on social/group cohesiveness as opposed to individuality. They have a few thousand years of continuous cultural development of group cohesiveness to follow. Western society, on the other hand, has developed the idea of rights of individual freedom with the French Revolution from the 18th century. There have been failures and successes on both ends of the upheld values. But when east meets west, there seems to be an unavoidable clash of values in some ways. I sensed that from reading the discussions following Joi's posting, and I felt that these differences were left unchanged, unresolved at the end of the discussion as probably does in other discussions at other fora. My questions are, with the promise of a "global village" through the help of electric/electronic connectivity, will these conflicting values be reconciled? Can the internet be a place for this reconcilation? Or will it simply reflect the real world conflict? Or will electric connectivity give rise to new values? If so what are they? Or maybe we need to learn how to let go of dichotomy and live with paradoxial acceptance of both seemingly conflictive values?


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