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Dear Kosmos Reader,
The new global era that is emerging offers exciting promise that some
of the regrettable legacies of the dying Industrial Age will be
overcome by the powers and possibilities of the vibrant new Information
Age, the Age of Networking. Already the effects of worldwide networks
are radically changing our personal and collective lives in every
dimension: political, economic, cultural, and social.
To begin to look at some of the current and probable future
consequences of the Information Age, Kosmos asked the contributors to
this issue to ponder, “How do we know what we know?” From a cultural
perspective we decided that education and media were the major
institutions that informed us, while networks distributed what we knew
and connected us to others. (There are 1.5 million networks in the US
alone, and 50,000 are added each year.)
With our increased global connectivity comes a new environment
charged with the tension of radical change. Scarcity and abundance,
separative fears and connecting love, competitive alliances and
cooperative partnerships are examples of forces traditionally in
antagonism with each other that are now opening to new alignments that
are mutually accommodating and respectful.
Democratic access to information is key to the continuation and
development of these world-changing shifts, and the Internet that made
it all possible offers ever-expanding additional possibilities. Yet
already the Internet’s potential to serve is at risk from
self-interested power bases. Only public engagement can safeguard the
opportunities it offers.
Is access to information a human right? We are told that we have only
begun to see the potential for manipulating information and distorting
truth through abuses of media and education. Already we are being
challenged to remain discerning as the power of moving images to sway us
is felt in films and video productions that are based on history but
present the makers’ version of the truth. The media we trusted to be
watchdogs of business and government are now often partners in
Some time ago Mikhail Gorbachev realized the magnitude of the problem
of protecting truth from distortion. He called together experienced
international journalists to dialogue about the state of the media
today. This meeting exposed the worldwide penetration and subversion of
the media by the power of business and governments whose self-interest
obscures their moral compass. Kosmos reports on these discussions in its
Inundated as we already are by waves of corporate advertising via the
Internet, its limitless expansion promises more flooding of data.
Wikipedia and Google are examples of access to information whose
quantities are too large to handle and whose quality is too difficult to
ascertain. Joe Firmage offers a confident vision of the possible
transformation of the World Wide Web from poverty to richness. Don’t
miss the Digital Universe he has created. It is called the PBS of the
Internet. Meanwhile, as Vicente Garcia-Delgado warns us, we must remain
aware that the Digital Universe has as much power to separate as to join
together—and that those left behind in the Digital Divide are uniquely
disadvantaged in today’s world, with no place in tomorrow’s.
Exploring issues of quality and values provokes thoughts about the
higher self in Rolland Smith’s musings about the potential of the media
to elevate itself. In so doing, it can lift us with it to the best we
are capable of. Education, too, must join the media in reaching for high
purpose and service in the global era. Are our children being educated
to meet the challenges of the 21st century—provided, that is, that they
are not among the 43 million children beset by war and poverty who have
no educational opportunity at all; or who are indoctrinated into
fundamentalist religious programs; or who are trained with outdated
material suitable for nationalism rather than global engagement? Will
they be fortunate enough to be among the children taught at Saybrook
Institute, for example, or at the Integral Institute—or through a
program such as that advocated by Arthur Zajonc: one that honors the
development of wisdom and the interior life so that children will
develop into valuable contributors to a whole new society?
Who will be the educated elite and who will be left out? In an era
when no one can know everything, networks are key to the new
civilization. They are proliferating in government, economics, the
social order—and as they do, they are empowering unprecedented thrusts
for decentralization of power.
As we discover and participate in developing new ways of finding
truth, connecting with each other, and sharing information, we are
making history by building world community and a new global
civilization. Walking with beauty…elevating perspectives…touching the
human heart…engaging with wisdom…. This is what will define the new era.
Quality replaces quantity as the measure of the times.
Kosmos honors the visionary artists and thinkers and doers in this
issue who offer you the best they have. Their dedication gives us the
courage to Be in the world and to stand for and create a new world of
Nancy Roof, Ph.D. is the founder of the award-winning Kosmos Journal: The Journal for World Citizens and Planetary Civilization, which is based on evolving interior development and cultural values as they impact globalization and world community. Kosmos Associates, Inc. is also actively involved in the founding of the Global Commons movement with James Quilligan of the Global Commons Trust.