With great access comes the great responsibility of discernment.
→ This article was inspired by the conversation in the comments generated from last week’s Suggestivism article.
As we traverse the final phases of maximum raw information accumulation, potentially equipping us for jacking in to the promise of the Singularity, the contents of many lifetimes’ worth of knowledge, art, education, and history are now at our fingertips. More and more Universities, libraries and arts institutions have swung open their digital doors and granted access to their lectures, courses and curricula free of charge to anyone in the world with a connection to the web. Access to education is fundamentally shifting our society towards an unmappable future.
Here at deviantART there seems to be a new age dawning as well. deviantART has always provided an artist to artist education for new and developing artists. But more and more artists, both amateurs and professionals of all levels, are using deviantART as a real resource and platform in the creation and exhibition of their personal art gallery rather than just a place to exhibit their own works. And the arts conversation on deviantART runs across all race, religion, social classes, age, gender and education levels. Participants in this grand conversation often include the elites in their chosen medium as well as artists just creating their first sketches. The sheer amount of art categories on dA is breath-taking, the scope of beauty and imagination within each of those categories unparalleled.
But is there a danger to all information – and all art – being right at the fingertips? Will we lose sense of what is bad, good, better and best art? Will art become just one process or activity, rather than the occasional expression of the miraculous that it sometimes is? What will become of our powers of discernment in the flood of information? Rather than becoming self-satisfied about all the great art now just a click away, maybe we should start trying to decide what meaning art should have in our lives, as well as what art is meaningful for our future. Important things in how we are beginning to communicate as one worldwide community of peoples are happening just beneath the surface. Now may be the time when more, not less, thoughtfulness should be deployed in discerning which art means the most to you as an artist or art appreciator?
We seem to have come to a major societal “look before you leap” moment. Shall we just keep technologically cannonballing forward, full steam ahead to wherever our digital momentum takes us? Or is it time to pump the brakes and start a serious conversation about whether or not the fundamental shift in the technology of our society should usher in a new fundamental shift in the values of our society.
So the great question confronts us all, and with each day it becomes less hypothetical and more urgent: With the advent of universal access to all information all of the time how will we decide to personally sort or categorize content or make preferences or align to and thus create global values? Will we be able to take the new responsibility thrust into our hands and really do the right thing? Will we choose the global over the personal? Will we start making choices with an eye toward our digital information-based “footprints” - - the record of our choices - - and the unintentional fallout as they become votes and statistics affecting other choices for the unseen populace of the World Wide Web?
We now have just about all the information we’re ever going to need to make a real change in this world. The ability to discern what in that information is important and which takes priority is the new challenge of our age.
QuestionsFor the Reader
- Does the sheer amount of art becoming more and more available for your perusal give you a sense of excitement – or a feeling of being overwhelmed and anxious that you’ll never be able to take it all in?
- Do you think you personally have enough of a power of discernment to be able to separate important and meaningful from superfluous art?
- While being able to discern between what is “important” and what is “fun” art, is it your feeling that frivolous art meant simply for enjoyment is just as important as more substantial meaningful art?
- What if anything will be the personal impact on your life of the arrival of the Singularity in regard to your relationship with the arts?