Consumption and Production: Culture and Food Between Global and Local Management

Consumption and Production: Culture and Food Between Global and Local Management

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3770-0.ch005
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Today, though often we do not know, all of us are producers of information. The social web has changed the communication at every level, but participation is now so easy and so far from really advanced competences, that the technological awareness of people in latest years is possibly, overall, decreasing. Connection of media rarely match a correspondent connection of the human minds, let free from the trouble of choosing and less able to make decisions, and we probably should have to look less at the market and more at real people. Technology could give everything we need to be active actors on the stage of the world, but – this is true for culture as well as food - we are as at a crossroads where we can decide if to be active managers and producers of an important part of them, or buy everything, food and culture, from the multinational companies.
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Participation or Passivity?

Long, long ago, before social networks, first PCs were much less powerful than today but, when switching them on, people, if not engaged in a specific job, often get used to explore their possibilities, trying and learning software, looking for solutions and possibilities, playing somehow with the machine and occasionally discovering something new and exciting. PCs were devices which we enjoyed to use without need of a network or connections, and this was the great difference from television, as well as from the computers of the previous generation (mainframes), normally accessible by common people, out of the headquarters of companies and public administration or the processing and research centers, only through a network and video terminals.

Nowadays, when switching on a PC maybe a million time more powerful, if not obliged to do a specific job, people go on Facebook and, if for some reason the connection does not work well, they feel disappointed as the machine could not be used. PCs are approached by many as a sort of very selective, individualized, interactive television.

The big problem of the web is television: that is to say our habit as society, since too many years, to spend a great part of our time seating and watching broadcasted programs.

Television is a great invention that helps us to be informed, to relax, to enjoy the stories, the music, the sport we like. But it has a dark side: passivity.

The web, on the contrary, would be a place in which everyone can take part actively, but whole generations accustomed to television go on it and, as usual, simply watch. Or also, many of them write words in Facebook and Twitter and even upload pictures on Instagram, but hardly one could say that this is to use in an active way the power of the web.

Smartphones and tablets probably are so successful because better than PCs they match the old habits of TV addicted users. Jaron Lanier, a pioneer of virtual reality, about latest generation of electronics devices writes openly of passivity, pointing out that it is also a matter of freedom:

Unlike a personal computer, a tablet runs only programs and applications approved by a central commercial authority. You control the data you enter into a PC, while data entered into a tablet is often managed by someone else. . . . When you carry around a smartphone with a GPS and camera and constantly pipe data to a computer owned by a corporation paid by advertisers to manipulate you, you are less free. . . . Citizens in the information age have to learn to be more than just consumers; they have to learn to be a match for their own inventions. (Lanier, 2013)

Many say also that the times are changing because the young, by now, more than watching television go on the web. Yes, but what do they mainly do, in the end, on the web? They listen to music, play games and watch television!


All Producers Of Information, Not Only Bloggers And “Youtubers”

Every statement here is not to be taken as a piece of truth, as we are describing trends and examples and we could not say, as often many do, the young, the old, the web, the PCs, the mobile phones, the beef eaters, the Vegans, as if everybody agreed to a univocal meaning of these words. Even less in times when people usually listen very little to the others and all seem to go on with their own beliefs.

But we have to put our speech over something, so that we use words to approach and suggest a comprehension of reality, well knowing that real people and also real things hardly can be framed in abstract definitions.

Some definitions and words, though, are more closed to the real world than others.

So, when we say that all today are producers of information, this is very near to the truth.

Obviously, we are not all CNN or BBC, we do not have all the power and the influence of the men of the media as Rupert Murdoch or Silvio Berlusconi. But when we post a simple photograph on Facebook, Instagram or Flickr, we take our small part in the global system of information, all across the planet. It does matter if we do not consider our poor video on YouTube as a serious thing, if we think to address only a joke to a group of friends: putting on line words, opinions and every sort of documents, all of us are as true publishers. Good things we put visible on line raise the overall “cultural level” of the web, and bad things lower it, however small and humble they could be. But we have to consider the combined effect of millions, billions of them.

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