Fame

By: Raymund Fernandez November 29,2015 - 03:40 AM

Thumbs up for the thumb. Thumbs facilitated the growth of human civilization by giving humans the ability to grasp objects and use these as tools. Humans were always defined by the things they did with their hands. But it was tools which changed them in a  most profound way. And history can be read as the evolution of human tools over time.

Tools expanded and still expands the range of useful materials. The Stone Age was marked by humans using hard stone to shape softer stones so they could be used for useful things like arrow heads, adzes, etc. Adzes could be used to cut and shape wood. The need to make this ability to shape things more efficient was precursor to the discovery of metals and, in due course, steel, aluminium, plastics, and other materials.

Johannes Gutenberg is credited for bringing to Europe in the mid-1400s the printing press using moveable type. This would revolutionize the core human concept of moving information from one place to the next, one human to another. Only a little over half a millennia thereafter, it becomes almost unimaginable that we all came from here: Gutenberg’s printing press.

Politics and economics have a lot to do with it too. It was after the Second World War when  the foundations for the coming global information age was set. The war forced combatants to develop technologies related to: recording images and sound, wired and wireless communication, and even the basics of computing machines. All these would contribute to the development of mass communication as we know it; and then just a bit after that, the technologies required for an information-interconnected world.

The world seems to have grown smaller; but it has also grown so irreparably complex. And changing so quickly, it is hard for us to figure out how to deal with it, both in the personal as well as the collective sense. The ’60s brought with it the concept of the Popular Culture. Now we know there is a mass of information circulating inside the field of mass awareness, and it is not always obligated to factual reality. It operates as if it has a mind of its own. Information has become a field needing more information to understand. It seems we have come to an age when we have tools at our disposal that we do know enough of, tools that are still searching for their most practical applications.

In a sense, the world of information and information-related tools have become a universe of its own.

In its most fundamental, we know this universe is rooted inexorably to the capitalistic, entirely pragmatic, and sometimes heartless, established system. Inside this system, any item of information that a group of people ascribe to immediately acquires value: the bigger the group, the more useful the information by way of affecting human behavior, the more valuable. This value is, of course, related to fame and whatever goods and services may be traded for it.

On the other hand, we also know how fame can be rather short-lived unless one keeps working at it. Does it follow that famous people also have a more hectic life than less-famous people? “Rich and famous” is not always an easy lifestyle. One ought choose carefully whether to go for it or not.

But it seems equally clear that everyone who needs to survive in the world, such as it is now, must be famous to some extent, if not worldwide or universally, then at least inside a particular milieu, inside a particular “tribe”. This concept of milieu and “tribe” has become quite an exciting if new field of study. The whole concept of “fame” has gone through several leaps of changes over the years since pop-culture icon Andy Warhol said: “In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.”

Thus, while we might say to ourselves: “We do not want to be famous”; the fact is, we all have to be famous to some extent. We all do things with our hands. But these things we do may not suffice for survival. And so we exchange goods and services for other goods and services. The more people know what goods and services we offer, the more efficiently we can exchange these for the goods and services we need.

How to become famous, whether universally or inside a limited milieu or tribe, a limited sub-universe, in a way, is a field of knowledge worth thinking about and investigating. This field is most certainly technology related.

All these do not presume any human obligation to fame. We do not need to be famous like ISIS or Donald Trump. But if we are to survive, we have to be famous to some extent. What extent is entirely up to up if we only knew how.

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TAGS: Fame, Opinion, Second World War, Stone Age

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