[GLOBAL EYE]The evolution of a new ageAs we are in a transition from the industrial age to the information age, plenty of changes are underway. Not all countries in the world are being swept by the waves of the digital and information revolution, but it is clear that the ideology of the industrial age and the world view that thrived during that age are gradually getting older.
A symbol of each country’s power in the industrial age was evident in the “made-in” culture. The power of “made-in-the-U.S.A.” during the Cold War period was a symbol to show that the global hegemony of the industrial age was the United States, along with the majestic appearance of American military power. Together with this “made-in” culture that symbolized the power of location ― where products were made ― the United States at that time became the victor of the 20th century, which was symbolized by the Cold War and industrialization by combining democracy and development ideology.
As such, some scholars of public administration call the 20th century the age of D.D. But now more than half of the world’s countries claim to be democratic nations. Even the communist country China has “democratic” in its formal name, “The Democratic People’s Republic of China.” In Iran, which is labeled as a radical Islamic nation, the change of leadership is also decided by ordinary, direct and secret voting. Concerning the issue of development as well, philosophical viewpoints have now gained more importance than technology.
As globalization progresses and countries like China and India, with low cost labor and large populations, are equipped with an industrial infrastructure, the “made-in” age that emphasized where products were made is changing to a “designed by” age, where it is who manages and governs technology and design that is important. A few scholars call this change a shift from the age of D.D. to that of G.G. In other words, the age of democracy and development is changing to that of globalization and governance.
In modern times, the information revolution has added to this change. The information revolution destroyed the characteristics of the industrial age in many areas. What attracts attention from the aspects of information and management is the end of the gigantic forces that monopolized the abilities to manipulate the public and to project information. This stands out in international politics in times of war and in times of elections in domestic politics. The cases of Kosovo and Serbia are paragons of revolutionary change. Incidents at that time were not just a matter of who was stronger in terms of economic and military power. From the perspectives of economic and military power and the grasp on the major media, Serbia was more powerful than other minority ethnic groups. But from the aspects of information projection and assurance of legitimacy, the Serbian government’s media suffered a paradox of plenty while Radio B-92 of Beograd, the capital of Yugoslavia, beat Serbia in the reliability war.
The United States, which has led the Iraq war, is also suffering from a “paradox of plenty” in terms of information projection, while undergoing a crisis of reliability. Although it won a victory in the major media with its amount of information, the country is being defeated in the reliability war that moves international solidarity and influential bloggers through small-scale costs on the Internet.
Therefore, in a society where the reliability of information, digital technology and design are emphasized, the significance of territorial origin ― where information or goods are produced ― decreases drastically. Instead, a new form of excellence with high ethics that the world can trust and follow is required. Observing the cyber attacks on Web sites by students applying for college entrance, I hope South Korea, which leads the infomation age although it fell behind in industrialization, will take the lead in raising a new generation with excellence in this age of globalization and governance.
* The writer is an editorial writer and traveling correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Seok-hwan