The Nutella Effect

“Artworks have become merchandise, products that are meant to be purchased and consumed, just like Nutella. A sad realistic and nihilistic view of art today.

There is no hope.

Let’s destroy ourselves.”

 

From reviewing the responses of others who experienced the art exhibition at the Gluxman Gallery in UCC I felt slightly more hopeful for the future of our world. At least others can see the absolute delusion in creating a wall of Nutella and calling it ‘art’.

 

My first response when seeing the work of Rentmeister was nothing. This feeling of ‘nothingness’ slowly transformed into a deep questioning of what is the point?

 

I quickly realized the wall of Nutella was evoking a response, but truly for all the wrong reasons. Being an art lover, I appreciate skill, intelligence, beauty, creativity, passion and so forth, all of which this wall of product, that some refer to as ‘The Rebirth of Modernism’, is not!

 

 

What irritated me even more was how this piece of food spread on cardboard was generating the most attention, excitement even. There were so many other truly remarkable, intelligent and skilled pieces of artwork, yet most conversations and reflections centered around the ‘joke’ piece. I couldn’t be fully present to any discussion because like Marina Abramovics words in ‘The Onion’ “I am tired of .. standing around with a glass of plain water, pretending that I am interested in conversation.”

 

For me this happening in Gluxman Gallery is a smaller bubble reflecting our larger society. There are so many beautiful things happening in the world, yet like the effect the Nutella had in the Gluxman, the majority of conversations focus on the ‘joke’ news. I don’t even need to mention to whom or what I am referring to here.

 

To highlight some of the ‘real’ art, my favorite piece was “The Domestic Godless guide to the Philosophical Intestine” This piece explores the brain-gut interface and in my opinion really fit with and complimented the overall theme – Gut Instinct.

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Crowdsourced Spatial Project

Open Mapping Platforms such as OpenStreetMaps, MapSwipe and Missing Maps are community driven initiatives, enabling all types of individuals, from students to GIS professionals, and humanitarians to curate, co-create and share knowledge from remote locations around the world. The crowd sourced data contributed offers and maintains accurate co-ordinates and information in regards to buildings, roads, hospitals, railway stations and so on. The role of mapping is becoming increasing popular for humanitarian purposes with humanitarians being asked to contribute to mapping disaster-affected areas in poverty stricken, war torn and unstable countries. Projects such as Humanitarian OpenStreetMap (Hotosm.org) Missing Maps and Map Swipe all fall under the humanitarian aspect of OpenStreetMaps.

According to OpenStreetMaps spatial information allows humanitarian aid agencies to organize and co-ordinate their humanitarian response more effectively. An apparent plus for OpenStreetMaps is the open data policy, which states that you (anyone) are “free to use it for any purpose as long as you credit OpenStreetMap and its contributors.”

The role of crowdsourcing, a term coined by Howe in 2006, has been defined as a method of outsourcing tasks to a large group of individuals. ‘Digital Volunteerism’ has emerged from this, with applications mentioned using this cost effective method to gather rapid  information and intelligence, data that will assist humanitarian purposes.

 

 

The Process

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MapSwipe

 

MapSwipe is part of the missing maps project, which aims to map the places in the world ‘where the most vulnerable people live before a crisis happens.’ I found MapSwipe really accessible, easy to use and quite enjoyable. I found myself opening and using the application at various times, when waiting in a queue or for a bus, for example. The app itself is intuitively designed. It has a gaming quality to it. It requires focus and concentration, requiring the user to be present and alert as there is a sense of responsibility when mapping the disaster areas.

I chose to contribute to the Botswanna project, which aims to help eradicate malaria. For this project I was asked to map buildings, houses or huts.The instructions were simple and easy to follow. Tap once for yes (indicating there is a building, or whichever feature was asked for), twice for maybe and three times for bad imagery. I also mapped buildings in Madagascar to help NGOS and local communities ‘improve their resilience and living conditions.’

 

Disaster Mapping OpenStreetMaps

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For this I registered with OpenStreetMaps. I chose to contribute to http://tasks.hotosm.org/project/2488#task/364 ‘Maiduguri, Borno state, Nigeria’. This project has started a nutritional program in the southern part of Maiduguri where people are more vulnerable to malnutrition and transmittable diseases. The reasoning behind the project is that ‘As MSF is new to the area, a more detailed map would allow surveillance teams to advance faster in order to facilitate food distribution.’

The instructions asked users to map buildings and residential roads.

 

          

To begin I chose a square. The square had been previously worked on. I marked the buildings that had not yet been identified and that were clear to recognize. I chose the ‘area’ feature, lined each side of the building and pressed the ‘s’ shortcut to square the drawing. I named the buildings as ‘building’ and uploaded and saved my work each time. It didn’t take long to mark the clearly identifiable buildings however there was a lot of grey areas in the map that weren’t easy to recognize or identify. I wasn’t sure whether they were old ruins, broken walls or actual buildings. I zoomed in on a number of occasions to take a further look, however the image didn’t seem accurate enough. I therefore did not map anything I wasn’t sure about.

HOTOSM doesn’t seem to have the same ‘maybe’ feature as Mapswipe, which may be useful in these incidents.

After contributing to this project I moved onto another project to gauge the difference between the projects. I chose project #2547 Zambia Malaria Elimination 7. This project states that it supports multiple efforts to eliminate malaria and other interventions. I contributed by checking the validation of other peoples work.

 

 

 

I then moved onto #2572 – Osun State Road Network Mapping for Vaccine Delivery Routing, Nigeria and helped digitise the road network. For this I pressed on the line feature and followed the roads within the assigned areas, mapped by a purple square. I tagged and saved the work and wrote what I completed. These maps are stated to be used for a fight against polio, ‘to track the vaccination teams, delivery of vaccines, Internally displaced people coordination, distance matrix and plan new vaccination campaigns.’

 

OpenStreetMaps

When using OpenStreetMaps to map my area, Castlemartyr, East Cork, I was surprised to see that all the key places were already mapped. I moved to a nearby location Garryvoe and mapped the local shop, hotel and some buildings.

 

Implications and Observations

When observing the challenges and opportunities of spatial crowdsourcing, as discussed by Lei Chen, from the department of computer science and engineering in Hong Kong, a key technique amongst others is ‘the intelligent data quality control mechanism.

In OSM I would consider this to be the quality of mapping provided by users. I felt as an amateur I was given equal opportunity to contribute data as some of my highly experienced peers. Perhaps this is not the most effective ‘quality control mechanism’ of crowd sourced data as on many occasions my contribution was greatly flawed. I understand that part of the crowd sourced approach is that others can correct and verify work, however I too was given the opportunity to verify work. Reflecting on this I am not entirely sure if my verifications were correct. I believe my skill set to be far below that which is necessary for a trusted and credible data contribution.  Perhaps a trial and train period before contributing to real data would be beneficial. Other approaches that are being considered for quality control mechanisms are ‘self policing’. According to Shanley et al this approach would rely on a small group of trusted individuals and groups to vet the data before it is allowed into the data set. In terms of OHM I would imagine that these gatekeepers would be the only ones with access to verify work, which In my opinion would be a huge advantage to ensuring trusted and credible data.

I found Map Swipe much easier to use and much more intuitive than OSM. I was also reassured with the knowledge that many people would be reviewing my work. It seemed given the level of skill required and extra attention to detail that this application would produce much more accurate data overall.

I can see the numerous benefits of having access to maps in disaster areas for emergency responses. I want to believe in the vision “The Missing Maps tasks facilitate pre-emptive mapping of priority countries to better facilitate disaster response, medical activities and resource allocation when crises occur.” However an aspect of me feels that this vision is too over simplistic in its delivery.

The main graphic on the missing maps website seems to be designed for a very passive audience. Step three can be compared to the ending of a child’s fairytale “and they all lived happily ever after.”

 

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Step I. Remote volunteers trace satellite imagery into OpenStreetMap

Step.2 Community volunteers add local detail such as neighbourhoods, street names, and evacuation centres

Step 3.  Step 3. Humanitarian organizations use mapped information to plan risk reduction and disaster response activities that save lives.

 

In an ideal world I would believe that what I contributed will be used in the most positive, beneficial and useful way however given that we live at a time where war spending is increasing, with some suggesting that we are on the brink of a third world war, I would have to consider the implications of misuse of this information. Especially given the open data policy of OpenStreetsMaps. Which means that this intelligence is free to be used by anyone, which must also mean under any circumstance.

 

I also deeply question the ethical implication of OHM for third world countries. Are there competing interests in these countries for this data? Are there vulnerable groups who could be negatively effected by the misuse of this data? As has been suggested in Poverty Inc are the third world once again being used in a Western plot for dominance and control, all under the guise of ‘humanitarism’?

Perhaps I am being far too skeptical however after watching documentaries such as POVERTY, INC I feel there is a huge need to question all underling motives of organizations who claim to be doing good.

 

 

 

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Another factor that I believe is appropriate to highlight is that it is apparently illegal in some countries to map military locations when using OpenStreetMaps. I was not aware of this until I asked the question in Google. Upon asking a disclaimer appeared which seems quite serious, advising the users of OpenStreetMaps to exercise caution. There is extensive discussion centering around this topic with some doubts as to the extent of these rules, however exercising caution is a must it seems. For me this is quite worrying, as this warning is not made clear on the main gateways to OpenStreetMaps and its sister projects. I personally do not know what a military area looks like and would not know if I happened to be mapping one. Also it is interesting to note how military locations can reserve the right to remain anonymous, yet all other groups of people seem to have no say in the matter. This highlights the question of our right to privacy and the big brother epidemic we happen to be living in.

I noticed through my own experience of these applications that I was viewing the experience more as a game, something to do, enjoyable in fact. Yet I knew very little about the unstable countries I was contributing to mapping. This game quality was more prevalent with the map swipe application. I didn’t deeply consider the implication of my actions, until I was asked to do so.

Of course I agree and can see the many benefits to this for humanitarian and educational purposes however I feel we are not being offered a balanced view of what this information could be used for and who could use this ‘free’ open data. I also believe users of OSM are greatly impeding on the privacy of others with little understanding of the security risks or ethical implication of their actions. I feel if users were to be given a much more accurate description of the possible advantages and disadvantages of their contribution then they could make a more informed decision and could perhaps assist in ways to combat the misuse of their contribution.

 

What I learnt

Although I have some reservations, outlined above, about the information or lack of information shared with contributors and privacy issues, I enjoyed the collaborative process. I found map swipe particularly easy to use, and I learnt a lot in terms of how the simplicity of use and game quality can really entice participation. For my own project, which is an immersive story that invites participation, it has really inspired me to think more simply when designing the user experience to entice users to return. It has also raised many questions in regards to the ‘open policy’ I will implement with my digital artifact, as it is similar to OpenStreetsMaps in that it is an open, crowd soured educational project. Going forward I will deeply explore the security policy and healthy boundaries, as well as ways to communicate policies effectively with users for my digital application. I will also deeply consider the ethical implications of my digital artifact in terms of crowd sourced information open data policy.

 

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Tribes

Tribes – Collaborative Essay

“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” – Seth Godin

Evolutionary biology (Dunbar, 2009) indicates that our need to connect, co-operate and display empathy has been part of tribal pattern formation and Homo sapiens success. This paper questions the role of tribes as part of our evolutionary narrative as we move into a digitally connected society; a society where humans have never been so connected and able to communicate amongst those with shared interests (Howell, 2012). Access to an abundance of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) platforms give rise to the formation of countless mini tribes, “We belong to many little tribes and not one tribe” (Cova et al., 2007), with 50% of modern youth interacting and creating within social media networks (Reingold, 2008, pg97).

The ethical responsibility of tribal leaders is discussed in light of Godin’s call for anyone to be a leader (Godin, 2009), with evidence suggesting that leaders “play an important role in developing and sustaining ethical cultures and ethical conduct.” (Grojean et al., 2004 cited (Avey et al, 2010). Identity and the question of how we identify is also taken into consideration. Information and Communication Technology platforms shoulder the weight of our modern self-actualisation, highlighting a struggle of personal identity. Evidence suggests that this moving sense of identity is further distancing the individual from their actions, and creating a less self-aware group of tribal members who perceive their morality as external to them (Smiley, 2005).

Following this, the paper investigates whether modern tribal culture is disconnecting humans from each other. It is suggested that the disillusionment with physical tribes is seeing a retreat into virtual ones, (Bennett, 2008, pg2) where empathy is attempted through emoticons and likes. The issue of consumer ‘tribes’ and the unethical hijacking of the idea of tribes by the business world is addressed with evidence suggesting that branding has morphed into the idea of ‘brand communities’ as a subset of ‘consumer tribes’ (Cova et al., 2007).

 

Anthropologists have classified the traditional tribe (Becher and Trowler, 2001)

as a people with shared aspects; genealogy, environment, culture, values and inclusiveness. (Godin, 2009) states that humans have been tribal for millions of years. Historically humans have formed tribal living patterns and bonds regardless of culture and beliefs, indeed, evolutionary biology (Dunbar, 2009) indicates that our need to connect, co-operate and display empathy has been part of tribal pattern formation and Homo sapiens success. Shared interests were communicated in a sense of duty, rituals, shared consciousness of kind and traditions, and a sense of both community and individual obligation.

Formica, (2008) highlights that unlike other species, humans have evolved to have a self-awareness of their shared ability and their mental representation of tasks, common goals and intentions. This allows a shared cooperation and empathy within a group; the foundation of our ancestral tribe.  Awareness of shared mental representation allowed the raising of children, hunting and gathering, empathy within the tribe and collectively attacking outsiders if threatened. This same shared interest also drove tribal war for the most basic resources; goods, territory and women (Zyga, 2008). These tribes had a social structure and an internal hierarchy, whether illusory or practical. Moreover, tribes did not need their connection to be purely biological, but could be linked by communication through survival, rituals and geography. It made evolutionary sense to avoid sharing your limited food supplies with outsiders and to instead apply bias or prejudice. As wider and more diverse tribes developed, it became apparent that alignment to a tribe was linked to ethical and moral perspectives. Humans still operate in large co-operative tribes locally, nationally or in E-tribes. Survival, ritual, geography, ethics and morality still impact tribal make-up.

There are many types of tribal connections in contemporary culture; #hashtags, facebook, clubs, personal issues, activism, sport etc. Some social scientist (Kabiri, 2016) questions the quality of  tribal connections in modern society; however (Howell, 2012) states that bonds, connections and empathy are notable today, that humans have never been so connected and able to communicate amongst those with shared interests. Individuals can now easily locate and connect with others with a shared interest through digital communication. According to (Kozinets, 2001), E-tribes or virtual communities of consumption can be characterised by the three core aspects of traditional community – shared consciousness of kind, rituals and traditions, and a sense of duty or obligation to the community as a whole and individuals within it (Kozinets, 2001).

The importance of hierarchy in tribal culture must necessarily be reflected in the need for the quality and morality of a leader. Tribes connected by a core group of giant banks and corporations, or elite tribes such as the Bildenberg Group dominate the entire global economic system but do not operate within a framework of traditional tribal morality. This sense of moral neutrality is becoming an issue for ethical leadership within the digital age. (Godin, 2009) urges anyone with a spare twenty four hours to become a leader, to start a movement as long as it meets people’s desire for connection. Lessig’s (Lessig, 2014) assertion of the internet being a neutral platform, which implies ethical emptiness, brings Godin’s call for leaders into question.

The internet does not hold a sense of responsibility towards the vulnerable, which is where Godin fails, as he does not advocate right and ethical use of this neutral space in his invitation for ‘anyone’ to become a leader, “connect a tribe of people who are desperately wanting to be connected….you don’t need permission from people to lead them, they are waiting” (Godin, 2009).

Although the area of ethical leadership is fragmented in scholarly research (Avey et al, 2010) the question of what actually constitutes ethical leadership is still widely debated. The research area has been growing steadily in the past decade, with this increase in growth believed to be due to the result of the scandals involving corporate and public sector leaders (Mahsud et al, 2011). Jim Jones and Charles Manson both created and led groups of like-minded individuals. Considering the distressing results of these cases, the importance of advocating “ethical” leadership becomes more apparent. It is understood in scholarly research that leaders “play an important role in developing and sustaining ethical cultures and ethical conduct” (Grojean et al., 2004 cited Avey et.al 2010.) This is important because “leadership which lacks ethical conduct can be dangerous, destructive and even toxic.”  (Shamas-ur-Rehman Toor George Ofori, 2009).  The leadership of Jim Jones and Charles Manson, leading to the mass suicide of 918 people during the Jonestown massacre, and the murders of nine people by the Manson family, are extreme but clear examples of ‘dangerous’ leadership lacking ethical guidance.

The importance of ethics for leaders to ensure effective governance has been emphasized by religious leaders, philosophers, and thinkers from ancient times (Shamas-ur-Rehman Toor George Ofori, 2009).  As we move into a digitally connected society where the role of leadership becomes even more accessible to ‘anybody’, the call for ethical leadership becomes even more important.

Moral framework in the digital era and its fulcrum, ethical leadership, are having devastating effects on our national and international interactions and policies. In the 2008 paper, ‘Bad News For Refugees’, it is argued that common misconceptions perpetuated by the media around refugees and migrant workers create a sense of “moral panic” (Majavu, 2014), and that “media coverage of such issues in the United Kingdom corresponds to public fears and anxieties which are themselves featured in and also generated by the popular press and other media” (Majavu, 2014). This media constructed creation and subsequent manipulation of a group of individuals connected by nationalist ideals may be driven by perpetuation of suspicious attitudes towards outsiders. A suspicion of outsiders alongside a yearning for community can be the connecting factor and the impetus for the formation of groups which engender specific, often far-right ideologies (Blee, 2007).

The combination of lack of community combined with false media constructs, could in turn be creating a feeling of “us” versus “them”, which serves only to further divide people on the “tribal” basis of race and religion, and could be pushing people towards more extreme political affiliations in the search for a tribe. Could this internal conflict be a contributing factor to the extremism our democracies are witnessing, as individuals scream for clarity in the sea of transnational identity? Is the ‘Brexit-Trump’ protest the climax of internal conflict that seeks its tribal elders?

The assertion that, “defining oneself as a member of a social category is the precondition for group behaviour”, (Reicher, 1996) suggests that the self-identification with a “tribe” could itself be the stimulus for collective action. A group is considered capable of collective action, (Smiley, 2005) which then reduces individual awareness of personal responsibility for the actions of the group as a whole. This represents a shift in identity, (Reicher, 1996) which presents a negative perception of tribal culture, in the sense that “it associates both causal responsibility and blameworthiness with groups and locates the source of moral responsibility in the collective actions taken by these groups understood as collectives.” (Smiley, 2005). This raises the question, ‘how do we identify?’ What creates tribal identification and how can we self actualise within globalization as it redefines our traditional tribes?

Tribes centre around the collective identity of groups filled with individuals. Identity in the naturalist sense of the word gravitates towards ‘common origin’, shared characteristics and a unifying goal, ideal or purpose (Hall,1996, pg1-13). The process of identity actualisation is more fluid than definition infers. It requires an evaluation of history or tradition and the origins of this desire. If a solidarity of shared traditions and cultures creates our identity, then that implies we invent our history and it can be reinterpreted at any given point. It becomes a ‘process’ that evaluates ‘who we are’ and ‘where we have come from’ but poses the equally valid question, what are we becoming and what traditions will we collectively create? (Hall, 1996, pg1-13). This is interesting in terms of corporations and governments, a corporation could be considered a tribe, it is a group of connected people with a leader (Godin, 2009). In terms of responsibility for actions taken by that tribe, it almost appears that the larger the tribe, the less individual responsibility can be placed on individuals within it (Smiley, 2005).

Introduce ICT platforms and this concept of external influences becomes a global, postcolonial, tribe of forced cultural migration that fuses traditions and values. With 50% of modern youth interacting and creating within social media networks (Reingold, 2008, pg 97), it is a reasonable assumption that the extent of external influence on internal identification has evolved exponentially from the campfires of our ancestors. Facebook ‘selfism’ and Instagram life-pictorials shoulder the weight of our modern self-actualisation and highlight the struggle of personal identity. Collective identity has seen that a “shift from individual to group behaviour involves a shift from personal to social identity” (Reicher, 1996). This moving sense of identity is suggesting that the created connection is more important than the action or outcome itself, further distancing the individual from their actions and creating a less self-aware group of tribal members who perceive their morality as external to them; as if membership of the group negates immoral behaviour. Is modern tribal culture in fact disconnecting humans from each other? Are extremes birthing from the parents of an incoherent tribe and technologies that move faster than any stage of human evolution has encountered previously?

ICT platforms provide a vehicle for this collective identification and lend themselves to the propagation of social protest. Though its ‘influence’ on participation in social or political movements is contested, the reality that it reduces costs of participation, creates community and, in turn, a sense of communal identity is a reasonable assumption (Garrett, 2006, pg5). A facet of participation in modern protest is the nature of collaborative shared research. Knowledge comprehension, once the proviso of the scholar is now disseminated through blogs and tweets. The dilution of academic integrity may alarm traditionalists, but its mobilising effect on society is clear.

As global internet access has reached >40% (>3,500,000), a massive increase from the 1% who had access in 1995, (“Number of Internet Users (2016) – Internet Live Stats,” n.d.) it has created an unprecedented amount of people who can, at the touch of a button, find a like-minded group of others who share their interest and passion for almost anything that can be named (Google Now indexes some 620 million groups on Facebook). Obviously, most of these do not belong to the previously defined version of a tribe as a ‘group of people who share the same language, culture and history’ but the more contemporary one of digital tribes (Facebook allows users to belong to up to 6000 individual groups). This is just one social media platform among many, and one method of connection. “We belong to many little tribes and not one tribe” (Cova et al., 2007).

This shared connection can organically beget a movement (Burning Man), or deliberate activism (NoDAPL), that did have founders with a goal, and spread through word-of-mouth and social media to become ‘successful’. The younger generation, born into a world of Facebook and Twitter, have access to global political tribes and the idea that we as a global species share the notion of ‘commons’ as a collective responsibility (Barlow,2001, pg3) has become the preferred politics of today’s youth. This aversion to the democratic process and the image of modern politicians sees them engaging through SNS platforms in forms of civic responsibility or NGO work rather than the ‘dirty business’ of democratic politics.

The other side of this aversion to politics is the creation of online tribes of gaming, social media sites and online entertainment. The disillusionment with their physical tribes is seeing a retreat into virtual ones, (Bennett, 2008, pg2) where empathy is attempted through emoticons and likes. The need for a tribe to relate to is primal, but could the political apathy of our youth be a sign that the tribe of its elders has little to offer its technological progeny? If the next generation reject the culture and traditions that create the tribe, then identity’s path becomes unclear in the fog of uncertain evolution. The globalisation and communities of humanities web could see the decline of classical tribes. Like the introduction of mass production print, we are only glimpsing the impact of technology on our species.

This notion of tribes has been seized on by the business world, where branding has morphed into the idea of ‘brand communities’ as a subset of ‘consumer tribes’ (Cova et al., 2007). Godin, himself an entrepreneur and successful author actively champions companies fostering brand communities through non-traditional marketing campaigns and strong leadership. There is cynicism around these ‘astro-turf’ campaigns as they seem to hijack the feeling of belonging in the name of consumerism.

It can be hard to separate the idea of tribes and consumerism. Every time you make a choice of a product, a service or an experience, you demonstrate your affiliation to one group over another. Business leaders like Bill Gates or Elon Musk, are seen as part-visionary and part-entrepreneurial. Those who buy Apple or Tesla products have huge brand loyalty (90% and 85% respectively), (“Apple has brand loyalty that most companies can only dream of,” 2015, “Are Tesla Motors Inc Model S Owners The Most Loyal Bunch?,” n.d). Sites such as Kiva, Etsy and Airbnb have been founded by activists, makers and artists to bypass large corporations and sell directly to the consumer; all have legions of devotees.

Companies who combine activism and consumerism such as TOMS Shoes (‘one for one’ concept) have come under fire for exploiting poverty as a marketing tool, being unclear about their production standards and also for the huge profit they make, while tapping into people’s idea of community and sharing (“Toms Shoes,” 2016). Philosopher Slavoj Žižek cited Toms Shoes (and also Starbucks) as ‘an almost absurd example’ of postmodern ‘cultural capitalism’ which places the burden of ethical obligations on the consumer who feels like he must ‘buy redemption’ from the act of consumerism, thus delaying necessary systemic changes (The RSA, n.d.). By buying into the need to feel like we are doing something positive, and feeling loyalty to companies that espouse that belief (but which are unmistakably for-profit), we might be neglecting the opportunity to truly adopt the ideal of creating a new paradigm with like-minded people.

 

In conclusion, similar to the nature of evolution our understanding of the label “tribe” is evolving in the current digital era. Our collective consciousness is bombarded by media and tailored advertising that is aware of our preferences and desires. Targeted consumerism understands the human need for connection and is shaping our consciousness as we self-actualise identities in an era of unprecedented technological advances. In this age of emoticon empathy, could our primal evolutionary needs be under threat? Or are we seeing a natural process that currently defies conclusion? We seek leaders in the sea of digital opinions, subcultures and shared knowledge, and their ethics or lack thereof are magnified through the twitter lens. The consequences are showing a trend towards extremism in a bid perhaps for internal identity control. For if there are no boundaries or rules, in the wild west of the world-wide web, those whose voice is loudest will be heard, and our traditional need for hierarchal leadership could see us fall prey to the populism we are being fed. Regardless of the outcome, tribal needs, the epigenetic driving forces within us, still crave the process of identity that we need to understand ourselves and our worlds. This perceptive lens is very much filtered and coloured by the technological platforms that live in the smart-phone pockets of our daily lives.

 

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