Monday, December 22, 2008

The Paradigm Shift of Today's Age

Several reasons over the past few months have led me to constantly go back now and then, to the popular concept called "Paradigm Shift" first coined by the renowned social scientist Thomas Kuhn in his famous work of the 1960s: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Ever since it has emerged into a very popular idea in the scientific, technological and marketing community, apart from the humanities and the social sciences.

Paradigm shift - meaning a major change in the scientific process that governs a concept over several years, resulting in emergence of newer processes, techniques, methods and completely revolutionary ideas. And Kuhn bolsters this theory by using a quote from Max Plank:

"a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

However, if you want to use the term loosely, you can associate the term as and when to every other new idea or concept you encounter everyday. However to a researcher of today this term has a special meaning. And today I am going to write about my experience in an age of a major paradigm shift we are living through today.

A very concrete paradigm shift that has occurred in the past five to eight years in the decentralization of our society, societal relationships, social behaviors and social actions through the advent and popularization of the Web - redefining our very mode of communication, interaction and sharing information among us as well as between us and the (intelligent) machines / computers. The scale, profundity and periphery of this paradigm shift is way much more far-reaching I believe than any other shifts which had occurred in the early 20th century, e.g. Quantum mechanics, Darwin's theory of Natural Selection or the Turing machine. I believe it is so because this scientific revolution (or technological revolution if you say so) has an impact which is changing the very way we evolved into civilized humans - the notion of flocking into communities and forming societies. I and you can associate ourselves to this paradigm shift in a much inherently comprehensible manner than probably how our great grand parents or the grand parents did a hundred years back with E=mc^2!

As a matter of fact, think about the amount of time you spend on the blogosphere, Facebook, or Orkut. Or the times you get onto LinkedIn to find a good reference for a job. Or the times you look upto Friendster to find a date. Or the times the teenagers get onto MySpace to popularize their own new rock band. Or the times when the average Joe becomes the star with his videos on YouTube. Or the times you feel placated inside yourself looking at the 1073th comment on your Flickr photo. Or the times you love catching on to the world with Twitter. Or the times the election polls are dictated through the stories of Obama and McCain 'digged' on the Digg. The essence of the Web and its increasingly social nature has overcast our very little things of life!

We are living in an age of a major paradigm shift. A shift which is defininig our society. A shift which is illuding us with the notion of a 'shrinking world'. A shift which is thinning the membrane between the real and the virtual society...

And I am very fortunate to have got an opportunity to contribute in some little means to this paradigm shift - a shift with the potential to make many of Asimov's fictions come true to the upcoming generations! Cheers to science, to innovation and to the guards of it!

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