There’s a famous line from Virginia Woolf, the one that declares: ‘On or about December, 1910, human character changed.’ Those who have studied the text often suggest it refers to the onset of what we know as Modernism, and the drawing to a close of the Edwardian era. Woolf claimed that the nature of human relationships changed around that time, and with the benefit of a hundred years’ perspective, it seems that there is little with which to argue. Political, social and sexual relationships had moved on. The way also opened up for different modes of creative expression – in writing, fine art and architecture.
Is an equivalent shift taking place on or about this December? This year, the year of Wiki-leaks, seems to suggest that the internet is coming of age politically. As no information is now sacred and everything shared, what effect will this have on our lives? I think the debate will continue to polarise opinions between those for whom freedom of information is always justified, and those who want to maintain privacy of information. In this debate, technology wins hands down. Unless the internet is actively suppressed, the flow of information will continue to pour forth. This is the reality of the ‘information age’.
Perhaps we can say in few years’ time: “On or about December, 2010, the meaning of ‘information’ changed.”