From the EditorIntroduction to the First Issue
December 1, 2012
I am not sure if I agree with Plato that, “The beginning is the most important part of the work;” however, I will say that I love beginnings. The ideas for creating this Journal began when I started to hear from many different people (and to read in books) that something new was happening in our world, we seemed to be changing the very definitions of the archetypal meanings that had been around since, well, our beginning.
What does it mean to be a man? A woman? A child? A human being? What does it mean to be a family? What is marriage? What is work? How do we create and define identity? What is education? What is art? What decides ownership? What is a business? What is a State? What constitutes war? These (and many others) are the kinds of basic questions currently in play that I find fascinating to explore and hard to answer definitively. They may turn out to be unanswerable at this point in history when we are (to steal a metaphor) in the “fog of change.”
I doubt that people at the beginning of any era recognized that an era was beginning. That first great artistic step that some call the beginning of the Age of Humanism but most of us call The Renaissance (The Re-beginning) was seen as exciting, maybe even as new, but it was not named “The Renaissance” until 1858 (Michelet, 1858) even though this period (most probably) began in Florence in the 14th Century (Burke, 1998). It took thousands of years for people to see there had been a sudden (in an historical sense) change in the way people viewed what it meant to be human. Francis Schaeffer (Schaeffer, 1976) decided that the redefinition of what it meant to be human happened in a particular painting on a particular day when Masaccio (1401-1428) painted Adam and Eve with their feet firmly on the ground. He says that it is at this moment when we began to see ourselves as valuable in our own right, on our own without a particular need for God’s good judgment of our behavior. I will let others argue these points. My point is that something new has begun and this Journal is the result of my desire to try to understand what that something is.
The term, “Social Era,” may very well have been coined by Robert E. del Sol (a Co-Founder of SynaptIQ+) early this past year (2012) but the phrase has taken off and now there are many books and articles on the subject (for example, Merchant, 2012) and I myself am writing a book by that title (The Social Era). A month ago, if you typed “social era” into Google, SynaptIQ+ would be at the top of Google’s search. (Read more on how to get to the top of Google search in David Amerland’s article in this first issue of The Journal, What the First Page of Google Means for Your Business.) Today (November 27, 2012) if you type in the exact same search, (“social era”), SynaptIQ+ is on Page 9 of Google results. One of the most difficult parts of our new era is that things are changing faster than we can keep up with them, discussed as hyperchange by many, but feels a whole lot more like chaos to me!
Despite the hurry-up chaotic intensity that seems to permeate every aspect of our modern lives, there is also the need to slow down. Slowing down to hurry up is the subject of my essay in this issue, Enchantment vs. Ecstasy: The Good Life in The Social Era. I hope you enjoy it. I highly recommend a good glass of wine to accompany a leisured reading.
Obviously, we did not begin our Social Era times out of nowhere, many had been noticing changes in how we viewed the world for many years. Colin Lucas-Mudd’s essay, The End Game: Alien Reality in a Virtual World is the result of such musings, loosely based on a series of books written in 1994 by Orson Scott Card (Card, 1994). The reviewers told me that they were deeply shaken by Colin’s conclusions: you will have to find out what you think of his ideas for yourself!
Artists, as I noted above, are often the harbingers of social change and they may have been giving us clues about where we are headed. Dr. Michiel Korthals originally wrote about the sculptor Pépé Grégoire’s influence on culture in 2005 and rewrote his essay to bring it up-to-date for this issue: What sculptures do with humans: A philosophical essay on the sculptures of Pépé Grégoire.
Dr. Tathiana Flores Acuna is a good friend of mine. We met when we were close neighbors living in the center of The Hague across from Parliament, she working as the Trust Fund Liaison Officer at the International Criminal Court; I, accompanying my husband on his four-year assignment to do research for NATO. We have stayed in close touch even though my husband and I have moved back to the States and she is currently working as United Nations consultant in the field of International Humanitarian Law at the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines. Her view of how the Social Era affects human rights generally is important to realize and her insights will, I hope, generate energy to keep the Internet open to all people everywhere. Her contribution is entitled, The relevance of social media in activism and its impact in the protection of Human Rights: The world in action (also available in her native Spanish in this issue).
One of my most exciting “finds” while organizing this Journal is the writer, Laston Kirkland. You, too, will, I think, be mesmerized by his fully realized imagination of what the future might hold in his two short fiction pieces, Human and A Little Pot. I am certain this is not going to be the last of Laston’s contributions. His reviewers, both widely read in science fiction and literature in general, were amazed they had never heard of him before. I think it is highly probable that we will all someday be able to say we met Laston here first!
Dr. Deborah Scaperoth, a professor of English at The University of Tennessee, is also a good friend whom I have known for over ten years. Her poetry always touches my heart whether she is aiming for laughter or tears.
Last, but assuredly not least, Drs. Eva Mennes is not just a friend from my years in The Netherlands, but she is also a force of nature! She has dedicated her life to the promotion of artists and has more energy than anyone I have ever met. She makes everything she touches just a little more beautiful. It is a great honor that she has taken on the job of Aesthetics Editor and Artistic Sponsor for The Journal for Social Era Knowledge.
And so? With thanks to all who helped to put this first issue together, especially my virtual assistant, Janie Fox; for suggestions from all my colleagues at The McDermott MultiMedia Group, and my partners at SynaptIQ+, back to what always seems to be a beginning.
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ReferencesBurke, P. (1998). The european renaissance: centers and peripheries. Lavoisier Publishers.
Card, O. S. (1994). Ender’s Game. Virtual: Tor Science Fiction. Publisher’s
address retrieved from
Merchant, N. (2012). 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era. Boston: The Harvard Business Review
Michelet, J. (1858). Historical View of the French Revolution. London: H.G. Bohn.
Schaeffer, F. (1974 (2005)). How Should We Then Live? Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books.