End of Theory

The 21st century was all the rage a decade back, but already it’s still hard to forget that we were at the end of an era way back then. But it’s really the technologies of the last few years have brought us sprinting into the new century. The experimental arts started the move online. Business and popular culture were soon to follow. Now, we all Twitter and Facebook, and old media suddenly seem old.

The radio and the telephone and the movies that we know
Are just passing fancies, and in time may go.

Media seem to be emerging from an era of theory and of Theory. What comes after theory? New media, as yet, has no answer.

Brian Eno argues that the absence of data breeds theory, and we now exchange data in ways that were previously unimaginable. He raises this and other interesting points on our shift in cultural mindset,

We’re either at the start of a renaissance, or at the end of civilisation. Increasingly, from facts and figures and arithmetic, we’re building the intellectual tools to decide which it will be. While some shrill conservatives cling to the past, the rest of us are moving forward to something still in the process of being defined. That’s why, compared to them, we look a bit untogether. They know precisely what they don’t want, but we can’t yet clearly articulate what we do want. That’s the nature of the future—it’s a collective act of informed imagination. And the quality of information is improving.