Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Burst of Collective Individualism

We live in an era where we are seeing collectivism as well individualism propogate and become stronger and stronger. Collective individualism is a Zen like paradox. Nonetheless, very true when we look at any sphere of life or world, from a micro or a macro perspective.

By collectivism I mean bring into the open, for more people to share, participate in, contribute to a common cause; or sometimes not so common a cause. Individualism, on the other hand, means a greater expression of an individual's character, profile, potential.

If we take the web and some of the most commonly used applications or utilities in the web which include Wikipedia and Google, I find that without the collective thought process or contribution they will not hold any meaning or possibility. The simple truth here is the willingness to share ones abilities and knowledge to a common purpose - enhancement of knowledge. At the same time what does the web or even these utilities encourage. Expression of the individual self. By having access to vast expanse of knowledge in terms of breadth and depth one is able to go deeper into his/her pursuit of chosen sphere of knowledge, and therefore express his or her self in a more concrete manner. One is able delve deeper into his her interest, multiply the expression further.

Without the individual contribution, collectivism would not be possible. Without the collective knowledge or spirit, individualism may not flourish. They are linked to each other. They propogate each other. They strengthen each other.

What has made collective individualism possible and strong. Technology.

It is not about information technology alone. It is technology in every area. Some of which come to my mind include - supply chain management, entertainment elctronics, bio-technology etc. Take the example of the impact of supply chain management. What is the objecitve of the advancement in SCM - making it possible for the individual preferences to be brought closer to the individual. This will be possible only if we are able to aggregate bits of individual needs into economically viable units, and then be able to disperse them economically closest to the individual.

Technology has enabled and made this possible. Individual is able to exercise a greater choice when he or she goes to nearest super market. Choices in entertainment electronics has made it possible to economically create diversity of entertainment; and also bringing it closest to the individual and that too through various media. Earlier there was one channel in black white shown in the evening for a fixed number of hours. Contrast this to access to entertainment today.

Undelying this collective indivudalism is the ever prevailing nature of human being. Which is to expand his self - externally and also internally.

Primordial needs are getting expressed in many by taking diverse forms and names. Strengthening of the individual expression. Strengthening of the colelctive expression too.