Thomas Kuhn described a “paradigm shift” as “a change from one way of thinking to another... a revolution, a transformation, a sort of metamorphosis. It just does not happen, but rather it is driven by agents of change.” Kuhn was referring to scientific research specifically, but the concept can clearly be applied to discussion of social issues. And the agent of change is frequently technological innovation. The Gutenberg press, the technology that led to the industrial revolution, and the harnessing of electricity all created a social Paradigm Shift. The emergence of digital technology in the twentieth century has created profound paradigmatic change with unprecedented speed and has fundamentally changed the way people live — changed the way they interact with technology and changed the way they interact with each other. Those of us born roughly in the first three-quarters of the twentieth century, who came of age before these paradigmatic changes occurred, now behold a world utterly transformed.
Mike Cotler is an independent film producer and film and media historian. He was born and raised in Brooklyn, and is a 1969 graduate of the Brooklyn Ethical Culture Sunday School.
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