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Polytopia
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Jarno M. Koponen - designer and humanist, more https://twitter.com/ilparone
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    Visible thoughts, networked actions, personal futures
    Project: Polytopia


    In Hanif Kureishi's book The Buddha of Suburbia (1990), the main character Karim expresses quite an intelligible thought considering the occasionally fragile relationship between traceable human thought and an explicit human action:

    "Sometimes you can't tell when you've said something or just had it in your head."

    This sentence made me think of the qualities and characteristics of social web and its influence on an individual's future horizon. In these environments people are encouraged to actively share their thoughts, ideas, intentions and actions. Through social web we make our internal and external life - at least into some extent - explicitly visible to ourselves as well to others. Active self-expression and constant participation makes us visible in social web. In social web, you are what you share and how you interact with others. A legitimate conclusion or a fatal reduction?

    Through digitized activity we generate and create (more or less) public archives of our personal life. We have had diaries, tape recorders, digital (video) cameras and personal notebooks before but in the era of social web, everything happens publicly in real time. The visibility of our personal multilinear existence is not tied to any given time, device, media or location.

    Our lives are archived in unprecedented ways - both when it comes to extent, form, content or accuracy. And because of that you can go back to your Facebook profile, blog or Twitter stream and see what you have said, thought, done or merely intended to do yesterday, last Monday or a month ago. And thus, referring to Kureishi's book, you can feasibly tell whether you have "said" it or not. No vagueness or ambiguity involved, as you have a digital record of your past activities.

    Furthermore, in social web also the reactions of one's social sphere are preserved for later scrutiny. Thus an individual can easily find out what a friend, colleague or an occasional Tweeter is thinking (or what they might think) about the color of her shirt, the quality of her previous blog post or the gig that she attended last week.

    Through real-time connectedness - or hyperconnectivity - even our personal thoughts and actions become networked actions. In the process, an individual’s digitized existence is exposed to her own interpretation - as well as to others’ interpretations - in multiple environments simultaneously. Our (almost) real-time knowledge and awareness about others and their perception of ourselves affects the way we interact and exist in the world. This knowledge affects the way an individual will observe and interpret herself. In essence, this will particularly affect the way she perceives her personal future horizon. Consequently, new practices and forms of self-reflection will emerge though the emerging digital interfaces to our existence - to ourselves.

    Because of our digital existence, we are able to know what we said and thought at a given time with a certain accuracy. And we also know what others thought and said about our thoughts or activities. And this "knowing" affects the way we will behave now and in the future. In digital sphere, thoughts and expressions become networked actions, and they will significantly shape our personal futures. And thus, the analysis of visible thoughts and networked actions, might be the key to better understand ourselves and our futures.

    Thu, Apr 22, 2010  Permanent link

    Sent to project: Polytopia
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