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What happened to nature?
Olena {The Wizard} Shmahalo (28)
New York
Immortal since Aug 5, 2009
Uplinks: 0, Generation 3

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    Whole Bodies or Floating Heads?
    In "As We May Think", published in 1945, V. Bush describes a future world colored by technologies which aid man in compounding and extracting data for the growth of the species as an organism... the article is prolific, but at times laughably simplistic, as if Bush should not have been afraid to take his ideas in a more sci-fi direction rather than the practical course he adhered to. The futuristic machines he suggests are clunky and manual, unlike those which have evolved since that writing. But that's hardly any fault of the author's; how could he have predicted the digital age? It's more than enough that his suggestions of possible utility came true. [Edit on Friday, Dec. 3, 2010: I'm now thinking that our clunky mis-interpretations of the future come from several problems: insufficient Scientific Literacy and thus incompetence in the area of "anticipatory design science" or "forecasting" (as suggested by R. Buckminster Fuller in Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth) as well as our tendency to adhere to pre-administered forms instead of focusing on content — to describe briefly and generally, I mean that designers are taught to fill books instead of to explore and then create appropriate mediums to carry their thoughts and possible discoveries.]

    Despite the facilitation that digital media has brought about since then, I often get the feeling that something is lacking. The replacement of physical objects by digital data and images and the electronic backdrop through which they move allows for maximization of storage, speed, and compression unlike any that tactile, "human-sized", methods could accommodate... but for a human whose intellect is still inextricable from the body and who has evolved for thousands of years in a physical environment, the sudden focus on the mind-space alone, almost sans physical interaction entirely (save for manual inputs by way of keyboard or mouse) feels strange and not entirely comfortable.

    That is the way of the floating head... but part of what's wonderful about our floating heads is that they have capable limbs attached; a whole figure which can accomplish more than a terminal alone. I would like my whole body to move through cyberspace; to float and gather information... to handle data as if it were physical again. The problem is that which digital has addressed well enough: through compression we save time, space, energy. To be knowmad means to be able to move freely with and through information. I just don't believe it's done yet.

    When I was a child, under 10, I used to imagine "what if" I had a small cube, smaller even than a Rubix, which could fit anything I wanted inside, like Mary Poppins' bag. I could take all of my belongings anywhere in this one piece — be truly mobile. This is an image of the knowmad and the bit, the only difference being that my compression cube was meant for physical objects.

    I still wish for that cube, although it might not be a possibility — an infantile knowledge of physics tells me that one problem of such an object might be its mass and stability, not to mention a myriad of engineering difficulties.

    Still, if I'm to be brave in imagining... what if it were possible? Say, if we discover that the holographic model of the universe is correct, and we learn how to use it. What then? If our physicality is a holographic illusion, then everything could be stored as on a holographic plate, so that the whole would be retained even in a piece. Imagine being able to take all of your objects with you, at any time.
    It would change everything: concepts of housing, geography, ownership, travel, permanence. These would all become much more relative. Settling down would be possible, but unnecessary. The symbiosis between creature and machine would become more complete, not seeing the body as an obstacle, like a strange pet that needs to be fed every once in a while the mind works, but as a gift able to manipulate our surroundings rather than replace them with the simpler digital image...

    (originally written on Wed, Jul 14, 2010)


    Fri, Dec 3, 2010  Permanent link

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