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Polytopia

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Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. (Albert Camus)
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    As We May Think
    Project: Polytopia
    A call for a new relationship between thinking man and the sum of our knowledge


    "Presumably man's spirit should be elevated if he can better review his shady past and analyze more completely and objectively his present problems. He has built a civilization so complex that he needs to mechanize his records more fully if he is to push his experiment to its logical conclusion and not merely become bogged down part way there by overtaxing his limited memory. His excursions may be more enjoyable if he can reacquire the privilege of forgetting the manifold things he does not need to have immediately at hand, with some assurance that he can find them again if they prove important.

    The applications of science have built man a well-supplied house, and are teaching him to live healthily therein. They have enabled him to throw masses of people against one another with cruel weapons. They may yet allow him truly to encompass the great record and to grow in the wisdom of race experience. He may perish in conflict before he learns to wield that record for his true good. Yet, in the application of science to the needs and desires of man, it would seem to be a singularly unfortunate stage at which to terminate the process, or to lose hope as to the outcome."

    As We May Think
    July 1945 Atlantic Monthly
    by Vannevar Bush



    The following is a fascinating and quite illuminating talk by: David M. Levy (A professor at the UW Information School since 2000-2001, he has been investigating how to restore contemplative balance to a world marked by information overload, fragmented attention, extreme busyness, and the acceleration of everyday life. )

    ABSTRACT

    Vannevar Bush's 1945 article, "As We May Think," has been much celebrated as a central inspiration for the development of hypertext and the World Wide Web. Less attention, however, has been paid to Bush's motivation for imagining a new generation of information technologies; it was his hope that more powerful tools, by automating the routine aspects of information processing, would leave researchers and other professionals more time for creative thought. But now, more than sixty years later, it seems clear that the opposite has happened, that the use of the new technologies has contributed to an accelerated mode of working and living that leaves us less to think, not more. In this talk I will explore how this state of affairs has come about and what we can do about it.




    “..information in cyberspace,
    quite literally has "an architecture..”


    (Benedikt, M. (1993). Cyberspace: First Steps. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (p. 123)


    There is no doubt in my mind that Vannevar Bush as the pioneer visionary of the memex, the hypertext and the WWW, gave the first alert call to the fact that the information we are mirroring in our everyday net activity is reaching a crescendo of commotion that need be frameworked into a larger context, for it to become a true enhancement of our minds.
    Such a context will need allow the full individuation of the person via its coordinated space, so as to provide ample opportunity for creative thought to come forth and shine.

    I believe that the term Polytopia, refers to just such a space, for the architecture of a polytopia (or more accurately, its infotecture) allows the Polytopian, a virtual infospace in which and by which he or she redefines and re-describes his own narrative.

    The polytopia, as a transcultural event or process of diverse states of mind, being open sourced and collaborative in nature may be envisioned as the infospace where the mutual recognition and enrichment of individuals is the fashion by which the strength of a collective flows undisturbed. To take back the collective intelligence as the source of inspiration that manages to provide a value to the particular insight of the free thinking individual and allowing its distribution and re-distribution for the benefit of all interested parties is the function of a co-emergent interest, the very core of a polytopia.

    A Polytopia might very well be the umbrella meta-concept, that the infoverse flow points to. A polytopia designates a meta-agreement of reality creation.

    Francisco Varela said it perfectly:

    "If everybody would agree that their current reality is A reality, and that what we essentially share is our capacity for constructing a reality, then perhaps we could all agree on a meta-agreement for computing a reality that would mean survival and dignity for everyone on the planet, rather than each group being sold on a particular way of doing things."

    (-Francisco Varela, quoted on the Global Vision Website -)

    Finally, it is my view at this point in time that the emergence of a polytopia is the answer to the original Vannevar Bush call for a new relationship between thinking man and the sum of our knowledge.

    My momentary definition is thus:

    Polytopia: An open ended transcultural event re-describing the relationship between thinking man and the sum of its knowledge; a meta-concurrence to a meta-universe.






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