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    Of Onions and Infocologies- Thriving in the age of hyperconnectivity
    Project: Polytopia
    The idea is to remain in a state of constant departure while always arriving. Saves on introductions and goodbyes. The ride does not require an explanation, just occupants.

    Boat Man, Waking Life


    Fluid Intelligence is Sexy

    In a recent conversation with a very good friend, a person which until recently was not hyperconnected, he said:” what I have found so tantalizing since I started connecting and being exposed to all this (apparently infinite) flow of information is that my old convictions are being destabilized one by one. It’s as if I am being taken on a ride, a particular program that aims to transform me into something else. I am at present totally uncertain as to the old views I once held, moreover, I find that I like it and I want more of it. It’s a breath of fresh air blowing with very high intensity into my mind, propelling me into directions I never thought of.”

    I think that what my friend reflected upon is a sensation carried by many and is very difficult to articulate, for even though the scope and amount of information available to us is disturbing many cherished beliefs and long held assumptions, at base this sensation is pleasurable, hence we want more of it.

    There’s a lot of talk recently about the disruptive effect of modern technologies on our mind states, on our conceptualizations, on our minds and brains, on our very nature indeed. More than any disruption the Internet is held as the main culprit in making us modernly stupid and indifferent.

    Witness what the Times Online has to say about this:

    “Every day, just to keep up to date, that grey lump between your ears has to shovel ever bigger piles of infotainment — tottering jumbles of global-warming updates, web gossip, refugee crises, e-mails, fashion alerts, Twitters and advertisements. Now research suggests that we may have reached an historic point in human evolution, where the digital world we have created has begun to outpace our neurons’ processing abilities.”


    (Warning: brain overload-Scientists fear that a digital flood of 24-hour rolling news and infotainment is putting our primitive grey matter under such stress that we can no longer think wisely or empathize with others)

    It goes without saying that I do not agree with the main theme of this article namely that:

    “The faster the tech, the slower the speed of thought . . . the more accelerated the culture, the slower the rate of social change . . . the quicker the digital composition, the slower the political reflection: accelerating digital effects are neutralized by decelerating special human effects.”

    (From the same article quoting Arthur and Marilouise Kroker in their 1997 book Digital Delirium) .

    Au contraire, it is my view that we are entering, and actually are already in, a deterritorialized age of transformation, an age unlike any other in that the speed and overload of information is transforming us, and yes destabilizing us, disrupting us in such a fashion as to allow a new kind of mind to emerge, the hyperconnected mind.
    The problem, as I see it, is that most if not all of this new research and studies take the base benchmark to be the monolithicNeolithic mind as their foundational approach.
    Of course it is true that hyperconnectivity overwhelms us, disturbs us and disrupts us, but I see this as a good thing, a very high good indeed, and it is good in more ways than one. It is good primarily because it is high time we relinquish the idea that we are one (as individuals) and have the same “Telos” as a collective. It is good because we have evolved to be a fluid intelligence, an intelligence for which disruption is not a bug but a feature. The modern hyperconnected mind is thus a reflection of our innate mind fluidity. Disrupting our age-old Neolithic traditional fictions is nothing less than a total conceptual revolution and the hyperstream of infodata is the main conduit by which this conceptual revolution happens.

    It so happens that Hyperconnectivity leads to fluid intelligence.

    “Fluid intelligence is the ability to find meaning in confusion and solve new problems. It is the ability to draw inferences and understand the relationships of various concepts, independent of acquired knowledge”
    (wiki)

    By allowing the disruptive power of the hyperconnected reality to enter our mind flows, we are actually allowing ourselves to be changed and challenged, modified and altered, we are factually evolving a new kind of mind, an intellect that can actually solve problems and “find meaning in confusion”.
    The hyperflow of information is destroying the idea that we are the same, that our brains are the same or that culture is the same as it was yesterday. What is happening is that we are shifting our inner virtuality, our mind conceptualizations, from a centric point of view to a multiplied encultured reality, a hyperconnected reality. A reality that is as fresh as it is exciting, as challenging as it is transformative; no longer are we to believe that we are alone, or that issues that are ‘far’ are of no interest to us. We are at present in a transitional period of rapid advancement, an era of supreme importance in the history of humanity, a phase in our concatenated evolution in which new forms of literacy are being invented, new methods of inter-subjective enhancement are at play and we evolve because of it.

    I believe that fluid intelligence is the hallmark of our present era, an intelligence that is fundamentally autopoietic and multidimensional; moreover I think that same intelligence is in the process of adaptation, adapting itself to accommodate information overload not as a negative so called ‘distraction’ but as an attention enhancer, an explorative measure of our intellects. The rising of fluid intelligence is the new pleasure we take in being hyperconnected fierce individuals, it correlates information and social life, data and sensation, and allows us the self-guided evolutionary strategy we collectively seek.



    “When the centaur of classical metaphysics is mated with the cheetah of actor-network theory, their offspring is not some hellish monstrosity, but a thoroughbred colt able to carry us for half a century and more."


    (Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics Graham Harman(pdf)


    Externalizing our Inner Virtuality

    Meaning, the great mystery studied by semantics is being revolutionized as we speak, it is being revolutionized by neuroscience and philosophy, but outside the academic circles, in our hyperconnected slipstream the very transient nature of meaning is being amplified.
    Meaning was never fixed and never an absolute notwithstanding the belief of some. However, our meaning creating apparatus, our minds, are hard at work at present creating meaning from the practically infinite availability of infodata. The meaning we are currently implying is born in a continuous and uninterrupted flow of sense impressions, a never-ending bombardment of relevancy and irrelevancy.
    As some would have it this vastness of availability (called distraction) countermands our capacity for depth, for attention and for empathy.

    “Our society right now is filled with lovely distractions — we have so much portable escapism and mediated fantasy — but that’s just one issue. The other is interruption — multitasking, the fragmentation of thought and time. We’re living in highly interrupted ways. Studies show that information workers now switch tasks an average of every three minutes throughout the day. Of course that’s what we have to do to live in this complicated world.”


    Maggie Jackson at Wired - Digital Overload Is Frying Our Brains

    or

    “Seeking. You can't stop doing it. Sometimes it feels as if the basic drives for food, sex, and sleep have been overridden by a new need for endless nuggets of electronic information.”


    Seeking- How the brain hard-wires us to love Google, Twitter, and texting. And why that's dangerous (Slate).

    Notwithstanding the latest plethora of articles, studies and research on the topic of attention and multitasking (see the list at bottom) implying a deterioration of attention, literacy and wisdom, I remain convinced that the apparent fragmentation we are witnessing (including the lowering of performance in certain tests and test subjects) is part of a larger narrative. The larger picture we need to look at without fear is the evolution of our civilization and our minds, a narrative of our times in which we are actually changing the very modes of comprehension and meaning extraction and creation.
    For though it is probably true for some that hyperconnectivity and multitasking are lowering their capability of concentration and in-depth analysis it is also highly probable that for others (myself included) the proliferation of tasks and interruptions are a boon and actually increase our capability of attentiveness and focus. Moreover, it is also probable that our brains are being rewired so as to accentuate the advantage of multiple and simultaneous realities interplaying in our minds.
    It is obvious that the actual shift that is demanded of us so as to join gracefully the InfoTech revolution and the infoflow in particular is a mind shift, a perceptual change of paradigm.
    The perceptual shift we need perform is one of descriptive virtualization, or a re-description of our reflexive nature; by consciously extending the reach of our mind state we may be able to hasten the plasticity of our virtual contextualization.

    “Therefore our question is simply, given an environment in which events happen faster, objects move more quickly, peripheral processing is placed at a premium, and the number of items that need to be kept track of far exceeds the circumstances experienced in normal life, is it possible to extend the normal processing power of the human nervous system?”


    The Cognitive Neuroscience of Video Games
    C. Shawn Green and Daphne Bavelier (pdf)



    I am not a neuroscientist but a writer, and I haven’t taken part in the Stanford experiment and thus have no clue as to how I would perform on the kind of tests they have carried out.

    What I do know however is that my mind has changed noticeably in the last few years, due in large part to my Internet multitasking.
    In the last few days I had the opportunity to see a 3D fractal image, read about life extension new therapies, explored the writings of W.S.Burroughs, learned that placebos are getting more effective and also listened to the amazing presentation of Bruce Sterling about augmented reality, I understood how we try to keep our beliefs in spite of evidence to the contrary. I also listened to my favorite group nowadays (Archive) and wrote a few mails, communicated via twitter and friendfeed (liking some, disliking others opening some links for later read). I have in front of me more than fifty tabs opened in four different browsers, I listen to music, I am reading a few pdf’s and simultaneously writing these words, I am practically swimming in an ocean of information and I love it.

    Few years ago I wouldn’t have been able to do that, and though I am an avid reader I could not possibly have read at the same time so many books, simultaneously also writing and having meaningful, productive and occasionally creative conversations.
    I have become more intelligent, clearer, more focused, faster and more appreciative of others. In fact I am more than pleased with my multitasking, multithreaded polylogue on practically every level of my existence.
    But more than that I carry the (very subjective) feeling that I have developed a new filtering system concerning relevancy and irrelevancy, I am now able to discard or admit at a glance, if something is worthy of note to me or not, if it pertains to my (very extensive) list of interests or not.
    Furthermore, I have a more than reasonable and highly efficient (for my own purposes of course) capability to access the reliability and trustworthiness of a source of information.

    To some of us multitaskers the new world of hyperconnectivity is a boon. The benefit multitaskers find in hyperconnectivity is nothing less than astonishing. We are developing a radical shift in our literacy, a mind-changing paradigm of ingesting, digesting and critically appraising information, in ways that until not long ago were simply not available.

    We need a good narrative for that, so here is one



    A standalone object, no matter how well designed, has limited potential for new weirdness. A connected object, one that is a node in a network that interacts in some way with other nodes, can give birth to a hundred unique relationships that it never could do while unconnected. Out of this tangle of possible links come myriad new niches for innovations and interactions.


    Kevin Kelly


    The Hyperconnected narrative

    We need start by re-appraising the context of our worldviews, re-assessing our fundamental prejudices and conceptual virtualization. Narratives is what we are made of, our states of mind are narratives, stories within stories, and notwithstanding the very real and factual neural correlates of these states, the fact remains that we virtually live in and within, and as, the story that we tell.
    The story that we are, and the narrative we are evolving.

    The story that we told (and were told), until not long ago implied limitations and scarcity, separation and hierarchy, given realities and normalizing factors. In that old story we were at best, an atomized unit of individuality struggling to rise out of the dreary and monotonic daily life into a semblance of presumed well-being, a myth no longer in force and though memetically still vital, showing signs of decay and deterioration.

    The monolithic thought procedure of old has lost credibility precisely because via the advent of the net (this week celebrating its 40th anniversary-link) we became hyperconnected beings, a phenomenon that puts literally everything in a new context.

    The new context is the paradigmatic shift in perception both of self and of others, and more importantly yet a shift in perception of interactive subjectivity or intersubjectivity. The paradigmatic shift is fully correlated to the practically infinite flow of information, the infoflow.
    Moreover, the very act of being hyperconnected in an infoflow is delineating a new contour to the narrative of our times; the story of our current minds is the story of our newly arising correlative meaning creation, the enmeshing of all in all and to all, all the time.
    Is it disruptive? Of course!
    But why?

    It is disruptive because it is erasing the boundaries of old, the now obsolete confines between the real and the virtual, between the authentic and that which supposedly is not. The paradigmatic shift is disruptive because it heralds a new story, the story of superabundance, and the superabundance starts with the wealth of information at our immediate accessibility.

    This changes us.

    The paradigmatic shift we are experiencing is changing the way we are wired. Our virtuality, our mind, once thought to be a unitary whole, now accepted as a self-organizing dynamic system is adapting to the hyperconnected reality. We are in fact projecting our own virtual conceptualizations unto the world just as the world is projecting itself into our minds. This enmeshing of realities, admittedly in its infancy, is the subject matter of our current human theme.
    Enmeshing of realities can be said to be the process of smoothening the contextual contour of our self-description. It enlarges us, making our minds more flexible, more critical and more relevant.
    In the process we are becoming both more robust as well as more able to deal with an increasingly large number of impressions, capable of dealing with huge amounts of data, incorporating it into our worldviews.

    In other words the narrative of our hyperconnected state of affairs is one of enmeshed realities. And enmeshed realities, intertwining states of mind and virtualities are heralding a new kind of freedom, the freedom embedded in hyperconnectivity. This is not a freedom to do (though eventually it will translate into such) but a freedom to change our minds.
    In an enmeshed reality, the dynamics of intersubjectivity allows us to flow uninterrupted into a combined interactive intelligence, a hyper-intelligence that combines autonomous critical thinking within a larger framework of co-adaptive consensual adhocracies.
    The more hyperconnected we are the more externalized our inner representations; the more these inner representations are enmeshed the more flexible and pliable our contextual worldview; more hyperconnectivity equal more augmentation and amplification to our self-reflexivity, more capacity and by implication more intelligence.

    The hyperconnected mind redefines the ethos of its own flow space, in the process developing a fresh form of empathy. This form of intelligent empathy denies the rigidity of the Neolithic mind system, and translates itself into an integrated flow space of coherence.
    The dynamism of the hyperconnected flow space, seen through the lens of collectiveness embeds a variability of goals and manners of being extended in space and in time.
    It is this very variability of multiple realities enmeshed as a coherent whole that re-describes the theme of being a hyperconnected mind.

    Finally

    It is my view that the ever-increasing speed of the hyper-stream of information has given (and is continuously giving) rise to a new form of mindfulness. A variety of mindfulness unlike any we knew, a fresh state of mind that finds its wisdom and cognitive efficiency in direct insights that are predominantly invisible but nevertheless inform our actions and influence our understandings.
    Moreover, I see the modern formless hypermind evolving in front of our eyes as the precursor of a posthuman mind that is not only better at ‘everything’ but eventually will adapt old and outdated philosophical and cognitive concepts into fresh modes of being.
    These new modes of being will in turn revolutionize the very meaning of being human, the nature of our emotional lives and the manner of our intentionality.
    Our conscious awareness will eventually become a form of mentation that is as far from the Neolithic mindset as warp speed is from walking.

    We are evolving- this is good.



    You are waiting for the revolution? Let it be! My own began a long time ago! When you are ready (god, what an endless wait!) I won’t mind going with you for a while. But when you stop, I shall continue on my way toward the great and sublime conquest of the nothing!


    Towards the creative nothing
    Renzo Novatore


    notes:

    Of onions: because our minds are multilayered and multidimensional
    Of infocologies (information ecologies): because the information in our hyperconnected reality is ambient and all pervasive, creating infospheres streaming into each other.


    images in text via Anthony Mattox, new media art design

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    Comments:


    Infinitas     Mon, Aug 31, 2009  Permanent link
    One of your best yet, Wildcat! Many of your ideas resonate with mine, but most specifically those about how such a huge influx of information and "distractions" are changing the very way we evolve. Now I am no neuroscientist either (perhaps a self-proclaimed one someday) but I do consider myself a scientist. I am in my last year of college studying Environmental Science and Geography, but most of what I learn is from the countless hours a week I spend in front of my computer or behind a book.

    There was an article I had read several months ago about how genetics alone does not control evolution, but that the environment, to a certain extent, is rewiring our minds and our behavior at a rate significantly faster than long-term evolution. Evolutionary changes are happening on a single lifetime scale and are being passed on to our offspring. Our minds are changing daily and its an unbelievable experience to know why and how it is happening!

    I said this before and I'll say it again, I am no neuroscientist, but what I have come to understand about the neurons in our brain is that these connections between individual neurons are breaking apart and reforming fairly often. So when we focus on something consistently for long periods of time, like weeks or months, we really start to rewire our brain to better process that specific kind of information. Why is it that the longer we do something or the more we practice it, the better we become at it? We are optimizing our brains and the connections between neurons.

    Now what really has caught my attention is that studies have shown that marijuana increases neurogenesis. Could marijuana be used to help hasten the creation of neuro-connections, while still increasing overall connectivity? Think about the possibilities!

    Also,
    "And enmeshed realities, intertwining states of mind and virtualities are heralding a new kind of freedom, the freedom embedded in hyperconnectivity. This is not a freedom to do (though eventually it will translate into such) but a freedom to change our minds."

    Care to elaborate more on that, please?
    Ashalynd     Tue, Sep 1, 2009  Permanent link
    Thanks, interesting article, reading it leaves the impression of being submerged into a cloud of hazy colors and whispering voices... nice feeling of touching the other's mind...

    I like the idea of hypermind. More and more people learn to think together, and sooner or later something that is greater than the sum of its parts will emerge. Sooner or later, nobody will be forgotten because everything what we thought and shared with the others will be kept somewhere, somehow, ready to be retrieved as soon as somebody other's mind resonates along the same lines.

    What happens now is a grand-scale qualitative change which happened thanks to the technology. All history of human development is also a history of developing more and more advanced tools to share information between the members of the human society, to overcome the restrictions of our nature that keeps everybody's mind protected within one's own head.

    I do not know if the technological way is the only way to do it, of course. There are some scarce hints that it might not be the case. Still there is a hope that technology can at least make our vision clear on that account also. Every magic, after all, is nothing more than the work of some laws which we don't yet understand. May be we do have some natural mechanisms to share information better (I would very much welcome this idea) but we don't hold the key to them. The technology of today has made many people free by allowing them to share their thoughts with those who want to hear them.

    I am looking forward to more changes, and personally, I am glad to be a part of a hyperconnected network, to share thoughts and to develop them together. We are very lucky to live in the period of such an interesting transition, aren't we?
    Amira     Tue, Sep 1, 2009  Permanent link
    Very good article! I was reading with a pleasure... We live in fascinating times...how everything is transforming, evolving... and how we can be a part of it...

    "Hyperconnected mind" reminds me of Ryszard Kapuscinski's words that today we can't comprehend the world by single mind, becouse our knowledge is sum of many informations, points of views etc.. and global reality we can know only by global, collective mind. "Maybe in Plato or Aristotle's times it was possible, but not now"...

    The fact is also that in this hyperconnected reality participating so few... compare to rest of 80-90% people on the planet who haven't access to any social media...or are not able or never will be to participate with it.. but... never know about the future...
    Wildcat     Wed, Sep 2, 2009  Permanent link
    Thank you Infinitas for an interesting comment that jumpstarts another aspect of the hyperconnected virtual transformation we are in the process of evolving into.

    "And enmeshed realities, intertwining states of mind and virtualities are heralding a new kind of freedom, the freedom embedded in hyperconnectivity. This is not a freedom to do (though eventually it will translate into such) but a freedom to change our minds."
    Care to elaborate more on that, please?


    I think that we should make a clear distinction between different levels of beingness and by consequence freedoms.

    In principle I see all freedoms as relational systemic states, correlating freedom to restrictions, as a result when we speak of freedom we actually speak about changes in the relation between freedoms and restrictions. Freedoms to change our minds as a results of enmeshed realities can thus be understood as freedoms resulting from the fact that in an enmeshed reality the restrictions of ‘being me’ are being smoothened to include others (or parts of others, as in intertwining virtualities), hence a new self-description emerges, the “hyperconnected being”, in this sense it can be said that the very fact of intense hyperconnectivity allows us the freedom to change. Change in this respect is a change in self-description, an enlargement of the personal, this enlargement is what I referred to as the freedom embedded in hyperconnectivity.
    At present (before amplification via Mind Machine interfaces) our brain neuro-circuits are adapting in such a fashion so as to allow us the freedom to self describe as a hyperconnected being. If and when the technological enhancements will be available as upgrades to our cognitive functions we will be able to act upon these self descriptions as they will become embedded virtualities. At such a point in time (not far one should hope), a hyperconnected being will be able to “do” as well. Doing in this respect will include as an example the ability to feel at a distance via others, we will become an embedded multidimensionality of perception, which is a different and amplified extension of our inner virtuality.
    Fast T     Wed, Sep 2, 2009  Permanent link
    Very interesting article and definitely an important say in regards to our present phase, in terms of developing the sensibilities petaining to past present and future, and mostly the transition between these states. So firstly, thanks for this post Wildcat.

    I find much interest also in the discussion about freedoms, as presented and responded by Infinitas and Wildcat respectively.
    Wildcat:
    hence a new self-description emerges, the “hyperconnected being”, in this sense it can be said that the very fact of intense hyperconnectivity allows us the freedom to change.

    Indeed, and that to me is a freedom potent with freedoms. For in the 'license' to requisite self-description from past traditions and partake actively in molding the infocology, we exercise a freedom of setting a direction.
    In this light i prefer not to emphasize a distinction between 'being' and 'doing', since I regard the change in question no lesser an ability to act (if not greater) than any other doing.

    Infinitas     Wed, Sep 2, 2009  Permanent link
    Wildcat:
    hence a new self-description emerges, the “hyperconnected being”, in this sense it can be said that the very fact of intense hyperconnectivity allows us the freedom to change.


    The amount of freedom we have is dependent on the available technology and resources, no? Currently, freedom stretches only so far because we have limits to what we can physically or mentally do. A hyperconnected being would have more freedom because the limits are no longer the same. And in turn, once the whole world is full of hyperconnected beings, there will be another new age where freedom will be expand even further, beyond our current wildest imaginations.

    Though this new freedom does allow us to make more choices, I don't think it comes down to freedom allowing us to change but rather the choice to do so. (I think this is the same thing Fast T said about the "ability to act.") Because whether or not hyperconnectivity is the newest step in human evolution , we can choose our destinies. We can choose to live or die.

    Ashalynd     Thu, Sep 3, 2009  Permanent link
    Being hyperconnected: more feedback, more abilities, but more responsibilities as well, for everything you do or say becomes available to everybody else.

    Another problem, mentioned by Amira, is the fact that there is already a divide between those who can get connected and those who can't. It's not only about physical possibility of gettiing into internet. The hyperconnectivity itself is a problem for quite a few: people get online, get engaged into social networks, are overwhelmed with the changes it brings (many feel it as a lack of privacy) and retreat back.

    Charles Stross in Accelerando (and, for example, Strugatsky in Time Wanderers - aeons ago) mentioned the situation when there is a divide between humanity: a smaller advanced part versus a larger unadvanced part. The only final solution was supposed to be a physical split, when a smaller part, like a new bee swarm, eventually flies away. Are we ready to contemplate this? Humans have also ascended from apes, aren't they?..

    I hope this is not a taboo topic, for it does not bring the optimistic thoughts. Still, it feels real to me. A chance of new-Luddite movement or some compatible reaction is not what we would like to get. How to prevent that? The only solution I see is to spread the light as much as possible and try to involve as much as possible people. Is it the right way? What if somebody in the future will be able to get hold of hyperconnected network of humanity the way Orwell predicted? Would a hyperconnected web be able to reject such abuse?

    Sorry for a bunch of pessimism, but I would be interested to know the other's thoughts on the subject.
    Wildcat     Thu, Sep 3, 2009  Permanent link
    Thank you for some very good points Ashalynd.

    ” Charles Stross in Accelerando (and, for example, Strugatsky in Time Wanderers - aeons ago) mentioned the situation when there is a divide between humanity: a smaller advanced part versus a larger unadvanced part. The only final solution was supposed to be a physical split, when a smaller part, like a new bee swarm, eventually flies away. Are we ready to contemplate this? Humans have also ascended from apes, aren't they?..”


    Well, let us contemplate this for a second. Irrespective to the fact that the digital divide must (and will eventually) be overcome there may very well come a time in which humanity will separatesplit or will diverge into different sub-species, branching into many optional forms of life. I can very easily envisage such alternative futures; the reasons may range from genetically andor technologically enhancedtransformed humans that will desire to fly away and explore the universe on their own as well as reasons that are basically ideological. But whatever the reasons it is a perfectly legitimate (and to my mind quite probable) exploration of the phase space of all possible worlds given the availability of techno-enhancement. However, having said that, I think that the point of divergence should be based on choice of lifestyle and not on scarcity of resources. As I see it, the future presages a superabundance situation (materialtechnologicalinformation and so on) , at that point in time the only reason why one would not be hyperconnected or indeed enhanced will be because of a lifestyle choice.
    What we have to take care of today is to get to this state of affairs, if and when we will, there will not be a non-advanced being by necessity but a non-enhancednon-hyperconnected being by choice. The separation at that point may be inevitable but the ethical question will have disappeared. (En passant it is interesting to note how the Amish survive in the modern society are we not in some sense already divided?)
    Ashalynd     Thu, Sep 3, 2009  Permanent link
    Good point about Amish, though they might be not that different from the rest as non-hyperconnected human will be different from the hyperconnected one, from the point of information processing... it feels as a qualitative leap when you become connected, after all...

    The interesting question for me is, how many people will choose to stay hyperconnected? I can imagine many agencies who might try to influence this: the church, the government, lesser bodies like business corporations, everybody who may directly or indirectly depend on the fact that most of the people delegate the choices to them. A hyperconnected human being, who is potentially more aware of the world around him/her, might be even seen as a threat by some of these agencies, for a variety of reasons. Right now the process is just at the beginning and we are free to do as we please. My humble experience, though, teaches me that there is no guarantee that once we got some fresh air, we will not be deprived from it later: the same structures which are now seen as progressive, might be used to restrict our freedom.

    From the other side, freedom is taken, not given. Nothing is required to become free, only the conscious decision to do so. As the history goes, humankind keeps creating structures which start from emphasiziing this idea (although later it often becomes outshadowed). This alone is a hint that we all need to be free and to feel free, for everybody to blossom fully... and for this, people need to know their choices... and then, the knowledge is an ever-expanding bubble and the unknown is its surface...

    I really hope the impulse which appeared now will be strong enough. After all, never before could all people, from every country and language, become united by the same idea. The more people join, the more eyes are there to behold the world in all its beauty and complexity, the more minds to contemplate it. This ideally should outweight all little worries about being able to comfortably sit within one's own pool of pet problems and worries... (have you read another Stross book called Singularity Sky, which tries to describe the influence of technological outbreak on a very backwards society? it's amazing... but he, too, envisions that after a while, most people will choose to "become normal" again...)

    A big concern would be the situation when a large part of people would appear to be genetically or otherwise physically uncapable to get fully involved (that was the worry Strugatsky had), because if so, then the conflict might be difficult to avoid in the current type of society. I hope things will not turn this way.

    Otherwise we'd just get another version of Brave New World, and that's not, I believe, what everybody here has in mind.
    meganmay     Fri, Sep 4, 2009  Permanent link
    It's funny i opened at least 4 tabs while reading your article, just watched a bunch of KPop videos, did a quick cross reference with some American and Swedish pop, learned about a new video artist that my friend blogged on beautiful decay, opened up a Final Cut project and realized that this post should maybe be synapsed with what i just posted, and then started to write this comment in a separate text document. I heard recently that internet addiction has made it's way in the DSM, together with a list of "conditions" that, when you come right now to it, just represent different models of consciousness. That's a pretty spontaneous statement, but further analysis will have to wait. I throughly enjoy this post largely because it uses your own experience as evidence of a radical shift in thinking that you can demonstrate, albeit subjectively. I'm a great fan of scientists who take themselves as guinea pigs and in some ways model my artistic pursuits after this ambition, to consider oneself as a mere demonstration of myriad phenomena. Just tracking the flow of information that you receive at any given moment seems to be a revealing exercise. This post also suggests a guide to me, a model for thinking about how to swim in information without getting lost, a map almost. There's something really significant to that, something I've noticed with some of Spaceweaver's "new model" posts as well, I think providing people with signposts, with a loose framework for unbounded exploration can effectively counteract those infospace behaviors that critics latch onto, probably just because they themselves are hopelessly lost and solid ground seems like the only recognizable geography. This is exciting, I'll be back with more later....after I finish reading the comments. yikes.
    Fast T     Sat, Sep 5, 2009  Permanent link
    I would like to shed light on another aspect of the issue expanded by Wildcat and Ashalynd above. it is not directly relating to the digital 'divide', but i find that it has an interesting connectedness to it. In a talk by Dan Pink on TED he talks about The surprising science of motivation, and the main point is - there is a huge disparity between what science knows and what business does. My point here is that more investment into letting current knowledge become accessible more easily is going to change what is presently the state of affairs.
    I think we are on the track of such investment, and it follows that we are already launching a big change that will interfere with the current state of afairs in a short time. The 'powers that are' are no longer the same omni-entities that used to be. To me that says that freedom is gaining within the direction of hyperconnectedness.
    That said, our contribution has never been farthest than redundant . We are in our hyperconnected phase the movers and shakers. We should apply our best responsability into the frey.
    Wildcat     Tue, Sep 8, 2009  Permanent link
    A very good and interesting article concerning the newly emerging strength of social networks to actually change our identity:

    "...Consider this ability to romance the wisdom of the crowds so that this understanding becomes easily accessible with the possibility of being further influenced. Now consider this effect upon individual identity. The commons will become common. We will not be able to think of ourselves without considering others. We are talking about a feminization of society."


    go read it: Social Media and the Feminization of Society

    thanks goes to Andrew Lehman for writing it and calling my attention to it
    aeonbeat     Sun, Oct 18, 2009  Permanent link
    while reading the article and the following comments i get this relaxing vibe and after feeling like my head's opening, i catch myself writing this comment, inspired by the coherence of all these motions. spacecollective is a society that boosts my creativity and intelligence, thus sets me free
    HelloAlexCL     Mon, Oct 19, 2009  Permanent link
    The fear of these new, rapidly evolving mediums and the consequent resistance to them is just as fascinating as the mediums themselves. Automatically associated with these new mediums is a sense of loss - of focus, depth, individual intelligence. But they also constitute a recuperation of pre-neolithic consciousness by means of deterritorialization:

    The telephone: speech without walls.
    The phonograph: music hall without walls.
    The photograph: museum without walls.
    The electric light: space without walls.
    The movie, radio, and TV: classroom without walls.
    Man the food-gatherer reappears incongruously as information-gatherer. In this role, electronic man is no less a nomad than his Paleolithic ancestors.
    -Marshall McLuhan


    The internet, in its multimediatic complexity, comes closer than anything to pure information without walls. The wall-less future that we are moving toward, however, cannot stand diametrically opposed to a neolithic past, as it is even more foreign to the neolithic than this. Information-gatherer is our current existence. As we approach a truly wall-less future, however, the dualism of knower-known dissipates, and this is where things become unintelligible. The vocabulary employed at the end of the post, including "invisible insight" and "formlessness," point to the unstructured experience that we are approaching. Absolute, perfect connectivity is unstructured experience, that is, experience free of conceptual construction, of mediation.
    Wildcat     Sat, Nov 7, 2009  Permanent link
    A new and highly relevant paper just came out over at EDGE:

    We are apparently now in a situation where modern technology is changing the way people behave, people talk, people react, people think, and people remember. And you encounter this not only in a theoretical way, but when you meet people, when suddenly people start forgetting things, when suddenly people depend on their gadgets, and other stuff, to remember certain things. This is the beginning, its just an experience. But if you think about it and you think about your own behavior, you suddenly realize that something fundamental is going on. There is one comment on Edge which I love, which is in Daniel Dennett's response to the 2007 annual question, in which he said that we have a population explosion of ideas, but not enough brains to cover them.

    THE AGE OF THE INFORMAVORE (*) [10.27.09]
    A Talk With Frank Schirrmacher
    rene     Sat, Nov 7, 2009  Permanent link
    Thank you Wildcat for keeping this great thread alive. I particularly enjoyed the article because I just came back from Germany for a talk about the future and was struck by the deficit of futuristic thinking and intuition. But one thing the article says actually proved to be true:

    Europeans, at this very moment, love wild thinkers.

    As far as I'm concerned, it's high time they invite you over for a lecture tour.
    Wildcat     Tue, Dec 15, 2009  Permanent link
    A very relevant and correlated article came out on Scientific American (and refers to the Stanford experiment I mentioned in the original article above) :

    Portrait of a Multitasking Mind
    What happens when you try to do three things at once?


    Are you a media multitasker? We know you're reading a blog, but what else are you doing right now? Take a quick inventory: Are you also listening to music? Monitoring the progress of a sports game on TV? Emailing your co-worker? Texting your friend? On hold with tech support? If your inventory has revealed a multitasking lifestyle, you are not alone. Media multitasking is increasingly common, to the extent that some have dubbed today’s teens "Generation M."

    People often think of the ability to multitask as a positive attribute, to the degree that they will proudly tout their ability to multitask. Likewise it’s not uncommon to see job advertisements that place “ability to multitask” at the top of their list of required abilities. Technologies such as smartphones cater to this idea that we can (and should) maximize our efficiency by getting things done in parallel with each other. Why aren’t you paying your bills and checking traffic while you’re driving and talking on the phone with your mother? However, new research by EyalOphir, Clifford Nass, and Anthony D. Wagner at Stanford University suggests that people who multitask suffer from a problem: weaker self-control ability.

    go read all of it at SciAm
    Wildcat     Wed, Nov 30, 2011  Permanent link
    reviving this old (well in our hyperconnected hyper flow more than 2yrs is very old) thread for a pertinent article + podcast just out :

    "So attention is key. I side with those neuroscientists who argue the brain doesn't know how to "monotask." Multitasking is a way of life, and disruption is what saves us from our own attention blindness. Right now, we are often blind to how much how world has changed and how essential it is to change our institutions to support that change. "

    see The Myth of Monotasking : 8:00 AM Wednesday November 23, 2011
    by: Cathy Davidson, Duke University professor and author of Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn.
     
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