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    A Cyber Soaring Humanity
    Project: Polytopia
    or The rise of the Cyber Unified Civilization

    “The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them.”
    Mark Twain, Notebook, 1935

    When I started writing this essay I thought to summarize my views of hyperconnectivity as they coalesced in the past year, in relation to the emergence of the polytopia project, however as my writing progressed, it appeared that the area that I wished to cover was getting wider and broader, deeper and larger than I had anticipated. I therefore decided to divide the paper into a number (unknown at present) of consecutive essays under the collective title of: the rise of the Cyber Unified Civilization. (please bear with me as I try to disentangle and re-entangle my thoughts on this fascinating topic.)

    An old problem in Buddhism variously referred to as the Gradual vs. Sudden enlightenment problem has recently come to my attention. What does an 8th century problem (see The Northern Ch'an School And Sudden Versus Gradual Enlightenment
    Debates In China And Tibet
    ) have to do with the cyber future of humanity?

    The issue of the posed question, the notion of processes versus attainments, of long-term actuations versus immediate realization has very much to do with our current situation, for though our issue here is not enlightenment but the future (cyber) evolution of humanity, the deep resonances are clear. We can in no fashion today apply the distinctions of gradual or sudden evolution of cyber humanity any longer, for the simple reason that our current and hasty hyperflow results in both sudden and gradual shifts, shifts that are as simultaneous as they are all pervasive, motions that are as regular and continuous as the ocean waves and as abrupt and unexpected as the wildest of all tempests.
    Be it mobile AR revolutions (Augmented Reality Year in Review – 2009) or the steady growth of social networking (Explosive Growth Predicted for Mobile Social Networks), the ubiquity of embedded connectivity (Increasing Ubiquity) or indeed the latest in neurocomputation and the rise of Artificial Neural Networks .

    Shifts in thought, shifts in perception, shifts in paradigms, all shifts happen simultaneously and concomitantly, some we see and some we don’t, some of these shifts are gradual and some of these shifts are sudden. Our task here then is to contain both kinds, to uphold a view that is floating above the fray and yet intertwines with the fleeting moment of eternality we call now. The shifts that are coming upon us are disrupting the ways of old in the most positive way possible; they are finally rearranging our modes of thought and basic worldviews.

    We are entering a new and distinct period in history, the era of the Cyber Soaring Humanity.


    "..not to reproduce what we can already see, but to make visible what we cannot..."
    Paul Klee



    Little did Norbert Wiener know of our hyperconnected, increasingly inflating, infoflow when he coined the term: “Cybernetics”. In fact, it may very well be that in the networked sense, a cyber civilization is just now, right this moment, coming into being, notwithstanding the predictions of William Gibson coining of the term Cyberspace, to which we need give homage and respect.
    The emergence of the networked culture, is a feat of human ingenuity the like of which we may not have witnessed before, and cannot be compared to any other revolution of the past, be it the industrial revolution or indeed the Neolithic one.
    The main reasons the cyber-culture revolution, taking place is so different than any other are twofold:
    First it is incremental and in that is almost invisible to the naked eye and second it is happening at a speed for which the dilapidated conceptual worldview of old is less than adequate.
    But these two reasons are embedded in a larger context, that of the infosphere ecology, or infocologies (the ecology of immersive, real time, on the fly information).

    Few years ago the concepts of parallel evolution, mutual co-adaptation and free form co-description as fundamentals of human culture would have been unthinkable, as of now terms like: ubiquitous semantic engines, socially aware software-machines, or indeed mobile dating, augmented reality engines, playful engagement in societal networks and the like have become the ‘terms du jour’.

    “..Technology might be seen not just as a channel for communication and performance, but more radically as the environment in which subjects serve as conduits for experience.”
    Heather Raikes

    One: Redefining the meaning of value

    The very meaning of value is being re-described as I type these words; the meaning of value in the old sense was based on the idea of scarcity, of lack of resources, of volatile finances and market variations, ideas of purchase prices and economics of luxury were considered the very meaning of value.
    But,
    In the new hyperconnected infosphere, the infocologies we are moving slowly-rapidly into, the meaning of value has changed and is changing radically and rapidly. Value is moving into the hands of the netizen, the socially hyperconnected, and ultra sensitive 21st century cyber human.
    Not a cyborg, no (not yet at least) but a networked, electronically enhanced by social networks human mind, a cybermind that knows that all information is available at her fingertips (and soon enough in her brain (link-google in your brain)). The hyperconnected human in this respect is the first and most critical component to relate to when re-describing the meaning of value.
    A hyperconnected person is the very embodiment of self-mapping, by continuously being at the forefront of the incoming info-waves whether via twitter, friendfeed, google wave or simply by incorporating into his own mind stream the practically infinite rss feeds he or she is subscribed to.

    “As social networks proliferate, they are changing the way people think about the Internet, from a tool used in solitary anonymity to a medium that touches on questions about human nature and identity.”
    Sci-Am

    Self-mapping or the hyperconnected alignment of oneself into and unto the infocology one co-opts, can be said to be the modern identifying characteristic of the value creating cybermind. In other words, describe to me (via the tweets you tweet and the feeds you read and the pictures you post and so on) the infocology you exist in and your alignment to same ecology and I’ll know who you are.

    Where is the value in that you may ask, and to that we may respond: the value of the hyperconnected mind represents the shift from an economy of exclusivity to an ecosphere of mutual co-dependency. The value in short is to be found in the co-dependence of the network-correlated activity. Self-mapping in this respect stands for the knowledge one has about one self in an infosphere ecology.
    Value in the sense exposed above is not in the domain of economists or ethicists it is shifting into an all-new domain, the Meta-domain of meaning creation. In this new domain the meaning of value is more complex and less clear, but no less beneficial or advantageous for that. The meta-domain of meaning creation is the domain where value is perceived via hyperconnectivity and meaning re-description. Who I am and what I am is no longer an issue that can solely be perceived by the old indicators of social constructs but is being reformulated into an infocological reflection.

    The reflectivity embedded is one of alignments or lack thereof as perceived in one’s self mapping.
    In other words: value in the hyperconnected infoflow is in the hands of the socially aware-networked mind, freedom to give value as one desires and realizes is the new form of priority management. That is the gist of the how and the why we converse and converge in the cyberworld we now inhabit.
    In hyperconnectivity, conversations and polylogues are potential-possible value creating, creativity inducing events.



    Two: Self-mapping

    Self-mapping I describe as the conscious activity of the engaged hyperconnected mind when reflecting about her intelligence.
    Consider that: (as was presented here- polytopia the notes)

    “Intelligence can be said to be a process then, a continuous process of orientation and re-orientation, an iterative, recursive, restructuring of the very meaning it is applied to. Put differently, intelligence is the term applied to the reading of coordinates of implications when applied to a particular context. Moreover since intelligence is always in motion, by definition it will disturb the silhouette of the context in which and to which it is applied. That in fact is the meaning of open ended (ness), for by eliminating the conceptual rigidity of the context, intelligence (by its very motion), opens, as it were, the context to fresh paths of potentialities. “

    And (from the same paper):

    “Intelligence is the active ingredient in innovation and creativity, in whatever field of human endeavor it is applied.”

    Self-mapping then is the virtual (and possibly visual) act of describing the set of characteristics and alignments that define my infocology existence. By delineating the contours of my interests and my feeds, my messages to twitter and my blog posts I actually define the map of my infosphere domain, in other words I carve my address in the global mind.

    The carving of spaces in infocologies is an emotional as well as an intellectual pursuit; it is an art as much as it is a necessary condition of our converging cyber civilization. We are at present in the process of re-inventing forms of empathy, and methods of organizational structures, new modes of appreciation and fresh manners of knowing. As far as it goes we are in fact bootstrapping ourselves into a new kind of human, a self mapping hyperconnected human which in turn leads to new forms of engagement, modern varieties of self governance and fresh motions of economies.

    Three: Self-mapping is a form of self governance

    The idea that we are in the process of bootstrapping ourselves into a new form of mind is maybe not new to some. However the point at present is that by the sole act of self-mapping we are also carving a new form of self-governance.
    The modern hyperconnected mind, by the sheer velocity of the rush of information being absorbed and digested, is in the process of transformation. This is not a regular transformation but a transit of boundaries of perceptions and sensations which when taken together allow a fresh kind of sight to emerge. The contemporary infocology of the hyperflowing-hyperconnected mind no-longer is subject to boundary projections based on her localized physical phenomenon. The fact that a person is resident of this or that country and identifies with this or that locality has no bearing on the transcendent nature of the ideas he is connected and correlated with and since in hyperconnectivity the relational subjective feeling of presence is directly correlated to areas of interests from which stems the very infocology he is part of, the notion of boundaries expands to encompass the whole and the other.
    When in hyperconnectivity if so the governance that matters is the governance of ideas, of concepts, of issues of care, of emotions that transcend the local and fly above the relational notion of ‘I am this or that’ to land softly into “we are part of this and this is part of me”.
    That which we care about most, the very freedom we carry within us as the flourishing of the infoflow becomes manifest as the authority we carry, implied by the pointers we direct our gaze to and not by the geography we happen to be physically residing in.

    “If the “postmodern sublime” is characterized by the simultaneous apprehension of ecstasy and dread, I think we’re most likely to apprehend it on CNN. The up side of this lies in ubiquitous personal computation and the death of geography. The end of nation-states. The end of borders. I eagerly await intelligent simultaneous online translation, which will be Babel-in-reverse.”
    William Gibson April 1995
    (Note to Gibson, the above has already happened -> Google Translator Kit: Automated Translation Meets Crowdsourcing

    Four: “I” am no longer “I”

    If as famously Samuel Beckett said: “ To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. “ The task of the hyperconnected self mapping mind is to allow a form that does not constrain chaos but channels it into innovative approaches to self description. This form called here an infocology can be described as the ambient ecology of minds in a hyperconnected situation.
    In hyperconnected realities, manifested at present via the grid (both static and mobile) infocologies arise in an emergent manner. The emergence of infocologies heralds the new state of affairs of minds in the hyperconnected infoflow.

    Few aspects of infocologies then:

    # Infocologies are not opinion or knowledge umbrellas made to shelter us from chaos, but on the contrary, they are mind habitats, operating in a highly sophisticated information environments, allowing us the dealing with the chaotic in a manner that is both indefinite and thus smoothening the contours of our existence, and precise, and thus increasing our capability for discrimination and distinct correlarity .
    # Infocologies permit a different kind of multiple realities to co-habit the normalization of our thought streams.
    # Multiplicities are the hallmark of a metastable infocology that licenses itself to variations, variability and variety.
    # Infocologies are particular kinds (or cases) of Cas (complex adaptive systems) and lend themselves to evolution into Topos (see- A Topos in a Polytopia- what is)
    # Infocologies can be said to belong to second order cybernetics, particularly because an infocology described by its constituents (the infonauts or Polytopians) changes and evolves by the very act of self-description.

    In fact as the system we are describing (the infocology we are part of) includes us (our minds as infosystems) the intersubjective relationship emerging between our minds and the net results in a new entity, the Cybercivilization, Cyberculture, or indeed a Polytopia.
    By describing ourselves as Polytopians we in fact take responsibility for the very infocology we are creating. Being consciously aware to this minute yet crucial point, allows us to become masters of our destiny. A destiny unknown, unfolding by the process of our intersubjective infocological activity.



    There is a profound and unanswerable question about the nature of those ‘at least two’ things that between them generate the difference which becomes information by making a difference. Clearly each alone is - for the mind and perception - a non-entity, a non-being. Not different from being, and not different from non-being. An unknowable, a Ding an sich, a sound of one hand clapping.”

    Gregory Bateson : Mind And Nature (1979) Thx to James Reilly for this quote


    Summary of part 1 :

    The main issues covered in the above first part of the series “ The rise of the Cyber Unified Civilization” is to show and tell that:

    The paradigmatic shift we are experiencing is both gradual and sudden, and that the shift happens as the influence we exert on our cyber infocologies in turn changes us. The mutuality of re-enforcing intersubjective co-dependence between our minds and the system we describe, between our extended selves and the mind habitats we are creating makes available to our beholding the emergence of the cyber unified civilization.
    Self-mapping in infocologies are presented as the main tools by which our intelligence re-orients itself to manifest the creative impulse and multiple dimensions of our value creating activities.

    Embracing the beauty of multiple thoughts, the fascinations with manifold forms of existence, espousing the difference, we are at present truly becoming “A Cyber Soaring Humanity”.

    Thank you for listening,
    Shall be continued shortly







    End notes (pt.1):

    1. It is becoming clearer and more comprehensible to some of us, who observe carefully the reach of the flowering hyperconnected mind that the mode of analysis used in many cases is out of contact with the immediacy of hyperconnectivity.
    Specifically it is my view that the fundamental approach to functionality and efficiency should change standpoint or more accurately, we need upgrade our vantage point to a higher plane of observation, where functionality and efficiency take on a new meaning.

    Primarily, if we really desire to see a change in the world, we need relinquish the idea that changes come from actions, changes come from realizing differences in perceptual habits, especially as relates to our mental biases.
    If we are to engage the hyperstream of the connected infosphere, we need forsake certain so called ‘obvious’ paradigms, which, true to the point, in the past did help us understand, but at present hinder our comprehension.

    2. Let us be clear here, I prefer Marcel Proust saying:” If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time.”
    Than Jean Paul Sartre saying: “Like all dreamers I confuse disenchantment with truth.”
    In fact, my own little adage is: “ As long as you dream, dream big, and dream recursively, insistently, coherently, continuously, hyperconnected-ly ”







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    Comments:


    Fast T     Sat, Jan 2, 2010  Permanent link
    Very invigorating post Wildcat, and a lot to sink one's teeth into. I would like to refer to a bit (my way of employing 'gradual enlightenment' on the spot:)

    Self-mapping or the hyperconnected alignment of oneself into and unto the infocology one co-opts, can be said to be the modern identifying characteristic of the value creating cybermind. In other words, describe to me (via the tweets you tweet and the feeds you read and the pictures you post and so on) the infocology you exist in and your alignment to same ecology and I’ll know who you are
    .

    Wouldn't you agree that we no longer land at a 'who', in this hyper-context, but actually at a 'topos' which is an overlapping of entwined who/where/how/with whom? namely we are shedding an idea of knowledge (and self-knowledge) that lends a meaning to a confined subjective and engage a knowledge that lends meaning to our dynamic polymorphous non-location, or an interactive floating place holder?
    In other words, value for the cyber soaring human encompasses the aspect of flowability.
    Wildcat     Sat, Jan 2, 2010  Permanent link
    Fast T: " In other words, value for the cyber soaring human encompasses the aspect of flowability."

    definitely, actually this is a great way to put it and a statement I will in fact incorporate in my next installment. thank you for that.
    having said that I think that the term of flowability as a value (or a defining characteristic) is a complex one and needs be addressed in its own, mainly because to understand what "an interactive floating place holder" is so new in our self perception that before we can show and elaborate the self-mapping procedure (which I hope to describe in the next post) it does not really make sense to the neolithic-monolithic mindset.

    in fact I would really enjoy reading how you describe your own "flowability"- as I am a firm believer in the fact that the manner you self describe changes the system or infocology you co-opt.
    moreover, what I am looking at now is more specifically the manner in which said flowability redefines self-governance. please your thoughts on this.
    Fast T     Sun, Jan 3, 2010  Permanent link
    Wildcat, in taking this opening to farther delve into flowability, I notice a myriad of shifting taking place. Responding, in all its complexity, is first and foremost an act of flowing. And so, I flow into (simultaneously creating a..) space of reflection upon a virtual place-holder. In this case, where the intelligence engagement that coalesced into the concept of flowability hovers still; while being conscious that no such location (of the dance or of the concept) has a permanence or exact anchoring. This minute happenstance in motion is indeed the way I recognize the event of description, and engage the flow of thoughts, sensations, emotions, images, memory and so much more.
    Reflecting, while flowing, I acknowledge how superbly acclimated I am to this mind event. This complex, enticing and interesting entwining of action and being.
    In fact, I recognize a difference taking shape. A slight morphing of the infocology I am at.

    You said in the end notes of the post:
    changes come from realizing differences in perceptual habits
    .

    I venture to concur and it becomes very tangible to me that as the hyperconnectivity we are partaking in is growing, the perceptive ecology accessible to us is more accommodating to the inclusion of reflective streams with which we cross, entangle and carve descriptive spaces. Flowability represents the quality of motion by which I come into touch with the knowledge of me in it, me as it and it as me.

    As to self-governance in this context, my initial thoughts are that the contour of ‘self’ and ‘other than self’ undergo a process of increase in elasticity. A Softening of perceptual borders and opening to new models of how we describe mind, minding and ourselves at large. But that is a big one and calls for further investment.
    Spaceweaver     Tue, Jan 5, 2010  Permanent link
    Thank you Wildcat for this stimulating piece of thought. There are many things to reflect upon here, from which I have chosen the following line:

    The reflectivity embedded is one of alignments or lack thereof as perceived in one’s self mapping. In other words: value in the hyperconnected infoflow is in the hands of the socially aware-networked mind, freedom to give value as one desires and realizes is the new form of priority management. That is the gist of the how and the why we converse and converge in the cyberworld we now inhabit.


    I would like to relate here to the question of freedom and change and freedom through change as they arise from the above quote and also in other places in this post. How do we understand and conceive freedom? How do we answer the question what is freedom? Clearly, it seems that reflecting on this question necessitates a certain background, what I would call the complex ‘ecology of engagement’ that facilitates our interactions, our self description, or in your words, our self mapping process.

    One conventional way to understand freedom is through the concept of availability and change of availability within one’s ecology of engagement. As I read from this post and others, this kind of freedom is becoming less relevant because it is rooted in conceiving of our ecology of engagement in terms of scarcity. Whether this scarcity is of time, space, energy, memory, bandwidth, attention, etc. is secondary. Such conception surely guides and actually imposes values that become inherent in our interactions and therefore constrain the freedom one can conceive. This could, in some aspects, be read as a modern interpretation to the Buddhist root of suffering and if so hints towards the kind of freedom proposed by Buddhist practice: emptiness – as the elimination of scarcity. Certainly hyperconnected reality presents novel relations of availability that seem to eliminate (or cleverly disguise) certain aspects of scarcity associated with the spatio-temporal ecology of engagement we are accustomed to. Yet...

    The question that arises here is whether the hyperconnected reality offers a new kind of freedom as hinted above. Indeed hyperconnected reality represents an alternative to physical space-time reality. The nature of the change involved here is profound: it is a remake of the very ecology of engagement where one self describes and dynamically reinvents herself. However does it not follow the same logic of scarcity in brand new disguise? There is of course a huge difference in availability when we compare between ecologies. Physical and cultural boundaries dissolve. Information is replicable and given to infinite reuse and variation. Distances are eliminated and connections are fluid. Yet within this new emerging infoecology new virtual boundaries are formed (the boundaries of my infosphere), information is free but access and processing (finding what I want and processing it) become limiting factors. New power relations are being formed within social networks (the arising of new consensual domains). The change is indeed profound but do we witness a new kind of freedom? Is one free to give value as one desires? I doubt that. What is it that one desires, could possibly desire, in the first place and how is it free from the emerging power relations inherent in any ecology of engagement including that of the web? The emerging hyperconnected reality definitely changes the very way we describe individuality and the interrelation between individuals. But freedom and value creation as mutually defining (and therefore mutually constraining) aspects of this re-description are still following the same equations and drawing the same dynamic curves though on different mental planes (does increase in dimensionality necessarily represents increase in degrees of freedom?).

    We are connected. We have always been connected whether we acknowledged it or not. Now we are hyperconnected (the meaning of which is not entirely clear to me). It seems to me that the riddle of freedom is hidden deep in the nature of connectivity which goes beyond or perhaps comes prior to information per se. In this sense, hyperconnected reality represents a choice which does not necessarily mean a new kind of freedom. I can certainly see its immense advantages in terms of existing values; I am less certain regarding the opportunity of freedom it offers in terms of setting new values.

    The old riddle stays: The whole difference between us is perhaps only one bit but what does this one bit stand for? The whole infoflow is short of describing. The value of a difference retains its ultimate singularity.
    Wildcat     Wed, Jan 6, 2010  Permanent link
    Fast T said:
    " This minute happenstance in motion is indeed the way I recognize the event of description, and engage the flow of thoughts, sensations, emotions, images, memory and so much more. "

    and further down in your comment:

    "As to self-governance in this context, my initial thoughts are that the contour of ‘self’ and ‘other than self’ undergo a process of increase in elasticity. A Softening of perceptual borders and opening to new models of how we describe mind, minding and ourselves at large"

    I think that those two statements more less , in a very condensed form and demanding an extensive elaboration, are the gist of the matter.
    the point of course is that to make such a process of increase in elasticity of one's self description into a continuous explorative procedure instead of a momentary situation is extremely difficult.
    the manner by which we will be able to translate such an online reality into a total situation of life, I think , is the centerpiece of our future evolution as a civilization.
    if we will be able (and I am working on a road map for that) to translate the expressivity of sensation you described above into an on-going state of affairs for all hyperconnected humans via technology, we will in due time have a real change in our hands.

    the means for self governance are continuously increasing in ubiquity and availability as well as increasing in simplicity of use and friendly UI, however without a a realization that this indeed is the case, flowability will remain a dream of singular expression.
    I believe that a 'real' change , in the sense of change of mindsets (because this is what 'real' means) will almost instantaneously allow a change, a revolution if you like, in all the dimensions we exist in.
    Fast T     Thu, Jan 7, 2010  Permanent link
    Wildcat, Agreed that
    to make such a process of increase in elasticity of one's self description into a continuous explorative procedure instead of a momentary situation is extremely difficult
    and will cast the difference between a random happenstance to long lived defining difference in self-description.

    I think hyperconnectivity introduces new ecological circumstances and indeed circumstantial freedoms (a-propos Spaceweaver comment above, perhaps hyperconnectivity merely creates new pressures in the domain of complexity that calls for new freedoms, which we are yet to realize and conceptualize); 'Freedoms' I use in this context as opportunities for realization in the sense of the ubiquity, ease and spread of circumstances in which flowability is registered, recognized and applied in the course of our everyday life.

    I further think that the tie between technology and mindset change is far from being simple or predicted. Yet there are certainly aspects that seem to be more immediately affected by technological means, that may prove to be a diving board of sorts in the direction of impacting a change of mindset.
    But all being considered (to the extent we are capable to consider) to 'translate' as you put it, anything into a total situation of life still remains a matter of personal investment that exceeds the mundane. At least that is how I perceive it this side of the revolution :)
    Wildcat     Sat, Jan 9, 2010  Permanent link
    Your comments Spaceweaver are always a refreshing wind, thanks:

    As to the points you raise:

    “The question that arises here is whether the hyperconnected reality offers a new kind of freedom as hinted above. Indeed hyperconnected reality represents an alternative to physical space-time reality.”

    W: I am not sure I agree here, I do not think that hyperconnected reality represents an alternative to physical space-time reality (not unless we move into the ‘LA LA land’ of minds uploads and the like, which may one day be a viable technology but I think we are quite far from that moment). Having said that and to be clear I see the hyperconnected reality we are engaged in as an extension of our manifold physical reality. In fact I do not think that the hyperflow of hyperconnectivity is in any deep sense different than our physical reality. It is an extension, definitely, an engagement into a multidimensional reality by all means, but the crux of the matter is the amplification of all forms of reality via cyberspace. We extend into and unto cyberspace and by that cyberspace interpenetrate physicality and embodiment. (just as a small example I do not think that books will die or disappear as the eBook readers proliferate. I think that some kind of intertwining will emerge, some books will become more flow sensitive- embedding some kind of net connectivity, wi-fi and video capability and some ebooks will become more traditional book like- in appearance and UI style form and functionality.)
    The hyperconnected reality in this case offers a new kind of freedom because it allows forms of past and forms of future to coalesce into new options of functionality and if so usage, in turn promoting new kinds of behaviors and mind states.

    Spaceweaver:”
    The nature of the change involved here is profound: it is a remake of the very ecology of engagement where one self describes and dynamically reinvents herself. However does it not follow the same logic of scarcity in brand new disguise?”

    W: no, not at all, the old logic of scarcity was hierarchical and control oriented, arboreal as Deleuze calls it, the new logic open to all directions is Rhizomatic and thus implies a new kind of sense, the commonality of co-dependence and multithreaded optionality both of entrance and exit points. If we take the Rhizome as the base line, not passing through a main trunk allows decentralization, by that undoing the very basis of the old logic of scarcity (centrality).

    Spaceweaver:” There is of course a huge difference in availability when we compare between ecologies. Physical and cultural boundaries dissolve. Information is replicable and given to infinite reuse and variation. Distances are eliminated and connections are fluid. Yet within this new emerging infocology new virtual boundaries are formed (the boundaries of my infosphere), information is free but access and processing (finding what I want and processing it) become limiting factors.

    W:” these become limiting factors only in as much as one allows these constraints to become the reality at play, in other words as opposed to the old Neolithic mindset, the hyperconnected mind is not a-priori constrained (though he or she may out of his own volition or perchance ignorance, make it so). The infosphere you are part of is of your own creation, as distinct from the boundaries of old upon which you had no control (or very minimal control), therefore with practice and diligence the access and processing of information instead of being limiting factors become the tools of self definition, self description and identity, that is where the freedom resides.


    Spaceweaver:” New power relations are being formed within social networks (the arising of new consensual domains). The change is indeed profound but do we witness a new kind of freedom? Is one free to give value as one desires? I doubt that.

    W:” I understand perfectly the highbrow skepticism here, but isn’t it the case that in the past we have witnessed revolutions that some feared would eliminate the very value of action? Isn’t it the case that with the printing press, and the sudden availability of reading material (and by consequence knowledge) some feared that the value of knowledge (as an oral transmission and closely guarded secrets) will diminish in value and impact? What actually happened in a relatively short period of time was the commoditization of knowledge in the process changing our values and one would say even our nature. The new kind of freedom I perceive is one of extensibility of perception, for in the hyperflow, abundance is re-described as non-boundary oriented, our minds incrementally being subjected to information previously unavailable change irrevocably. This very fact allows the our sense perception mechanism to expand its horizon into new domains of experience and thought, this in my book represents a new kind of freedom, for what is freedom if not the very capability to think thoughts previously impossible?

    Spaceweaver:” What is it that one desires, could possibly desire, in the first place and how is it free from the emerging power relations inherent in any ecology of engagement including that of the web? The emerging hyperconnected reality definitely changes the very way we describe individuality and the interrelation between individuals. But freedom and value creation as mutually defining (and therefore mutually constraining) aspects of this re-description are still following the same equations and drawing the same dynamic curves though on different mental planes (does increase in dimensionality necessarily represents increase in degrees of freedom?).”

    W:” very large issues here, but I’ll start by saying that yes increase in dimensionality can be seen as an increase in degrees of freedom (though I concede that it is not necessarily so, education is a necessary condition for that to happen). In fact, it is possible to describe the wholeness of autonomy as a fine balance between freedoms and restrictions, this balance however if perceived as a strange attractor having fuzzy boundaries can definitely be seen as increasing in (both) freedoms and restrictions in the hyperconnected infoflow, the motion itself will always be balanced yes, but if contained with a mind that is both able and capable of taking upon itself the restrictions necessary to , as it were, play the game fully, then the answer for me is a definite yes.

    The second issue you raise, which to my eyes is more complex and indeed more difficult to come to terms with, is the situation of mutual redefinition (as both allowing and constraining our freedoms), in this respect I do not think that the hyperconnected infoflow reality follows the same rules as in the past, again especially because of a lack of centrality and the newly emerging rhizomatic tendency of our behaviors. Nevertheless I agree that this is a central issue and I indeed will try to open this issue for further investigation and elaboration, if you have any ideas in this respect I would love to hear them.








    The ontological status of any assemblage, inorganic, organic or social, is that of a unique, singular, historically contingent, individual. Although the term ‘individual’ has come to refer to individual persons, in its ontological sense it cannot be limited to that scale of reality. Much as biological species are not general categories of which animal and plant organisms are members, but larger-scale individual entities of which organisms are component parts, so larger social assemblages should be given the ontological status of individual entities: individual networks and coalitions; individual organizations and governments; individual cities and nation-states.
    DeLanda, (2006, p. 40) Assemblage Theory & Social Complexity
    Wildcat     Sun, Jan 10, 2010  Permanent link
    Concerning the idea of scarcity, a recent article at the Guardian: Why playing in the virtual world has an awful lot to teach children has this to say :

    "Take the idea of scarcity. In the real world, there isn't enough of everything to go round and people suffer as a result. In the digital world, there is suffusion: anything can be duplicated almost endlessly at negligible cost. We are free to indulge ourselves to the utmost degree. Except, it turns out, people are rather attached to scarcity – and to difficulty, and to hard work, and to all those things that the narcissistic digital realm allegedly teaches us to avoid. We are deeply and fundamentally attracted, in fact, to games: those places where efforts and excellence are rewarded, where the challenges and demands are severe, and where success often resembles nothing so much as a distilled version of the worldly virtues of dedicated learning and rigorously co-ordinated effort."
    Spaceweaver     Sun, Jan 10, 2010  Permanent link
    Thank you for your elaborations. Here is my response to some of the interesting points you raise:

    Wildcat:
    I am not sure I agree here, I do not think that hyperconnected reality represents an alternative to physical space-time reality (not unless we move into the ‘LA LA land’ of minds uploads and the like, which may one day be a viable technology but I think we are quite far from that moment). Having said that and to be clear I see the hyperconnected reality we are engaged in as an extension of our manifold physical reality. In fact I do not think that the hyperflow of hyperconnectivity is in any deep sense different than our physical reality. It is an extension, definitely, an engagement into a multidimensional reality by all means, but the crux of the matter is the amplification of all forms of reality via cyberspace. We extend into and unto cyberspace and by that cyberspace interpenetrate physicality and embodiment. (just as a small example I do not think that books will die or disappear as the eBook readers proliferate. I think that some kind of intertwining will emerge, some books will become more flow sensitive- embedding some kind of net connectivity, wi-fi and video capability and some ebooks will become more traditional book like- in appearance and UI style form and functionality.)
    The hyperconnected reality in this case offers a new kind of freedom because it allows forms of past and forms of future to coalesce into new options of functionality and if so usage, in turn promoting new kinds of behaviors and mind states.

    Spaceweaver: This is an important clarification to the article. I agree that cyberspace provides extra information layers to physical reality and by that it enhances certain aspects of physical reality. Yet, this access to extra layers of information does not mean a fundamental increase in the informational bandwidth of our senses or the processing power of our brains. It seems to me that before we vastly augment our biology to accommodate exponentially growing streams of information (a possibility which belongs to the ‘LALA land’ you mention), there is no justification to use the ‘hyper’ prefix in terms like information, connectivity, flow etc. The extension of physical reality into cyberspace does provide a new kind of experience – the experience of abundant information. I must admit I love it and shamelessly addicted to it. This is a profound experience and indeed changes us in many ways. Does it make us fundamentally freer? This is an open question.
    Another remark on the same subject is that much of the freedom experienced on the web is born out anonymity. This anonymity is a product of separating the cyber domain from the physical domain – one can have a web presence(s) which is not correlated to one’s physical presence. The advantage here arises if so from discontinuity between the cyber and physical domains. I do not wish to argue here whether it is a good or bad thing, as always it depends on how one uses this very special kind of availability. For some it can be an effective tool to dissolve individual borders and barriers, while for others it is a tool for creating superficial facades behind which the roots of a localized ego just deepen.

    Wildcat:
    …the old logic of scarcity was hierarchical and control oriented, arboreal as Deleuze calls it, the new logic open to all directions is Rhizomatic and thus implies a new kind of sense, the commonality of co-dependence and multithreaded optionality both of entrance and exit points. If we take the Rhizome as the base line, not passing through a main trunk allows decentralization, by that undoing the very basis of the old logic of scarcity (centrality).


    Spaceweaver: The decentralization of cyberspace fits very loosely, if at all, to Deleuze’s concept of the Rizhome. Wherever there are communicating human beings or living beings, for that matter, Rizhomes spontaneously emerge. The web does not seem to certify a more favorable ecology for such emergence. I see at least one reason on the contrary: As long as the web is based on structured information, as it must, both on the syntactic and semantic levels, its hierarchical/stratified constraints, though becoming more subtle and less apparent, do become more influential on the way we think and behave. (Example: concepts like ‘friends’, ‘contacts’, ‘communication’, etc. are derived from emergent power structures implied by social networks).

    Wildcat:
    ” these become limiting factors only in as much as one allows these constraints to become the reality at play, in other words as opposed to the old Neolithic mindset, the hyperconnected mind is not a-priori constrained (though he or she may out of his own volition or perchance ignorance, make it so). The infosphere you are part of is of your own creation, as distinct from the boundaries of old upon which you had no control (or very minimal control), therefore with practice and diligence the access and processing of information instead of being limiting factors become the tools of self definition, self description and identity, that is where the freedom resides.


    Spaceweaver: Entirely agreed. I believe that what you write about is a vision expressed and described in terms of our emerging cyber reality. It certainly demands a (collective) conscious effort to bring it about. The hyperconnected mind is in a process of becoming. There is no inherent freedom nor outstanding circumstances of overcoming the human condition that are inherent in cyberspace. Cyberspace, to use a loose metaphor, is like the new world two centuries ago. The new world was virgin, full of new resources and mostly empty. As such it presented for those coming from the old world an opportunity to build something new, to enact a vision, to build a world which is better in all conceivable aspects. It was a land of great promises then. Cyberspace today is very much alike: it is still virgin, full of new exciting resources and relatively empty. It is certainly a place that attracts the dreamers and visionaries amongst us, and indeed it is a place where we can build a world better in any conceivable manner. The freedom I can see here is the freedom of opportunity, of what we can become, which is a lot. But nothing of these potentialities are given in the medium.

    Wildcat:
    … The new kind of freedom I perceive is one of extensibility of perception, for in the hyperflow, abundance is re-described as non-boundary oriented, our minds incrementally being subjected to information previously unavailable change irrevocably. This very fact allows the our sense perception mechanism to expand its horizon into new domains of experience and thought, this in my book represents a new kind of freedom, for what is freedom if not the very capability to think thoughts previously impossible?


    Spaceweaver: Regarding freedom, I believe we are in the same book and on the same page. :-) What I am skeptical about is that the interaction with the web automatically expands our sense perception into new dimensions of experience and thought. Those human individuals who vigorously seek for ways to expand their minds would certainly find many exciting opportunities in the emerging info-ecology as they would find them in any place they would care to visit. These are also the visionaries that push and inspire the evolution of the web. These are the humans that will forge freedom from whatever comes under hand physical or virtual. Abundance offers a richness of opportunities and this is indeed what cyberspace offers – an opportunity to a profound transformation. This abundance, however, shining and promising as it may, is not the ultimate antidote to the banality of the human condition. The industrial revolution created a new state of affairs for humanity and an abundance of unimaginable opportunities . With the powers of the industrial era no person should have walked the earth hungry or in want. Regretfully, they still do, abundantly. Have we not changed? Of course we did, but the primal patterns that shapes the human mind were barely scratched. Now we are in the middle of an even greater revolution. I think we better look at it not as a wish fulfilling gem but as a rare opportunity to mature as a civilization, an opportunity we should actively and creatively seize while keeping in mind that it can be missed.

    Wildcat:
    ” … The second issue you raise, which to my eyes is more complex and indeed more difficult to come to terms with, is the situation of mutual redefinition (as both allowing and constraining our freedoms), in this respect I do not think that the hyperconnected infoflow reality follows the same rules as in the past, again especially because of a lack of centrality and the newly emerging rhizomatic tendency of our behaviors. Nevertheless I agree that this is a central issue and I indeed will try to open this issue for further investigation and elaboration, if you have any ideas in this respect I would love to hear them.”


    Spaceweaver: This is indeed an interesting issue. It seems DeLanda’s quote (copied below from your comment) hints at a possible door of addressing it. The very concept of freedom derives from the (subjective) ontological status of the individual. The mutual co-definition of freedom and value is derived accordingly from the shapes this concept takes. Individualism is an illusion that persists only on account that the majority of us wouldn’t admit that it is indeed an illusion even in the face of compelling evidence. My bet is in this direction which is also correlative to other issues mentioned here but this has become too long already…



    The ontological status of any assemblage, inorganic, organic or social, is that of a unique, singular, historically contingent, individual. Although the term ‘individual’ has come to refer to individual persons, in its ontological sense it cannot be limited to that scale of reality. Much as biological species are not general categories of which animal and plant organisms are members, but larger-scale individual entities of which organisms are component parts, so larger social assemblages should be given the ontological status of individual entities: individual networks and coalitions; individual organizations and governments; individual cities and nation-states.
    DeLanda, (2006, p. 40) Assemblage Theory & Social Complexity
    klaitner     Sun, Jan 10, 2010  Permanent link
    mammoth post and comments, still processing with my self created tool / meat

    "W:” these become limiting factors only in as much as one allows these constraints to become the reality at play, in other words as opposed to the old Neolithic mindset, the hyperconnected mind is not a-priori constrained (though he or she may out of his own volition or perchance ignorance, make it so). "

    one doesn't allow, these factors are at play, and constraints are not so much volitional or ignorant but very much physical psychopharmalogical in nature. Time cannot currently be expanded, our lives are finite, and gross attention of a lifetime has a hard limit. Net attention can be maximized through pharma, sleep management, exercise (mind and body) and skill (trivial example, speed reading) and systems can be employed to apply said limited attention to the most important (valuable) pursuits, but to truly avoid this becoming a limiting factor one must embrace emptiness and let the flow wash through you, accepting what comes of this information-person SPLASH, without grasping and clinging.

    I will fisk the original article and my annotation of it in diigo later.

    Wildcat     Fri, Jan 15, 2010  Permanent link
    Spaceweaver: Regarding freedom, I believe we are in the same book and on the same page. :-) What I am skeptical about is that the interaction with the web automatically expands our sense perception into new dimensions of experience and thought. Those human individuals who vigorously seek for ways to expand their minds would certainly find many exciting opportunities in the emerging info-ecology as they would find them in any place they would care to visit. These are also the visionaries that push and inspire the evolution of the web. These are the humans that will forge freedom from whatever comes under hand physical or virtual. Abundance offers a richness of opportunities and this is indeed what cyberspace offers – an opportunity to a profound transformation. This abundance, however, shining and promising as it may, is not the ultimate antidote to the banality of the human condition.

    W: there is no doubt in my mind that abundance in and of itself is no antidote for banality, however the very humans you mentioned those that forever are the changers and shakers and movers of humanity are all to different extents involved in the proliferation and expansion of the context of the new web abundance, I refer to humans such as Stewart Brand, or Larry Brilliant, as well as Bruce Sterling and others, I do not for a moment think that these humans as extreme examples of desire to change the world believe that the abundance of information is sufficient and or an antidote, I do however think that most of them will agree that attention is the new form of literacy and given that attention is part and parcel of perception, I submit to you that a revolution in attention is a revolution in perception.
    if as I believe is the case, an increase in web literacy develops a new kind of attention (and vice versa), as a consequence, a new kind of perception emerges. it is this perception of the infoflow that I refer to when I say that that it begets a new kind of freedom.

    In the latest (and most marvelous) Edge online question forum" How Has The Internet Changed The Way You Think?" (which I heartily suggest everyone interested in the future of the web should read) Howard Rheingold says the following:

    "From the beginning, Engelbart emphasized that the hardware and software created at his Stanford Research Institute laboratory, from the mouse to the hyperlink to the word processor, were part of a system that included "humans, language, artifacts, methodology and training." Long before the Web came along, Engelbart was frustrated that so much progress had been made in the capabilities of the artifacts, but so little study had been devoted to advancing the language, methodology and training — the literacies that necessarily accompany the technical capabilities"

    I am a firm believer that as the proliferation of the web literacy increases dramatically a new language (which has already emerged but is at present only slightly more than marginal) will redefine the very consensual reality we are engaged in, said engagement in turn redefines the foundation of that which we call freedom.

    I heartily agree with you here:

    Spaceweaver :"I think we better look at it not as a wish fulfilling gem but as a rare opportunity to mature as a civilization, an opportunity we should actively and creatively seize while keeping in mind that it can be missed."

    though I need say that short of an all out cataclysm, whether man made or naturally occurring I do not see how the opportunity can be missed, the motion is inexorable.

    (some more notes referring to your other comments later.)
    Wildcat     Fri, Jan 15, 2010  Permanent link
    Klaitner wrote: "...but to truly avoid this becoming a limiting factor one must embrace emptiness and let the flow wash through you, accepting what comes of this information-person SPLASH, without grasping and clinging..."

    the above is such a strong statement and one to which I truly adhere that it deserves a separate post (in the making)
    thanks for this
    meika     Mon, Jan 18, 2010  Permanent link
    (just skipped all comments to add my own)(might read them later)(coming late to this)

    [and this is less a comment than a spinning off into space on a cut hose (mad as)]

    Recently had an unexpected discussion about the movie Avatar on twitter with @wizzlewolf, curator of the Twitter Art Show (mostly recently in Flagstaff, Arizona), after i tweeted this review as being close to my own experience.

    The key point in the review I agreed with was how much like a computer/console/video game Avatar was. @wizzlewolf did not get this as she hated games, of whatever form, but she had just spent the day editing a video about van Gogh for kindergarteners, she hadn't seen the movie, but was amazed that the director of Avatar Cameron was directing actors in suits while watching in real time the CGI version which were mapped to the physical actors... and I said well Cameron as director was just playing a video game then, it's machinima.

    What has this to do with the original post above?

    Well, as we mash up our way through the infocologies, we'll be directing ourselves, watching ourselves as we play the game, much like animals do in their umwelten. Only the movie made of that movement is not a film, or a game really, for those traces will define our internetskian presence more like, I hope, an animals body. Any avatar I use online is the least part of it. My body is what I say, and it is what I say I say, and many things that I collect, link and rate. And we become that which has those things in common.

    (IMPishness, reputational systems and censorship issues aside.)

    As such epiphanies will be more important than enlightenment, incremental, sudden or otherwise, for it will be a mindful body, and not a disembodied discombobulation of our engines of intent, that will get us across. The metaphor of the body will carry us over.

    Otherwise the criticism by some of recent social media increase in usage turning people into dumbed-down continually interrupted idiots will be true.

    We might have no true selves but I feel that without a body we can never reach that realisation, as that is a post-individuation ability. We need new vital fictions for the interwebs.
    Wildcat     Tue, Jan 19, 2010  Permanent link
    thanks for the comment Meika,

    and yes I totally agree with you.

    "As such epiphanies will be more important than enlightenment, incremental, sudden or otherwise, for it will be a mindful body, and not a disembodied discombobulation of our engines of intent, that will get us across. The metaphor of the body will carry us over."

    I think a mindful body is exactly the point of a hyperconnected mind, taken from the perspective of body. that embodiment is an issue of cardinal importance is not in question, however when the mind extends its body of perception via technological amplification, can we continue claiming that it is the same body? I do not think so, thus that is where the metaphor of body needs to be updated to accommodate the newly enhanced mind by social networks, especially with the surge of AR on mobile platforms.

    "We might have no true selves but I feel that without a body we can never reach that realisation, as that is a post-individuation ability. We need new vital fictions for the interwebs."

    again I totally agree, especially about the "need new vital fictions for the interwebs." I really love that way of putting it and will be happy if you can elaborate on the meaning of "vital fictions"
    wans't this the function performed in the past (and still is to a very large extent) by myths?
    meika     Tue, Jan 19, 2010  Permanent link
    I meant to reference "vital fictions" at the time, but got distracted...

    :P

    ... by the novel I'm writing which covers similar ground to Carry Me Home.

    anyways,

    What I believe Becker ultimately failed to understand was that uncovering one’s vital lies only leads to madness, nihilism, or a stronger vital lie. The true project of philosophy was to reflect thereby understand. But understanding the need for a vital lie does not remove the need itself. One must dig deeper to understand and uproot the need for vital lies in the first place and thereby be free from them.


    For me vital lies = bias = soul = self = psyche = the pattern we swirl as life = our bodies more than our minds.

    Is this transferable between substrates, or only expandable across them?
    Wildcat     Thu, Jan 28, 2010  Permanent link
    Meika: "Is this transferable between substrates, or only expandable across them?"

    we will not know whether it is transferable between substrates unless we try, the theory in this case is lagging behind the motion of technology, that it is expandable I think is quite obvious (see the extended mind). the question of embodiment is still an open thread we need do more research about.
    meika     Fri, Feb 5, 2010  Permanent link
    research, yes, more,

    at the moment I'm calling research a novel

    (nearly at 100K, and you can tell I've reach a small block because I'm spending time on Spacecollective)(and how does one punctuated conversations that happen across media; voice, messaging, sms, VoIP, email, feeds,...)
     
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