Comment on Social Networking Tools and our Future Society

Spaceweaver Sun, Nov 23, 2008
Rene, reading your comment here, and your previous posts about optimization, I came up with an interesting observation about the evolution of human interaction while moving from a pastoral civilization to an urban civilization, and next from an urban civilization to a webbed civilization. The number of contacts statistically available to every person is generally on the increase, while the space and time allocated to each interaction is generally decreasing. In urban environment we have much less physical space allocated to interaction but much more interactions than was possibly available in pastoral environment, and so is with time allocation. On the web we are left with very little physical space if at all. Our presence is squeezed into a few lines of text, an icon or a video frame at best, while the time of interaction is becoming shorter and shorter as it is exemplified by the growing popularity of Twitter and Facebook kind of interactive tools (not to mention SMS replacing vocal interaction). Our exposure to others, however, expands exponentially. I am not entirely sure about that, but at the moment this seems to be a long term consistent trend having to do with acceleration in general. I do not know, for example, how virtualization (virtual worlds, augmented reality) will fit into this trend, and whether it will redefine this seemingly inverse relation between exposure and the spatio-temporal aspect of interaction by the introduction of new virtual dimensions of interaction.

Your optimization posts certainly support this view; they highlight how much sense it makes in terms of contemporary culture and technological capability to keep on optimizing space and time, and ephemeralize, so to speak, our interactions and actually the whole substratum of our civilization.

At the moment it seems that as a civilization we are going through a process for which the miniaturization of silicon chips is a most appropriate metaphor. Like transistors on silicon chips we are squeezed into an ever diminishing physical space, with an ever increasing rate of events between individual components (which means less and less time per interaction), and an ever increasing connectivity. At a certain point our physical embodiment might not fit anymore to the kinds of interactions our civilization prefers. Does it seem far fetched? Am not sure about that. This might be a phase transition of unprecedented consequences, and we might already be heading there.

This is only a sketch of an idea, will have to go deeper into this: Is this a sign of condensation and distillation of intelligence? If so what would be the carrier of such distilled kind of intelligence? How would it interact? What would be its relevant dimensions of manifest? (also Greg Egan's Diaspora comes to mind here).