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Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. (Albert Camus)
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    This is part 8 in the series: The Rise of the Cyber Unified Civilization

    "..the concept of “transindividuation” is one that does not rest with the individuated “I” or with the interindividuated “We,” but is the process of co-individuation within a preindividuated milieu and in which both the “I” and the “We” are transformed through one another. "

    Bernard Stiegler and Irit Rogoff, Transindividuation / Journal / e-flux

    Knowmads are the future of Individuation

    Increasingly the matter of our bodies, our bio-constructs, is being extended into virtuality. The extension of our sense thoughts on the net that we perceive as social networks, is nothing of the sort, it is in fact the quintessential rhizomatic expansion of our brains neural networks via an electronic medium into the infosphere.

    Though it is true that at present an appearance of a gap still exist between our bodies and the net, it is also concomitantly true that this gap is narrowing by the moment; in fact the time when our brains will integrate with machines is fast approaching, and though the uses for therapeutic purposes (at least at the beginning) are obvious and enlightening it is clear that soon thereafter the technology will spread to all of us.

    This has profound implications.

    The most intriguing and outright interesting implication is of course, what kind of mind will we operate as bodies extended electronically and directly plugged into the infosphere. To my mind the most salient feature implied by being extended into the infosphere concerns the individuation process.

    The mediated individuation process I perceive to be a disruptive process that casts a beautiful spell on us, a spell so disruptive that unaware to its implications we may inadvertently lose our directionality.
    The new process of mediated individuation in the infosphere is disruptive because of a very specific reason: it is disruptive because it represents a state of affairs where moments of autonomy and independence, originality of expression and creativity are kept to a maximum intensity.

    The process of infocological individuation is one of maximum intensity, a process wherein our conceptualization of personhood is undergoing dramatic changes, no longer discreet, it is fundamentally changing our perceptual mechanisms. The changes are subtle and almost imperceptible, but if we take a dip into the on-going destabilization factors appearing daily around us we may if our vision is clear enough, realize that the shift is upon us.

    This shift in the radical transformation of the process of individuation is a motion into a posthuman like re-appraisal of the individual as the new hyperconnected multiple dynamic mind. A mind realizing her directionality through the dissolution of location specific activity, extemporal in its expression and free in its self-description.
    It is the Knowmad, or indeed the Polytopian; terms representing a rhizomatic expansion of our neural network unto the infosphere and unleashing in the process a new force into the world – a freedom to be undefined.

    The freedom to be undefined I see as a force to be reckoned with for the simple reason that through the elimination of distinctions between natural and artificial, age old indicators of identity no longer hold sway.
    This new force, this (in a certain sense disturbing) modern day freedom to be undefined implies upon the process of individuation in a radical fashion, it changes the way we know things and since knowledge is the very backbone of our discernment capability, that which differs us from the ‘other’, the change in manners of knowing changes the process of individuation.

    We should have no hesitation in proposing that this variety of individuation probably symbolizes an advanced juncture in the evolution of our civilization.
    We need unveil this process, for behind its veil lies the wild intelligence of free beings, fiercely exploring possible venues and potential insights that bear little resemblance to that which we once were or once thought to be the 'real'.

    Intelligence thrives on wildness: It does not take well to enslavement.

    Pete Mandik, Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program, Washington University, St Louis, USA. (21C Magazine)

    “Sapere aude”

    “Sapere aude” (Lat.) meaning dare to discern or dare to know or better yet, dare to be wise, is the legacy we are carrying from Horace but more specifically from I.Kant .
    Kant and others urged us to liberate and stands for what is commonly called the age of enlightenment or the age of reason.
    Indeed we have taken many steps in our cultural evolution from the time of Kant and it may be the case that what we need at present is nothing short of a new revolution in values, a fresh reappraisal of the state of affairs of the world we live in, and the future we are co-creating.

    Jeremy Rifkin in a beautiful animated presentation called “The empathic civilization” reflects on our motion from the fictional groupings we have created in our past (such as religions, nations and so on) into what he describes as our present and future: “ We have the technology to think viscerally as a family”.
    But what exactly does “thinking viscerally” mean and how are we to dare to be wise (Sapere Aude) and realize the necessary conditions demanded by the changes in the world of technology and more specifically the changes brought about in and by the infocology we exist in.

    Thinking Viscerally

    Let us propose that what makes us special creatures is our capability to extend our bodies in space and in time. An extension, or better yet, an expansion or projection, of our visceral reality, across apparent boundaries, across imaginary localities. We are able via our imagination capability to “see” that which is not there in the material world, to envision that which was, or indeed that which may be. This very peculiar capability of human minds was historically that which allowed our specie to become so powerful in this biosphere. In fact it may very well be that our capacity for collectivity, for empathy and also for individuation is that very same quality, let us call this temporarily: non contextual viscerality.

    In a way, non-contextual viscerality I intend to mean the uncanny ability of the mind to project a virtual image of its sensory modality beyond its skin demarcation. Thinking abstractly is such a feat, as is imagining the structure of our ideal home or the face of a (as yet) non-existent potential mate.

    Thinking viscerally then.

    Thinking viscerally is a developing art; it is a new form of existential realism that presents us with a modern structure of cognition. It is my understanding that the visceral thought process engendered by our networked culture, enmeshed in the grid results in what may be called cyber intuition.
    A mediated visceral perception transposing the sensation of thought across time and across space.
    The idea behind visceral thinking or cyber intuition is that an increase in hyperconnectivity, extending our very own neural networks in our brains via the electronic mediums into the virtual redefines our fundamental conception of the embodied self.

    Redefining the embodied self into virtual multiplicity engenders the freedom to be undefined.

    There is a new world in here and out there, a world suffused with electronic extensions of minds, neural networks nested within networks, all flowing smoothly and inexorably into each other. The flow of motion of the inner and outer realities combines and recombines the visceral sense of the embodied mind in an ever expanding sphere of actuation, in that the sense thought of being both extends and dissolves. Whilst extending, expanding and dissolving the sense of beingness, that which originated in embodiment is transformed into a new sense.
    The sense of being a critical relevancy.

    "In the human sciences, culture and language have also been progressively engulfed by the universe of technics: the artificial realm of institutions, rituals, knowledges, symbol systems and practices that makes humans functional, speaking, meaning-making creatures; that is, what makes humans human. The essence of the human, it seems, is the technical; which is paradoxically the other of the human: the non-human, the manufactured, unnatural, artificial; the inhuman even."

    (Andrés Vaccari states about Technics and Time, quoted in: Bernard Stiegler and Irit Rogoff, Transindividuation. )

    Knowmads are critical relevancies

    Knowmads are visceral thinkers, expanded multiplicities, minds nested in vast and complex infocologies.
    As such Knowmads herald a new kind of mind, free to be undefined in a polytopian infosphere.
    Knowmads are critically relevant in as much as they recognize the vicariousness of their extension-ability in the relevant infocology.
    Complex meshworks, embedded in complex infocologies engender flows of intersubjective co-dependencies; these in turn loop upon themselves and re-iterate the intelligent directionality.
    The feedback loop here is obvious, but where is the individual?
    Answer: the individual will be extended viscerally across an indefinite infosphere, defined locally by the reflective relevant infocology.

    In a sense we could say that the aesthetics of the posthuman mind resides with a new kind of empathy born of the visceral expansion in complex infocologies. Such an expansion will afford us the luxury of an intelligent response to the evolutionary pressure made upon our embodied minds by the proliferation of augmented reality technologies.

    “There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars”

    Jack Kerouac

    Let us go everywhere...

    shortly to be continued..

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    This is part 7 in the series: The Rise of the Cyber Unified Civilization

    I've handled colour as a man should behave. You may conclude that I consider ethics and aesthetics as one.
    Josef Albers

    We are multidimensional minds, multisensory systems presently embodied in simple materiality. But that is changing.
    Our presence as embodied cognition increases in scope and extent, range and span, delineating a new contour to our beingness in time. This increase in presence is presently mediated via the net and its mobile derivatives, augmented, auric and virtual realities, which deconstruct our age-old location based awareness and reconstruct it into an ambient awareness pervading all facets of our lives.
    The new ambient awareness we are evolving into will in time define a new mindset, a fresh collection of sensations and an original kind of perception.

    This fact changes us; slowly, almost imperceptibly, but change it does.

    “Only as an aesthetic phenomenon is the world justified.”

    Friedrich Nietzsche

    As we evolve individually, as culture, as civilization and as specie, increasing our technological know-how and scientific understanding it is becoming clearer and clearer that long held habits of thought though still prevalent no longer fit the state of affairs we exist in.
    The new state of affairs is a world in which information of geo-location of an individual is a common public knowledge (see: Is location where it’s at in social networking?) and in which objects will talk to each other as spime ; a world in which hyperconnectivity rules the social sphere of human intersubjectivity, eliminating or transcending space and time coordinates is no longer fictional but a reality we all need come to terms with.
    This hyperconnected reality implies on our options and availability, implications that are often overlooked and indeed to my eyes misrepresented, at least in so far as the subject in question is a Knowmad and a Polytopian.

    In this respect I do not think that all hyperconnected minds operate the same or indeed that generalizations should be the case. Do note for example the latest research maintaining that : “U.S. Students Addicted To The Internet” and yet on the same token but arriving to a different conclusion in the latest Pew research published : “In an online survey of 895 technology stakeholders’ and critics’ expectations of social, political and economic change by 2020, fielded by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center:
    » Google won’t make us stupid: 76% of these experts agreed with the statement, “By 2020, people’s use of the Internet has enhanced human intelligence; as people are allowed unprecedented access to more information they become smarter and make better choices.”- (The full report on the future of the internet is well worth reading ).

    In my previous post: ‘Knowmads as metabolic reactors’ I have proposed that Knowmads are developing an inherent capacity to distinguish between different kinds of information, namely toxic and nutritious.
    Moreover Knowmads were presented as : “.. metabolic reactors of information, intermediate junctions of innovation and creativity, catalysts of emergent phase spaces.”
    As this line of clarity unfolds I am moving now into the exploration of Knowmads as aesthetic curators as I see in this motion the natural evolution of the metabolic reactors.
    I have written before that Knowmads, as metabolic reactors are particular kind of beings who thrive in situations of ambiguity and develop perceptions that allow the new sense of cyber-intuition to come forth.
    It is my view that certain Knowmads are developing a particular set of skills that will in time become the normative expression of extra ordinary cognition, I refer specifically to minds that are developing an exceptional capability of enhancing the health and wealth of an infocology by their choices.

    These choices of what to publish and what to point, what to prune and what to emphasize are the key parameters of these intersectionists (hyperconnected individuals locating themselves at the intersection of feeds of information in advanced infocologies).

    These individuals are not necessarily bloggers of fame or journalists of note, artists or editors, though of course they may be; what makes them particularly interesting and especially good indicators to our hybrid futures is their curatorial capabilities and cyber intuitions.
    They do something extremely interesting; they juxtapose art and science, technology and philosophy in such a fashion as to increase our collective aestheticism. And if, as I believe, and the Pew repost shows, the hyperconnected state of affairs is making us more intelligent and more capable of information retrieval, in the process changing and evolving our brains, what we will need more of is this very curatorial capability.

    "Leonardo Da Vinci combined art and science and aesthetics and engineering, that kind of unity is needed once again. "

    Ben Shneiderman

    What is an aesthetic curator of information?

    The simplest way to put it is that an aesthetic curator is a hyperconnected mind that has developed the basic skill of, for lack of a better definition; I will call here, increasing the beauty of an infocology.
    Let us define the beauty of an infocology as the set of characteristics that make an infocology inspiring and exciting, smoothly conjoining diverse streams of impressions and information

    The aesthetic curation of information and knowledge in hyperconnected infoflows is a manner of managing an invisible yet palpable infrastructure. The fashion by which this infrastructure is positioning diverse elements of information in a given infocology is what makes it an Art in itself, a unique point of reference and an observational front line. As I see it, Knowmads as travelers in infostreams, surfers of exceptional insight and minds that carry a cyber intuition that bypasses the apparent limitations of information transmissions, are particularly well suited to the task of infocology aesthetic curator.

    There are of course, some websites that already try and to a very large extent produce infocologies of exceptional beauty and interest. Of particular note is space collective very own Folkert : “But Does It float”: But does it float : an ongoing visual conversation between Folkert and Atley taking place inside a browser window. Or look at the amazing feed of @BrainPicker from Brain Pickings defined in their ‘about’ as: “This is Brain Pickings. It’s a modest exercise in vision- and mind-expansion. Curated bits of culture that will, at the very least, introduce you to new ideas and perspectives and, at their very best, help you think more, laugh more, create more. Be a better person. Because a better person conceives of better, stronger, smarter, richer, deep, more impactful ideas — culturally, commercially and socially. “

    Exceptional mentioning need take into consideration the work of Seed Magazine and Environmental Graffiti and the fantastic curation of Escape into Life and Synaptic Stimuli.

    All of the examples above , and there are many more out there in the vast infosphere, are models and illustrations of fantastic curatorial capabilities and though being beautiful examples of curated infocologies, and by extension enriching the aesthetic experiences of their beholders, I think it is only the tip of the iceberg.
    The iceberg I refer to is the extended cyber experience of beauty, increasing intelligence and a new form of cognition, the co-opted aestheticism of accentuated collaboration. The co-opted intersubjective interest produced in advanced infocologies aiming to better both the involved Knowmad and the cultural health and wealth of the infocology at play is a paradigm shift in infocognition.

    The necessity of art in science and poetry in understanding is beyond doubt the most pressing issue at our doorstep; it may not appear as such in front of the tremendous problems we are facing as a civilization on the brink of a probable technological singularity, yet if we are to advance a mind rooted in the Neolithic into a post human future of beauty, aesthetic curators of information are the beacons we need look to.
    Space Collective itself is a very good pointer to where the shift in infocognition is taking us as indeed is the Polytopia project, both aiming to bring the emotional intelligence of aesthetics into the discourse of the evolution of civilization and hyperconnected minds in particular.
    Knowmads I see as aesthetic curators of information in as much as the function they provide is one of enhanced awareness to knowledge transmission and the ensuing transformation of the minds in question.

    Our hybrid futures and the rise of the cyber unified civilization, imply that we are moving at a pace of transformation to which we are little aware on a moment by moment basis. The possible beauty of our future lies in our hands, in our very own capability to transform ourselves into curators of interest and aesthetic intelligence, a transmutation in the manner we understand the world and cohere a complexity that unfolds before us.

    Alfred North Whitehead once said that: ”Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern.” Taking this statement as a cue I believe that by becoming aesthetic curators of information we can increase our understanding of the infosphere, define a new kind of intelligence based on the cyber-intuition demanded by curatorial skills, and concurrently design the beauty of the pattern of our hybrid futures as well as rise above the apparent meaninglessness of old recurrences.
    Knowmads as aesthetic curators of information in infocologies may provide a fresh vision of thought, an insight into the possible beauty born of intersubjective cross-pollinating info-streams, in the process creating a striking version of an evolved specie, a human ready to be an aesthetic phenomenon.

    shortly to be continued..

    Images in text:
    1. André Kertész, Untitled (Eye and Lips), 1970
    2. Brain Maze by Istvan Orosz
    3. Fake Heroes, Fake Idols by Hector Pineda

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