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Gabriel Shalom
Quantum Cinema
Cyphox Industries
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    Polytopia
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    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
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    Crossposted from Emergence Collective

    The Social API

    Lately there has been quite a bit of dialogue about writing a Social API (application programming interface) so that individuals and organizations can participate in "cross-platform" emergent innovation and action in a modular and plug-and-play manner. In our attempts to define what this Social API would look like, it becomes apparent it will not resemble the form of a normal API, as humans are not machines. What is a prescriptive, highly defined, unambiguous programming convention for writing software will need some serious translation to work for human brains.

    Regarding human brains, the way I see it:

    Action = Application
    Ideas = Programming
    Conversation = Interface

    Using this set of equivalencies we can see the potential for conversation (the interface) to spark new ideas (programming) which in turn causes us to act (application) resulting in all sorts of creative mashups of new behavior (the emergence?).

    Twitter as a Global Conversation

    Since I read Venessa's post about how to use Twitter to build intelligence, I have supported the idea that Twitter is a global conversation — albeit a global conversation parsed at 140 characters at a time (plus annotations coming soon) that is at least 90% cacophony! Nonetheless, this shift in understanding changed the way I use Twitter and had immediate results in my actions online and in the real world. Apart from becoming an evangelist for Venessa's article — I must have told at least two dozen people about it since I read it — I have had a new level of interaction using Twitter which is remarkable for its ability to manifest thought into action.

    The dilemma with Twitter is that you have to learn some secret code to get it working for you. Among many other issues, not that many Twitter newbies get properly introduced to the basics of # hashtagging and the @ at-reply. The result of this lack of connection and being on the inside of the Twitter culture is there is a large percentage of Twitter users with inactive accounts. Or, alternately, there is simply a misunderstanding that Twitter is just public Facebook status updates, deterring the most avid Facebook users from having to replicate what they perceive to be their primary social engagement on the web in a less private sphere.

    Junto: an Amplifier for the Power of Networks

    Unlike Twitter, the live-video medium allows us the fullest range of expression of our innate communication abilities, including the critical layers of non-verbal communication, gesture, tone, facial-expression, etc.

    Seesmic did not become "Video for Twitter" because it consisted of artificially short blips of recorded video. Video wants to be live. For it to deliver a Twitter-like conversation experience it needs to fluctuate and swell like the cacophonous birdsong of the Twitter-sphere. Have you ever listened to the sound of lots of birds singing on a spring morning? The basic form is a musical form. For video to achieve that degree of musicality, the live video signal becomes more important than the archived video recording.

    Nonetheless, an archive is important. And certainly there is a substantial knowledge cartography community who will undoubtedly step forward to map the terrain of the Junto global conversation. I believe a robust archive will be an emergent property of the Junto platform itself.

    Analog Networks

    We cannot forget, however, that major movements in human history occurred without digital networks. The power of networks is something which digitization quantifies, but that power exists regardless of the quantification. While that quantification can serve as a self-reflexive mirror which then generates feedback and thus amplification, it's valuable to remember the power of analog networks when considering the fate of the Social API.

    Whether looking to the student movement born in the cafe culture of Paris, the community organizing during the American civil rights movement, or even the twitter resistance used during the Iranian elections, social movements have historically been built on a foundation of an exchange of ideas. As I see it, the radical proposition of Junto is as an amplification platform for ideas (programming).

    The world is undergoing massive changes in economy, environment, society, politics — you name it — and the emergence is no less than a generational movement against repeating the mistakes of the last century.

    There, I said it. And yes, this means the emergence and what it represents has values. Values of a techno-spiritual-secular nature, yet nonetheless values. The Social API — whether it ends up taking the form of a future blog post, a video series, or a good old fashioned political pamphlet — is a set of common values which will guide the emergence.

    When Lawrence Lessig spoke in Berlin last year at the Sophiensaele, I asked a question from the audience: "what do you think of Twitter?" His response resonates with me to this day: "Twitter reminds me of Ghandi". He went on to explain that Gandhi was able to organize massive protests in India in a time when not even telephones were at hand to spread the message of a planned direct action. Lessig felt that it worked because the Indian culture had an innate value of passing on useful information to whoever needed to hear it. His view was that this represented a kind of analog "re-tweeting", and that if it should have any implication for what Twitter represents for our culture, he was optimistic.
    Sun, Jul 11, 2010  Permanent link
    Categories: manifestation, junto, social API, action
    Sent to project: Polytopia
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