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!

"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 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.
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
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.

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.