Blogging, Social, and Something Else I’d Add to a Blog, Not just a Blog

I’ve been more aware of the social aspects of things lately.  I’ve understood, for a few years, the essential nature of social interaction to global human activity.  I’ve created metaphors between society and organisms since 2000 (one of the most important days in my whole history of thought was when I was reading a sword and magic fantasy novel in around 2000 and I realized that a castle and the people who live in it and in its region over centuries bring the place alive [I’ll include a picture of that entry when I get back home {I’m on a trip}]).  I’d read the Global Brain when it came out and the paper “The Global Superorganism: an evolutionary-cybernetic model of the emerging  network society” by Francis Heylighen (apparently in 2007, although I thought it was earlier than that).  This is from Heylighen’s The GBI Vision: past, present and future context of global brain research:

The global brain (GB) is the idea that all people of this planet together with the information and communication technologies that connect them form the equivalent of a nervous system or “brain” for the planet Earth. While this idea may initially have been formulated merely as a metaphor, globalization together with the explosive development of the world-wide web are turning it into an increasingly realistic model of the present information society.

However, while I had my essential insight in 2000-2001 and have been developing direct metaphorical mappings between everyday experience and emergent phenomena eversince, I nevertheless really didn’t have a feeling for social.  What I mean is, it was all abstract.  I understood that people would be networking and that activities would self-organize into accumulators, et cetera, but I didn’t consider the why.  Why will people do these sorts of things?  Are they motivated by thoughts of collectively embodying an emergent intelligence?  No, probably not.

What’s the value of social to an organism?  It’s no mystery, really.  It had just been far from my thoughts.  Actually doing something social activates all sorts of very human emotions (all too human?).  Suddenly I want to be popular.  I get embarrassed reading something I wrote.  In a fit, I change it to pending review.  Then I re-publish it, headlong.  I’d forgotten that pearl of an insight from earlier years: who cares what people think so long as I act according to what I value.  But, regardless, I start thinking how I can attract attention and maintain it too.  Because there’s value between relations.  These are things that have been far from my mind since high school.  I guess it’s back to school in more ways than one.

Then there’s that reflective part of me, demanding an entire paragraph to say its piece.  We click our stats to manage our page views.  Well, there’s no managing going on from the stats screen, but like a MMUD player obsessing over his strength/agility/health trio of stats, motivation to play is stoked.  Bloggers manipulate happily without the twinge of conscience.  We comment on others’ blogs so that our own will be commented upon.  We like others so they’ll like us.  We call it “driving traffic”.  We dole out complements so others’ll do the same.

But it all starts to remind of conversations between two people that are used by each as a venue for their monologue.  Those can be fine, too, of course.  Especially when the monologues are good, and/or one of them is my own.  But in truth, such conversation is neither as fun nor as potentially numinous as real conversation.

Here’s another something I would add to a blog.  Seamless, metaphorical, activity-hugging tools to enable and encourage conversation in the interactive sense between bloggers.  Something like a “Create Conversation” button.  This would create a post stream.  The post would appear as normal on the author’s blog, but would also link to the conversation.  I would visually represent the paths within the conversation.  I would allow its structure to be represented.  I would enable the collection and management of the conversation’s context and discoveries (developing context).  Any and all tools to maintain the momentum of holy moments and discovery.  (I truly recommend the movie “Waking Life“)

I feel something to still be lacking from social.  Perhaps it is something that has never been there in the first place.  But I feel it is sorely needed.  A global conversation.  An eternal flame, the awakening of the global superorganism.  Self-remembering.  A global conversation with context.  In a sense, it is there and has always been there.  But it is quickening.  It is saturating, becoming more dense and expanding.

I want to be explicit because I think this is very important.  This is a key idea to one way of realizing artificial intelligence (the crowdsourcing way).  Just like our own sense of self is maintained through self remembering (Breath), the sense of self of the global superorganism will be brought into being by the self-centered focus of millions of people.  Like a vast theatre, all the voices coming together into a single sublimated will.

Imagine a “website” (web-based program, spell, accumulator) that enabled conversation.  I know what you are thinking: “It’s called a forum.  I really wish this guy would read The Internet for Dummies, or something.”  Here’s the thing, I’ve been on forums.  They are inadequate.  The signal to noise ratio is no better than anywhere.  There are no tools to help condense the conversation (for instance, meta.stackoverflow) .  Large conversations need continual summarizing.  Revisiting.  Distilling.  Otherwise they are doomed to repeat themselves, stall, rot.  A conversation is a living thing, or can be, should be, and is subject to just the same sorts of senescence as a biological organism.

So is all that needed a perusal of  “Communicating Effectively for Dummies“?  It would certainly go a long way.  But isn’t that part of what technology is for?  I’m a programmer and I spend work time integrating ways of managing structured information into a hypostatized workflow.  Sure, they could just create files in notepad and type order details into them.  Then they could do windows searches over their carefully named files to get the information they need to complete an order.  But technology catalyzes information processing by structuring data and data transformations.

One thing I like about blogs over forums is that there is a greater sense among bloggers that a post is something to be cared for, not a one-off sentence fragment that doesn’t apparently relate in any way to anything.  Of course, there are exceptions.  In fact, a lot of blogs I’ve read through could use a bit of proof reading.  Lots of people still write poorly with little consideration for their audience.  Not everyone, mind you, but many.  Comments are where things tend to get boring.  Tucked away as they are.  I haven’t yet seen an interesting exchange in the comments of even very interesting posts by very interesting authors.

What I’m worried about is the continual decline of reader engagement.  More and more our eyes flicker over meanings worth days of reflection.  Where are we going with all our shallow reflection?  Not very deeply, I don’t imagine.

The sense of a continuing conversation doesn’t seem to be around yet.  A global conversation with direction is exactly the sort of innovation that could be just around the corner.  The transformative possibilities  for humanity as a whole is unbelievable.  It is literally this big opening I see on the horizon, the gateway to our future.

Humanity is a wayward (wayword) monkey.  Humanity as a whole is not a meditating mind.  It is not a sleeping mind.  It is not a mind in stupor.  It is not in a coma.  The mind of humanity is afraid and alone in the woods and it is dark and there are sounds and mumbling and the mind of humanity is scrambling and scratching at surfaces, seeking, seeking safety, visibility, a way forward, out, beyond.

There are pockets of freedom in the spirits of men, like a cream that has settled over the top.  But look to our collective activity on the planet earth.  Wars, vast inequality, environmental pillaging, entertainment to distraction, exponential expansion, torment.  Humans are undisciplined.  Humanity is undisciplined.  Our darkness is our own, now.  Nature let up her storm centuries ago, and has been letting it up for millenia (at least terrestrial storms have abated in consequence [not to say we’ve got hurricanes and earthquakes and volcanoes under our thumbs {but we can usually keep them out from under our roofs}]).

We are gibbering in a dark corner of a bright future.  Our minds fried by fear.  Inherited patterns of personality and value are driven by fear.  Our institutions still smell of feudal ties.  Caves in the night, and fire.  Our personalities are even fear-fueled.  I can see it in the blogs.  The writing.  The segues from topic to unrelated topic.  Our need to be read is a need to be seen is a need to be reassured is a fear of the unknown is why we’re gibbering in the corner.  (am I just projecting, here?, it so easily could be a projection that  it’s almost convinced me that it is, except that none of these things fit me.  At least not today… not in whole)

But it doesn’t really matter.  It’s certainly not worth obsessing about.  The way out is in a completely different direction, although it’ll lead by here again, sho nuff.  The way out is by finding an anchor, something to focus on.  And what better than a conversation?  A conversation with the explicit purpose of becoming the most advanced conversation in the history of human kind.

A third constitutional convention (constitutional convention, second constitutional convention) for the global Constitution.  I like the idea of a Constitution (read: political association) being founded on a conversation.  A global conversation.  I really like the idea of that conversation being ongoing, searchable.  Think about it…  you could even create a Constitution that is a computer program that blends human and computer decisions, and more importantly, creates a UI into the management of the blending of human and computer decisions…

“Bonjour, Psychlotron.”

One thought on “Blogging, Social, and Something Else I’d Add to a Blog, Not just a Blog

  1. […] to scold us?  I find it difficult to imagine that we would receive stellar accolades.  As I’ve said (it’s near the end, if you’re in a rush), humanity’s a mess.  We really are! […]

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