Victus Spiritus


The human social interface, why I love the Net

26 Nov 2009

The Lone Cypress - a drive down Highway 1 from San Francisco to San Diego

Each of our minds stands alone

The island of self is separated by an ocean of understanding from adjacent minds (more on this later). To connect with others, we must cross the communication chasm that is the product of diverse perceptions. One of the difficulties of deep and meaningful communication is conveying our genuine thoughts and feelings. Another barrier is syncronization, for each message we must be ready and willing to send or recieve it. Beyond willingness, we must also be capable. Skill and effort are required to effectively communicate. Consider the example of web blogs. It takes focused effort to distill abstract thoughts into meaningful written messages, and it takes time to read and interpret those messages.

Enter the Internet

For much of modern history written letters and books were a form of asyncronous communication. Advanced concepts were shared across continents and cultures. Technology has evolved over the centuries and a single massive network has arisen.

With the net, we can send out signals across the globe with the ease of pressing a single button. We have enabled adjacency of minds on a massive scale. Due to the asyncronous nature of many forms of net communication, the requirement for simultaneous openess of minds is relaxed. Individuals are free to tune in, and harmonize when and where they are ready.

What's in the tubes

The messages consist of text, images, music, video, software, and other data. From single authors and small groups, great collaborative structures have emerged such as wikipedia, and YouTube. Heavy references and linked terminology make plain what otherwise were once obscure topics. Curiousity naturally leads us to less confusion by following linked information. We have more power to find and consume information and media than ever before in history, and this is only the beginning. Arguably more valuable than the rich data itself, are the relationships which emerge between distant minds.

Our Minds are the most valuable web data

I believe the discovery of other minds which resonate with our ideas is the most potent and valued asset of the net. Serendipity in the virtual contiuum of expanding thought and knowledge is a welcome ally. When we harmonize our thought patterns with even a single kindred spirit we find meaning and insight in our own life experiences. Over time this gravity of belonging leads to the emergence of new societies and dynamic global communities in a way that has never before existed in history.