Archive for October, 2007

The Conscious Web
October 23, 2007

This is a thought that I had on my mind for a very long time, and actually wrote about it in very metaphorical terms a couple years ago. As the web keeps evolving, the sensation that this collective construction is slowly awakening is getting stronger.

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Globalization is leading us to create an universal system to access all the knowledge we have acquired throughout 10,000 years of recorded history. Each website, more and more, seems to me as an isolated neuron were a central nervous system such as Google is obsessed in extracting sense from all of the chaos. Wikipedia is the universal memory resource of the world. All the digital cameras out there are the eyes of this living system that will later obtain meaning through Flickr. And the tiny messages sent to Twitter are the kind of random thoughts planet Earth likes to have when it feels bored (or inspired).

The more global consciousness invades us, the closer to the notion of a living Earth we might get. Just think about all the media obsession about global warming… has technology permitted the consciousness of the Earth to output it’s pain?

And it has happened before. Our individual consciousness is the product of millions of years in evolution that took single-cell life onto the multi-cellular systems we are made of today. And probably our current thoughts are the fiction produced by millions of cells interacting with each other right now.

So I wonder.. am I writing this or is it the earth expressing itself?

Philosophical Rugby
October 6, 2007

Just like music, were Tango defines Argentine identity or Samba speaks Brazil’s rythm; sports emerge from cultures expressing their influences and virtues. American Football is the american adaptation of Rugby were they’ve created a propietary version of the sport that works perfect for broadcasting TV commercials and it’s focused on technological innovation. Meanwhile, Rugby represents the european tradition of fighting with barely any protections on for the oval ball.

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Right now, the rugby world cup is being held at france. Argentina’s Pumas are this year’s revelation after beating the strong teams of France and Ireland. And the thing it got to my attention about Rugby is how it was perceived by french philosopher Catherine Kintzler:

Rugby is a dialectical activity were you must conciliate the opposites, and the opposition. The movements are opposite within them: you must pass the ball backwards in order to move forwards; and the ball must be kept close and at the same time far away: stuck to your body while running, but released if you are falling after a tackle. That means that all actions are symmetrically oppossed.

Also, unlike other sports, some Rugby teams perform amazing theatrical performances to energize their spirits before playing the game. Such is the case of the world famous New Zealand team: All Blacks and their ancient maori Haka dance. It’s not common to see the notion of Play of theater and sports united like this.

When Books Were Technology
October 1, 2007

In a world of exponential technological growth, inventions from the past can sometimes be perceived as a common thing from nature. Books in particular, have been with us for so many centuries that we often forget they are one of the most important pieces of technology ever created.

The greatest contributor to books in the spanish language from the last century by using these to artistically express himself (just like games exploit computers for that very same expressive purpose and in many languages as well (C, Actionscript or Java)) was, without any doubt, Jorge Luis Borges. Few like him make me feel proud of the nationality I never chose.

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A particular short essay from him got my attention a few weeks ago. In his book Other Inquisitions he explores the birth of reading, he reminds the reader that back in the egyptian times books were received with reactionary comments, for them, they were “like painted figures that seem alive but never answer a single question asked to them” and they eventually provoke that “people stop using their memory and become dependant on symbols”.

The voice, in all cultures, was regarded as a sacred sound that had more power than symbols themselves. Reading was always a communal excercise were one read for the others to hear.

Borges finally recalls a writing from Saint Augustine from the 2nd century were he witnesses that precise moment when man seemed to begin reading in silence:

When Ambrosio read, he passed his view over the pages penetrating their soul, in the sense, of not conveying a single word nor even moving the tongue.

We already know how computers are changing our culture and  law as we know it. How is it changing our minds?