Sonntag, 22. Juli 2012

Dealing with complexity

If you wonder what I am thinking and dealing about recently here is a short explanation of a categorization model called CYNEFIN by Dave Snowden - which is accompanying many of my thoughts the last couple of days (weeks?, months?). The connection to ALMBLITZ is not obvious, but more explenations will follow.

Samstag, 29. Januar 2011

1968: Marshall McLuhan im Gespräch mit Norman Mailer ...

und der Kommentar von Nicholas Carr. Großartig!

Mittwoch, 27. Oktober 2010

The Man Machine

We are so adaptable. It’s amazing. Every day we start using new tools and develop new cultural techniques which delight us childishly.

Childishly, because we really believe that there is no price we have to pay. Childishly, because we hope that how we use a medium makes a difference and a better usability will help us to survive. Childishly, because we don`t get tired in repeating McLuhans dictum that „the medium is the message“ without reflecting it. Otherwise we would bring to our mind that the content of a medium is just „the juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind“ (McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964)

It needs a bit of dialectics to understand that we are not just using tools but also shaped by them. „Our equipment takes part in forming our thoughts“, Friedrich Nietzsche realized 1879, after some weeks using a typewriter. And the more general and usable and mobile and sexy the tools become the harder it gets to keep distance. The harder it gets to see „how changes in a mediums form also change its content.“ (McLuhan) The harder it gets to detect the skills we loose when we gain new ones: „A new medium is never an addition to an old one, it always develops some cognitive skills at the expense of others.“

It looks like that loosing is part of the game. Tools may extend our physical strength, the range of our sensitivity, they may reshape nature for better serving us or extend our mental power but they always make the part they replace feel numb to us. Think about the car navigation device and you know that it‘s true. The numbing effect of technology is part of its ethics.

For a man with a hammer every problem looks like a nail. But what if the hammer comes in the shape of a cool gadget? And what about the technologies that "influence how we find, store and interpret information, how we direct our attention, engage our senses, how we remember and how we forget? ... the tools of mind amplify and in turn numb the most intimate, the most human, of our natural capacities - those for reason, perception, memory, emotion (N. Carr, The Shallows).

In a situation like this it's not about finding better analogies for the human and the machine world. The challenge lies more in finding the very qualities that still seperate us from the machine. Isn’t the brain more than a computer? Can memory really be outsourced? Is culture not more than the world’s information. Is scrolling and the mindless consuming of data really the same than reading? Is the easy and the fast way always the best one? Isn’t following a search algorithm different than searching? And what about our emotions? Can we live them in computer coded relations?

Back to dialectics. When tools are absolutized, enlightenment switches into new mythology – and humans become "the sex organs of the machine world" (McLuhan). Do we want this? Considering the word of William James, who wrote 1892 that „the art of remembering is the art of thinking“, do we still want to outsource our memory to a search engine?

Our mental adaptibility is huge. Undoubtedly. Thanks to the plasticity of our brain we can reroute its pathways again and again. Lets do it without a digital route planner. Cause "what matters is not our becoming but what we become." (N.Carr)

This text arose out of a deep reading session of Nicholas Carrs book: "The Shallows. What the Internet is doing to our brains" which I consider to be a milestone in describing our handling of digital media and the alternatives to a tecnocratic culture. It is a guest post to the World Blogging Forum in Vienna, taking part on 17th of November 2011.

Samstag, 25. September 2010

The Shallows: A must-read for everyone who wants to survive ...

shallows"Our mental adaptibility to technology, built into the deepest workings of our brains, is a keynote of intellectual history. Adaption leaves us better suited to our circumstances, but qualitatively it´s a neutral process.

What matters in the end is not our becoming but what we become.

`The frenziedness of technology`, as Heidegger wrote, threatens to `entrench itself everywhere`. It may be that we are now entering the final stage of this entrenchment. We are welcoming the frenziedness into our souls."

This is how Nicholas Carr ends his book THE SHALLOWS, which is a must-read for everyone who wants to survive ...

Freitag, 4. September 2009

Conversation with Tim O'Reilly

Listening to Tim O'Reilly when he talks about the alignment of speech databases and search databases leaded me writing the following TWEET:

SINIWELER: The new search technologies create search highways - but what will happen with the offroad pathways? @timoreilly

TIM O' REILLY ANSWERED AS FOLLOWS: @siniweler My sense is that search produces both offroad pathways and highways. It's very analogous to the way physical roads formed.

SINIWELER REPEATED: @timoreilly - with maybe one BIG difference: in physical world roads produce traffic, in search world traffic produces roads

AGAIN TIM O'REILLY: @siniweler Actually, historically most roads started with traffic, not the other way around. Intentional roads a later development.

AND SINIWELER: @timoreilly - my approach was less historically but more philosophically or even ontologically. but thx for responding!

What happened here? I think it's a principal difference approaching this subject. The reason why I mistrust analogies with the real world when it comes to think about search development is, that in physical worlds/cities even the narrowest allies are still existing. They are maybe a bit scary to walk in, because they are dark and inhabited with awkard people, but they are there. Whereas in a search world/city where the roads are just made out of traffic, these allies are maybe also there because of the rules of statistic distribution but - and that is the main difference - they are not perceptible because we are lacking the tools.

Search tools are whores of statistics. And statistics are whores of numbers. Big numbers. Otherwise the visualization tools will relentlessly ignore them. Which means: not putting them on the map. And into existence.

Dienstag, 24. März 2009

Am Ende des Informationszeitalters ...

David Weinberger (Cluetrain Manifesto) talking about
> Information and Bits > Information models consciousness > Emergence and complexity
> Internet and emergence > Twitter as example of emergence > Semantic Web
> Web es emerging stratum of being, a human anthology > Web science metadata

Thanks to Ulrike Reinhard for pointing to the Web-Movie-Project on Stuart Kaufmann's dialogic/dialectic thoughts


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