A Globe, Clothing Itself with a Brain

“Teilhard went on to argue that there have been three major phases in the evolutionary process. The first significant phase started when life was born from the development of the biosphere. The second began at the end of the Tertiary period, when humans emerged along with self-reflective thinking. And once thinking humans began communicating around the world, along came the third phase. This was Teilhard’s “thinking layer” of the biosphere, called the noosphere (from the Greek noo, for mind). Though small and scattered at first, the noosphere has continued to grow over time, particularly during the age of electronics. Teilhard described the noosphere on Earth as a crystallization: “A glow rippled outward from the first spark of conscious reflection. The point of ignition grows larger. The fire spreads in ever-widening circles, he wrote, “till finally the whole planet is covered with incandescence.”His picture of the noosphere as a thinking membrane covering the planet was almost biological – it was a globe clothing itself with a brain. Teilhard wrote that the noosphere “results from the combined action of two curvatures – the roundness of the earth and the cosmic convergence of the mind.”Marshall McLuhan was drawn to the concept of the noosphere. Teilhard’s description of this electromagnetic phenomenon became a touchstone for McLuhan’s theories of the global “electric culture.” In The Gutenberg Galaxy, McLuhan quotes Teilhard: “What, in fact, do we see happening in the modern paroxysm? It has been stated over and over again. Through the discovery yesterday of the railway, the motor car and the aeroplane, the physical influence of each man, formerly restricted to a few miles, now extends to hundreds of leagues or more. Better still: thanks to the prodigious biological event represented by the discovery of electromagnetic waves, each individual finds himself henceforth (actively and passively) simultaneously present, over land and sea, in every corner of the earth.” This simultaneous quality, McLuhan believed, “provides our lives again with a tribal base.” But this time around, the tribe comes together on a global playing field.We stand today at the beginning of Teilhard’s third phase of evolution, the moment at which the world is covered with the incandescent glow of consciousness. Teilhard characterized this as “evolution becoming conscious of itself.” The Net, that great collectivizer of minds, is the primary tool for our emergence into the third phase. “With cyberspace, we are, in effect, hard-wiring the collective consciousness,” says Barlow.”

3.06: A Globe, Clothing Itself with a Brain

A globe clothing itself with a brain- a n interesting proposition. The Net is collective conscious,the wiring of millions of neurons .Each individual finds himself everywhere across space and time. When I am sitting here and typing away I am not merely in my local space but am spread everywhere -a noosphere which dominates the world ,the sky and the space.

Worse is better

“Gabriel argues that “Worse is better” produces more successful software than the MIT approach: As long as the initial program is basically good, it will take much less time and effort to implement initially, and it will be easier to adapt to new situations, for example: porting software to new machines. Thus its use will spread rapidly, long before a program developed using the MIT approach has a chance to be developed and deployed. Once it has spread, there will be pressure to improve its functionality, but users have already been conditioned to accept “worse” rather than the “right thing”. “Therefore, the worse-is-better software first will gain acceptance, second will condition its users to expect less, and third will be improved to a point that is almost the right thing. In concrete terms, even though Lisp compilers in 1987 were about as good as C compilers, there are many more compiler experts who want to make C compilers better than want to make Lisp compilers better.”

Worse is better – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

We have ,in our organization, experienced this .The banking software we had adopted was based upon an archaic Scottish concept of banking which was implemented at great risk for migration from the essentially manual systems of book keeping to a first time ever computerized book-keeping. We thought the apocalypse had arrived and it was only a few years before we would all take back our left out provident fund moneys and go home. Strangely enough we plodded along for 15 years with the system with occasional hiccups but by and large it went on fine and the doomsday did not arrive as expected. We cursed the system under our breath but carried on regardless. Perhaps worse was actually better because the system evolved beautifully with several useful inputs from the grassroots level implementors and lo and behold the finished product bore no resemblance to the original one which we had inherited from the confused Scotsmen.

A “made up” past

“…we know almost nothing about our pasts. What we remember is often false. For instance, when I try to think about when I was seven years old I can just recall two or three episodes, two or three images. And I only remember them because they are always the same: I remember remembering them. A lot of people would like to have another past; some are able to make it up and believe in their own versions. The writer Bruce Chatwin, for example, according to the biography by Nicholas Shakespeare, invented such a story for himself. It appears he believed in this past, which led us as his readers to believe in it, too.PP/AT: Do you think a made-up past can come to define somebody’s future, too? And does this idea apply to nations as well?JA: Yes, no doubt about it: by making up a past you’re able to alter your future. That’s why the idea is so attractive. The final objective is to modify everything. Science fiction writers know that by playing with the past you are also playing with the future. There are a lot of books that explain how some so-called “traditions” were made up in a matter of days. In newer countries like Angola the temptation to create national heroes and traditions is very strong and answers a collective need. It’s been done before and it’s being done again now.”

Words Without Borders: An Interview with José Eduardo Agualusa

I have seen this happening in my own life . I try to make up a past which will make me free of guilt. Because guilt is what you feel all the while when you think of the past events .Rather than wallowing in self-misery born of a painful realization of one’s own failures I would prefer to make up my past ,which gives me a better interpretation of  my  visions for future Not that I try to make a romanticized past with imagined glory.It is just the thought that some of the blandest events that had happened  could not have been better and that some of the painful events were not in fact all that pain-causing and could have happened any way without their origin in my own failure.

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Talking to ourselves

Language and self-awareness

tags: “inner speech”.”inner dialogue”

  • …we most often need to talk to ourselves in order to understand who we are. That is, inner speech is frequently required to access self-information and to gradually build a self-concept. To illustrate, let’s imagine that you want to reflect on an abdominal pain you are currently experiencing. It is very likely that you will engage in an internal monologue, thinking “Why is it that my belly hurts? I feel cramps… Ha! I get it-I skipped breakfast…” You could go on and also notice: “I’ve been missing breakfast often lately… I tend to sleep in, I don’t eat breakfast, and by noon I’m starving… And I don’t go to the gym as often as I should… This is bad-I’m getting lazy…” Here the adjective “lazy” constitutes the conclusion that you have drawn from your inner monologue; it may then become a more or less permanent part of your self-concept. So inner speech, and thus language, would play an important role in self-referential activities. Said differently: inner speech would represent an important cognitive process underlying :self-awareness. Note that this view does not implicate that there is no self-awareness without language. We can be aware of a pain without having to talk to ourselves about it. However, I argue that the sensation will be fully brought to consciousness only if we verbally label it.

My own experience is that we do not talk to ourselves but merely comment on the course the mind is taking .There is a running commentary ,which goes on all the time .The commentary links up the different parts of the brain activity as we experience them and consolidates each cluster of related activities in a small capsule and makes us aware of it as an experience . There is a process of consolidation and arriving at an epigrammatic truth .Looked at this way the process takes place in language or a related brain activity and this way language helps in self-awareness.

Are we now into more methodology development than in idea creation ?

Sunset for Ideology, Sunrise for Methodology?  

tags: no_tag

Late 19th and early 20th century scholarship was dominated not by big ideas, but by methodological refinement and disciplinary consolidation.
the 19th and early 20th century, by contrast, took activities like philology, lexicology, and especially bibliography very seriously. Serious scholarship was concerned as much with organizing knowledge as it was with framing knowledge in an ideological construct.
I believe we are at a similar moment of change right now, that we are entering a new phase of scholarship that will be dominated not by ideas, but once again by organizing activities, both in terms of organizing knowledge and organizing ourselves and our work.
The new technology of the Internet has shifted the work of a rapidly growing number of scholars away from thinking big thoughts to forging new tools, methods, materials, techniques, and modes or work which will enable us to harness the still unwieldy, but obviously game-changing, information technologies now sitting on our desktops and in our pockets.
All of these things—collaborative encylcopedism, tool building, librarianship—fit uneasily into the standards of scholarship forged in the second half of the 20th century.

“Sunset for Ideology, Sunrise for Methodology?” by Tom Scheinfeldt

The process of knowledge aggregation through the open source technologies and use of new digital technologies is slowly taking place without our being aware of it always, except through the historians of science like this .But it is through the aggregation of individual bits of ideation that the process shall move forward .It is not merely the new tools or methodologies that shall take the humanity ahead in its journey towards mastering the world but the faster and more consolidated process of giving shape to new content developed through the innovative genius of the human mind .The role of methodologies is to facilitate giving shape to and bringing forth newer content which will add to the sum total of human knowledge.

Using visual imagination to develop memory

"Develop Perfect Memory With the Memory Palace Technique  

tags: "memory palace technique"

The Memory Palace technique is based on the fact that we’re extremely good at remembering places we know. A ‘Memory Palace’ is a metaphor for any well-known place that you’re able to easily visualize. It can be the inside of your home, or maybe the route you take every day to work. That familiar place will be your guide to store and recall any kind of information

I have never used the memory palace technique but a similar thing I have tried to use in fixing the mind on a single continuous activity .Like for instance ,while praying .I have never properly understood how to focus my mind on God during the five or ten minutes of prayer because the mind does not remain thoughtless in the duration .In the Hindu religion idol worship is practiced primarily to enable your mind to be fixed on God during prayer. But then the mind has to be fixed on a static object for a full five or ten minutes ,which is a difficult thing to do. I have therefore evolved my own method of fixing the mind on the mental activity of doing "the walk around" in the temple .Visual imagination can perhaps be used to do such a walk around .I am not sure if my thoughts do not stray during the walk around in the process of making the journey as pleasant as possible.

The obvious inconvenient question that should arise out of this is: "is this prayer?" I am not sure of the answer.

Poverty kills normal initiative

"The sting of poverty – The Boston Globe 

tags: poverty

"In the community of people dedicated to analyzing poverty, one of the sharpest debates is over why some poor people act in ways that ensure their continued indigence. Compared with the middle class or the wealthy, the poor are disproportionately likely to drop out of school, to have children while in their teens, to abuse drugs, to commit crimes, to not save when extra money comes their way, to not work
When we’re poor, Karelis argues, our economic worldview is shaped by deprivation, and we see the world around us not in terms of goods to be consumed but as problems to be alleviated. This is where the bee stings come in: A person with one bee sting is highly motivated to get it treated. But a person with multiple bee stings does not have much incentive to get one sting treated, because the others will still throb. The more of a painful or undesirable thing one has (i.e. the poorer one is) the less likely one is to do anything about any one problem. Poverty is less a matter of having few goods than having lots of problems."

This problem has been bugging me since my childhood when I was surrounded by people living in poverty and squalor. I myself lived in it as a child and it is only much later that I could rise out of the dehumanizing conditions of poverty. Drawing from the sting theory mentioned above, one could come to a conclusion that poverty is such a hopeless situation that it kills the normal human initiative expected in such a situation because the individual feels that it does not really matter if a partial or insignificant solution is reached .When I am talking about the dehumanizing  effect of poverty ,I mean the killing of the normal human initiative which alone can bring the individual out of the hopeless situation.