Sunday, January 10, 2010

CES- Consuming Energy Simplified

Some might suggest that the internet has strengthened individuality: now we can set up niche news feeds, and social networks geared to some obscure interests. A truly boggling amount of information is available, not boggling in terms of quantity perhaps, so much as boggling in terms of ease of access.
Still there may be a case for the opposite, that our technical environment actually homogenizes people to an unprecedented amount. 

That humanity is something larger than the individual is true by definition. That the accent of reality may glint brighter on Humanity per se, rather than the individual is not a common proposition but one that could be defended (at another time).  That humanity could resemble a machine which may be, itself, part of larger machinery, is verifiable by quiet logical consideration.

A friend noted that it felt strange to be privy to the life of someone you do not consider still a part of your own life. The subject was facebook, a social networking site. She echoed sentiments I had not myself expressed, but noticed. There is something different about social networking sites. That difference may be partly that the function of social networking is not to strengthen our own adorable individuality, but rather to diminish our originality so that each person is a better fitting cog in a larger machine. The person then would be a more easily replaced cog, a cog which suddenly has increased functions it needs to serve in the larger machinery.
This kind of adjustment might be especially important to a machine which is increasing in size. This makes communication between parts of the machine subject to adjustment to allow efficient (let's say nerve impulses) which must now cover a larger distance in the same or even smaller amount of time. This is just an example, of what may be adjustments growth demands.

The above though is too abstract---what would the individual notice that would prompt thoughts like those above?  The discomfort my friend mentioned is an example. My own example involves the diversity of people on my friends list. People who see different aspects of me and in fact may not be able to comprehend some things, like my dumpster diving habits. Now what has happened--I may temper my comments to something blander that will not provoke confusion on the part of people who have known me for a long time. Notice the pressure to have a high number of friends on your fb list, notice that you are only supposed to have ONE profile on facebook, and then notice if you do not also tailor your comments in what could be called self-censorship.

The effect of this is, just on the mechanical level, to make people blander. This is what I meant by talking about homogenization. Everybody is a little more alike, everybody thereby makes a better cog.

This is an example, the web itself may be considered a more highly evolved level of nervous system, for an organism the parts of which do not need to appreciate their own actual function. I think of twitter, and the character limitations.  And the popularity of twitter, and perhaps speed bumps would be an analogy of the function of twitter. 

These are just some thoughts,  not necessarily true or false, but designed to help us consider our world from a fresh perspective. Or, I may just be saying that...