Moving Forward!

It’s been a long time since my last blog entry. Much has changed in my life and this will be reflected in the blog as I move forward. Those of you that take the time to read some of my previous entries will note that the focus was highly abstract and theoretical.

As we move forward you can expect the content to be more balanced. Most of it will reflect what I am thinking about and working. Even so, due to the fact that there are some deep intuitions that underlie my opinions, one can expect the content to maintain a bit of a philosophical feel.

One easy way to get things going is to reference several documents that I have written in the last few months. These documents provide a good overview of what I am thinking about and working on:

Climate Change Collaboration Platform: A description of a platform and processes that could be used to develop collaborative processes within the climate change space. See: http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dc4gbgsj_71kxq8qhgs&hl=en

Open System Mobilization Platform: This is the very large vision for a platform that would enable very large numbers of people to collaborate in real time! See: http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dc4gbgsj_25hqc96xt3&hl=e

Ecosystem Collaboration Platform: This is a powerpoint presentation that contains a visual representation of the sort of platform that I think would make collaboration between organizations much more effective. You will need to download it from:http://www.mediafire.com/file/zt2wondwgmm/EcosystemCollaborationPlatform.ppt

Social Venture Investment Bank: This is a position paper exploring the viability of the creation of an investment bank in Canada, the purpose of which would be to finance social ventures.  You will need to download it from http://www.mediafire.com/file/hrimnoizwno/SocialVentureInvestmentBank_0312.09.doc

Let me know if you have any questions regarding any of these documents.

As we proceed, I’ll talk more about what I am doing to advance the ideas that are introduced in these documents.

Suresh Fernando

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On Utilizing Technology To Connect People On Different Continents

As many of you know, I am greatly interested in the way that technology can be utilized to connect people across across the world – to make the constraints imposed by geography less relevant.

Since I am a musician, one particular angle on this that I am pursuing is using music at the centrepiece of this process. In other words using technology to broadcast music globally, and to use this process to engage people on issues of social change. The following is evidence that others are thinking along the same lines…

If this concept interests you, please let me know as I am working on putting a team together to explore potential projects in this area.

WE GOT SKILLZ
FACEBOOK GROUP: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=25921017860

We Got Skillz is bringing together basketball, music, fashion and dance to host an annual event to be held in Kampala, Uganda that will use these four areas to advocate for social change. This event has the potential to unify, empower and cultivate the importance of international cooperation in an exciting new way. Musicians such as Boys II Men, Joe Thomas, Tanya Stevens and Tanto Mentro & Devonte will be coming to perform. Other performers from in and around East Africa will be hosting workshops for young people in Uganda prior to the event. International dance crews, fashion designers and basketball players will also be coming to contribute to the workshops and the event.

The objective of the event is to showcase the local talent within Uganda and provide a platform for young people to maximize their potential. We believe that positive messages can only be received when they are delivered in a way that distinguishes them from other negative messages. That is why we have chosen to utilize what has already proven to be one of the most influential tools on the planet: hip hop culture. (According to Radiotron, Hip Hop School of Arts in Los Angeles CA, “Hip hop has proven itself to be a solution, an alternative, and a way out of poverty, crime, gang life, drug abuse, violence, vandalism, and negativity…Hip hop has saved and transformed the lives of thousands of people. It has become a vehicle through which young people can join forces together and empower themselves through the arts to make a difference in their own lives and in their communities.”)

Both the workshops and the event will be multicast around the world. The interactive multimedia communication technology provide and supported by Asita Informatica Inc. This event will launch the WGS Global Voice bridging the digital divide project that will be starting immediately preceding the event. Schools from all corners of the globe will be invited to connect through an online platform, allowing young people from various cultures and backgrounds to interactively learn about the lives of the other young people that they are sharing

Technology and Massive Dialogue

There has been much discussion on this blog about the changing nature of space; the way that we can extend the environments that we are in in order to bridge geographic boundaries.

Another theme that is related, and that I will expand further on in due course, is the idea that technology allows you to extend the range and scope of the conversations that we have. We can include more people in the conversations that we have, and to the extent that we do that, we can get to know others that are located at  distance from us, develop a consensus on how to deal with problems with these people and so on.

The following is a great example of what is happening.

THIS PROCESS IS A GREAT EXAMPLE OF HOW TECHNOLOGY CAN BE USED TO BRIDGE BOUNDARIES AND BRING TOGETHER PEOPLE FROM AROUND THE WORLD THAT HAVE A COMMON INTEREST IN ADDRESSING THE CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUE!

Okay, we finally have a venue set for the Mass Dialogue session on Dec. 10th. It will held in the IRMACS theatre (ASB 10905, from 9 to 11 am.

Here’s a spiel from Amber to get you started, and below that is my own synopsis of what I think will happen, based on the larger pdf document that I’ve attached below. The documents below put together by Amber provide a good about of background (helped me a lot!). Please send info as far and as wide as you can, and ask them to RSVP to amber.church@gov.bc.ca.

On December 10, 2008 join youth from across BC as they connect with the youth delegation at the United Nations Climate Change Meetings, COP 14, in Poznan, Poland.
Young people across the province will gather together at schools and municipal buildings to hear an update of the international negotiations from youth working on the ground in Poland, to have their questions answered, and to find out how BC youth can help make a difference to the outcomes of COP 14. Youth unable to gather at the hubs throughout BC will be able to join the live videoconference through their home computers. This event is part of the Mass Dialogues, a program that will see 35,000 young people around the world connecting with youth at COP 14 to engage on the issue of climate change and create positive change.

The format will be something like this:
9am – we make the connection with the Poznan people and establish communication.
9-9:05 am – People arrive.
9-9:30 – participants learn how the question process is going to work.
9:28 am – 2 minute warning from Poznan
9:30 am – Moderator introduces and welcomes attendees, we have a brief video of ourselves shown worldwide (It will be a few seconds).
9:35 – Moderator introduces the session and the panelists in Poznan.
9:45 – Panel discussions begin – moderator poses his/her own questions to the panel of judges. During this time, SFU participants (and people around the world) write their questions on paper and give them to the SFU moderator, who types them into the Poznan moderator, who selects questions for the next section.
10:15 – Moderator begins to ask questions selected from Mass Dialogue participants. If you question is selected, you come up to our microphone and when ask it live.
10:45 – Thanks yous and session ends.

FAQs:
Who is a youth? Someone under 30.
Do I have to be an expert on climate change? NO. You have to be a youth. Prepare if you want, or just come and learn.
Will I be on camera? The whole group will be for a few seconds at the beginning. But if your question is selected your voice will be heard.

The Relation Between Modernity, Space, Consciousness and Massive Social Change

In yesterday’s entry I introduced the notion of Vectors of Consciousness in order to capture sense in which Outside Spatial environments have a ‘collective’ feel. When a number of people are in the same space and are conscious of each other, the way that collection of people stand in relation to each other, and therefore their environment will depend, in part, on the extent to which the Object of which they are Conscious (Locus of Consciousness) is something about which they are all conscious (Intersection of Consciousness). We used the contrast between watching a performer in a concert hall and being present in a shopping mall. In both cases we are in Outside Space, but clearly these are very different environments. The difference that I want to highlight is that in the case of watching a performance, we are collectively focused on the performer. In the case of walking around in a shopping mall, there is a certain randomness to the way that peoples’ attention is focused.

Today I want to introduce a few more concepts that will give us further tools to understand the sense in which the spaces that we operate in are different. After introducing the concepts I will say a few words about how these ideas are relevant to the wired world that we are living in today.

Size: Defined as the distance required to establish the spatial boundary. This is to be understood in its intuitive sense in that, for example, a concert hall is a large space, whereas a coffee shop is a smaller space.

At first glance we might think of this boundary as being defined by the physical facts involved – that, for example, the walls of the concert hall and the coffee shop define the size of the space. I would like you to think of Size differently, however, as the area within which we can be phenomenally conscious[1] of objects within the space. Since consciousness of objects requires that they are phenomenally present for us, the size of a space defines the boundary within which we can receive meaningful phenomenal stimuli. The walls of the coffee shop define the space because when we are inside the walls, we are not able to be conscious of things outside of the walls.[2] In the case of the piano recital, we are very conscious of being quiet and this is because we know that the slightest sound can be heard by all others in the room (as well as the performer!).

If the space that I am in is defined by the boundary that encompasses the set of possible Objects of which I can be conscious and you also happen to present in the same space, then it follows that it is possible for us to be conscious of each other; their exists the possibility for Reciprocal Consciousness.

One more point needs to be emphasized. Not only is there the possibility for Reciprocal Consciousness, we note that the consciousness is Simultaneously Reciprocal. This is important because not all cases of Reciprocal Consciousness need to be simultaneous. We all, for example, have a consciousness of our friends and family members but this does not mean that when I am thinking about my mother that she is necessary, at that moment, thinking about me. The possibility for Reciprocal Consciousness is simultaneous because it is a form of consciousness that arises from phenomenal stimuli.

If I am able to see/hear you at the same time that you are able to hear/see me then there exists the possibility for Simultaneously Reciprocal Consciousness and we are thus in the same Space.

Stability of Locus of Consciousness: Defined as the predisposition for the Locus of Consciousness to remain constant, across the group, over a period of time. For example, in the case of the performer at the recital, we can expect that he/she remains the Object of Consciousness for the vast majority of those in the hall for the vast majority of the time. We would therefore say that, in this case, the Locus of Consciousness is stable.

Spatial Stability of the Locus of Consciousness: Defined as the relationship between the Locus of Consciousness and the physical characteristics of the Space. If the relation between the Locus of Consciousness and the physical environment remains constant then we can say that the Locus of Conscious is spatially stable. If the performer stays seated on her piano stool, then she represents a spatially stable locus of consciousness for those in the audience. In contrast, we can imagine a pop star dancing around the stage with great enthusiasm. In this case, the performer is the Object of Consciousness to no lesser a degree than the concert pianist (all eyes are trained on both!). Yet in the case of the pop star, the physical facts of the situation are different.

Practically speaking this is pretty obvious. In the case of watching a piano recital we are likely to be fixed in our seats. It is the kind of environment that requires that we constrain ourselves physically etc. A pop concert marks a strong contrast with not only the performer, but the audience free to move around, All of these sorts of variables bring to bear on the nature of how we are conscious of ourselves and others in the spaces that we inhabit.

You can now think about the sorts of spaces that you inhabit, who/what the Locus’ of Consciousness are in the spaces that you inhabit, and the extent to which these spaces are stable.

So what does all of this have to do with anything you ask!

It should be pretty clear that the notion of spatial size has less meaning in the modern world. This is not to say that large rooms aren’t still large rooms! What it means is that the range of possible objects about which we can be conscious do not have to be physically proximal in the same way that they had to be in the olden days. In the days of the Hunter Gatherer communities, people lived in close proximity to each other and the people that they were conscious of were those that they could see, hear and touch. It is literally the case that our ancestors in Africa would not have had the slightest idea that others on different continents even existed.

Therefore, modernity serves to eliminate certain constraints on possible of objects of consciousness.[1]

Intuitively this should be pretty clear to anyone that utilizes the internet. If you are reading this blog, then there is a sense in which you and I are in the same space. It is the precise nature of this change that is taking place that we want to understand.

OK, but then what does Locus of Consciousness and Stability of Locus of Consciousness have to do with anything?

Part of what I will demonstrate is that Modernity gives rise to the possibility of Social Change on a scale, and in a manner, never possible before. I will argue that it is possible to engineer solutions to large scale global problems such as climate change, poverty, famine, war and so on; typically problems that we have thought of as insoluble.

The reason that this is possible is that the evolution in the communications infrastructure allows us to make a Particular Object of Consciousness the Locus of Consciousness for a very large number of people – millions! There is nothing, in the world that we live in today that prevents us from aligning a very large portion of the worlds collective energy on large scale problems and thereby creating collective developed solutions for these sorts of, seemingly intractable, problems!

More on all of this tomorrow!


[1] It’s important to note that it does so in other ways than this which I will discuss as we move forward.


[1] Remember that phenomenal consciousness refers to the sort of consciousness that arises from data that is presented to us via our senses. Photons impinge on my retina and I see your face.

[2] One shouldn’t interpret this absolutely literally. Obviously even when one is sitting inside a coffee shop one can see cars passing by, hear people talking on the sidewalk and so on. This is true, but clearly the availability/accessibility of such stimuli is reduced by the presence of the concrete that separates us from those outside of the coffee shop. One must understand this notion as a matter of degree.

The Concept of Space (Part II) – Vectors of Consciousness

Following from where we left off yesterday… If what we are concerned with when thinking on the nature of Outside Space is the relationship between the consciousnesses of those that are present in the space, we need to introduce a more precise way of thinking about this. In order to do this I need to first define a few terms:

Objects of Consciousness: The question as to what consciousness is, is exceedingly complex to say the least. That said, there is a certain amount of consensus amongst modern day philosophers, cognitive scientists, neuroscientists and so on that in analyzing the nature of consciousness as it brings to bear on how we think and behave it is useful to think of the contents of consciousness as consisting of certain ‘objects’. Objects might include ocurrent thoughts of the form ‘It is raining outside’, standing belief states (such as the fact that you believe in God) that are not present in ones immediate consciousness all the time, the awareness that the apple in my hand is solid and the colour red and so on. It is not important to be overly precise in trying to specify what the class of entities is that we consider mental objects, just to understand that this is a useful way of thinking about the contents of our mind.

Phenomenal Objects of Consciousness: If we think about consciousness as containing objects, then we can acknowledge that a certain subset of these objects will be the result of our sensory experience of the world. As I sit here typing, my visual field is presented with the light and colours of my computer screen, my fingertips feel the texture of the keys on the keyboard, I can see light streaming in from my window from the corner of my eye and so on.

In short, our PRESENCE in space entails PRESENCE in relation to phenomenal stimuli.

Whatever our circumstances, we are receiving sensory (phenomenal) stimuli from the outside world. This stimuli is interpreted and is what constitutes our immediate relation with the world.

Others as Phenomenal Objects of Consciousness: So far so good… Given the above, we can think of Outside Space in terms of the fact that there is a reciprocity of consciousness involving Being (one person) and Others (everyone else) in terms of them being Phenomenal Objects of Consciousness for each other.

So if you are sitting in your living room with friends you are all phenomenal objects for each other. Or in simple terms you can all see and hear each other (which is what makes the consciousness reciprocal).

The question we now need to reflect on is how this reciprocal phenomenal consciousness that people have of each other in outside space can be understood such that it reflects differences in the structure of various Outside Spaces, as this is what will enable us to introduce some notions that can help us to develop a taxonomy of Outside Space.

Let me begin by introducing a few terms that will make things clearer:

Vectors of Consciousness: When one is present in Outside Space, we need to think of how the consciousnesses of others are oriented within the spatial context. For example, if we are at piano recital, we can expect the consciousnesses of those that are at the recital to be focused on the performer. If this is the case we can say that the performer is the object of consciousness of those that are watching him. This is not sufficient, however. We need to say more since we must reflect the fact that he is the simultaneous object of consciousness of a number of people in the theatre. In saying this we note this is only so because objects of phenomenal consciousness are objects in physical space and since this is so, they are objects that have a particular physical relation to us. Things can be near to us, far way from us, slightly to the left and so on. Therefore, to capture an important feature of our relation to objects in our sensory/phenomenal field, we need to introduce a notion that captures the spatial relation that we have to these objects. We need to capture the fact that, for example, everyone on the left hand side of the concert hall has to angle their head towards the right in order to see the performer.

We capture the idea that Object of Consciousness have a particular spatial relation to us by introducing the notion of a Vector of Consciousness.

In the world of geometry, a vector is defined by direction and magnitude. The vector, therefore, will capture the idea that the Object of Consciousness is the performer and the direction that the object stands in relation to you is to the right. We can envision times when some people’s consciousness may stray from what is happening on the stage. Maybe someone in the next row sneezes, maybe the person next to you stands up, maybe you don’t like the performer etc. Therefore, it is not necessarily the case that you will maintain your focus on the moment at hand; your consciousness may stray. Therefore, ones vector of consciousness describes the direction of focus of consciousness, and will vary with time. It’s important to note also that it is not my contention that at any particular time consciousness consists of only one vector. What is important is to understand the dynamic nature of the consciousness of objects in its relation to its phenomenal environment.

Intersection of Objects of Consciousness: We now take note of an important fact, which is that in group situations (which, by definition, are in Outside Space) certain phenomenal stimuli will be objects of consciousness for multiple people. The performer on stage is someone of whom everyone (I should hope!) will be conscious. In contrast, if I am holding my program in my left hand I can be certain that, at the most, a few people other than myself will be conscious of the program. The common Objects of Consciousness can be said to Intersect across the consciousnesses of those that are in the hall.

Locus of Consciousness: To the extent to which the performer is the focus of the consciousness of the observers at the recital, we can say that the performer is the Locus of Consciousness at that point in time and space. It is the object within the space that is the focus of the majority of consciousnesses.

It’s important to note that it is possible that the Locus of Consciousness is not defined for a given space. Consider, for example, a super market. There is no single object that is the primary focus of all shoppers.

Spatial Vectors of Consciousness: We might want to think about things from the perspective of the space itself by suggesting that it can be understood as the sum total of all of the individual vectors at a particular point in time. In the event that everyone is focused upon the performer, we can say the vector that represents the entire space is directed at the performer. The precision of this alignment towards the performer then defines the magnitude of the vector. In the event that half the audience is distracted, the vector will not be fully directed at the performer, nor will its magnitude be as great.

This idea captures the sense that we have, for example, when we are part of a crowd that is watching a mesmerizing speech or an amazing artistic performance. Imagine what it might have been like to watch Hitler give a speech. We can imagine that the entire crowd was completely enthralled. That this was so would have resulted in a certain collective sense; a certain commonality to the experience – that of everyone being mesmerized by Hitler! In this scenario, the Spatial Vector of Consciousness would have been very large.

In contrast, if one is at a boring lecture ones mind tends to stray. One starts looking around the room, observing others, thinking about what is for dinner later in the evening and so on. Ones focus of consciousness is not directed at a fixed point in space in the say way. If others feel the same way, the feeling (or maybe we can say ‘energy’) in the room won’t be the same.

The significance of the idea of the Vector of Consciousness is that the magnitude of the Spatial Vector of Consciousness describes the extent to which participants in a particular group at a point in space and time have their collective consciousnesses directed at the Locus of Consciousness. It describes the extent to which the Locus of Consciousness is the collective object of consciousness. We note that the Spatial Vector of Consciousness is a property of the group.

The Concept of Space (Part 1) – Inside and Outside Space

The Concept of Space – Part 1

It’s time for me to introduce one of the most central concepts in the view that I am developing – space! So what do I mean by ‘space’ and why is it important to what I am interested in discussing? When one hears the word ‘space’ one has an intuitive understanding of what it refers to. We say things like ‘There is space to put the table over there ’, ‘We should spend more money exploring outer space’ and ‘Give me more space to do my own things!’ There are countless ways that the concept of space is utilized in ordinary language. For my purposes what I want you to distinguish is between two primary senses in which the word can be used: epistemological and ontological.

The EPISTEMOLOGICAL utilization of the concept of space: Epistemology is the study of the nature of knowledge. Therefore when we think about things in epistemological terms, we are thinking about them from the standpoint of the way our minds work. Saying ‘Give me more space to do my own things!’ is an example of this sort of utilization of the concept of ‘space’ since when we say this we usually mean that we need space in a psychological sense; we need time to think about other things, for example. Note, however, that in order for ones partner to comply with this request, he/she will have to literally give their partner more physical space as well, which leads us to the second sense in which we can use the concept of space; ontologically.

The ONTOLOGICAL utilization of the concept of space: Ontology is the study of the nature of reality; the way that things actually are in the world. If, for example, you believe that God actually exists, this is an ontological commitment, Therefore when we say that ‘There is space to put the table over there’, we are making a claim about our belief in the physical state of the world. We are saying that we can move physical stuff around such that the table can be moved over there! It can be moved over there because there is space to do so. Therefore, in this sense when we talk about space we make claims about the nature of the way that we believe the world/universe/reality is constituted.

In order to focus the discussion lets keep in view the larger picture that we are painting which is the relationship between technology and social change. Keeping this in mind will ensure that we think about space in a pragmatic way. So what is the pragmatic utilization of the sense of space that we want to think about?

Note to the reader: as you read the following keep the above distinction in mind… You will also note that the following might seem a little technical, but since I am working on developing a theory I need to be as precise as possible in defining terms that I am using. In the long run this will make things clearer and easier for you to understand.

Toward the Evolution of a Taxonomy of Space

We want to stimulate our analysis of space by an appeal to the intuitive. To say that in living our lives we move through space is to say no more than our lives consist of a sequence of spatial environments, each of which can be associated with a point in time in the temporal sequence. For now, we will defer the question as to how, precisely, to individuate these environments. What do we mean by spatial environments? In an average day, we may awaken in the morning, roll out of bed, go to the bathroom and take a shower, walk to the garage and get into our car, drive the car through public streets to the office, attend meetings at the office, go to dinner with our in-laws, go to a baseball game with our families and so on.

However we choose to precisely individuate the above scenarios, we can say that we are moving from one space to another. We also note that there is a clear sense in which my bathroom is a fundamentally different environment to a baseball game. So far so good as this should all be pretty obvious!

How might we taxonomize (organize) spaces in a meaningful manner? In keeping with the strategy that we are employing which is to keep things simple, we now ask the question: Is it intuitively obvious that sitting alone by oneself in ones bedroom is a fundamentally different space than giving a speech in front of a thousand people? It seems that the answer must be yes. We might ask this question in contrast to the question as to whether or not it is immediately obvious whether or not sitting alone in ones bedroom is a fundamentally different space than sitting by oneself in a movie theatre. In this case we would likely agree that there is something fundamentally different between the two spaces, but that however we are to understand this difference it seems less different than giving a speech in front of a thousand people. What is the source of this intuition?

The distinction lies in the fact that in the case of giving a speech we are the object of the consciousness of a thousand people. Somehow the stakes seem higher in this case, don’t you think?

With this in mind, we will introduce the most basic element in our taxonomic structure. The distinction between Inside Space and Outside Space, and we introduce the following definitions:

Inside Space (IS): Beings[1] presence in space such that Being is conscious of the absence of Being-as-object-of-the-consciousness-of-Other. In other words, when one is in IS, there is a consciousness that one is not being ‘watched’, so to speak – we are alone with ourselves.

Outside Space(OS): Beings presence in space such that Being is conscious of Being-as-object-for-Other. In other words, in contrast to IS, we are conscious that we are being watched by others.

In reflecting on the examples we just posed, we immediately see the relevance of the IS/OS distinction. In the case of one sitting alone in ones bedroom, one is alone (therefore in IS). When one is giving a speech, one is the object-of-the-consciousness-of-Others (therefore in OS). When in a movie theatre, we see that we might be the object-of-the-consciousness-of-Others. We therefore see that this distinction is revealing of the obvious fact that these spaces are somehow different. How, more precisely, might we understand the difference between the movie theatre case and the speech case?

We now point out the obvious which is that in Inside Space, there is only one consciousness to contend with – Beings (yourself). In Outside Space, there are potentially many consciousnesses present (Others). Therefore we can conclude two things:

1) Whatever strategy we use to taxonomize Inside Space, it will somehow be defined in terms of a singular consciousness.

2) Taxonomizing Outside Space will involve examining how many (a multiplicity) of consciousnesses can stand in relation to each other within a singular space. Therefore, we will attempt to identify obvious distinctions in the way a multiplicity of consciousnesses must stand in relation to each other.

The Inside Space/Outside Space distinction is a pretty intuitive one. What requires some reflection, however, is the relationship between this distinction and the epistemological/ontological distinction introduced at the outset.

At first glance it would seem that the Inside Space/Outside Space distinction might be an ontological one since the distinguishing feature of Outside Space is the fact that you are the object of the consciousness of Others, and this is only possible to the extent to which others can ‘watch’ you, so to speak. But to view things in this way is to miss something exceedingly important which is that the distinguishing feature is the relationship between your consciousness and the consciousness of others. This, in and of itself does not seem to have anything direct to do with the physical facts that relate you and the others. That said, my point is not that the distinction is an epistemological one, but that there is some complexity in terms of identifying what precisely the distinction is.

A lot will hinge on why this ambiguity exists.

Enough for now, stay tuned…


[1] We are introducing the notion of Being to refer to people, generally understood. We introduce this term in virtue of its philosophical implications with the proviso that what these implications are and how they are relevant to this discussion will be developed in due course. At this point it provides a straightforward concept upon which these ideas can be developed and introduces a formality that is absent if we just use the term ‘person’. The term Other is to be understood as a Being that is known by Being as a Being, and is known reflexively as not itself. Intuitively, other persons etc.

Content

i just updated my content page and thought I might as well post it…

It is necessary for me to say a few words about the nature of the content that you can expect on this blog so that you can understand why many of my posts are abstract and philosophical and yet I have am providing links to various organizations. Read the following to understand where all of this is going…

It is the nature of the issues that I am interested in writing about that they are complex and therefore there is no simple way to address them. Therefore, the vast majority of the content that you will find on this blog is conceptual in nature. If you are going to benefit in any way from this blog, you will have to think and reflect on the ideas that I put forth.

My objective is, over time, to advance a THEORY about MODERNITY, that will provide people with a certain amount of optimism about the future.

A THEORY (in the sense that I am describing it) is a set of interdependent CONCEPTS that will comprise an overall vision of how I see things. My goal is simply to communicate what I am thinking with the hope that this will generate a certain amount of DIALOGUE.

CONCEPTS will be represented in ALL CAPS and, over time, will be elucidated in much greater detail. If the purpose for this is not clear consider my making the assertion that the ‘modern world is a lot different than it used to be in the past’. For you to understand this, you will have to know what I mean by modern as this is a central concept in the assertion that I am making. Hence, if I am to effectively communicate with you it will be imperative for me to elucidate in some detail many of the concepts that I introduce. Unfortunately this cannot be done all at once.

In due course I will hyperlink the concepts so that you can click directly to a more precise elucidation of the idea.

The specific content that I am introducing relates to the role that the evolution of the INTERNET is playing on the formation of IDENTITY and COMMUNITY, and how this creates unique conditions for positive social change.

As a result, I AM GREATLY INTERESTED IN ORGANIZATIONS THAT UTILIZE THE INTERNET FOR THE PURPOSES OF POSITIVE SOCIAL CHANGE. I AM CREATING A DATABASE OF SUCH COMPANIES, some of which are provided as links on this blog.

Please let me know if you have any thoughts or comments on my project.

Peace and Love,

Suresh

Blogging, Modernity and Space

So where do I start? I have to admit that the ideas that I want to write about have been percolating in my head for the better part of the last ten years. Furthermore, this is not the first time that I have convinced myself that I should start blogging. The problem that I keep running into is that my writings cover a wide range of topic areas that, I believe, are related, but the exact relationship continues to elude me. Hence there is no real starting point. Or, to be more precise, I don’t know where to start!

With that in mind I am going to be true to the process of blogging itself by not thinking too much about what it is that I want to say. I will just start saying things and hope that in due course it all starts to make some sense – especially to me!

Part of the reason that I have not systematically blogged in the past is that my self imposed requirement to maintain a high quality level with respect to my content has resulted in my putting too much pressure on myself. The end result has just been that I have decided to stop the process.

Furthermore, I have, in the past, wanted to see immediate results from my blogging. My expectation was that I was going to connect with lots of neat people right away. Although I did see some results, they weren’t as stellar as I would have hoped. Hence this time around I am going to write for myself, but in a public forum.

What is noteworthy about this decision is that it is an illustration of one of the themes that I am interested in, the way that MODERNITY IS TRANSFORMING THE NOTION OF SPACE. One notes that in my deciding to write from a PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE within a PUBLIC SPHERE, I am doing something that couldn’t have been done at any previous point in history. In the past one could store ones ideas on paper (after paper was invented!), but the range of possible observers of ones work was quite limited. It is likely that the paper was stored somewhere and that, at the least, an organized effort needed to be made in order to make it possible for others to view what one had written. When one blogs on the other hand, what one writes is a POTENTIAL OBJECT OF CONSCIOUSNESS in a way that is distinct from the way that it has ever been in the past.

(At this stage I want to make a methodological point whic is that you will note that certain words or terms are emphasized in BOLD. The reason I do this is that these represent KEY CONCEPTS that will be expanded upon in due course and therefore are ideas that you can start thinking about. One can imagine how, as this blog evolves, the KEY CONCEPTS can be hyperlinked to a more detailed explication of the concept. Within each concept there will be other hyperlinked concepts and therefore, the sum total of the content will represent a WEB OF THOUGHT where all concepts are defined in relation to each other.)

Back to the topic at hand, the relationship between MODERNITY and POTENTIAL OBJECTS OF CONSCIOUSNESS… I suppose that it behooves me to say a few words about MODERNITY before proceeding. By MODERNITY I do not mean anything exceedingly complex. I am just referring to the world that we live in today, the modern world, so to speak. It should be noted that it is generally assumed that there is a relationship between MODERNITY and PROGRESS. At least this is what HEGEL thought. His way of thinking about the evolution of history was that it was RATIONAL, in some sense. I do not believe that there is any reason to assume this to be the case de facto. For example, or collective behaviour with respect to the climate change issue reveals that we did not act rationally from a collective perspective. If we had, we would not have been in this mess!

One feature of MODERNITY, however, that is unique to the modern world is the ubiquity of technology in general and the COMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE, in particular. The wide availability of networked communication makes it such that we are PRESENT in relation to each other in a way that is different from the way it has ever been in the past.

(I now need to make another methodological point which is that you will have to forgive the way that I am writing. I am aware that I began by introducing the notion of SPACE, then started talking about MODERNITY and am now talking about the COMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE. This may be confusing for you, but after musing on these topics for as long as I have it seems to be the method of communication that works best for me. This is to say that in developing a WEB OF THOUGHT one is developing a set of CONCEPTS and defining RELATIONS between these CONCEPTS. In doing this there are two approaches that can be taken. Philosophers tend to try to be as rigourous as possible and some of the work that will be presented will be of this form. Experience has taught me, however, that ones readership is inversely proportional to the amount of philosophical rigour that one utilizes. If one wants lots of people to read ones work, then one must write in a style that is readable. Therefore I will, most of the time, sacrifice rigour in favour of readability with a view to MOVING THE CONSCIOUSNESS of the reader, for that is all that I believe is possible.}

So let me wrap up this initial teaser by noting that blogging is a feature of MODERNITY and its force in our lives would not be the same if it were not for the fact that COMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE were completely ubiquitous. Therefore, we can also see that the fact that the range of POSSIBLE OBJECTS OF CONSCIOUSNESS is dependent upon the nature of the COMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE.

In short, the internet makes it possible for us to be conscious in a way different from any other point in the course of human history and it is exceedingly imperative at this stage in our evolution that we closely examine what we mean by this and why it is important!!

The Beginning

Hello! That seems like a good place to start. I have commenced this blog in order to communicate ideas on a range of topics. I am currently a doing a Masters in philosophy with a concentration in philosophy of mind. This is a very broad topic area, but encompasses study of consciousness, mental states, language and many other things.

I decided to return to school after many years in the private sector because I felt that my greatest contribution to humanity would not be realized in blindly pursuing material wealth. During my latter years in the private sector I acted as an investment banker, providing financing and strategic advisory services to early stage technology companies. It is during this period that it started to become apparent to me that the world that we live in today is much different from the world that our ancestors lived in, and that the way that the world is different makes possible global change in a manner that was not even conceivable in the past.

This is so because due to advancements in the technology infrastructure, it is now possible to create a GLOBAL COMMUNITY. With the creation of global community it becomes possible to resolve LARGE SCALE GLOBAL PROBLEMS such as climate change, poverty, famine and so on.

I am attempting to synthesize all of my ideas in a book entitled FIXING THE WORLD.

Admittedly all of this sounds grand and utopian and I certainly expect you to challenge this assertion…

However, as you mount this challenge, I hope that you will attempt to understand what I am saying.

I should also like to point out that, from a more practical perspective, I am interested in specific organizations (private or not-for-profit) that are contributing to the solution. Hence, I am developing a database of such companies. You will note that the blogroll consists of links to many of these companies. If you see any that you think would be of interest, please let me know as I would love to add them to the list.

Suresh