Inside Space and Outside Space: the changing nature of Space

In one of my initial posts I introduced the notion distinction between Inside and Outside Space.

I suggested that what the internet is doing impacting space in a manner that results in changes in Inside and Outside Space.

The essence of the distinction is that Inside Space is the space that you inhabit where you are not the object of the consciousness of others; your home, for example.

In contrast, Outside Space is where you are the object of the consciousness of others. Paradigm examples of this are giving a speech, or performing music on stage.

The distinction should be pretty obvious… If so, then it is also pretty obvious that intimate relationships occur on the Inside. This is what makes them intimate. Typically, the problems that we have with our lovers are sorted out with our lover or possibly with the help of a few others. We do not, however, resort to making our personal affairs the property of others in a manner that they can actually contribute to what happens between ourselves and our lovers.

That, however, is changing as is evidenced by the following article from Techcrunch.

Note also that what makes this different from watching Jerry Springer on TV is that those on the Outside that are party to the problems between lovers are not merely observers, but are also able to contribute to the solution!

SideTaker: Crowdsourcing Your Private Disputes, With Hilarious Results

Posted: 05 Sep 2008 04:45 PM PDT

Every couple has its ups and downs, but most people try to keep their dirty laundry to themselves. But what about those times when you just can’t come to an agreement with your significant other?

Today sees the launch of SideTaker a site that asks couples to upload both sides of their arguments and let the crowd settle their debates. SideTaker members can vote on which side they agree with, or leave comments to ask for further details or voice their opinions.

The site is hilarious. Disputes range from cheating spouses to toilet flushing, oftentimes filled with more detail than anyone would want to know.

A part of me can’t believe that it’s real – how many couples would actually turn to the web to resolve a private matter? But shows like Jerry Springer and Judge Judy have thrived on this sort of thing for years, so there’s definitely a large audience. And while it may sound ridiculous, there may be a significant demand for text-based dispute resolution. Even if people ignore the comments of others, it’s possible that they’ll be more honest on paper than if they were speaking face to face.

Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.

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About: The Relationship Between Technology and Social Change

I just updated by About page with a pretty succinct line of argument that sets the stage for much of what this blog is about….

This blog is focused on developing and argument for, and highlighting examples of, the increasing role that technology (and in particular the internet) will play in making Massive Social Change a possibility.

By Massive  Social Change, I am referring to the type of social change that is necessary to create the sorts of consensus that are necessary to begin to address very large global problems such as climate change, poverty, famine, war etc.

These problems are generally considered to be of the sort that we cannot realistically address. It is simply assumed that they are conditions of the human species; that things must be this way.

The argument that I am developing will suggest that it is the Perception of our Differences that results in the heterogeneity and fragmentation that is the source of our inability to solve these sorts of problems.

The Perception of Difference is the result of the fact that the evolution of the human species occurred in a manner that did not allow for Communication between disparate groups. Different hunter-gather tribes, for example, evolved without knowledge of each other.

This inability to Communicate was the result of geographic dispersion – their relations to each other were Non-Proximal.

The absence of Proximal relations between people says something about the Space that the people inhabit.

My contention is that the nature of Space is changing! The mere fact that I have connected with you is evidence of this.

That the nature of Space is changing makes it possible for us to address the Proximity issue that gives rise to the Patterns of Communication that result in the false Perception of Difference.

In resolving this problem, in time, people can come to realize that they are more similar than they think and that creating artificial boundaries that result in conflict and the inability to work collectively on problems of global scope is a false illusion.

If we view things as such we can set the necessary conditions for future generations to truly fix the world!!

Peace and Love,

Suresh Fernando
sureshfernando@hotmail.com

The Concept of Facebook

In yesterday’s post I made reference to an article that I wrote entitled The Concept of Facebook. I thought I might as well provide a link to the article for those that are interested:

The Concept of Facebook

The following is an exerpt from the article to give you an idea of what it is all about…

I find the Facebook phenomenon very interesting. What is most interesting is the question as to why it has captured everyone’s and interest. The following are a few thoughts on social networking sites in general and Facebook in particular. There is much to say on this topic and it certainly can’t be said in a few pages so consider the following simply representative of a few themes that will at least serve to ideally stimulate your interest in the topic and hopefully some discussion as well!

FACEBOOK AND SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES

Community

The question that we want to ponder is: what is it about the Facebook community that makes it more interesting than other communities? Think for a moment about the circle of friends you associate with (pretend this was in the pre-facebook era!). What is it about the particular interactions with these friends and the information you had about these interactions that made this particular set of people your close friends.

The question I want you to reflect on is: what sort of information is it about a group of people (and the individuals that constitute that group) that defines the group as your friends?

We are notified when friends post pictures, when friends connect with other friends, which friends are attending which events, who is dating whom etc.

This, in and of itself, is not the whole story, however. What makes the information that we receive relevant in a unique way is that we receive it in real time.

Continuity of Experience: Real Time Interaction

By real time, I mean as it happens. Effectively, Facebook updates information on a continuous basis letting our friends know about changes in our profile as they are made. If this does not sound all that exciting, I ask you to reflect on how you interact with your friends and more generally how you interact with anyone. If you think about this for a moment you will realize that life happens in real time!

The way that we walk through our days and our lives is such that we are presented with a continuous flow of information, images etc. some of which we interpret as relevant and some of which is trivial or useless.

It is the continuity of experience that is something that, heretofore, has not been effectively replicated by other social networking sites, and that makes the Facebook experience unique.

The Space Between You and Other

When you think of the way that you walk through life, one way to think about it is to realize that we are always in spaces. This is to say that, for example, we might get up in the morning go to the bathroom to take a shower, go downstairs and have breakfast with our families, go to school or work for day, go out to dinner with friends at a restaurant later in the evening, attend a lecture the following day and so on. When considered as such we note that each of these ‘environments’ can be considered a space. If you think about things in this way, it becomespretty apparent that ones life is reflected in the spaces within which you are present and the patterns with which you participate in these spaces. You will note that you go to work five days a week and spend eight hours a day in ones ‘work’ space. You will note that every week you attend a rehearsal with your band and so on.

What is interesting is that you will also associate certain people with the spaces that describe your life. Your home will be associated with those in your immediate family. It might be your wife, your parents, your children and so on. The question is: what is it about the spaces that reflect your life that make it possible to associate particular people with each space?

It is the fact that they are in close proximity to you!

Proximity

It seems pretty obvious that people that are in the same spaces are proximal to you. For example, it is obvious that if you live in the same house as someone then you are closer to them (in some sense) than a total stranger; if you attend a class with other people, you are closer to them in some sense than you are to people that you have never seen. But what is it precisely that creates this proximity.

It is that you are present in relation to them in a certain way!

Presence

Presence is the idea that any actions that we might make are observable by others. When thought of as such it seems pretty obvious that if we are in the same room as someone else, then if we move, the other person will notice. This isn’t rocket science! Therefore, proximity and presence are closely related and the point is simply that those that we are proximally related to are those that we are present in relation to in a manner that makes it possible for us to intentionally make it such that the other person is aware of us. Again, consider the case of those that are a part of your home. If you yell, they will hear you!

How is this relevant you ask!

Facebook Modifies Presence!

What makes the concept of presence an important idea is that Facebook modifies ones presence in relation to others, and in virtue of this changes the nature of space itself.

All that is being said is that it is now easy to get the attention of others at a distance.

What is important about this is that it alters the pattern of communication that is possible.

Facebook Enables Implicit Communication

To better understand this idea, we need to think a little bit about communication. Without getting too deep, we need to begin by realizing that communication needs to be understood in four different ways:

Intentional: the act of communicating something where there is an intention to communicate. In other words a person means to communicate something to someone specific, or to some specific people. Examples of this include talking to someone, writing letters to someone, telephoning someone etc.

Non-Intentional: the act of communicating something when there is no intention to communicate anything specific to anyone in particular. Examples of this include getting a book published, writing a song that gets distributed and so on. In these cases, we intend to communicate, but not to anyone particular.

Explicit: the act of communicating something that is crystallized in some way – written, verbal, a picture etc. Explicit communication can be intentional or non-intentional. For example we can communicate intentionally and explicitly by writing a letter and sending it to someone, or telephoning someone. It can be non-intentional in the case of the publication of an article. In both cases, what we communicate is crystallized in that we have consciously formulated it.

Implicit: the act of communicating something non-intentional that is not crystallized – best understood, for example, as body language, tone, inflection etc.

If we think about communication as such, we see that Facebook makes possible implicit communication in ways never before possible. This is due to the fact that it facilitates the creation of imagery that becomes part of the public domain. When one places a picture on ones profile, writes a note etc. one is placing the object within a domain where it becomes possible for someone to view the object, read the object and so on.

What is intriguing about implicit communication is that it is essentially a new form of communication – one that, to date, has been the purview only of authours, musicians, artists and so on. In the past it is only those that have created content that was deemed worthy of being part of the public domain that actually became part of the public domain. Today we can all create content that is part of the public domain.

I make no judgments on whether the content that is created is worthy or not of being in the public domain as I don’t think that this is the issue. What is important is that the possibility for presenting ourselves to the world has become possible, and that has unique and exciting implications.

For the rest of the article go go: The Concept of Facebook

On Massive Social Change (MSC!!)

I posted the following on the Technology and Social Change wiki that I am developing at:

http://technologyandsocialchange.wetpaint.com

So what is this wiki all about? This wiki is for those that believe that the internet can be used for socially beneficial purposes!

What makes this particular wiki unique?
Simply that it has a very specific focus – to aggregate information and ideas that lie at the intersection technological innovation and Massive Social Change (MSC!!)?

What is Massive Social Change
(MSC!!)? Good question! The idea that technology, and most specifically the internet, contributes to social change is not news. Obviously it is transforming our environment in immeasurable ways. What is not being discussed is the role that the internet can play in creating the sort of change that can positively transform the world on a massive scale – the sort of social change that is revolutionary in nature.

That sounds grand, but why bother with Massive Social Change? Well, are you concerned about issues like climate change, poverty, famine, war etc? If those sorts of Global Problems are to be resolved, they will require Massive Social Change.

Do you seriously believe that those sorts of problems can be resolved? Yes I do. I do not believe that it is intrinsic to our nature that we must kill each other, destroy our environment and so on.

If it is not intrinsic to our nature, then why is conflict and misery the story of human history? Things have been as they are due to the fact that the human race has evolved in a very specific way – with specific groups evolving in isolation from each other.

What does the particular pattern of the evolution of human history have to do with the current state of affairs in the world?
It is simply a fact that, for example, the hunter-gather tribes in Africa evolved separately from other hunter gather tribes in the Northern hemisphere. As a result of this, they evolved different value systems, customs etc. What is important to note is that the value systems and norms that they evolved were unique to their particular community. The point is that different communities evolved because people were spread out in different parts of the world and therefore had no contact with each other.

So even if it is true that different communities evolved because, historically, people were geographically dispersed across the globe, what does that have to do with the current problems in the world? It is my view that conflict, and the inability to develop solutions that account for all people, is due to perceived differences between communities, people etc. Perceived differences, in turn, are the result of the fact that communities have evolved independently and therefore have formed their own values, customs, religious paradigms and so on. It is this sort of heterogeneity that is an impediment to the formation of the sorts of consensus that are necessary for the resolution of global problems.

If, for example, we want to come together to address the issue of climate change, the underlying ethos must the our commonality not our differences. We must see each other as brothers.

A good example of this idea is played out in science fiction movies like Independence Day, where the threat of annihilation by an alien species causes the world to come together to ward off the enemy. What is interesting in this sort of narrative is there is a collective consciousness of our commonality in the face of something that clearly stands distinct from us. Furthermore, with the collective consciousness of our commonality we are able to do great things!

My contention (at least my hope) is that external threats are not necessary for us to have the sense of our commonality. What is necessary is that we recognize that the differences that we perceive are contingent realities that are the result of the evolution of the species and could have been different. For example, we can certainly imagine that the world consisted of only one small tribe in one location that expanded over time. We can reasonably assume that, if this were the case, we may only speak one language, have one religion etc. I fully recognize that this is an oversimplification, but the overall idea should be clear.

OK, so what does the internet have to do with solving the sorts of problems that you say are the result of the evolution of human history, but could have been otherwise? The answer has been hinted at in the conversation that we have been having. To the extent that the problems are the result of perceived differences, and perceived differences are the result of the formation of different communities, the answer lies in the formation of a singular Global Community.

The idea of a Global Village is not new, but it does not seem to be contributing to the solution. Many people would argue that globalization is part of the problem. It’s important to understand that the notion of a global village is still in its infancy. Keep in mind that the birth of the internet as we know it is less than two decades in the making!! What we need to do is to be able to think outside the box and envision how, as the technological infrastructure evolves, the changes that take place will fundamentally impact our lives. We must look further into the future to understand the sorts of things that are possible and then once we can envision the possibilities, we must work towards making them a reality.

So, give me an example of something that we should be thinking about that is not getting the attention that it deserves. Consider the utilization of social networks like Facebook. In most major North American cities and, in particular, in universities, the penetration rates are very high – ranging in some cases to the 75% range. Currently Facebook is used largely to keep in touch with friends, to organize social calendars, to exchange information about music interests and so on. In short, it is used to manage our social processes. The reason that Facebook has exploded in the way that it has is because it provides the best architecture and user experience for those that want to manage their social processes (there is more to be said about this and I have said more in The Concept of Facebook).

The important point is that what is important for the younger generation are their social processes, therefore the success of Facebook can, at least in part, be attributed to solving an important problem for those that are in high school and university. The point is that, for those, that are roughly 15 – 30 years old, there is nothing that a technology platform can do that is more important for them than to provide them with a means to meet people, keep in touch with friends, express themselves to friends etc.

Therefore, first and foremost, the success of social networks is that they solve the problem that people have regarding social contact.

The question that I believe needs to reflected on is: what happens when the user base of social networks gets older, they have families, have careers etc. and making more friends is not their first priority. What then?

Will social networks like Facebook evolve to account for the fact that peoples’ priorities in life change?

Will social networks evolve to provide applications that will assist people in making a contribution to their communities when contributing to their communities is more important than making more friends?

This is all very interesting, but it seems that we are digressing. We were talking about the creation of a Global Village for the purpose of resolving global problems. How does the internet contribute to this? In short, the internet changes three things; the Space between each other, the Patterns of Communication between each other, and the structure of Knowledge. It is in understanding these ideas and their interdependence that the solution will reveal itself.

It is not the place to go into this in detail, but if you are interested in more details, please visit my personal blog at suresfernando.wordpress.com. I will, however, give you a few thoughts on these ideas:

Space and Presence: We can think about Space intuitively. If we are both sitting in the same room, then we are both sitting in the same space. But what is it that makes it the same space? The fact that we are Present in relation to each other, where to be present in relation to each other means that there exists the possibility for us to be conscious of each other as a result of the sensory stimuli that we receive from each other. In short we can see and hear each other. In the olden days, in order to be present in relation to each other, we needed to be physically in the same space with each other. Nowadays, presence applications like Twitter make it possible to be present in relation to each other differently and therefore the nature of the space that exists between each other is changing.

The important point is that our presence in relation to each other is now not dependent upon physical proximity!

Communication: Communications technology is introducing a whole new range of possibilities for how we communicate with each other. Traditionally, the most common form of communication happened face to face, which is synchronous (exchange). Once could also send letters, which is an asynchronous exchange. In both cases, we were limited to communicating either to a single person or to a larger group that was confined to a space of restricted size (say a large hall). It is now possible, in theory, to communicate simultaneously with millions of people! It should be apparent that this has implications for the possibility of Massive Mobilization (MM!!).

The important point is that the scope for communication is now not limited by physical constraints.

Knowledge: The evolution of databasing technology, search engines, RSS, spiders etc. have had a huge impact on our capacity to interact with and form knowledge. What is important to note is that, historically, knowledge was something that was created either in isolation, or in small groups. For example, Mozart worked on his compositions alone. At best a team of a few scientists might have worked together on a project. It is now possible to create knowledge collectively like never before and what we must consider are the possibilities for community formation that arise from collective knowledge formation. In other words, we can now create projects that involve millions of people. Consider the implications that this has for bringing people together!!

The important point is that collective enterprise is not limited by physical (or geographic) or temporal constraints.

It is the constraints that I have identified (and that the internet mitigates) that have, over the course of the evolution of history, contributed to the development of community specific ideologies and therefore to the perception of difference.

Well, this is all very interesting and I wish you the best of luck in mobilizing people and resources around this project!!

Thanks very much!! Please circulate information about this project to anyone that you think might be interested.

On Massive Mobilization (MM!!)

What is Massive Mobilization? Real social change requires Massive Mobilization, which, simply put, is the deployment of a massive amount of resources around single projects. By massive amounts of resources I refer to primarily to labour and intellectual capital.

A brief examination of critical points in history where meaningful social change has taken place will reveal that this social change was the result of the collective will of many people. This is what a revolution is! It is only if there is a collective will towards change that change will take place?

But isn’t there a collective will to solve global problems like poverty, climate, famine etc? You raise an interesting point… I would say that there is a certainly a will to resolve global problems of the sort that you mention and that will (or intention is a better word) is held by many people. What is missing is the collective part. What is missing is the mechanism to bring people together in a manner that will force the sorts of change that many people want, and that are necessary.

Why is financial capital not just as important? It is not that financial capital is unimportant, it is only that there is no shortage of financial capital, nor is there a shortage of those with financial capital that are in search of worthy projects. Once the underlying organizational and mobilization mechanisms are in place the financial capital will follow. Those with the money are shrewd and wise. This is why they have the money! Once they see that there capital will be directly responsible for making the world a better place, they will support the projects.

So what is missing? If you spend as much time online as I do, it will be clear to you that there are many different organizations with good intentions. There are organizations that are focused on particular issues, say youth or poverty. There are those that are more regionally focused; say on Africa or South Asia. There are those that are very small, those that are somewhat larger and so on. There is no shortage of people making an effort to make change.

What is missing is the fact that all of this positive energy is not being effectively deployed. There is a strength in numbers and it just does not make sense for there to be hundreds of small organizations working on alleviating poverty in Africa, for example. Of course, each of those organizations that is working on alleviating poverty is making a positive contribution, but if all of these groups worked together on certain projects, the results would be much more dramatic.

Would the effects of collaboration simply be increases in efficiency? A central part of the message that I want to communicate is that the process of large scale collaboration is more than just about improving process efficiency. Of course, processes would be improved as certain redundancies would be removed. Personnel and volunteer management, for example, could be centralized.

More importantly, large scale collaboration changes the community within which people participate. It extends the community and makes peoples’ activities part of a much larger enterprise. Wouldn’t you prefer to be working for a team of 10,000 people that are focused on solving poverty issues in Africa? Wouldn’t your confidence that meaningful change can actually take place be increased?

What cannot be forgotten is the human element in the social change process. People involve themselves in projects and their community for a number of reasons, and an important one is to be a part of a community that has a purpose. This is what provides them with purpose. Hence creating a community that has real purpose and a sense of collective momentum will improve the lives of those that are participating in it and this, in turn, will serve to generate further momentum.

This is what will make the sorts of change that we dream about a possibility!

So what has to happen to make this vision a reality? It is advances in technology, and the internet specifically, that will make this possible.

How and why this is so is not something that I can explain in detail in a paragraph or two, but is the purpose of this blog (and the wiki that I just started at http:///technologyandsocialchange.wetpaint.com).

I can give you a glimpse of what needs to happen and what will happen as the technology infrastructure evolves and user patterns evolve over time. In the previous entries I have introduced the notion of space and suggested that we need to think deeply about the nature of space and they way that it is changing in the modern world.

My contention is that as the nature of space evolves, it will be possible to extend the dynamics of small group interaction to a larger scale. Small group interaction is typically conducted face to face and in real time. This is what takes place in meetings etc. What technology makes possible is to extend some of the patterns that are at play in these sorts of interactions across physical boundaries.

I will say no more on this topic at the moment, but will treat it in great depth in due course.

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.

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