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The Digitally Divided Self: Relinquishing our Awareness to the Internet

The Digitally Divided SelfThe Digitally Divided Self: Relinquishing our Awareness to the Internet is on Amazon.

ISBN 9788897233008
274 Pages – Format: 6″ x 9″ – $17.90 (discounted on Amazon)

It is nearly half a century since Marshall McLuhan pointed out that the medium is the message. In the interim, digital technologies have found an irresistible hook on our minds. With the soul’s quest for the infinite usurped by the ego’s desire for unlimited power, the Internet and social media have stepped in to fill our deepest needs for communication, knowledge and creativity – even intimacy and sexuality. Without being grounded in those human qualities which are established through experience and inner exploration, we are vulnerable to being seduced into outsourcing our minds and our fragile identities.

Intersecting media studies, psychology and spirituality, The Digitally Divided Self exposes the nature of the malleable mind and explores the religious and philosophical influences which leave it obsessed with the incessant flow of information.

I am deeply touched and extremely grateful to the people who took the time to read, support and endorse The Digitally Divided Self. Being my first English book, and basically self-published, I didn’t expect to receive many reviews, much less from such leading thinkers and writers – nor such positive responses.

It was also a surprise to find common interests around eastern spirituality with so many people into technology and media. This makes me hopeful for an evolution of the information society – from chasing external stimulation to inner explorations and silence.

Detailed table of contents, introduction and chapter 1.

Order on Amazon.

Praise for Digitally Divided Self

 “Quartiroli’s The Digitally Divided Self is a must read for anyone seeking to understand the ever-increasing hegemony of the digital world in the individual psyche. Drawing on diverse fields and traditions, the author analyzes numerous mechanisms by which IT separates us from ourselves. Readers stand to benefit from such an understanding that is a prerequisite for mounting a defense of one’s individuality.” —Len Bracken, author of several novels and the biography Guy Debord—Revolutionary

 ­“With great insight, Ivo Quartiroli captures the subtle as well as the gross impact that media use has on our individual and collective psyches. The challenge before all of us is how to adapt to the new technology in a healthy way that allows us to retain our essential humanity. He offers us a solution born of his experience and confirmed by neuroscience. This is a must read.” —Hilarie Cash, PhD, co-founder of reSTART: Internet Addiction Recovery Program

 “It is difficult to offer a spiritually based critique of today’s network culture without sounding like a nostalgic Luddite crank. Immersed in the tech, but also in various meditative traditions, Ivo Quartiroli is the perfect person to offer integral wisdom-tech with clarity and bite.” —Erik Davis, author of Techgnosis and Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica.

  “Aware of the profound and rapid psychological and social metamorphosis we are going through as we ‘go digital’ without paying attention, Ivo Quartiroli is telling us very precisely what we are gaining and what we are losing of the qualities and privileges that, glued as we are to one screen or another, we take for granted in our emotional, cognitive and spiritual life. This book is a wake-up call. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates should read it.” —Derrick de Kerckhove, Professor, Facoltà di sociologia, Università Federico II, Naples, former Director of the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology.

 “The Digitally Divided Self alerts us about the insidious dangers of our growing dependence on Information Technology. Ivo Quartiroli warns us that Internet can easily develop into an addiction that undercuts our connections with nature, with other people, and with our deeper inner reality. The spiritual nourishment coming from genuine relationships is then replaced by the empty calories of fake relationships, with the resulting deterioration of our personal and social lives. Using an incisive style, Ivo Quartiroli can be provocative, iconoclastic, at times exaggerated, but never boring. Behind each observation there are pearls of wisdom that are guaranteed to make you think.” Federico Faggin, designer of the microprocessor.

 “Global culture is not only the latest step in the human evolutionary journey. It is also, as Ivo Quartiroli shows in The Digitally Divided Self, a critical opportunity to apply non-Western techniques of awareness to ensure healthy survival in the 21st century.” —Michael Heim, author of The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality, Virtual Realism, and Electric Language.

 “Question the merits of technology in the past and you’d be called a Luddite. But now technologists are leading the way toward a new, more balanced view of our gadget-driven lives. Drawing from his fascinating expertise in computer science and spirituality, Ivo Quartiroli presents a compelling critique of the corrosive impact of the Net on our humanity. It’s a warning we must heed.” —Maggie Jackson, author of Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age.

“A profoundly premonitory vision of the future of the 21st century, The Digitally Divided Self unlocks the great codes of technological society, namely that the very same digital forces that effectively control the shape and direction of the human destiny are also the founding powers of a new revolution of the human spirit.” —Arthur Kroker, author of The Will to Technology and Canada Research Chair in Technology, Culture and Theory.

 “People today, especially young people, live more on the Internet than in the real world. This has subtle and not-so-subtle effects on their thinking and personality. It is high time to review these effects, to see whether they are a smooth highway to a bright interconnected future, or possibly a deviation that could endanger health and wellbeing for the individual as well as for society. Ivo Quartiroli undertakes to produce this review and does so with deep understanding and dedicated humanism. His book should be read by everyone, whether he or she is addicted to the Internet or has second thoughts about it.” —Ervin Laszlo, President, the Club of Budapest, and Chancellor, the Giordano Bruno Globalshift University.

 “The Mind-Body Split is a pervasive condition/affliction in the developed world, wholly un-recognized; yet fundamental to the great worldwide problems of health, environment, and economic inequity. Ivo Quartiroli’s Digitally Divided Self masterfully examines the effects of the insulated digital experience on the mind and the body self: exacerbating illusions and the Mind-Body Split; and contrasts it to the processes of self-discovery, growth, and healing: true inter-connectedness with nature, each other, and our selves. If the digital age is to solve our real problems, rather than create them, it will be with the knowledge contained in The Digitally Divided Self. Well done!” —Frederic Lowen, son of Alexander Lowen, Executive Director, The Alexander Lowen Foundation

 “Ivo Quartiroli here addresses one of the most pressing questions forced upon us by our latest technologies. In disturbing the deepest relations between the user’s faculties and the surrounding world, our electric media, all of them without exception, create profound disorientation and subsequent discord, personal and cultural. Few subjects today demand greater scrutiny.” — Dr. Eric McLuhan, Author and Lecturer

 “The internet is an extension of our central nervous system. When you operate a computer, you are extending yourself, through its interface, potentially all over the world, instantaneously. Extending yourself in such a disembodied, discarnate fashion only further entrenches your separateness, your ego self. In contrast, the introspective freeing from the physical through meditation also has the effect of creating a discarnate, disembodied state. That state is one that is progressively less identified with the ego self. This is the dichotomy that Ivo Quartiroli explores in The Digitally Divided Self. This book is well worth investigating.” —Michael McLuhan

 “We should all be asking the questions Ivo Quartiroli asks in this bold and provocative book. Whatever you think right now about technology, The Digitally Divided Self will challenge you to think again.” —William Powers, author of the New York Times bestseller Hamlet’s BlackBerry

 “It isn’t easy to find an informed and critical look at the impact of digital media practices on human lives and minds. Ivo Quartiroli offers an informed critique based in both an understanding of technology and of human consciousness.” —Howard Rheingold, author of The Virtual Community and Smart Mobs.

 “Ivo Quartiroli is mining the rich liminal territory between humans and their networks. With the integrity of a scientist and the passion of artist, he forces us to reconsider where we end and technology begins. Or when.” —Douglas Rushkoff, Media Theorist and author of Cyberia, Media Virus, Life, Inc. and Program or Be Programmed.

 “You might find what he writes to be challenging, irritating, even blasphemous and sacrilegious. If so, he has proven his point. The Internet, Ivo suggests, might just be the new opium of the masses. Agree with him or not, no other book to date brings together the multitude of issues related to how the seductions of technology impinge upon and affect the development of the self and soul.” —Michael Wesch, Associate Professor of Digital Ethnography, Kansas State University

 The Digitally Divided Self is a refreshing look at technology that goes beyond the standard, well-worn critiques. Ivo Quartiroli charts new territory with a series of profound reflections on the intersections of computer science, psychology and spirituality.” —Micah White, Senior Editor at Adbusters magazine.

Detailed table of contents, introduction and chapter 1.

Order on Amazon.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: From Awareness of technology to technologies of Awareness .. 1
Chapter 2:“It’s only a tool” .. 17
Chapter 3: The Roots of It .. 39
Chapter 4: The Digitization of Reality .. 53
Chapter 5: Intimacy and Sexuality.. 73
Chapter 6: Commoditizing and Monetizing.. 89
Chapter 7: Politics, Participation and Control .. 97
Chapter 8: Come together: the Rise of Social networks.. 115
Chapter 9: Digital Kids ..125
Chapter 10: Literacy and the Analytical Mind.. 133
Chapter 11: Lost in the Current .. 143
Chapter 12: The Digitally Divided Self.. 165
Chapter 13: The Process of Knowledge .. 189
Chapter 14: Upgrading to Heaven .. 205
Chapter 15: Biting the Snake.. 223
Appendix: The People of Contemporary It and what Drives them.. 233

Introduction

Like many people nowadays, much of my personal and professional life is related to technology: I use the Internet for keeping the connection with my work projects and friends wherever I am in the world. I published the first book in Italy about the Internet. I run a blog and a Web magazine, do my investments online, shop on the Net, do interviews by email and Skype, and have even indulged in cybersex. Right now I’m in Asia developing this book – which is full of references to Web articles, blogs and material found only on the Internet – with online support: an editor and writing coach in California, copy editor in India, book designer in Italy, and a printing and distribution service with multiple locations in USA. My life is immersed in the digital loop.

I have been involved in IT since I was a student. As I learned meditation and explored spiritual paths, I developed an inner observer and discovered states beyond the mind. Thus, I found myself going back and forth between processing consciousness and information. Slowly my focus has shifted from what we can do with technology to what technology does to us. As a first-hand explorer, I’ve observed the subtle changes of our massive use of the Net.

Just as a spiritual researcher can go beyond the mind only after having observed and mastered it, it is necessary to enter the digital world to step beyond it. We can’t become aware of its effects without being engaged in it. Since digital technology is unavoidable now, we need to master it without becoming lost in it, using its tools with our full awareness.

In this time, the intensification of mental inputs is a phenomenon that must be kept in balance. Our contemporary culture does not acknowledge anything beyond the mind, but in other traditions the mental world is just one of the aspects of our wholeness. In the West a sort of Cartesian “pure thinking” has been given priority. Although the mind is the best-known organ of thought, it is not the only cognitive modality. Nervous systems have been discovered both in the heart and in the belly, and the global awareness that can be accessed by spiritual practitioners is pervasive and non-localized. Yet these modalities cannot be represented digitally, so they are relegated to the sidelines.

Our technological society militates against uninterrupted conscious attention. Several authors have documented the effects of IT on attention, literacy and intellectual skills. It also intrudes on the silent time needed to be aware of inner transformations. We don’t realize we have become servomechanisms of IT – precisely because IT has weakened the inner skills of self-understanding. Shrinking of the rich range of human qualities to privilege only those which can be represented and operated digitally arises from the nature of the ego-mind and our particular Western history which has engendered – then valued – mental representations of reality. My focus here is to understand why the mind can be lured by the magic of the tools, while forgetting the person who is using them.

We believe we are empowered individually and politically as we post articles on our blogs and participate in social networks. In actuality, we feed the machine with our “user-generated content” which becomes candy for advertisers who then design ads based on what we say on Twitter, Facebook, and even our emails.

Jumping from information to self-understanding is necessary if we are to regain real freedom, a freedom from conditioning of our mind and the manipulation by information – whether self-created or from external sources. We mistake the transmission of gigabytes of data for freedom.

In our advanced technological society there is a reticence to acknowledge the inner, spiritual or metaphysical dimensions of life. What cannot be calculated – which is, thereby, “not objective” – is considered unworthy of investigation. Even more strongly denied is the relationship between technology and the impact on our psyche. Technophiles declare that it’s only a tool, as if our psyche could remain untouched by continuous interaction with digital media, and as if we could control its impact on us. We can indeed be in control of digital media – but only after we become fluent in those cognitive modalities which can’t be reached by such media.

To be unaffected by digital media, we need a Buddha-like awareness with sustained attention, mindfulness and introspection. Yet these very qualities which are needed to break out of the automated mind are especially difficult to access when we are drowning in information – information that is predominantly ephemeral and transient, and which lacks a broader narrative. Awareness is what gives meaning and depth to information, but for awareness to expand we need to empty our mind. A story will illustrate this. A university professor approached a master to learn about Zen. Tea was served, but when the cup was full, the master did not stop pouring. The cup, like the professor’s mind with its concepts and positions, was full. It must first be emptied to understand Zen. So, too, for the digital world.

The world over, people using the Internet click on the same icons, use the same shortcuts in email and chats, connect with people through the same Facebook modalities. This is the globalization of minds. In the process of the digitization of reality, regardless of content, we use predominantly the same limited mental channels and interact with the same tools. We bring the same attitudes, gestures and procedures to working, dating, shopping, communicating with friends, sexual arousal, and scientific research. And most of these activities are impoverished by this phenomenon. Everything is seen as an information system, from the digitization of territory (like Google Earth and augmented realities software) to our biology.

Judeo-Christian culture places nature and the world of matter at man’s disposal. Acting on them is a way to garner good deeds and regain the lost perfection of Eden. In this culture that has considered miracles as proof of the existence of God, we have developed technologies that resemble the miraculous and the divine. We are compelled to welcome the advent of new technological tools with the rhetoric of peace, progress, prosperity and mutual understanding.

The telegraph, telephone, radio, TV and other media have been regarded as tools for democracy, world peace, understanding and freedom of expression. The Internet is just the latest in a succession of promising messiahs. Yet we don’t have more democracy in the world. In fact, big media and big powers are even stronger, while freedom of expression has ceded to control by corporations and governmental agencies. The Internet, like TV, will be entertaining, dumbing people in their own separate homes where they will be unable to question the system. The Internet might already be the new soma for a society experiencing economic and environmental degradation. But with the huge economic interests connected to it, criticizing its effect is akin to cursing God.

Many technological developments appeal to people because they answer psychological and even spiritual needs – like the quests for understanding and connection with others. Already digital technology has taken charge of truth and love – the drives which are distinctly human. Those primordial needs have been addressed, on the mental level, with information. Reflected only at that level, our soul is left empty with craving for the real qualities, and our mind is left restless, craving more information and chasing after satisfaction in vain.

The need to extend our possibilities through technology derives from the need to recover parts of ourself that were lost during the development of our soul – the states of sharp perception, fulfillment, and peace. Information technology (IT) also satisfies our ancient drives for power and control, even giving us several options with a simple click or touch of a finger.

The endless multiplication of information can keep the ego-mind busy – and thus at the center of the show. IT is the most powerful mental “pusher” ever created, feeding the duality of the ego-mind (which is symbolically mirrored by binary technology). More than TV whose attractions are framed between the beginning and ending time of a show, the Internet, video games, and smartphones have no structural pauses or endings. Hooked on a “real-time” stream of information, they take us farther away from both the real and the appropriate time frames.

The computer charms us by reflecting our mind on the Net. Like Narcissus, we mistake the reflected image and enter a closed loop, charmed by our reflection. The Internet, since the beginning, has been considered a technology which could crumble central governments and organizations. Perhaps that forecast was an external projection of what can happen inside us: disturbance of the integration of our psyches.

Meditation helps us recognize that we construct reality and that the mind leads us astray. Meditation is a path back to reality, to truth, to knowing and mastering our minds – instead of mastering the computer as a way to outsource our mind’s skills. It is a way to expand our awareness and join the other global “Net” – of awareness that permeates everything.

Though I am Italian, I am publishing this book for the English market because it is a post-digital book which can be better appreciated in countries where digital culture has spread throughout society. In Italy, one politically powerful tycoon owns most of the media, and uses it to demonize the Net. In that setting, being critical of the Net invokes the accusation of aligning with power to castrate freedom of expression, which is the polar opposite of my intention.

I welcome every medium which expands our chances of expressing ourselves, but I am aware that true self-expression can happen only when there’s a true self, which can hardly be shaped by screen media.

I am grateful to my spiritual teachers who opened new dimensions for my soul in my journey toward awareness, especially the intensity of Osho and the brilliant clarity of A. H. Almaas. I thank my copy editor Dhiren Bahl (www.WordsWay-Copyediting.com) for his painstaking corrections of my English text and my editor David Carr (www.MovingWords.us) for his clarifications and stylistic improvements. I’m grateful to my friends, too many to list here, for the numerous talks bringing together heart and mind in sharing our passion for truth.

Detailed table of contents, introduction and chapter 1.

Order on Amazon.

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A thousand nuances lost by one emoticon

[en]

Google Mail has announced a new service. In “A picture is worth a thousand
words
” new colored emoticons are introduced for email messages. I doubt that such emoticons can be worth as much as a thousand words. Rather, I think that using emoticons could prevent us from mentally accessing the thousand nuances we can express through words. Language is a unique tool for expressing our depths with accuracy.

The bridge between our inner lives, self-knowledge, and our expressions is traversed mainly by words. Words are the semantic bricks of our awareness. The fewer the words we use the lesser aware we can be of our intentions, feelings, and uniqueness as human beings.

There will be a stage in the evolution of our consciousness when words will be transcended, but probably only after becoming aware of their power to shape and evolve our consciousness. Otherwise we risk retrograding from words instead of going beyond them.

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Google Mail ha annunciato un nuovo servizio. In “A picture is worth a thousand words” (un’immagine vale mille parole), vengono presentate le nuove emoticon colorate da includere nei messaggi email. Dubito che tali emoticon possano valere mille parole. Piuttosto, penso che l’utilizzo delle emoticon possa impedirci l’accesso alle mille sfumature che si possono esprimere tramite le parole. Il linguaggio è uno strumento unico per esprimere la nostra profondità con precisione.

Il ponte tra la nostra vita interiore, la conoscenza di noi stessi e l’espressione verso l’esterno viene attraversato perlopiù dalle parole. Le parole sono i mattoni semantici della nostra consapevolezza. Al diminuire delle parole che usiamo, cala proporzionalmente la nostra capacità di essere consapevoli delle nostre intenzioni, emozioni e unicità come esseri umani.

Arriverà una fase nell’evoluzione della nostra consapevolezza dove le parole saranno trascese, ma probabilmente questo accadrà dopo essere diventati consapevoli del potere delle parole nella formazione e nell’evoluzione della nistra consapevolezza. Altrimenti si rischia di andare al di sotto delle parole invece di trascenderle

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The monkey and the Buddha

image courtesy of http://www.toothlessmonkey.com [en]

Apart from human beings, only a few animals have the physical characteristics and mental capacities for using a tool. Monkeys are among them. But in what way do the primates learn to use a tool?

Research by Giacomo Rizzolatti of the University of Parma tells us that the brain uses the trick of considering the tool as a part of the body. Some previous researchers demonstrated that the hand movements are controlled by the area of the brain called F5.

He registered the cerebral activity of two macaques after they had learned to grasp food with pliers. He documented the activity in the F5 area and in the area called F1, which in turn was employed in the manipulation of objects. He discovered that there was the same cerebral activity both when the monkeys grasped the food with only the help of their own hand and with the pliers: the neuronal activity is transferred from the hands to the tool, as if the tool were the hand and its extremity were the fingers.

Furthermore, Rizzolatti puts in evidence the fact that the F5 area is rich with mirror neurons, a type of neurons that he had previously discovered, which are excited both when an act is being performed and when another individual is observed while performing the same act. The discoveries, according to Dietrich Stout, an archeologist specializing in the use of tools, tell us that “obviously, the use of instruments by the monkeys implies an incorporation of the instruments in the body scheme, literally it is an extension of a body”.

The monkey cannot distinguish between his own hands and the tool that he uses, considering the latter a real extension of his body. It reminds me of what Marshall McLuhan said regarding the media and tools as extensions of ourselves.

In this experiment, however, they make a decision without consulting the person in-charge. The factor of consciousness is missing, which is still elusive to neuroscience. The presence or otherwise of consciousness and what it is about cannot be identified by experiments. This experiment made me reflect on the relationship between consciousness, tools, and the spiritual paths toward awareness.

Therefore, tools are really like body extensions on a neural level, but the consciousness of a human being allows the understanding that the tool is external. The monkey does not know the duality which is produced by the self-consciousness, thus it seems like getting closer to a spiritual condition of a “union with everything.” However, the union takes place on a pre-conscious level.

The consciousness of ourselves is at the same time joy and distress since they entrap us in the mind, separating us from the rest of existence, and it splits as well on the inner level down to our inside, but it also allows us to reach spiritual peaks unknown to our hungry macaque. Self-consciousness and consequently the development of an ego which separates us from everything are the intermediate phases between the monkey and the spiritually enlightened state.

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A parte l’uomo, solo pochissimi animali hanno le caratteristiche fisiche e le capacità mentali per utilizzare uno strumento. Tra questi, le scimmie. Ma come fanno i primati ad apprendere l’uso di uno strumento?

Uno studio di Giacomo Rizzolatti dell’università di Parma ci dice che il cervello usa il trucco di considerare lo strumento come fosse parte del proprio corpo. Alcune ricerche precedenti avevano mostrato che le azioni della mano vengono controllare da un’area del cervello chiamata F5.

Egli ed il suo team hanno registrato l’attività cerebrale di due macachi dopo che avevano appreso ad afferrare il cibo con delle pinze. Hanno documentato l’attività nell’area F5 e in un’area chiamata F1 che a sua volta è implicata nella manipolazione di oggetti. Hanno scoperto che vi era la stessa attività cerebrale sia quando le scimmie afferravano il cibo con l’ausilio delle sole mani che quando usavano le pinze: l’attività neuronale viene trasferita dalle mani allo strumento, come se lo strumento fosse la mano e la sua estremità fossero le dita.

Inoltre Rizzolatti mette in evidenza il fatto che l’area F5 è ricca di neuroni specchio, un tipo di neurone da lui scoperto in precedenza, che si eccitano sia quando si svolge un’azione sia quando si osserva un altro individuo che attua la stessa cosa. Le scoperte, secondo Dietrich Stout, un archeologo specializzato nell’uso di strumenti ci dicono che “chiaramente, l’uso degli strumenti da parte delle scimmie implica l’incorporazione degli strumenti nello schema corporeo, letteralmente una estensione del corpo”.

La scimmia non sa distinguere tra le proprie mani e lo strumento che utilizza, considerando quest’ultimo come una vera e propria estensione del corpo. Questo mi ricorda ciò che disse Marshall McLuhan a riguardo dei media e degli strumenti come estensioni di noi stessi.

In questo esperimento tuttavia si fanno i conti senza l’oste. Manca il fattore coscienza, che tutt’ora sfugge alle neuroscienze. La presenza o meno della coscienza e di cosa si tratta non può essere rilevata dagli esperimenti. Questo esperimento mi ha fatto riflettere sul rapporto tra coscienza, strumenti e percorsi di ricerca spirituali verso la consapevolezza.

A un livello neurale primitivo quindi gli strumenti sono veramente estensioni del corpo, ma la consapevolezza di un essere umano permette di comprendere che lo strumento è esterno a noi. La scimmia non conosce la dualità che viene prodotta dalla coscienza di sé, quindi sembrerebbe avvicinarsi ad una condizione spirituale di “unione con il tutto” . L’unione però avviene ad un livello pre-cosciente.

La coscienza di se stessi è allo stesso tempo gioia e dolore poiché ci intrappola nella mente, separandoci dal resto dell’esistenza, e ci scinde anche al nostro interno, ma, anche, ci consente di raggiungere vette spirituali ignote al nostro famelico macaco. La coscienza di sé e di conseguenza lo sviluppo di un ego che ci separa dal tutto sono fasi intermedie tra la scimmia e lo stato di illuminazione spirituale.

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Downloading our mind

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In 1964 Marshall McLuhan said: “Having extended or translated our central nervous system into the electromagnetic technology, it is but a further stage to transfer our consciousness to the computer world as well” (Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1994).

Hans Moravec took him in earnest, stating that the mind’s contents could be copied on a mechanical support – and who knows, perhaps even transplanted as any other organ. The technological dream of transcending the body is a revival of separation of the “impure” body and the “divine” mind, shared both by Christianity and the Cartesian science.

But our identification with the mind could be challenged in the very moment when the mind could be copied, reproduced and shared between people.

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Marshall McLuhan nel 1964 affermava: “Avendo esteso o tradotto il nostro sistema nervoso centrale nella tecnologia elettromagnetica basta un solo passo per trasferire anche la nostra coscienza nel mondo del cervello elettronico”. (Marshall McLuhan. Gli strumenti del comunicare. Mondadori. Milano. 1990)

Qualcuno come Hans Moravec lo ha preso sul serio, affermando che i contenuti della mente potranno essere copiati su un supporto meccanico, e chissà magari anche trapiantati come qualsiasi altro organo. Il sogno di trascendenza del corpo in veste tecnologica è un rigurgito della visione religiosa/illuministica di separazione del corpo “impuro” dalla mente “divina”.

Ma la nostra identificazione con la mente potrebbe venire messa a rischio proprio nel momento in cui la mente potrà essere copiata, riprodotta e scambiata tra le persone.

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Metabolizing information

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The speed of e-contacts and communication prevents the full assimilation of the messages we receive. Split and fragmentary attention has become the rule for online activities, but this procedure is gradually being exported offline. But the time needed for soul maturity goes much slower than electronics.

When we are not present with our aware attention, we are only passive containers of every message we receive. In this way, we are at risk of becoming simple consumers of messages which play on a banal emotional immediacy bypassing any kind of critical analysis.

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La velocità dei contatti e delle comunicazioni elettroniche impedisce la capacità di metabolizzazione dei messaggi che si ricevono. L’attenzione divisa e frammentaria è diventata la regola nelle attività online, ma questa modalità tende ad essere anche esportata offline. I tempi della maturazione dell’anima e della consapevolezza sono però assai più lenti di quelli elettronici.

Quando non siamo presenti con la nostra attenzione consapevole, siamo semplici contenitori passivi di qualsiasi messaggio che riceviamo. In questo modo rischiamo di diventare consumatori di messaggi che fanno leva su una banale immediatezza emotiva bypassando qualsiasi analisi critica.

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Wireless communication and reality mining as a reflection of pervasive consciousness

<h1><a xhref="http://www.indranet.org/?attachment_id=88">Composition VIII</a></h1>[en]

Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and other wireless modalities of transmitting data through computers and modems, printers and other peripherals are expanding. Wireless connection won't be the only information post on the territory. Reality mining is the term coined by MIT Media Lab that sums up the various objects that can be transformed in data spots through tiny radio-connected sensor chips.

The appeal of wireless is not just avoiding messy cables or the convenience of being able to connect to the Net anywhere. Wireless spots have an impact on our psyche as well. They give the impression of conscious, almost alive presences spreading across the world. A net of infinite eyes and pervasive awareness where all is one and interconnected.
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Bluetooth, Wi-Fi e altre modalità wireless di trasmissione dei dati attraverso computer, modem, stampanti e altre periferiche si stanno diffondendo rapidamente. La comunicazione senza fili non sarà il solo tipo di punto-informazione sul territorio. Reality mining [estrarre la realtà] è il termine coniato dal Mit Media Lab per indicare i vari oggetti che possono essere trasformati in punti informazione tramite piccoli chip sensoriali radiocollegati.

L’attrattiva del wireless non sta solo nella possibilità di evitare grovigli di fili o di connettersi alla Rete da qualsiasi luogo. I luoghi wireless hanno un impatto anche sulla nostra psiche. Essi creano la sensazione di presenze consce, quasi vive, onnipresenti.

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Zen archery and computers

[en]

The use of tools and technology is probably the most singular behavior that separates human beings from animals. Humans have self-consciousness, that is consciousness conscious of itself: we are aware that we are conscious.

Being aware of having consciousness allows us to project the same consciousness outside our bodies in creating tools that extend our body-mind possibilities. During history the use of tools diversified and grew exponentially, with computer technology as the most advanced mind-extension tool yet created.

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L’utilizzo degli strumenti e della tecnologia è probabilmente il comportamento più originale che separa gli esseri umani dagli animali. Gli esseri umani possiedono autoconsapevolezza, ovverosia coscienza che ha coscienza di se stessa: siamo consapevoli di essere coscienti.

Essere consapevoli di essere coscienti ci consente di proiettare la stessa coscienza all’esterno dei nostri corpi nella creazione di strumenti che estendono le possibilità del corpo-mente. Nel corso della storia l’uso degli strumenti si è diversificato ed è cresciuto esponenzialmente, con la tecnologia dei computer che rappresenta attualmente lo strumento più elaborato per l’estensione della mente.

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The heart of the binary code

<h1><a xhref="http://www.indranet.org/?attachment_id=51">Binary code world</a></h1>[en]

Everybody knows that computers work with the binary 0-1 code at their core. Even though there are projects to build computers based on neural nets or quantum computers, still none of these have progressed beyond theoretical models. The inner structure of a tool reflects the ways it is used just as the molecular structure of a material reflects the macro features such as weight, texture and resistance.

The computer is a tool that reasons and builds the world in a dualistic attitude. In the computer programming languages used to develop software, one of the main logical structures is the "if-then-else" construct that allows decisions to be made based on choices and dualities.

The dualistic binary modality of functioning is typical of the rational thinking mind. The computer as an extension of the mind just mirrors the way the thinking mind works. The ego psychology tells us the structures of the mind itself has been born through the first dualistic event, when in childhood the child begins to split pleasurable-good-love-warm-care sensations from  unpleasurable-bad-fear-abandonment-hunger ones.

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Tutti sanno che i computer operano in base al codice binario 0/1. Esistono progetti per creare computer basati su reti neurali o computer quantici, ma nessuno di essi finora è andato al di là dei modelli teorici. La struttura interna di uno strumento riflette il modo in cui viene usato, così come la struttura molecolare di un materiale ne riflette caratteristiche macroscopiche quali il peso, la tessitura e la resistenza.

Il computer è uno strumento che ragiona e crea il mondo secondo un modello dualista. Nei linguaggi informatici utilizzati per creare il software, una delle principali strutture logiche è il costrutto «if-then-else», che consente di prendere decisioni basate su scelte e dualità.

Il modello binario dualistico è tipico della mente razionale. Il computer, in quanto estensione della mente, non fa che riflettere il modo in cui opera quest’ultima. La psicologia dell’ego ci dice che le strutture della mente si sono formate attraverso il primo evento dualistico, ovvero quando il bambino ha cominciato a distinguere le sensazioni piacevoli (bene, amore, calore, premure) da quelle spiacevoli (male, paura, abbandono, fame).

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Lifelogging

Hand with Reflecting Sphere[en]

What's the deep need for recording everything that happens in our life? The promises of lifelogging.

I remember in the early 80's I was standing outside an ethnic restaurant in Milan with friends and we met a very young man, no older than ourselves. He told me that he had installed a tape recorder on his "500", a very small and cute Italian car. Any time he started the engine, the tape recorder automatically switched on so he could record conversations with his passengers and later listen to them.

His goal was to listen to himself talking later on. This guy was a nice and interesting character, and genuinely interested in knowing the different parts of himself, he wasn't a controlling paranoid personality. "One, No one and One Hundred Thousand" as Pirandello say. We are One for us, ultimately No one, but One Hundred Thousand for every different person we meet.

During the 80's some people in the alternative scene/culture were looking at the first video recording technologies as something that could bring more awareness in people's consciousness, as it were a Gurdjieffian continuous remembrance of ourselves. Now technology has evolved a lot more and Kevin Kelly writes about Lifelogging:

The goal of lifelogging: to record and archive all information in one’s life. This includes all text, all visual information, all audio, all media activity, as well as all biological data from sensors on one’s body. The information would be archived for the benefit of the lifelogger, and shared with others in various degrees as controlled by him/her.

Kevin Kelly is brilliant in forecasting the evolution of technology, but his analysis don't focus especially on the other half of the story: the impact of technologies on the soul. His classic book is Out of Control, that I published into Italian in the 90's.

First I ask myself what's the deep need for recording everything that happens in our life. Apart from the practical reasons to have such lifeloggings, I suspect it reflects on a different level a more spiritual, evolutionary need having to do with the desire to freeze certain life moments in order to be fully aware of them in our consciousness, in order to participate fully and deeply in the flow of life.

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Qual è il bisogno profondo di registrare tutto ciò che avviene nella nostra vita? Le promesse del lifelogging.

Mi ricordo che all'inizio degli anni 80 ero fuori da un ristorante etnico a Milano con alcuni amici, dove abbiamo conosciuto un ragazzo della nostra età. Mi disse che aveva installato un registratore sulla sua 500, di modo che ogni volta che accendeva il quadro il registratore si attivava automaticamente per registrare le conversazione con i suoi passeggeri. In questo modo poteva ascoltare di nuovo se stesso conversando in un momento successivo.

Era un tipo simpatico ed interessante, e realmente interessato a conoscere le diverse parti di se stesso, non si trattava di una personalità paranoica controllante. "Uno, Nessuno, Centomila" come scriveva Pirandello. Siamo Uno per noi stessi, in ultima analisi Nessuno, ma Centomila per ogni diversa persona che incontriamo.

In quegli anni 80 alcune persone della cultura alternativa consideravano le prime tecnologie di videoregistrazione come qualcosa che avrebbe potuto portare più consapevolezza nella coscienza delle persone, come se fosse stato un ricordo di sè alla Gurdjieff. Ora la tecnologia è molto più evoluta e Kevin Kelly scrive del Lifelogging (lo traduco dall'inglese): 

Lo scopo del lifelogging: registrare e archiviare tutte le informazione della vita di una persona. Queste comprendono tutti i testi, tutte le informazioni visive, tutte le attività di ogni media, e anche tutti i dati biologici da sensori posti nel corpo. Queste informazioni verrebbero archiviate per il beneficio del lifelogger e condivise con altri a diversi livelli a scelta del lifelogger.

Kevin Kelly è brillante nel predire l'evoluzione della tecnologia, ma spesso le sue analisi non si focalizzano in modo particolare verso l'altra metà della storia: l'impatto della tecnologia sull'anima. Il suo testo classico è Out of Control, che ho pubblicato in Italiano quando ero editore di Apogeo/Urra.

Mi chiedo innanzitutto quale sia il bisogno profondo di registrare tutto ciò che avviene nella nostra vita. A parte le ragioni prettamente pratiche nel possedere un lifelogging, sento che questo bisogno riflette a un diverso livello un bisogno di carattere più evolutivo e spirituale: il desiderio di fermare alcuni momenti della vita per averne piena consapevolezza nella nostra coscienza, per poter partecipare in pieno e in profondità al flusso della vita.

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Google, privacy and the need to be seen

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There is a growing debate about the Internet and privacy, especially related to Google. Google knows every web page we visit, every advertisement message we click on and probably, with their mathematical and analytical tools that can intersect geographical data, web navigation and email messages, much more than we can imagine. Our location, doings and web activity can be easily traced and shared. Most probably this technological trend will go towards an even more detailed picture of people’s mind and activities.

But the thing is, most of the Internet users are accomplices to the violation of their privacy. Google knows that people want to show as much as possible of themselves to the world and be able to know and see as much as possible about others. Internet users expose more and more of their ideas, pictures and intimate life through blogs, social networking and other sites. It seems that an act or thought doesn't have value if it is not seen, uploaded and if it doesn't have an audience.

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C'è un dibattito crescente sull'Internet e la privacy, in particolare riferito a Google. Google conosce ogni pagina web che visitiamo, ogni comunicazione pubblicitaria che clicchiamo e probabilmente, tramite gli strumenti matematici ed analitici che possono incrociare dati geografici, di navigazione su web e comunicazioni e-mail, molto più di quanto possiamo immaginare. La nostra ubicazione, le nostre azioni e l'attività su web possono essere facilmente tracciate e condivise. Molto probabilmente questo trend tecnologico si evolverà verso un ritratto ancora più particolareggiato delle menti e delle attività delle persone.

Ma il punto è che la maggior parte degli utenti di Internet sono complici della violazione della loro privacy. Google sa che le persone vogliono mostrare quanto più possibile di loro stesse al mondo ed essere in grado di sapere e vedere altrettanto del prossimo. Gli utenti di Internet espongono in modo crescente le loro idee, immagini e la loro vita intima attraverso i blog, i network sociali e altri siti. Sembra che un atto o un pensiero non abbia valore se non viene messo in rete, visto e se non ha un pubblico. [/it] (more…)

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