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Soma for the Globalized Minds

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 digitalization 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 digitalization of territory (like Google Earth and augmented realities software) to our biology.

Judæo-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, is entertaining, dumbing people in their own separate homes where they will be unable to question the system. 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 Internet might already be the new soma for a society experiencing economic and environmental degradation. But with the huge economic and psychological interests connected to it, criticizing its effect is akin to cursing God.

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Spinning the Net Out

Pew Internet released a report on Social Isolation and New Technology contradicting previous studies on the subject:

This Pew Internet Personal Networks and Community survey finds that Americans are not as isolated as has been previously reported. People’s use of the mobile phone and the internet is associated with larger and more diverse discussion networks. And, when we examine people’s full personal network – their strong and weak ties – internet use in general and use of social networking services such as Facebook in particular are associated with more diverse social networks.

I also think that Facebook users have real-life connections as well, but since Facebook has spread massively, my feeling is that the pre-existing real-life relationships are being sucked into Facebook too.

In the beginning, TV used to show and describe reality, and people would talk about what happened on TV. Starting around 20 years ago, I noticed that TV talked more and more about what happened on TV itself in a self-referencing way. I saw that mostly through other peoples’ TV sets since I don’t own a set myself. Seeing TV only rarely makes me more aware of the macro-changes. At a certain point, TV didn’t just show and talk about reality any more, but made reality itself, which was then commented upon by TV itself and by other media.

The Net followed a similar but slightly different path. A few years ago, the Net was limited to a small percentage of the population and it was immediately self-referential, encouraged by the easy mechanism of the link system.

Then, as social networks spread, people populated Facebook and similar sites. Recently, I noticed that real-life conversations got more into “what happened on Facebook” and this in itself fuelled the growth of the social network itself. People didn’t want to feel “left out” so they flocked to Facebook. Suddenly, people would feel left out if they weren’t present on the Net and in its happenings, more than if they weren’t present in face-to-face meetings.

The Net got priority. Without it, many real meetings can’t happen anymore as they are organized as Facebook events. Since we spend more and more time online, without the Net, we could even become short of arguments in our real-life conversations.

Many people into technology welcome the interaction between the Net and real life, seeing that as something which balances both and which takes the Net out of a cage. The problem is that the process of digitalization of reality is quite greedy and tends to incorporate every aspect of reality, absorbing the wholeness of reality starting from the mental level, representing it digitally as if everything could be translated into bytes. So in the end, reality becomes sucked into the Net, which has to be lifestreamed or lifelogged in order to become realized. Reality can be considered real only when can become digitalized.

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Millions of MP3s and the missing “My Personality”

magritte-2-men[en]

Recently, during an Italian conference dedicated to music on the Net, one boy said to the speaker, “We can download the complete discography of any artist, but the problem is: What do we like?”

This question summarizes the entire journey of the market society which offers countess choices but does not give the instruments for creating a solid individual identity. One of the reasons for the discomfort in choosing is almost “technical”: Barry Schwartz is the author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. He affirms that the great varieties of choices present in rich societies create paralysis instead of liberation.

People prefer to make no decision rather than face complicated choices. Decisions, once made, produce less satisfaction as people have greater reason to regret the decisions they have made. Moreover, it creates unrealistic expectations and self-blame when the results are not perfect. Finally, the explosion of choices may be a significant contributor to depression.

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Recentemente, in un convegno Italiano sulla musica in Rete, un ragazzo disse al relatore “Possiamo scaricare le discografie complete di qualsiasi artista, ma il problema è: Che cosa ci piace?”

In questa domanda è riassunto tutto il percorso della società dei consumi che offre innumerevoli scelte ma non conferisce gli strumenti per crearsi una propria solida identità. Una delle cause di questo disagio di fronte alla scelta, è quasi “tecnica”: Barry Schwartz è l’autore di The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less (Il paradosso della scelta: perché di più è di meno). Egli afferma che la grande varietà di scelte presente nelle società ricche crea paralisi invece che liberazione.

Le persone preferiscono non decidere piuttosto che affrontare delle scelte complicate. Le decisioni, una volta prese, producono meno soddisfazione poiché le persone hanno più motivi per pentirsi delle decisioni prese. Inoltre crea aspettative irrealistiche e rimproveri verso se stessi quando i risultati non sono perfetti. Infine, l’esplosione di scelte può divenire un contributo rilevante nell’avvio di una depressione.

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Questions about the media

escher-another-world[en]

Marshall McLuhan summarized his view of the media in a model called the tetrad of media effects. The tetrad asks the following four questions about any medium to evaluate its qualities.

1) What does the medium increase? For example, TV amplifies the view of the whole world from our homes.

2) What does the medium make obsolete? TV makes family communication obsolete.

3) What does the medium retrieve that had been obsolete earlier? TV provokes a re-tribalization and homogenization of cultures.

4) What does the medium turn into when pushed to extremes? TV can turn in a global Big Brother show where everybody is on the airwaves. TV as well can become a tool of social manipulation.

The number and role of the media in our lives having expanded exponentially since McLuhan’s times, both in terms of the time we dedicate to them and the scope of their applications in our lives, we need to probe the media with a broader range of questions.

I won’t consider the computer and Internet as individual media since they are sums of several media, both traditional and new. Using a computer to write, shop, program software, look at porn or read news are different modalities which involve different needs, though they share the same tool.

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Marshall McLuhan sintetizzò le sue idee sui media in un modello chiamato la tetrade degli effetti dei media. La tetrade usa le seguenti quattro domande per valutare un medium:

1) Cosa permette di espandere il medium? Per esempio, la TV amplifica l’immagine che abbiamo del mondo dalle nostre case.

2) Cosa rende obsoleto? La TV rende obsoleta la comunicazione all’interno della famiglia.

3) Cosa recupera che era divenuto obsoleto in precedenza? La TV provoca una ri-tribalizzazione e un’omogeneizzazione delle culture.

4) Cosa succede quando i limiti del medium vengono spinti agli estremi? La TV può trasformarsi in un unico Grande Fratello in cui la vita di ognuno è in diretta. La TV può anche diventare uno strumento di manipolazione sociale.

Poiché oggigiorno il numero e la funzione dei media si sono espansi in misura esponenziale rispetto ai tempi di McLuhan – in termini sia di tempo che dedichiamo a essi sia di loro ricadute nella nostra vita – abbiamo bisogno di vagliarli tramite più domande.

Non considererò i computer e Internet come media singoli, in quanto sono la somma di diversi media, sia tradizionali che nuovi. Usare un computer per scrivere, fare acquisti, programmare, guardare pornografia o leggere notizie sono modalità diverse che rispondono a bisogni diversi, benché usino lo stesso strumento.

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Multitasking to nothing

<h1><a xhref="http://www.indranet.org/?attachment_id=73">soft-watch-at-the-moment.jpg</a></h1>[en]

Even though multitasking has been demonstrated to be counterproductive, in real life and at the computer we tend to do a growing number of activities simultaneously.

What people are most scared of is to actually have free time, to experience an emptiness that would make us aware of the meaninglessness of our lives.  Any slowing down of our mind activity will give more awareness of ourselves in a deeper way than the activities we are identified with, and this is exactly what our ego tends to avoid.

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Anche se è stato dimostrato come il multitasking sia controproducente, nella vita reale e al computer tendiamo ad occuparci di un numero crescente di attività simultaneamente.

In realtà quello che si teme maggiormente è fare esperienza di un vuoto che ci renderebbe consapevoli della mancanza di senso profondo nelle nostre attività. Qualsiasi rallentamento dell’attività mentale ci renderebbe consapevoli di noi stessi più profondamente di tutte le attività con cui siamo identificati, e questo è esattamente ciò che il nostro ego tende ad evitare.

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Biotech as an information system

<h1><a xhref="http://www.indranet.org/?attachment_id=70">geopoliticus-child-watching-the-birth-of-the-new-man.jpg</a></h1>[en]

The race toward the digitalization of reality has never slowed down, and it has resulted in a perception of the universe as an information processing system. The digitalization of reality has spread to the biological system and has been accelerated with the DNA sequencing of Human Genome Project.

Then scientists discovered that RNA, previously considered junk, regulates protein production and regulates genetic expression. Sequencing RNA and the classification of proteins will probably require billions of times the computational power needed for the Human Genome Project in 2005.

Biology and physics can express themselves on an informational level as well, but this doesn't mean that this is the only level where we can understand their nature.

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La corsa verso la digitalizzazione della realtà non si è mai arrestata e ha creato la percezione dell’universo come di un sistema di elaborazione delle informazioni. La digitalizzazione della realtà ha raggiunto il sistema biologico e ha subito un’accelerazione con la mappatura del DNA tramite il Progetto Genoma Umano.

Quindi gli scienziati hanno scoperto che l’RNA, precedentemente considerato spazzatura, regola la produzione di proteine e l’espressione genetica.  Sequenziare l’RNA e classificare le proteine richiederà probabilmente una capacità di calcolo miliardi di volte più grande di quella necessaria per il Progetto Genoma Umano del 2005.

La Biologia e la Fisica possono esprimersi a livello delle informazioni, ma questo non vuol dire che esso sia l’unico livello in cui possiamo comprendere la loro natura.

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Virtual worlds, mirror worlds, Second Life: backing up the messed planet

The path of enigmas[en]

In the 21th century ideologies collapsed, religions are showing their fundamentalist and darker side and war is still the response to political problems. At the same time the material world itself is experiencing ecological collapse.

Virtual worlds such as Second Life and mirror worlds as Google Earth are the new frontiers of the Net. It seems as though we are making a backup of a devastated world on the Net, reshaping it according to our dreams and inhabiting it as if we could alienate ourselves from the material world.

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Nel ventunesimo secolo, assistiamo al crollo delle ideologie, le religioni stanno mostrando il loro lato fondamentalista e più oscuro, mentre la guerra è ancora la risposta a problemi politici. Al medesimo tempo, il pianeta sta vivendo il collasso ecologico.

I mondi virtuali come Second Life e i mondi specchio come Google Earth sono le nuove frontiere della Rete. Sembra che stiamo facendo la copia in Rete di un mondo devastato, modificandolo secondo i nostri desideri e abitandolo come se potessimo alienarci dal mondo materiale.
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Mechanisms, mysticism and Amazon Mechanical Turk

<h1><a xhref="http://www.indranet.org/?attachment_id=66">Bureaucrat and Sewing Machine</a></h1>

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Human beings have always felt the need to give themselves to something bigger than their individualities: to art, to love, to a cause, to truth, to a guru, to God. When we devote ourselves to something bigger, we transcend ourselves, we go beyond our little narcissistic ego who would always like to be the center of attention. Dedication annihilates a part of ourselves and at the same time it lifts us up to another state of being.

We give ourselves, we trust and we nullify ourselves into technology. We are religiously devoted to the objects of technology, which absorb most of the time of an increasing number of people. As McLuhan wrote, “By continuously embracing technologies, we relate ourselves to them as servomechanisms.”

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Gli essere umani hanno sempre sentito il bisogno di darsi a qualcosa di più grande della propria individualità: all'arte, a un amore, ad una causa, alla verità, a un guru, a Dio. Quando ci dedichiamo a qualcosa di più grande trascendiamo noi stessi, oltrepassiamo il nostro piccolo ego narcisista che vorrebbe sempre stare al centro delle attenzioni. La dedizione ci annienta da una parte e allo stesso tempo ci eleva da un'altra.

Ci diamo, ci affidiamo e ci annulliamo nella tecnologia. Siamo religiosamente devoti agli oggetti della tecnologia, che assorbe la maggior parte del tempo di un numero crescente di persone. Come scrisse McLuhan, “Ricevendo continuamente tecnologie ci poniamo nei loro confronti come altrettanti servomeccanismi.”

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Ideologies that strengthen themselves

<h1><a xhref="http://www.indranet.org/?attachment_id=59">moebius band</a></h1>[en]

The attachments to theories, points of view and dogmas are used to satisfy our need of certainty and to escape confrontation with the void. Often I ask myself how ideologies and dogmas can stand the test of time even though they are so often full of holes.

I noticed that among the various mechanisms commonly used, ideologies tend to implement auto-referential processes to defend themselves from criticisms, whereas the criticisms themselves strengthen the ideologies.

Strengthen today, strengthen tomorrow, and the day after that fundamentalisms are born.

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Gli attaccamenti a teorie, punti di vista e dogmi vengono usati per soddisfare il nostro bisogno di certezza e per non sentire il vuoto. Mi sono chiesto spesso come facciano le ideologie e i dogmi a resistere nel tempo nonostante spesso facciano buchi da tutte la parti.

Ho notato che tra i vari meccanismi utilizzati, le ideologie tendono ad implementare dei processi autoreferenziali per difendersi dalle critiche, dove le critiche stesse rafforzano l'ideologia.

Rafforza oggi rafforza domani, si creano i fondamentalismi.

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Superego orgasm 2.0

<h1><a xhref="http://www.indranet.org/?attachment_id=56">Orgasm</a></h1>There are many good reasons for saying that orgasms are good. They feel good. When a person has an orgasm with a partner, they trust the partner enough to release their control for a while and be taken over by an overwhelming energy.

Orgasms make us vulnerable; they show our intensity and we can let the other hear our deepest screams of pleasure. As a man, it’s beautiful to see and feel the shakti energy of a woman as she has an orgasm. Orgasms trigger the release of many hormones, among them oxytocin that induces feelings of love and bonding. They are good for health and circulation; they can start in the body but expands to the soul, or vice versa, representing a holistic experience for the person. Everybody could list more benefits for themselves.

But… Having “ordinary” orgasms seems not to be enough anymore. Clitoral orgasm is just for beginners. G-spot orgasm, trigasm, multiple orgasms and squirting are all musts now for a woman. Men usually don’t have any problem reaching an orgasm so the frontier for them is to become multi-orgasmic; having a 30-minute orgasm or reaching a prostate orgasm. Oh yes and than orgasms should of course be simultaneous.

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Cool, hot media and gender attraction

Dali - A Couple with Their Heads Full of Clouds[en]

During these very hot days in Italy a lightweight article about media and gender relationships. Marshall McLuhan as a media analyst coined the terms hot and cool media.

Hot media are those media that express an analytical, precise and well-defined message. Most of the visual media, especially the high-definitions one, are hot media. The message conveyed by hot media usually doesn't need much participation from the audience. For instance a movie is hotter than television since has a higher definition. Other examples of hot media are radio, the photograph, a lecture.

Cool media are those media that need the participation of the audience. Comic books and cartoons are cool media since the audience has to fill missing details. A seminar is considered a cool media since it requires an active role of the participants.

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In questi giorni di gran calura, un articolo leggero sui media e i rapporti uomo donna. Lo studioso dei media Marshall McLuhan ha coniato le espressioni media “caldi” e “freddi”.

I media caldi sono quelli che trasmettono un messaggio analitico, preciso e ben definito. La maggior parte dei media visivi – soprattutto quelli ad alta definizione – sono media caldi. Il messaggio trasmesso dai media caldi di solito non ha bisogno di molta partecipazione da parte del pubblico. Per esempio, un film è più caldo della televisione, perché possiede una definizione più elevata. Altri esempi di media caldi sono la radio, la fotografia, una conferenza.

I media freddi sono quei media per i quali è necessaria la partecipazione del pubblico. I fumetti e i cartoni animati sono media freddi, perché il pubblico deve riempire i dettagli mancanti. Un seminario è considerato un media freddo, perché richiede ai partecipanti un ruolo attivo.

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Downloading our life on Internet

Sinapsi frattali[en]

The technological society permeates more and more every part of our life and we are downloading more and more parts of our real life onto the Net. Personal communications, finance, work, news, work, dating, shopping are just few of the activities that have been moved massively to the Net. Those are separate areas of our life where we usually apply different modalities of our mind.

Our attitude is different when we are at work, when we are shopping, when we talk to a friend or when we are communicating with somebody we are attracted to in a sensuous and intimate way. In addition, we usually have different settings for the different range of life activities. As we activate different parts of our mind, our body is involved as well. On the other hand, when we are stuck in front of a screen, our setting is always the same and the dynamic and tactile experience is missing.

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La società tecnologica permea sempre più ogni parte della nostra vita, e noi stiamo scaricando come fosse un download sempre più parti della nostra vita reale in Rete. La comunicazione tra le persone, gli affari, le notizie, il lavoro, gli amici, la ricerca di un partner, lo shopping sono solo alcune delle attività che sono state massicciamente trasferite in Rete. Si tratta di aeree distinte della nostra vita che solitamente richiedono l’attivazione della nostra mente in modalità diverse.

Il nostro atteggiamento cambia a seconda che siamo al lavoro, facciamo shopping, parliamo con un amico o comunichiamo con qualcuno che ci attrae sentimentalmente o sessualmente. Di solito, abbiamo diversi ambienti e situazioni esterne per i diversi tipi di attività. E non solo attiviamo aree diverse della mente, ma anche il corpo ne viene coinvolto. Invece, quando siamo fermi di fronte a uno schermo, il nostro ambiente esteriore è sempre lo stesso e mancano le dimensioni dinamica e tattile. [/it] (more…)

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