-- / --
There is the interesting possibility that "site" may come to be understood as a static outmoded metaphor for the manner in which people and collectives find it appropriate to engage with the universe of knowledge. Site implies a particular location, especially the location with which the web user has some involvement and which may be deliberately constructed as an articulation of individual or collective identity. From there one can travel to other locations which others have configured to represent their's.
However, whilst the "site" may reflect considerable effort in articulating a static identity -- whether or not it has interactive facilities analogous to those that might be expected in a person's house -- it says nothing about the dynamics of how a person moves and how identity may be associated with that. There may be links to other sites -- like travel books in a home library -- but the dynamics and style of that movement are only partially represented. Even more interesting is the question of "who" moves. There is a sense that an abstract entity, a "visitor", travels to other sites as an observer, a consumer, a tourist -- along the information highway. Possibly some form of link may be brought back -- like a photograph or memento. Arrangements may be made to "keep in touch" through an exchange of addresses. As the person responsible for a site, one may in turn make arrangements to receive such visitors.
The question asked in what follows is whether more fruitful understanding of these processes would emerge from changing metaphor.
Rather than constructing a site, and visiting other sites elsewhere in cyberspace, suppose the focus shifted to the "vehicle" in which one travelled. Such a shift in paradigm is evident in the case of people who choose to invest in a mobile home to travel their continent, possibly with little immediate intention to return to a particular physical location. The focus is then on the design of the mobile home (a caravan) and its capacity to move. The "centre of gravity" of identity is then with the vehicle and its enabling capacity rather than with some particular physical space. A similar shift in identity is evident in the desire of people to possess a vehicle that better reflects their sense of identity than the place they are obliged to dwell for socio-economic reasons.
But this possibility then raises the question of how exactly the design of a "vehicle" might be expected to be different from the design of a "site". In the design of a site, considerable effort is put into ensuring that it is a reflection of one's personal (or collective) sense of identity. The aim is to fruitfully distinguish its unique qualities from those of others -- notably to render it more attractive. Website designers now have considerable experience in building a site to this end -- respecting the basic needs of visitors -- navigational needs within the site, clarity of content, etc. If the site is a more personal one, holding notes, photographs and the like, less effort may be put into facilitating the experience of visitors and more into its security features -- exactly as with the priorities of a householder for whom the needs of visitors are not of major concern.
How then to think about the design of a "vehicle"? Clearly search engines may be appropriately considered as a form of "public transportation". They may even offer facilities to "personalize" the engagement with such transportation -- configuring colours, layout, language, skins, etc.
More challenging, as explored here, is the question of how the cognitive context and pattern, typically associated with a static website, might be transformed by conceiving of it as a personal vehicle for (experiential) travel through the universe of knowledge over time. It is one thing to have a (radio)telescope or radio to receive signals from distant locations (and to send signals back); it is another to be carried to those locations as in a space ship in which one lives and moves and has one's being.
One relevant innovation is the emergence of appropriately configured "avatars" as "vehicles" or "identities" through which to explore realms of cyberspace -- most especially in online gaming environments and virtual worlds. This is a reminder of how quickly society has come to accept the "reality" of what is purely virtual, notably in attributing a degree of reality to web "sites" and their corresponding domain "addresses" as "property" -- possibly of greater value and significance than physical property (at least to the proprietor).
In this respect the comment of Kenneth Boulding (Ecodynamics; a new theory of societal evolution, 1978) is especially relevant to the following exploration: \
Our consciousness of the unity of the self in the middle of a vast complexity of images or material structures is at least a suitable metaphor for the unity of a group, organization, department, discipline, or science. If personification is only a metaphor, let us not despise metaphors - we might be one ourselves. (p.345)
It might well be said that websites are primarily designed to manage information, perhaps understood as knowledge and know-how. However, by comparison with services and facilities in any urban environment, the "information" may be primarily of an aesthetic or recreational form -- as with a videogame parlour. In the case of an interest group club, the focus may be more on emphasizing the values for which the group was organized.
More intriguing for this exploration is the extent to which the owner of the vehicle has it specially configured to enhance a specially cultivated set of ways of interacting with the environment through which it moves. One possible analogy is the extent to which a standard vehicle may be imaginatively "reconfigured" and "converted" as an expression of the personality and tastes of the owner. This partly reflects the emergent cocooning mentality that may be applied both to a dwelling space and to associated behaviours -- establishing a personalized distance and a controlled interface with the environment.
Such thinking is in accord with the widespread move to "gated communities" -- a contemporary version of the earlier move to "intentional communities". As physical sites, the latter were designed to enable a particular approach to life to be cultivated and enhanced. They may be associated with a particular ideology or set of spiritual principles -- possibly with the guidance of a political, ideological or spiritual "guru".
The question that merits attention is the extent to which the accumulation of knowledge, and knowledge about knowledge, evolves from a "knowledge management" priority to one in which the manner of interacting with that knowledge is cultivated and the organization of its essential principles highligted in the "pattern that connects". In musical terms, this might be the contrast between the capacity to play a wide range of music (from a library) and the insight into what music it is fruitful to play under particular circumstances. In what ways is musical taste developed? Such an "art of knowledge" might then be understood as "wisdom" -- the wisdom of appropriateness, in whatever domain.
Reframed in this way the challenge is to design an "all-terrain" vehicle capable of adapting dynamically to the circumstances of challenging experience. This points to the contrast with a conventional static website -- however many "user preferences" are offered there. It suggests a need to look to ways of ensuring that the relationships constituting any "knowledge" associated with the website are reconfigured dynamically in terms of a subtler pattern of invariance with which identity is associated. The "wisdom" which it is then valuable for the user of the vehicle to have enhanced is the "pattern that connects" the items of knowledge. In particular it is likely to be innovative emergent patterns that are most to be valued.
There is a curious, somewhat counter-intuitive, twist to the relation between:
The distinction between shock learning and maintenance learning was notably one fruit of a study for the Club of Rome (James W Botkin, Mahdi Elmandjra and Mircea Malitza, No Limits to Learning: bridging the human gap, 1979), discussed elsewhere (Societal Learning and the Erosion of Collective Memory: a critique of the Club of Rome Report: No Limits to Learning, 1980).
The first form could now be characterized by the situation of "gated" conceptual communities, whether dynamic or otherwise (Dynamically Gated Conceptual Communities: emergent patterns of isolation within knowledge society, 2004). The second could now be characterized by the potential relationship to knowledge and learning in a web environment -- in cruising the web.
The "twist" introduced here however lies in how these two contrasting situations might be combined -- or "married" -- in a new paradigm. The challenge is how to embody openness into a "personalized", and (to that extent) closed system. Conversely, the challenge is how adaptively to reconfigure the structure of a particular pattern of wisdom so as to engage with other knowledge with which it may be seemingly incompatible or by which it may be considered irrelevant.
Curiously the primary metaphor for the organization of knowledge on a website is the culinary "menu" implying a taste-based process of choice. Behind the array of drop down menus is an "architecture" through which hierarchies of categories are structured. Humanity has not been able to generate a particularly fruitful organization of such categories (see discussions in Anti-Developmental Biases in Thesaurus Design, 1981; Functional Classification in an Integrative Matrix of Human Preoccupations, 1982).
What is on offer is the work of those in the information sciences (often the constraining priorities of the library sciences). The emphasis is on enabling access to a known work or to locating a work in a known category. Almost no emphasis is placed on the non-hierarchical integrative relationships between elements of knowledge, their associated experiences, and implications for learning pathways or strategic challenges -- the "pattern that connects" the items of learning.
It might be said that the exploration of knowledge is very similar -- and why would it not be -- to navigating roadways rather than any subtler configuration of knowledge. This is despite the possibilities (From Information Highways to Songlines of the Noosphere: global configuration of hypertext pathways as a prerequisite for meaningful collective transformation, 1998; Sacralization of Hyperlink Geometry, 1997; Walking Elven Pathways: enactivating the pattern that connects, 2006)
In particular almost no allowance is made for the very different ways of knowing characteristic of different people or different cultures, some of them primarily associative rather than hierarchical (cf Systems of Categories Distinguishing Cultural Biases, 1993). People are currently called upon to adapt to the menu; the menus are not adapted to the individual's own organization of knowledge.
Curiously learning and culture -- for an individual -- might be understood in terms of the capacity to reorder elements of knowledge to focus and highlight what is most meaningful and significant. Any "wisdom" is an emergent consequence of learnings from this process.
The concern here is therefore with the possibility of shifting from an architectural metaphor for the organization of knowledge to one in which knowledge elements are configured in new ways -- possibly consistent with new paradigms in architecture. Of these one of the most interesting is possibly the "dome" as exemplified by the work of R Buckminster Fuller on geodesic domes (Synergetics; explorations in the geometry of thinking, 1975-9). The question is how might higher orders of organization of knowledge -- wisdom -- be experienced if their elements were configured spherically rather than in drop down hierarchically-structured menus. (Spherical Configuration of Categories -- to reflect systemic patterns of environmental checks and balances, 1994)
But the particular emphasis here is on the personalized construction of such "knowledge domes" -- and the cognitive relationship to them. It could well be argued that the achievement of "gurus"in any domain is their spherical configuration of knowledge into an integrative whole -- a sort of "wizdome". It is the complex dynamics of this emergent wizdome that constitutes the "strange attractor" with which their followers resonate in some way (Human Values as Strange Attractors: coevolution of classes of governance principles, 1993). Its quality of being a "sacred space" may derive from such architecture -- as with the impressive patterns of the design of domed mosques.
The suggestion therefore is that there is a case for exploring the extent to which "wisdom" is recognized precisely because it is "spherically" rather than "linearly" organized. An interesting example of a psychocultural "blindspot" in this respect -- despite the value attached to "lateral thinking" -- is illustrated by the extent to which the latter may be essentially "superficial" in a particular case (From Lateral Thinking to Voluminous Thinking: unexplored options for subterranean habitats in dense urban areas, 2007).
The challenge for the individual in optimizing access, to his or her own personal wisdom, would then be to move beyond the hierarchical, linear organization of knowledge to one that is based on a spherical metaphor, or some variant thereof:
Combining these two suggested shifts in metaphor -- to the spherical and to the dynamic -- the question for the individual is whether what is required is to design such a "wizdome" from the elements of knowledge accumulated on any current website. Can such knowledge elements be configured spherically in a fruitful manner for that individual? Can a site be "endomed" or "domified"? What kinds of insights and expertise are required to bring about any such "enwrapping" of knowledge -- beyond what the problematic aspects of cocooning? What is to be "encompassed" and how is this to be distinguished from any "encyclopedic" ambition (cf Cyclopean Vision vs Poly-sensual Engagement, 2006)?
Additionally however, rather than a static dome, can such a wizdome be designed as a vehicle? Or, more intriguing, is it possible that its viability as a structure is specifically dependent on its movement as a dynamic structure -- as much a "whizdome" as a "wizdome"?
Also intriguing is the possibility that, to sustain its integrity as a dynamic structure, the wizdome may have to move in particular ways or to embody particular kinds of movement. It may indeed be capable of "whizzing" around.
This may be most effective along "sacred" pathways, perhaps to be understood as critical feedback loops in any sustainable development process -- and as the "great circles" of Fuller's spherical geometry. Cognitively these might be described as circuits -- as was intuitively recognized in the fashionable "Grand Tour" -- and as with "training in a circle", the apprenticeship journey of a journeyman and compagnonnage, "learning in the round", and a "well-rounded education".
More interesting is the possibility that such movement can most fruitfully engage with larger and less evident patterns -- possibly the "songlines of the noopshere" -- suggesting a need for a form of cognitive transhumance to ensure viable sustainability (Psychology of Sustainability: embodying cyclic environmental processes, 2002). In this form, these arguments are necessarily ambiguous -- failing to distinguish between "external" movement of the vehicle and "internal" pathways within the vehicle, or constitutive of it, namely its "metabolic pathways". One may reflect the other in important ways, as implied by some theories of correspondences (Theories of Correspondences -- and potential equivalences between them in correlative thinking, 2007).
It is of course possible to speculate that "whizzing around" is precisely what has always characterized the wise. Indeed "wizzing", as a caricature of the archetypal "wiz kid", might also be caricatured as the dynamic of being wise -- a verb "to wise" (cf Being Other Wise: clues to the dynamics of a meaningfully sustainable lifestyle, 1998)? Both notions might be considered fairly faint contemporary traces of the archetypal "wizard" common to many cultures. Similarly ashrams and think tanks might to some degree be considered physical analogues to contrasting forms of "wizdome", whose virtual construction is the purpose of this exploration.
How indeed might wisdom, and being wise, be understood to be associated with any such dynamic (see discussion in Emergence of Cyclical Psycho-social Identity: sustainability as "psyclically" defined, 2007; The Isdom of the Wisdom Society: embodying time as the heartland of humanity, 2003)
More interesting however is on what kind of (hyper)geometry such movement takes place (cf Hyperaction through Hypercomprehension and Hyperdrive: necessary complement to proliferation of hypermedia in hypersociety, 2006; Hyperspace Clues to the Psychology of the Pattern that Connects, 2003). What kinds of "movement" are associated with wisdom and through what kinds of dimensionality? (see discussion of Ron Atkin. Multidimensional man; can man live in 3-dimensional space? 1981)
This contrast might then be presented schematically in the following table:
|Tentative exploration of the relationship bewtween "website" and "wizdome"|
|static||static, although possibly interactive||dynamic, designed to enable movement|
|.||centre of gravity||pattern of movement?|
|.||marking out territory (spider web)||.|
|dimensionality||basic level of information||higher level of abstraction ("meta", "about"), recul|
|.||cruising "on the highway"||"around the noosphere"; along the songlines|
|.||observer (abstract) point of view||observer space(ship)|
|.||information construct||cognition; dynamic knowledge construct|
|.||attract visitor||cocoon / vehicle|
|.||for others to visit||to enable one to travel|
|.||statement||self-reflexively (consciously) about|
|.||.||configuration thru which to interact with one's surrounds|
|.||what one does||how one moves|
|.||views||emergent perspectives / disengagement|
|.||"house"||"van", "caravan", mobile home|
|.||"motivation"||transmission / engagement into movement|
|.||organization (architecture) of content, navigation within site||organization of movement of site|
|structuring links||beams (around site)||creating spaces, "beams" (in the sense of humour), cocoon within which to be|
|windows||light in / view out||.|
|security||passwords, etc; virus protection, who||.|
|utilities||water, plumbing; waste (heavy metal); electricity; gas; heating/ cooling; air conditioning; solar panels||.|
|property||staking claim / laying claim||creating hearth?|
|.||witches: linear "broomstick" ?||wizards?|
|"my land" (domain)||"my house" (shelter, fortress)|
|.||as with territory||as with vehicle|
|building economics||purchase standard (available on market)||.|
|.||build your own (cabin); DIY (snails do it)||.|
|.||have built/customized (fashionable standard)||.|
|architects||info techies||gurus (doctrinal house) as architects and knowledge engineers|
|.||significant junction (nexus) on web (=knowledge?)||significant configuration (embodiment) of web-based knowledge (=wisdom?)|
It is curious how appropriate the "web" metaphor has proven to be despite cultural dispositions to arachnophobia. It has engendered the logically consistent "spider" metaphor for the "spidering" operations performed in support of search engines by data mining agents and web crawlers. The earlier "gopher" metaphor has been essentially abandoned. Implicit in this metaphor however are various notions of "spider", with those of the major search engines being the largest, and those used by electronic surveillance programmes such as ECHELON, being appropriately cloaked as the most menacingly dangerous predators in the darkness of cyberspace (cf From ECHELON to NOLEHCE: enabling a strategic conversion to a faith-based global brain, 2007).
However for the purpose of this exploration, more interesting is the possible comparison between the design of websites and the design of cobwebs. As might be expected, website designers have also used this metaphor (cf Cobweb Designers; Cobweb Designs and Marketing; CobWeb Designs, etc). The Wikipedia entry indicates that the variety of spider webs includes:
There is a case for exploring functional, rather than structural, comparisons of these with the variety of websites. A prime purpose in both cases it is to provide a secure environment for the proprietor and to ensure that the constructed web "captures" that which can be a source of nourishment. Presumably most proprietors of websites are not interested in "killing" visitors in order to consume them, as in the case of spider webs -- although storing live prey might be seen as comparable to achieving "lock-in" and ensuring a pattern of return visits. Website proprietors do indeed have a comparable interest in deriving nourishment from visitors, whether in terms of commercial or psychic revenue. The term "stickiness" may also be used to describe the ability of the site to "hold" the user in fulfillment of the owner's agenda.
The question would then be how the strategies of website designers might be compared with those of spiders to optimize their respective "nourishment"/security compromises. Clearly spiders have benefited from many more years of experience in producing viable robust designs. The credibility of such an exploration is partially confirmed by the fact that just as one of the varieties of spiderweb design (above) is the "funnel-web", the concept of "funnelling" traffic to a website and "funnel marketing" is basic to web marketing.
However the spider web metaphor can be usefully contrasted with the hive metaphor -- especially since this can be more fruitfully related to the spherical dome metaphor suggested above. The hive metaphor is increasingly used in cyberspace applications to describe somewhat similar operations by software agents (cf Stuart F. Brown, Send In The Swarm: on the frontier of artificial intelligence, mobs of cheap robots collaborate like ants in a colony or bees in a hive, CNN, 14 June 2004). It is notably relevant to explorations of collective intelligence.
Curiously the operation of the spider web in nature is primarily dependent on vibration (and touch) -- somewhat evident in the issue of how many "hits" a website receives and the process of "clicking" on a menu item. By contrast the operation of hives in nature is primarily dependent on smell (taste) and chemical traces. Metaphorically these are reflected in concerns with how software agents in the hive metaphor trace pathways using an analogue to smell.
The main contrast between the two metaphors, of relevance to this exploration, is the role of the "queen" in relation to the "workers" and "warriors" -- whether in the case of a bee hive or an ant/termite hive. If the proprietor of the web site is to be metaphorically compared with that of the hive, what psychological and cognitive functions are to be usefully compared with the "queen" and what with the "workers", etc?
In the proprietor's role as "queen", and her perception of the hive:
It is intriguing that the hive metaphor is used in artificial intelligence precisely because of the manner in which the agents are to a degree supposedly controlled by the queen. However a more systemic view would not stress this unduly as though it was merely another mode of "hands off" hierarchical organization. As a more open participatory system, visitors are reframed as the "bees" who work to collect the "pollen" from elsewhere in order to develop the "honey" within the hive. This is a fruitful way of reframing the operation of Wikipedia -- beyond its use in critical caricature of the "queen bee" of Wikipedia.
There have of course been extensive studies of hive operation (cf Thomas D. Seeley, The Wisdom of the Hive: the social physiology of honey bee colonies, 1991) Both for the proprietor of a wizdome and for that of a hive, the issue is how the dynamic system as a whole is controlled, notably as compared in the following table:
|Contrast between hive dynamics and wizdome dynamics|
|Hive dynamics||Wizdome dynamics|
|security and defensive response to invasion (swarming?)||security and defensive response to invasion|
|collection / accumulation of nourishment||collection / accumulation of knowledge|
|conversion of external nourishment into an internal form ("honey")||conversion of externally derived knowledge into nourishment into an internal form ("wisdom"?)|
|enabling survival and ensuring emergence of the new (nuptial flight of the queen, leading to fertilization at the highest point, prior to return)||enabling survival and ensuring emergence of the new (relocation of the wizdome)|
Why might the spider web mode be more appropriate for some whereas the hive mode is more appropriate for others? Why, functionally, are some bees solitary like spiders, whereas others live in large hives of thousands? How is this to be understood in relation to construction and operation of a wizdome?
In principle the innovative studies by R Buckminster Fuller (Synergetics; explorations in the geometry of thinking, 1975-9 ), as indicated by the title, should provide a full range of insights into "wizdome construction" and what that might mean. Unfortunately, as noted above, it is difficult to extract such epistemological insights from his study, whether or not his efforts do more than imply such cognitive possibilities. Fuller never got into geodesic knowledge organization, despite his innovative geodesic mapping and the many pointers towards the "geometry of thinking" and to how elements of knowledge might be more fruitfully interrelated.
Given the traditional association between honey and wisdom, there is a huge irony to the fact that it is the humble bee that engaged in hive construction based on the most fundamental polyhedral geometry -- the hexagonal honeycomb. This was noted by the early mathematician, Pappus of Alexandria (Pappus on the Wisdom of Bees):
Presumably because they know themselves to be entrusted with the task of bringing from the gods to the accomplished portion of mankind a share of ambrosia in this form, they do not think it proper to pour it carelessly on ground or wood or any other ugly and irregular material; but, first collecting the sweets of the most beautiful flowers which grow on the earth, they make from them, for the reception of the honey, the vessels which we call honeycombs, (with cells) all equal, similar and contiguous to one another, and hexagonal in form. And that they have contrived this by virtue of a certain geometrical forethought we may infer in this way.
The key structural pointers to wizdome construction in Fuller's study are however:
In the pre-web era, a range of implications of such tensegrity structures, for what might now be framed as wizdome construction, were explored (cf From Networking to Tensegrity Organization. 1984)
The best exploration of the implications of Fuller's work, along the path to viable wizdome construction, is that of management cybernetician Stafford Beer (Beyond Dispute; the invention of team syntegrity, 1994). It could be readily argued that his syntegration process should be considered a form of collective wizdome construction. However those who have followed him along this path have seemingly not been able to produce software protocols that reflect the emergence of the kind of wizdome construction that is in question here [see synergetics] (Rosemary Bechler, Stafford Beer: the man who could have run the world, 2002)
Potential structures in cyberspace based on tensegrity principles have yet to be produced even though facilities on the web are such that there is little inhibiting development of the enabling software. Of significance with respect to the metaphor of tensegrity structures is:
The last characteristic could be seen as a vital requirement in configuring polarized values, clashing cultures and other forms of binary thinking and relationship, into larger structures reconciling (but "respecting") their differences -- thereby creating a free central space uncluttered by central "pillars" (as is normally the case). The centre is empty -- with no supporting beam across it -- as has been appreciated in its symbolic value. This structural characteristic may be appropriately contrasted with the unfruitful "pillarization" of values and strategic intiatives, as with those of the European Community (as discussed in Challenge of "soullessness" -- beyond the "pillar-ization of Europe", 2004).
A seemingly quite different interpretation of Fuller's architectural tensegrity -- of potential relevance to a dimension of wizdomes -- has been made by anthropologist Carlos Castaneda as a way of understanding traditional " magical passes":
Due to this elastic property of interconnections, when one element of the tensegrity structure is shifted, this shift is spread throughout the whole structure, and all the other elements shift as well, or adapt for a new configuration, yielding to these shifts without breaking. Carlos Castaneda found this process, tensegrity, to be a perfect energetic description of the modern practice of the magical passes and of the way of being that don Juan Matus taught him. In the case of the magical passes, Tensegrity refers to the interplay of tensing and relaxing the tendons and muscles, and their energetic counterparts, in a way that contributes to the overall integrity of the body as a physical and an energetic unit. In the case of daily life, Carlos Castaneda said, Tensegrity is an art: the art of adapting to one's own energy, and to each other's energy in a way that contributes to the integrity of the community that we are. [more]
The question is then how web-based knowledge can be "endomed" to create cognitive "spaces" -- using polarizing forces characteristic of the dynamics of knowledge but without their typically disruptive consequences engendering fragmentation. Pertinent questions would then include:
As to the polarities themselves, they may be fruitfully reframed as "correspondences". Wisdom might then be considered the capacity, and consequence, of configuration of correspondences -- into a wizdome (cf Theories of Correspondences -- and potential equivalences between them in correlative thinking, 2007). Polarized cognitive elements are thereby reframed as analogues (transformations of each other) rather than as incommensurables (Psychosocial Energy from Polarization within a Cyclic Pattern of Enantiodromia, 2007). Their significance is perhaps then best understood in terms of the correspondence theory of truth.
In an interesting sense it is not the content of the wizdome that is then of significance as much as the dynamics inherent in its structure. Arguably a wizdome then embodies a voluminous (global) perspective vs a flat earth (at best lateral) perspective unable to acknowledge horizon cut-off effects (cf From Lateral Thinking to Voluminous Thinking: unexplored options for subterranean habitats in dense urban areas, 2007). A similar point is made by Marcus Bussey (Global Education from a Neohumanist Perspective: a musical exposition, Journal of Futures Studies, August 2007) in a critical comment with regard to the "flat education: networked mono-knowledge" now characteristic of an understanding of cyberspace:
So Friedman imagines a flat world in where there is a relative centre, anywhere there is a computer, and an absolute centre, currently the United States but who knows? The relative centre is built around the willingness to creatively anmd positively engage with the oportunities bursting into our awareness; it is anchored in the capacity to access a flat education in which the skills and values of the absolute centre are channelled throughout the world.
Bussey's more general argument uses musical metaphors to interrelate a variety of otherwise mutually incomprehensible educational models:
The future harmonies inherent in the various visions of global education can indeed be understood via musical metaphors. While all represent structure and hierarchy, they do so in quite different ways. Barenboim takes up this point and how difficult it is to strike the balance here between structure, hierarchy and the individual: "in music there is a hierarchy, a hierarchy if you want with equality. And that is what of course is much easier than in life. How difficult it is to achieve equality and yet to find a hierarchy"
Such pointers raise the question of how a wizdome is to be configured and understood through musical metaphors. Back to the "music of the spheres"? Such possibilities have been discussed elsewhere (Knowledge Gardening through Music patterns of coherence for future African management as an alternative to Project Logic, 2000; A Singable Earth Charter, EU Constitution or Global Ethic? 2006)
Of humbling significance in the possibility of designing and constructing wizdomes, is the extent to which they may have long been richly modelled in biological terms by radiolaria -- the amoeboid protozoa that produce intricate mineral skeletons. As with a comparison between spider webs and websites, there is a strong case for exploring the design of websites (as wizdomes) in the light of design principles explored in all their elegant variety by radiolaria.
The metaphor of "thread" has long been used to indicate a succession of communications in a discussion forum, listserv, blogs or e-mails. It is even possible that "web" was seen metaphorically to be a means of organizing such threads.
Structurally of greater interest is the "ring", as in webring, whereby a visitor is offered a pathway between a succession of sites (conceived as members of a ring) -- possibly as a learning experience. It is unclear to what extent some such rings are any more circular than a dialogue "roundtable" is round. There is however at least the implication of a learning cycle or tour which may be a reality in some cases.
More interesting still, to the extent that sites are indeed conceived as way stations on a learning cycle, is the possibility of interlocking several such cycles whereby, at critical points in any one cycle, one could transfer to another through the same nexus. This is especially interesting because it is the degree of interlocking of distinct ("2D") cycles which is the basis for the emergence of ("3D") polyhedra (as extensively demonstrated by Buckminster Fuller). Of interest in his exploration is the nature of the structural discontinuities between interlocking cycles in the tensegrity form -- an excellent reminder of the counter-intuitive nature of the transition between cycles of different orientation. (see also Spherical Configuration of Interlocking Roundtables: internet enhancement of global self-organization through patterns of dialogue. 1998).
Such a configuration is likely to prove fundamental to wizdome construction
|Comparison of threads, rings and polyhedra configurations associated with websites|
(associated with websites)
(associated with webrings)
(associated with wizdomes)
|Logical threads (discussion postings, etc)||Rings (web rings, feedback loops, learning cycles, recycling, production cycles, etc)||Emergent learning? Cognitive fusion?|
|Thread generation ("spinning")||Engaging in cycle ("spinning")||An as yet unarticulated counterpart to dysfunctional cognitive cocooning|
|Challenge of large collection of (variously "coloured" or tagged) threads that require weaving to make integrative patterns of larger significance||Loops: feedback, vicious, serendipitous and recycling||Interlocking rings (eg syntegration processes); integrated feedback (and recycling) loops|
|"Magic carpet"?||"Rings of power"?||Interlocking "rings of power" and the psychodynamics of appropriately "ruling them all" (as explored in Lord of the Rings)|
|Wearable, woven cognitive garment?||?||?|
It is appropriate to note experimental efforts to detect instances of such polyhedral interlocking within sets of "vicious" feedback loops amongst thousands of world problems -- where each problem in any loop aggravated the next in the loop (see Feedback Loop Analysis in the Encyclopedia Project, 2000; Analysis: Vicious cycles and loops, 1995). These polyhedral structures, implying the possibility of a more integrative level of analysis, were displayed visually as a means of access to relevant online data (see Gallery of screen shots of virtual reality display of interrelated problems or organizations). The possibility of "serendipitous" loops, whether amongst problems or remedial strategies, was also envisaged.
The question that merits exploration is the extent to which insightful learning -- wisdom -- is associated with isolated learning nodes, rings of nodes, or polyhedral configurations of nodes, whether the nodes are a feature of distinct sites or a feature of a wizdome. It is noteworthy that this structured complexification reflects increasing capacity to encompass -- necessarily as a learning process -- significantly incommensurable ways of knowing, however complementary they may be in a more complex knowledge system. Engaging with this complexification process is presumably also a characteristic of wisdom.
As envisaged here, the cognitive process of wizdome building is one of configuring knowledge elements such as to provide an integrative sense of perspective (in French une position de recul). This sense of perspective is however associated with a particular form of detachment (perhaps even in the Buddhist meditative sense) from the polarization and dualistic thinking characteristic of many modes of thought. These multiple polarities of the mundane world are then embodied in the structural elements of the wizdome as (overarching) vault "beams" basic to the creation of its central "space". These are fruitfully understood in terms of a spherical metaphor -- and architecturally as a form of dome.
Allusions to the process of "wising up" in the light of available knowledge are then to be understood as the manner in which the configuration -- and its necessary curvature -- repositions the observer at a form of focal viewpoint (usefully understood through optical metaphors).
The detachment from the polarized interactions -- the engendered wisdom (the "wising") -- is then embodied metaphorically in the "up" from which perspective is obtained and sustained. The optical metaphor can be "speculatively" extended in terms of the operations of configurations of mirrors through which sunlight is focused in curved arrays of solar mirrors for heating (and energy generation) purposes, or alternatively through which radiotelescopes are used to resolve very distant objects.
The integrative implications of such curvature -- spherical triangulation in the framework of Buckminster Fuller -- is what induces the necessary "cognitive fusion" as explored more extensively elsewhere (Enactivating a Cognitive Fusion Reactor: Imaginal Transformation of Energy Resourcing (ITER-8), 2006). His insight might be fruitfully developed in relation to the geometry of argumentation and proof, namely how to interrelate "lines" of argument that together make various "points". Of greatest interest is where this process shifts out of the plane (as characterized by "explanation") through the kinds of spherical triangulation that requires curvature such as to create the kinds of "volumes" required by the dialogue and discourse of the future (Geometry of Organizations, Policies and Programme, 1992).
For the classical Greek philosophers, the practice of philosophy was partly associated with the "peripatetic" approach to academic learning/teaching (peripatoi) notably in walking around an inner courtyard, the atrium of a domus. This practice is echoed in monastic communities and, to some degree, in universities with such a classical architecture. The cognitive analogues to such movement could be said to be implicit in a more than "pedestrian" approach to knowledge (as suggested to some degree by the "pedal" element of "encyclopedia" -- notably both with the binary dynamics of walking and with the "cycle" connotation of encircling (cf Transdisplinarity-3 as the Emergence of Patterned Experience: transcending duality as the conceptual equivalent of learning to walk, 1994).
As wizdome precursors, constrained by physical architecture and logistics, there is a certain irony to the challenging mathematical analysis of the dysfunctionality of the circular communication processes sustaining the psychosocial structures of a university environment (cf Ron Atkin, Combinatorial Connectivities in Social Systems; an application of simplicial complex structures to the study of large organizations, 1977).
A "wisdom" perspective on such circular movement has been helpfully highlighted by classical Chinese philosophers, such as Chuang Tzu (The Pivot):
But disputants continue to affirm and deny the same things they have always affirmed and denied, ignoring the new aspects of reality presented by the change in conditions. The sage therefore, instead of trying to prove this or that point by logical disputation, sees all things in the light of direct intuition. One is not imprisoned by the limitations of the "I," for the viewpoint of direct intuition is that of both "I" and "Not-I." Hence one sees that on both sides of every argument there is both right and wrong. One also sees that in the end they are reducible to the same thing, once they are related to the pivot of the Tao. When the sage grasps this pivot, one is in the center of the circle, and there one stands while "Yes" and "No" pursue each other around the circumference.
The pivot of Tao passes through the center where all affirmations and denials converge. One who grasps the pivot is at the still-point from which all movements and oppositions can be seen in their right relationship. Hence one sees the limitless possibilities of both "Yes" and "No." Abandoning all thought of imposing a limit or taking sides, one rests in direct intuition. Therefore I said: "Better to abandon disputation and seek the true light!"
Such pointers suggest a fruitful comparison between the scanning motion of rapid eye movement (REM), the pathology of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD), and the cognitive challenges of distraction addressed by meditation exercises as a precursor to greater insight. There is also a case for recognizing the extent to which the tactical and strategic dynamics of being "street wise" are increasingly reflected in online gaming skills (as discussed in Playfully Changing the Prevailing Climate of Opinion: climate change as focal metaphor of effective global governance, 2005)
Wisdom could also be fruitfully related to the "catastrophic" cognitive dynamics associated with questions, especially "why" questions (cf Conformality of 7 WH-questions to 7 Elementary Catastrophes: an exploration of potential psychosocial implications, 2006). "Wiz power" might then be understood in terms of more powerful questions -- better whys. In terms of the above possibilities, wisdom would however be dependent on the appropriate configuration of the dynamics of such whys. It is not just the "buzz" of insight but rather the pattern and rhythm of that buzz -- as carefully cultivated in meditation exercises. This suggests that the cognitive insight that gave rise to the motor and the dynamo -- with all their implications for the "industrial revolution" -- might have its analogue in relation to wisdom. What might be the implications of that -- a "wisdom revolution"?
"Whiz power" is then to be understood as enabling enhanced "wiz power", as much as "wiz power" enables enhanced "whiz power". Wisdom is well-recognized as enabling one to "get around" more, better and more subtly (cf Walking Elven Pathways: enactivating the pattern that connects, 2006). So "subtle" may the whizzing be that it may then be better characterized by a special quality of stillness -- as often mentioned in connection with wisdom and spirituality (Psalm 46:10: "Be still, and know that I am God").
Especially intriguing in this light, in considering the details of the design of a wizdome, are the different coil winding designs developed to improve the performance of motors and dynamos. If in the case of a wizdome, the issue is to ensure the most appropriate mode of movement along particular pathways that reinforce learning and memorability (specifically as a consequence of repetition), there is a case for comparing the functional operation of coil wiring with the pathways of the wizdome. Given their efficiency, in this respect some of the most challenging innovations in wiring should be considered -- the Tesla Coil, the Rodin Coil, etc.
Perhaps even more fruitful, given the fundamental importance of "circuit diagrams" to the knowledge society (as enabled through computers and telecommiunications), is the exploration of analogues with respect to information pathways in enabling learning. The emergence of wisdom from "printed text" (sacred literature?) might then be compared to the emergence of an intangible radio signal from a "printed circuit". The emergence of Chladni patterns, induced by vibrations of particular frequencies, suggests the delightful image of wisdom as a a form of n-dimensional cognitive standing wave enfolding the source of thar vibration.
For those in a particular wisdom tradition, wisdom is very much a question of travelling the sacred, circular, interlocking pathways articulated in its "wizdoctrine". These pathways constitute mutually reinforcing cycles -- even embodied in pilgrimage routes, but especially in the daily and annual liturgical cycles marked by bells. Wisdom is understandably associated with ritual celebration of songlines. But how should the distinction be made between travelling those mutually reinforcing routes and the repeated patterns of obsessional "thinking in circles" -- one a dark reflection of the other?
The process associated with a website would typically optimize visitor "stickiness", whether or not this includes "return visits". It is useful to contrast this nodes in a wizdome designed primarily to enable what in astronautics is termed a "gravitational slingshot" or "gravity assist". This uses the gravity of a "planet" (the knowledge node in this analogy) to alter the path and speed of an "interplanetary spacecraft" (the visitor). It is a commonly used maneuver for visiting the "outer planets". This suggests that a wizdome might also be distinguished from a website by enabling (accelerated) onward movement rather than encouraging "orbital" lock-in, attachment, or "quenching" (in the nuclear fusion metaphor). In this sense a wizdome might be understood as a form of learning "accelerator". It might be considered to be represented symbolically by the Christian fish symbol (Ichthys).
Metaphorically reframed in this way, the psychology of sustainability can be more fruitfully discussed in relation to tendencies towards a "fortress mentality" or a "cocoon mentality" (cf Psychology of Sustainability: embodying cyclic environmental processes, 2002).
The following table is an even more speculative brainstorming exercise designed to enable sensitivity on related possibilities, perhaps meriting some consideration. It exploits the arguments made elsewhere (Poesis as a prerequisite for autopoiesis -- in psychosocial systems? 2007) regarding poesis as a necessary kairotic precursor to autopoiesis Possible relationships to the standard set of WH-questions (mentioned above) are also suggested by the table.
|Alternative metaphors of relevance to "dome"?|
property, address )
Dimensions additional to the earlier discussion are:
The interrelationship of the elements of the above table have been explored in a somewhat different context elsewhere (Engaging with Questions of Higher Order: cognitive vigilance required for higher degrees of twistedness, 2004) in the light of the work of Arthur Young (The Geometry of Meaning, 1978) -- notably on the learning/action cycles thart might be considered fundamental to wisdom.
Three further metaphors are also of some interest:
It is improbable that the hive metaphor was chosen by the knowledge and information sciences because of the possibility of deriving wisdom from the dynamics of artificial intelligence.
Curiously, as noted for example by the Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary (honey, honey-dew), "honey" has long been widely used as a metaphor for (spiritual) insight -- that which is extracted from the ordinary. It was used in classical times as a symbol for wisdom: just as the bees ("initiates") gather nectar or honey (knowledge) from the flowers (of life) and digest it into honey, so are the experiences of human life stored in the memory, and the knowledge so garnered is digested into wisdom. Notably, the priestesses of certain Greek temples were called Melissai (bees).
The associated reference to "dew" raises interesting questions about the implications of any distinction between the dew on a spider web, rendering it visible in all its elegance (as with web mapping facilities), and the "honey dew" engendered by other processes -- within a wizdome. Such exploration might be related to the mythological significance of Ariadne's thread and in enabling exit from labyrinths -- and the ambiguous functionality of cocooning, especially in an era characterized by "spin" and "spinning a line".
There are a number of commentaries on the relationship between honey and wisdom as described in the Bible. For example, John Phillips (Exploring Proverbs: an expository commentary. 2002):
Solomon likened wisdom to honey. Like Honey, wisdom is gathered slowly, carefully, knowingly, arduously, and sometimes painfully. But since honey represents natural sweetness, the wisdom that is compared to honey is natural wisdom. We must carefully distinguish between natural wisdom that can be acquired and spiritual wisdom that is divinely bestowed. (cf Proverbs 24:13-14)
Also on Proverbs, Alice Mary Sinnott (The Personification Of Wisdom, Society for Old Testament Study Monographs, 2005) cites:.
"You will remember me as sweeter than honey, better to have than the honeycomb," (24:20)
The abstract of the study by Tova Forti (Bee's honey -- from realia to metaphor in biblical wisdom literature. Vetus Testamentum, 56, 3, 2006, pp. 327-341) notes:
The word debas in the Bible denotes various types of fruit syrup as well as the honey produced by bees. An overview of the literary adaptation of honey in biblical narrative and poetry leads us to an impressive assemblage of honey metaphors in the wisdom books of Proverbs and Job. This study identifies four rhetorical categories which encompass both didactic and reflective frameworks of honey imagery:
A. 'Honey' as a metaphor of internalization wisdom and attaining good reputation;
B. 'Honey' as a symbol of restraint and moderation against overindulgence;
C. 'Honey' as a metaphor for temptation and ensnarement;
D. 'Honey' in the context of the two antithetical idiomatic expressions; "Honey under the tongue" and "venom under the tongue". These expressions serve to draw an ideational contrast between the pleasant words of the Wise and the evil stratagems of the Wicked.
My investigation will provide insight into the way that particular qualities of raw bee honey inspired the composers of the various metaphors.
From a more esoteric perspective, Geoffrey Hodson (The Hidden Wisdom in Christian Scriptures, 1925) suggested:
Honey (sweetness and food) is a symbol of the wisdom attained when the creative life-force is transmuted from an emotional to a spiritual expression. Then, out of man's strong desires (the lion), wisdom (honey) is attained by transmutation or spiritual alchemy (killing the lion and extracting the honey). Thus are profound psychological and spiritual truths concealed within stories of physical events in time.
Whether "honey" or "wisdom", useful questions might be asked about the pathologies in each case. Given the biological role that diabetes increasingly plays, as a consequence of failure to obtain appropriate nourishment and to appropriately process it, to what extent is it useful to explore this metaphor in relation to "wisdom"? How might "wisdom pathologies" be explored metaphorically in terms of "disordered metabolism" and inappropriately high "blood sugar"? Systemically, what might be the causative wisdom analogues to either low levels of the hormone insulin or to abnormal resistance to insulin's effects?
It is somewhat extraordinary, given the traditional association of the pineal gland with wisdom (the "third eye"). that it is the hormonal release of that gland which notably stimulates insulin release from the pancreas -- to enable processing of "sugar". The third eye, known from ancient Egypt as the Eye of Horus -- the All Seeing Eye -- is also depicted on the American dollar bill. It is also curious that there is increasing concern for:
The possibilities highlighted in the above discussion point to the challenge of how wisdom may be fruitfully embodied by an individual or a collectivity -- collective wisdom in contrast with collective intelligence -- and how this might be reflected in a wizdome potentially characterized by an appropriate set of interrelated processes. Recent experiments in this respect, with their strengths and weaknesses, are the World Wisdom Alliance and the Collective Wisdom Initiative. To what extent might their future success be dependent on their capacity to "embody" wisdom in ways implied by the above arguments? To what extent do these really enable processes distinct from the various initiatives with respect to collective intelligence -- as promoted notably by Tom Atlee (The Co-Intelligence Institute) and George Pór (Blog of Collective Intelligence)?
There have been a number of important studies of cognitive embodiment in recent years, notably those relating to enactivism:
These are curiously resonant with the wisdom of the oldest peoples as documented by Darrell A. Posey (Cultural and Spiritual Values of Biodiversity: a complementary contribution to Global Biodiversity Assessment, 1999). Some commentary on their implications has been provided elsewhere (Documents relating to Existential Engagement and Embodiment).
It is precisely the nature and quality of this embodiment which is the more fundamental characteristic of the wise as celebrated in the traditional wisdom literature. It is through this embodiment that the wise are effectively capable of "bending" space-time in the knowledge universe -- in accord with the analogues to the theories of relativity and intuitions in science fiction about future travel within the universe.
Social networking processes, enabled by so-called "Web 2.0" applications on the existing web platform, raise the question of the extent to which their implementation (in social-networking sites, wikis and folksonomies) constitutes the creation of a form of whizdome -- or even a form of wizdome. As extremely recent innovations, it is unclear what forms of insight they well elicit through extensive experience of them. Especially interesting is the nature of the cognitive organization that they will enhance, whether solely through engagement with them or also as a result of their development in response to new insights and competitive pressures. Will they only exemplify a form of wizdome associated with social intelligence (Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence: the new science of human relationships, 2006) -- in contrast with other forms of intelligence (Howard Gardner, Intelligence Reframed: multiple intelligences for the 21st Century, 1999)?
In such environments emphasis is placed on the wisdom of crowds -- suggesting that they do indeed constitute some form of wizdome. New applications crawl millions of conversations (comments, discussions, forum on more than 200,000 Web sites) to create searchable databases. Services such as CoComment and Relevant Mind are promoted as "Tracking the wisdom of the conversation" (2007). This is now referred to as crowdsourcing.
Expectations are also variously associated with so-called "meshworks". These may be understood as massively peer-to-peer networks, sometimes bypassing the wired and wireless infrastructure or as a semantically innovative interface (cf Manuel De Landa, Meshworks, Hierarchies and Interfaces). The term is used by Cris Cheek (Additional Apparitions: Poetry, Performance, and Site-Specificity):
Each poetry reading is a meshwork, a gathering, of differentially inflected components.
The originator of spiral dynamics, Don Beck (MeshWorks: a 2nd tier perspective and process) uses the term to focuses on "meshing" or integrating, aligning, and synergizing people and resources on specific challenges, goals, objectives or outcomes, using a transcendent purpose:
The term 'mesh' in MeshWORKS suggests a different way to connect entities, be they individuals, or structures, or interests, or functions, or people groupings of virtually any size. Some meshes will be of a static and contained nature, designed to hold together elements in some type of relationship. Other meshes are crafted to allow the movement or flow of substances, energy, ideas, stages, and sequences through conduits, cycles and spirals. A Static Mesh will be known for its strength and permanence. A Flow Mesh will be characterized by resilience, flexibility, and a morphing capacity.
Intriguingly, in terms of the preoccupation with regard to wizdome construction, "meshworks" is also the name for an advanced mesh editing software enabling the creation, transformation and modification of meshes -- adapting their geometry to particular needs. In this case a polygon mesh, or unstructured grid, is a collection of vertices and polygons that defines the shape of an polyhedral object in 3D computer graphics.
The semantic web is an anticipated innovation in web potential of which Web 2.0 has been (controversially) presented as a precursor. It is an evolving extension of the web in which web content can be expressed not only in natural language, but also in a format that can be read and used by software agents, thus permitting them to find, share and integrate information more easily. The question is the extent to which such "integration" will be associated with emergent insight that might be related to wisdom -- or whether it will mainly enable disparate information that require no integrative insight to interrelate.
"Wisdom" can be variously understood and has now become a means of marketing the future of the web. One argument is that "Google will do it" (cf Richard L. Brandt, The Wisdom of Clouds: how Google will build the semantic web, 2007). Just how such wisdom is to be compared with more traditional understandings of the nature of wisdom is a matter for the future that is notably considered on The Wisdom Page ("a site devoted to wisdom resources"). Provocatively one may ask what wisdom will be brought to the challenge of competing definitions of wisdom and the efforts to exploit those that lend themselves most readily to enhancement by proprietary technology.
Clearly it is desirable that the new proactive environment should enable the construction of wizdomes and this mayu indeed be a way of understanding both the possibility of wizdomes, the potential of the semantic web as well as the forms of wisdom which humanity may need for the future.
|Distinguishing between website and wizdome through potential for reframing questions (tentative)|
|Surrogate 1: "attachment"||Surrogate 2: "detachment"|
|WH-questions||website||explicate / conventional
(received wisdom; consequential "unwisdom")
|wizdome||implicate / unconventional
|when?||rental period, visit duration,
(stated and/or inferred)
(stated and/or inferred)
(stated and/or inferred)
|mistaken identity, misidentity,
Of particular interest are the implications of the misplaced concreteness in the left-hand portion of the table for issues associated with territory of symbolic significance -- as with Jerusalem. The challenge would appear to be to construct wizdomes capable of eliciting and sustaining wiser comprehension of what underlies its importance.
The above exploration was undertaken as part of reflection on the inadequacy of the personal website on which this document is located -- together with the many documents to which it is hyperlinked. The question is what steps can be concretely taken to convert the set of some 1,300 documents into a content management system (a set of databases) more amenable to reconfiguring the content as suggested above -- and especially to detecting patterns and learning pathways within it.
At this stage it is highly probable that the documents will be imported into the Drupal CMS. Although technically straightforward, more challening is how the organizing pathways (the "great circles" and "lesser circles" of spherical geometry) acquire the degree of significance and comprehensibility relevant to the arguments above regarding wizdome construction.
It is interesting that at the detailed level of a single document (like this one), the sections sequentially ordered within it can be reframed as a "ring" rather than a "thread". The individual sections could indeed be split into separate linked documents within a CMS -- to be reconstituted as a whole at will. An issue is the extent to which, as a "thread" such a document is more a spun cognitive cocoon, or as the set of "rings" (of which it may be composed with other documents), whether these constitute a constraining "cage" rather than embodying some of the more desirable characteristics of a wizdome.
In the light of the above it could be argued that the future challenge for content management systems (CMS), knowledge management systems, open directory projects (such as Wikipedia), and search engines (such as Google) is how they allow their environments to be reconfigured into wizdomes or in support of wizdomes. As matters stand, such facilities enable knowledge organization by ordered categories or topics -- loosely ordered within ontologies, if at all -- with virtually no sense of the functional and systemic relationships between categories so vital to any integrative comprehension of system operation (cf Functional Classification in an Integrative Matrix of Human Preoccupations, 1982).
A degree of coherence may be provided through hyperlinks, although this pattern does not purport to offer an integrating perspective as argued elsewhere (Sacralization of Hyperlink Geometry, Computer-Mediated Communications Magazine, March 1997).
In the increasing relation of these services to access to content via mobile (phone) device, the challenge is how to enable such devices as focal points for wizdomes -- rather than through an array of menus as at present. How does significance, valued by a particular user, get drawn to the attention, and appropriately positioned, within the wizdome configuration so that the user is "transported" there? This is a step beyond personalized monitoring and tagging facilities that currently point in this direction. This development of mobile devices suggests a process of confluence with those of "websites". Not only are such devices carrying information (addresses, schedules, etc), they are also serving as information gathering devices. In their increasing use as image gathering devices for the broadcast media, for example, they imply a progressive integration into an emergent "global brain". To some degree they may themselves then acquire the function nd role of wizdomes -- a complexification of the "personal organizer". In this process the address of a website may become that of the mobile phone (or vice versa) -- as the concrete embodiment of the wizdome. It remains to be seen to what degree they then reflect the cognitive embodiment of a wizdome.
Particularly intriguing, given the role that such devices now have as vehicles of an electronic identity within a social network, is the role that they will come to play in the future. This highlights the complex interplay between the sense of identity, such devices, and cognitive embodiment of a wizdome. How then is the embodiment of wisdom by the "individual" (possibly with multiple "identities") to be considered in this context? To a greater degree than with the automobile, or the "wallet", these devices will be vitually a locus of identity -- as with the "magically empowered" instruments of a shaman (as a dynamic focus of traditional wisdom) permitting communication with the unseen spirits of an animist world. It accords with the suggestion made by Stephen Mueke (Ancient and Modern: time, culture and Indigenous philosophy, 2004) regarding Aboriginal nomads for whom a "site" travels with them, namely is part of story and identity. This suggests the curious possibility of an analogy to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle -- regarding the locus and dynamic of identity (cf Garrison Sposito. Does a generalized Heisenberg Principle operate in the social siences? 1969)
Also of interest is how the interface with the wizdome takes account of cultural and personal preferences for the presentation of information -- beyond the current approach to "skins". Given the range of epistemological preferences (cf Systems of Categories Distinguishing Cultural Biases, 1993), how are other metaphors to be used as interfaces -- and notably those of non-western cultures as noted by Susantha Goonatilake (Toward a Global Science: mining civilizational knowledge, 1999).
However, of great concern, is the manner in which services such as Google may seek to enclose the open system from which they themselves have so admirably emerged -- thereby replicating the historical process of "enclosure of the commons", recognized as the "tragedy of the commons". Google might indeed be already understood as an archetypal whizdome par excellence -- with great aspirations to being the ultimate wizdome. However, as noted by Google Watch and by Josh McHugh (Google vs. Evil, 2003), through its totally non-transparent relations with security services, the undeclared pressures from the self-righteous "moral majority" (imposing interpretations of Google's "Don't be evil" principle), and its unknown susceptibility to commercial pressures in practice, its most admirable features may already be falling prey to distorting forces. Its role as a "knowledge shepherd", working through amiable protective "sheepdogs", in support of wizdome emergence, may already be deteriorating into that of a "wolf in sheep's clothing", possibly in full alliance with knowledge predators of the most dubious kind. Whether aware of the process or not, it may become a front for forces over which it has no control -- an ideal device for subverting global security in the interests of the national security of a particular country.
An earlier paper (From ECHELON to NOLEHCE: enabling a strategic conversion to a faith-based global brain, 2007) argued for a transformation of ECHELON into a form to which Google might have aspired as a global wizdome. However, as described by Mark Baard (Sentient World: war games on the grandest scale, 2007), the US Department of Defense (DOD) is intending to simulate every individual on the planet in a virtual Planet Earth. This Sentient World Simulation (SWS) will be a "synthetic mirror of the real world with automated continuous calibration with respect to current real-world information". This is intended as an environment for testing Psychological Operations (PSYOP) so that military leaders can "develop and test multiple courses of action to anticipate and shape behaviors of adversaries, neutrals, and partners". Such initiatives might be seen as the dark side of wizdome.
Such possibilities raise the interesting question of the stage in the evolution of current "global" civilization at which it will engender wizdomes as contexts for global governance. How far are the United Nations, the European Commission, the World Economic Forum ("Davos"), the Club of Rome, or the World Social Forum ("Porto Alegre"), from recognizing the need for such dynamic reconfiguration of the manner in which they engage with, and embody, an emergent knowledge-based society? To what extent are the metaphors explored here fundamental to the operation of an emergent "global brain"? (cf Simulating a Global Brain using networks of international organizations, world problems, strategies, and values, 2001)
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