The human social interface, why I love the Net

The Lone Cypress - a drive down Highway 1 from San Francisco to San Diego

Each of our minds stands alone

The island of self is separated by an ocean of understanding from adjacent minds (more on this later). To connect with others, we must cross the communication chasm that is the product of diverse perceptions. One of the difficulties of deep and meaningful communication is conveying our genuine thoughts and feelings. Another barrier is syncronization, for each message we must be ready and willing to send or recieve it. Beyond willingness, we must also be capable. Skill and effort are required to effectively communicate. Consider the example of web blogs. It takes focused effort to distill abstract thoughts into meaningful written messages, and it takes time to read and interpret those messages.

Enter the Internet

For much of modern history written letters and books were a form of asyncronous communication. Advanced concepts were shared across continents and cultures. Technology has evolved over the centuries and a single massive network has arisen.

With the net, we can send out signals across the globe with the ease of pressing a single button. We have enabled adjacency of minds on a massive scale. Due to the asyncronous nature of many forms of net communication, the requirement for simultaneous openess of minds is relaxed. Individuals are free to tune in, and harmonize when and where they are ready.

What’s in the tubes

The messages consist of text, images, music, video, software, and other data. From single authors and small groups, great collaborative structures have emerged such as wikipedia, and YouTube. Heavy references and linked terminology make plain what otherwise were once obscure topics. Curiousity naturally leads us to less confusion by following linked information. We have more power to find and consume information and media than ever before in history, and this is only the beginning. Arguably more valuable than the rich data itself, are the relationships which emerge between distant minds.

Our Minds are the most valuable web data

I believe the discovery of other minds which resonate with our ideas is the most potent and valued asset of the net. Serendipity in the virtual contiuum of expanding thought and knowledge is a welcome ally. When we harmonize our thought patterns with even a single kindred spirit we find meaning and insight in our own life experiences. Over time this gravity of belonging leads to the emergence of new societies and dynamic global communities in a way that has never before existed in history.

Be Sociable, Share!

  • http://www.thehackensack.blogspot.com/ DaveinHackensack

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Mark. And if think you really know SEO, maybe we can do some business together.

  • http://www.victusspiritus.com/ Mark Essel

    Honestly Dave, all of the marketing information I have discovered is founded on trial and error. For any powerful SEO, the best advice I have seen is focus on clean (robot searchable) and content (readers link to your stuff). My greatest success has been resonating with social media, crowd sourced sites and getting voted up by critical readers.

    Any form of web marketing is based on a long term plan, and execution. Take a look at some of my social profiles, everywhere I engage with folks it's all long term sustained communication and sharing. Trust takes a long time to build, and is shattered in an instant of insincerity.

    Creating content that other people depend on and giving it away freely is the seed for long term success. Seth Godin explained his blog started really picking up after 2500 posts or so. Expect to put in that kind of effort over that time frame if you want to build up steady site traffic.

    There are incredible exceptions like Mashable (Pete Cashmore sometimes wrote 7+ entries a day) and that took a few years to really catch on (currently 6million unique visitors+ per month). They are heavily connected to a twitter based social media strategy.

    My intro (and free) advice is How to Web Market and Use Social Media. If you like what you see, please hit me up at messel at victusmedia dot com if you need more specific help with your business and would like to work some short term consulting.

    I won't work any magic, or feed you any bull. But I will do everything I can to help you leverage your unique skills/knowledge to plant the seeds for an effective web community.

  • http://www.thehackensack.blogspot.com/ DaveinHackensack

    Mark,

    I'm aware of the general points you make here, but I'll take a look at your link.

  • http://alwayson.goingon.com/permalink/post/33198 Emeri Gent [Em]

    Dave thank you again for the response at Fred Wilson's site.

    The thought you left me with “Descartes currying favour with the establishment” did not leave me and for me to clear my decks for December, I must get this particular thought impulse out of my mind if only simply that I can start afresh with what is actually most pressing in terms of the currency of my commitments to others in the meatspace world.

    My response this morning fits with what Mark states above about “diverse perspectives”. That is a nice phrase in itself because it also captures my own way on the web.

    What happened this morning is that as I was doing a cerebral vacation clean up on my web page called “perspective exploration”, I happen to come across the notes of Ben Tomhave to a book he read called “INFLUENCE: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini”.

    http://www.secureconsulting.net/2007/06/notes_o

    On the one hand this note from Ben demonstrates how he has taken a book reading and related it to his own world, but also how the stream of his conversation, can become something quite different when you read it with a diverse perspective.

    There I saw him list Robert Cialdini's “six weapons of influence” and my mind shifted mainly to the first of those which is “reciprocation”. When I read Ben's viewpoint on this, he began with the line:

    “This method can best be thought of as currying favor. You offer something, and then can ask for something in return, even if the return request is disproportionately larger.”

    While he is talking about this from an information security point of view, my synaptic impulses immediately train my thought on the synchronicity of “currying favour” with your earlier remark yesterday. I am now thinking “holimacoli !” – reciprocation is a key influence point in the way we approach modern social media. That is when the dissident thought hit me that we focus much on the tangible part of the establishment, yet we live in a world gravitating to the virtual – so therefore establishment itself must have its virtual form also.

    What then blew my mind is that I am so getting used to picking information off from the virtual space that I find myself blindsided to my physical space. Here I get back to Robert Cialdini. I google him to find out more, only to slap my own head and realize that the very book Ben Tomhave is making notes for his profession, is the very book that is sitting on my own bookshelf !

    So I see the creation of “virtual establishments” today and yet yesterday you pointed a finger at someone who has been dead for hundreds of years, when the very idea of “reciprocation” is being spread as a meme in the modern environment, without any hint of it undergoing the laser of our own skeptical examination.

    I am not defending Descartes because I won't talk ill of the dead, it is the living that make life what it is today, and what others have left in the way of information fits very much into the psyche of what Mark described as “diverse perspective”.

    Mark also said something interesting that my previous posting served as a reminder about Descartes, when I read Ben Tomhave, it reminded me that I already possess Robert Cialdini book, which has been purchased but has never opened by me !!!

    On top of that you mentioned Spinoza, which again was a nice introduction and a timely one personally for me.

    Even what I am writing here is not some random generated mass of disconnected ideas, but linkages that my mind is now used to making because I have spent a lot of time breathing the air of “diverse perspectives” and this long comment is probably a good example as a byproduct of that exposure.

    Why I am interested in Descartes is that I think he has a method which counterbalance this habit I have acquired.

    Dave, this is not the opening of a conversation but it serves as a way of parking this conversation, because otherwise these thoughts would evaporate into the mist of daily attention and then there is an inevitable loss of the “moment” – as the one's daily needs and actions supercede or leave this thought as a blot in time.

    What you left me with was to deconstruct what I personally think of what the word “establishment” in a virtual context – it is a bit like the song by Roger Daltrey of The Who when he sings “Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss”.

    Reciprocation by itself is not a good or bad thing, but in the sense that Ben Tomhave wrote about it in his note above, it triggered this linkage, which is what I leave behind here.

    Thank You again for responding at “Fred Wilson's site” yesterday. I will respond to anything you may wish to add “on the other side”

    [Em]

    PS Mark, I think I am ready to walk onto the other side (not quite Jim Morrison, The Doors) but refreshed now enough to let all of this go and I will as you have said “Go forth into your intelligence silence, I'll catch up with you on the other side” :-)

  • http://www.thehackensack.blogspot.com/ DaveinHackensack

    Emeri,

    The more you read, the more likely you are going to see the same phrase repeated in more than one place in short order. I think that's what happened to you; I wouldn't read any additional meaning into it.

    Your mention of Descartes as an inspiration for entrepreneurship was honestly the first time I've seen someone mention him in that context. I'm not sure how he is relevant to it at all.

    Descartes, Leibniz, and Spinoza wrestled with difficult questions and made important contributions to philosophy. Arguably, Spinoza's contributions to philosophy had the most impact on later thinkers, but Descartes and Leibniz also made significant contributions to mathematics.

    If you are interested in this subject, I would suggest taking a class on it at a university. Philosophy requires some background and rigor to be understood properly.

  • http://www.victusspiritus.com/ Mark Essel

    I'd argue philosophy takes reading, and conversing with others about the concepts. The university part is optional, but it has books, and people that want to talk about the concepts preloaded :D.

  • http://www.thehackensack.blogspot.com/ DaveinHackensack

    Mark,

    Real philosophy (i.e., that which Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz engaged in) requires rigor of the sort that is rarely found in non-academic settings. “Philosophy” in the colloquial sense is another animal entirely.

  • http://www.victusspiritus.com/ Mark Essel

    Fair enough Dave. I only have a half dozen philosophy undergrad
    classes that have shaped my view on the “rigor” of academic
    philosophy. It's necessity is questionable in my experience. As long
    as the analysis is done with care, learning doesn't require symbol of
    approval from an external body.

  • http://www.thehackensack.blogspot.com/ DaveinHackensack

    Mark,

    It's the rigor, not the label/location I'm referring to. It can happen in a Viennese coffee shop, in your basement, wherever. But — no offense to Emri — if someone started airily speculating about Descartes and entrepreneurship in a well-taught philosophy class, he'd get called on it and asked to explicate his point in rigorous fashion. And when he couldn't, the discussion would get back on track.

  • http://www.victusspiritus.com/ Mark Essel

    Ah yes, the lens that lets us hyper focus in on the essence of truth and understanding. I had a pretty open mind to some far out theories I had read (homonculus). I think this extends to concepts introduced by classmates.

    My fondest memories of philosophy in school were from my metaphysics course, and a handful of lectures I sat in for a friends philosophy of time class. But in neither of them did I feel as if the frameworks were closed or solved by the readings and discussions/papers.

  • http://alwayson.goingon.com/permalink/post/33198 Emeri Gent [Em]

    Mark, in a very peculiar way, what I write below is a testimony to having virtual resource at hand, but also in writing this, it provides me a central lesson in my own behaviour and further questions as I reflect now regarding how I have exercised my own voice in a space full of diverse views. Now excuse me as I pour forth my views in the voice and tone of a non-philosophical barbarian.

    Dave you have taken my observations and applied them to the world you are familiar with, but I write this because this is the way I write, for I think out aloud and in the process I have something to come back to. This is not a public philosophical argument it is a personal life improvement.

    I would have responded to in January but I need to respond now simply because your response needled and agitated me, and that is my condition, I do not attempt to ascribe this to who you are as a person, and I pretty sure that you are decent and upstanding human being.

    In writing this tome I acknowledge my own failure here as a rational being because this reveals my own witless impatience, and further it makes me realize that it is this impatience of mine that is that which requires rigor, not the study of a subject, idea or thing.

    I could not think of anything more mortifying than have my cranium rigorously exposed by a classroom full of philosophy students. Yet finding a great professor is like finding a great wife, when such a marriage works it changes one's very life but when the relationship lacks personal or mutual fit, the resulting relationship can be viewed as a relationship nightmare.

    You are quite fortunate to speak of a meaningful relationship with a professor (I respect that), but in such a nightmare where we often do not, then personal discovery or even wisdom is replaced by translation.

    Instead of trusting my own intelligence to understand Descartes as a human being, I am then led to Descartes as others struggle and fight over the interpretations of his body of work or even political implication. That does not mean philosophical rigor is unnecessary, but that Descartes first and foremost in my own eyes is a real human being.

    Rigor is always going to be important to people whether it is applied to the pursuit of universal education, professional excellence or even the horror of slavery, and in the latter case I sometimes wonder why the word Mortis should be prefaced by the word Rigor, but then my good sense tells me that this only applies whenever rigor becomes a form of human conditioning; then we are defined or governed by some rule of societal conduct, but the benefit of rigor must be weighed up against the willful submission or subjugation to some greater authority. Such rigor IMHO is not a blessing but a form of violence. Anytime we respond impatiently we too engage this silent violence, what I need to engage now is silent intelligence (and there is rigor in that wisdom too).

    Descartes is a personal discovery for me, in that regard he is an online friend rather than a philosopher king. I have not yet found personable writing from Spinoza or Liebnitz that would make of them my new found “friends”.

    This new found friendship of mine with a dead philosopher I have found is so far richly rewarding and even exceeds some conversations with living people. I do not speak for anybody here other than my own life goals and even in the first chapter of the “Discourses of Method” where Descartes writes:

    “My present design, then, is not to teach the method which each ought to follow for the right conduct of his reason, but solely to describe the way in which I have endeavored to conduct my own.”

    http://www.literature.org/authors/descartes-ren

    Here I see Descartes at that particular point in his life, doing what I am now doing at my own particular point in life (as a fellow human being). There is a synergy there that I have not come across in several thousand lines of online dialogue.

    Maybe I should disappear in the safe haven of a classroom but why do this when here I find a dead person (Descartes) whose writing I find full of life, full of vitality that is personally nutritious to me. There may be toxin and poison in his writing but as of yet, I have not swallowed or drunk it.

    If philosophical rigor can improve my conduct than I shall certainly pursue it, but right now I am captivated by the personalized way Descartes approaches his writing while in no way whatsoever wanting to be a philosophy major myself.

    I have no idea if Descartes will turn me into a better entrepreneur, or a citizen or even a philosophy major, but why should I curb my enthusiasm for him, for it is this very enthusiasm that I have hitherto been lacking. I write this to renew my enthusiasm, to renew my vigor (not rigor) but not to provoke the madding crowd (e.g. a classroom full of philosophy students).

    Perhaps the best reward of this enthusiasm is if it changes me as a person to expose the essence of my wisdom, rather than my own human flaws, after all when I link to this, I am being a discontent myself (if not a malcontent) for we are what we may think others are:

    http://www.slideshare.net/deg511/engineering-ri

    I can see this as my ego speaking rather than an emotion free and logical response, not that I want to be sanitized as a human being, but there is an angst and rebelliousness in me that is tamed when I begin to read the “Discourse on Method” – and if by reading this, I tame my own wild horse nature, then I do a smarter thing than attending a class of people whose purpose is not to undergo such a personal examination.

    To spend my life in a rigor that builds social status or credibility, for then right there I eschew this social standing, I reject it and maybe I doom myself in the process, but the way Descartes rights, may correct my own ills and wayward nature. Maybe it is this clip in Good Will Hunting that burns my soul, but if it burns my soul, then it is my own responsibility to fix:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymsHLkB8u3s

    I know one thing for sure, such personal and inward self-examination is something I will never find in any kind of academic classroom and to “Know Thyself” requires me to express but the world I live in I am sure quickly finds its calling in opposition, the next step in my own life is learning how to meet this opposition. (but that is another life class at a future time, right now my contention is, I don't have one).

    [Em]

    PS Now please allow me to gently into the night into my “silent intelligence” I assure you, this is the rigor I most need. :-)

  • http://alwayson.goingon.com/permalink/post/33198 Emeri Gent [Em]

    Mark, in a very peculiar way, what I write below is a testimony to having virtual resource at hand, but also in writing this, it provides me a central lesson in my own behaviour and further questions as I reflect now regarding how I have exercised my own voice in a space full of diverse views. Now excuse me as I pour forth my views in the voice and tone of a non-philosophical barbarian.

    Dave you have taken my observations and applied them to the world you are familiar with, but I write this because this is the way I write, for I think out aloud and in the process I have something to come back to. This is not a public philosophical argument it is a personal life improvement.

    I would have responded to in January but I need to respond now simply because your response needled and agitated me, and that is my condition, I do not attempt to ascribe this to who you are as a person, and I pretty sure that you are decent and upstanding human being.

    In writing this tome I acknowledge my own failure here as a rational being because this reveals my own witless impatience, and further it makes me realize that it is this impatience of mine that is that which requires rigor, not the study of a subject, idea or thing.

    I could not think of anything more mortifying than have my cranium rigorously exposed by a classroom full of philosophy students. Yet finding a great professor is like finding a great wife, when such a marriage works it changes one's very life but when the relationship lacks personal or mutual fit, the resulting relationship can be viewed as a relationship nightmare.

    You are quite fortunate to speak of a meaningful relationship with a professor (I respect that), but in such a nightmare where we often do not, then personal discovery or even wisdom is replaced by translation.

    Instead of trusting my own intelligence to understand Descartes as a human being, I am then led to Descartes as others struggle and fight over the interpretations of his body of work or even political implication. That does not mean philosophical rigor is unnecessary, but that Descartes first and foremost in my own eyes is a real human being.

    Rigor is always going to be important to people whether it is applied to the pursuit of universal education, professional excellence or even the horror of slavery, and in the latter case I sometimes wonder why the word Mortis should be prefaced by the word Rigor, but then my good sense tells me that this only applies whenever rigor becomes a form of human conditioning; then we are defined or governed by some rule of societal conduct, but the benefit of rigor must be weighed up against the willful submission or subjugation to some greater authority.

    Such rigor IMHO is not a blessing but a form of violence. Anytime we respond impatiently we too engage this silent violence, what I need to engage now is silent intelligence (and there is rigor in that wisdom too).

    Descartes is a personal discovery for me, in that regard he is an online friend rather than a philosopher king. I have not yet found personable writing from Spinoza or Leibniz that would make of them my new found “friends”.

    This new found friendship of mine with a dead philosopher I have found is so far richly rewarding and even exceeds some conversations with living people. I do not speak for anybody here other than my own life goals and even in the first chapter of the “Discourses of Method” where Descartes writes:

    “My present design, then, is not to teach the method which each ought to follow for the right conduct of his reason, but solely to describe the way in which I have endeavored to conduct my own.”

    http://www.literature.org/authors/descartes-ren

    Here I see Descartes at that particular point in his life, doing what I am now doing at my own particular point in life (as a fellow human being). There is a synergy there that I have not come across in several thousand lines of online dialogue.

    Maybe I should disappear in the safe haven of a classroom but why do this when here I find a dead person (Descartes) whose writing I find full of life, full of vitality that is personally nutritious to me. There may be toxin and poison in his writing but as of yet, I have not swallowed or drunk it.

    If philosophical rigor can improve my conduct than I shall certainly pursue it, but right now I am captivated by the personalized way Descartes approaches his writing while in no way whatsoever wanting to be a philosophy major myself.

    I have no idea if Descartes will turn me into a better entrepreneur, or a citizen or even a philosophy major, but why should I curb my enthusiasm for him, for it is this very enthusiasm that I have hitherto been lacking. I write this to renew my enthusiasm, to renew my vigor (not rigor) but not to provoke the madding crowd (e.g. a classroom full of philosophy students).

    Perhaps the best reward of this enthusiasm is if it changes me as a person to expose the essence of my wisdom, rather than my own human flaws, after all when I link to this, I am being a discontent myself for we are what we may think others are (at least we have the same given source of universal humanity):

    http://www.slideshare.net/deg511/engineering-ri

    I can see this as my ego speaking rather than an emotion free and logical response, not that I want to be sanitized as a human being, but there is an angst and rebelliousness in me that is tamed when I begin to read the “Discourse on Method” – and if by reading this, I tame my own wild horse nature, then I do a smarter thing than attending a class of people whose purpose is not to undergo such a personal examination.

    (Note: Interesting that Robert Cialdini name reappears in David E. Goldberg's excellent Slideshare linked above !)

    To spend my life in a rigor that builds social status or credibility, for then right there I eschew this social standing, I reject it and maybe I doom myself in the process, but the way Descartes writes, may correct my own ills and wayward nature. Maybe it is this clip in Good Will Hunting that burns my soul, but if it burns my soul, then it is my own responsibility to fix:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymsHLkB8u3s

    I know one thing for sure, such personal and inward self-examination is something I will never find in any kind of academic classroom and to “Know Thyself” requires me to express but the world I live in I am sure quickly finds its calling in opposition, the next step in my own life is learning how to meet this opposition. (but that is another life class at a future time, right now my contention is, I don't have one).

    [Em]

    PS Now please allow me slide to gently into the night into my “silent intelligence” I assure you, this is the rigor I most need. :-)

    10 Dec Addendum
    The comments about Farmers & Fisherman just add a little special something to the video link above – these comments ensure my faith in the human race – the permanency that is an excellent sense of humor:
    http://www.amazon.com/Farmers-Fishermen-Centuri

  • http://alwayson.goingon.com/permalink/post/33198 Emeri Gent [Em]

    No offense taken Dave. Emergence is my exploration here and if nothing emerged from this then I am simply wasting my own time.

    The greatest thing about switching off and looking at things from a distance is seeing the intelligence of the whole. I now look at the work of Anabelle Seldorf and you can see how rigor has contributed both to her sense of architecture and who she personally is and I can see it.

    http://www.pointclickhome.com/decorating_design

    Well, at least I know from this discussion that I am not a philosopher and more to the point, not a wrestler – in both preoccupations I would be whacked and totally destroyed. Life for me this year isn't about what I can or can't do, it is about what I appreciate.

    I appreciate having seen this discussion emerge about rigor, for I can see in people like Arnold Schwarzenegger that all forms of rigor take a lot of heart, a lot of sweat equity and a lot of drill-down time, and just like the happiness discussion at AVC right now, rigor like happiness is a lifetime achievement award and not simply the Ali shuffle of intellectual boxing :-)

    I am still taking baby steps with Descartes, but I am beginning to think more of uncertainty and Descartes focuses on certainty as a mathematical form – so this reminds me more so that I must remain well away from philosophy classes and all wrestling or boxing rings.

    [Em]

  • http://www.nathanwaters.com Nathan Waters

    Brilliant! … on the right track, here's some of my thoughts on this topic:

    - basic collective platforms (such as Facebook, Reddit etc) are allowing individuals to connect with other like-minded individuals thus allowing for greater sharing and generation of new ideas

    - eventually I think the end-game is a neural-link… basically where we are able to connect every human neuron to every other neuron in the world (would require nanotechnology)

    - however I think as the mobile web trend matures and we all begin being more intimately and always connected, I think we'll see mobile add-ons in the form of tech-glasses (or HUD overlays). Throw a simple brain scanning device into these, much like the commercial versions … and you can already start sharing brain activity (not at the neural level, but good enough to make telepathy a reality).

  • http://www.victusspiritus.com/ Mark Essel

    It's far out stuff, pot in the realm of the possible, maybe inevitable?

    I would think there would be clear boundaries of where neural networks
    interface but at the very least communication could be much more rapid.

    My soapbox
    http://www.victusspiritus.com

  • Pingback: The most elaborate game » Victus Spiritus