Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The internet simply shows us the way the world actually is

I had lunch with Gregory Lent today. We have known each other digitally for some time. He is the artist responsible for the work on the cover of my book. This was the first time we had met in person.

Greg is a truly fascinating, very warm and very wise man. His twitter profile tells us: 'Emptiness consultant, transformation ecologist, artist, economist ... pro-intelligence'. Not average.

Our conversation, our interaction, resulted in a phrase which Greg seized upon. And on reflection it is one you may also feel is worthy of further consideration.

"The internet simply shows us the way the world actually is,"
...is what I came out with. Or at least something very similar to that.

That could be a very interesting stub. The internet reveals to us how connected we are, how connected we could be, how connected we should be.

It reveals to us our interdependency. It demands we collaborate. You can't participate without others, you can't distribute without others. You can't publish to yourself. You can't be a disconnected individual node when you are part of the web.

On the internet you can't achieve without others, without one another.

Think how an idea is distributed and evolves online: If it is not passed on from one human to another it goes nowhere. You can't blast it out, it has to be handed one to another. It may go global. It may reach us all. But it has done so at a very human, hand-to-hand scale. From one person who cared enough about it to pass it on to another human they cared about.

The internet makes those connected to it part of a whole. And it makes it a real, tangible thing, in a way we could only believe in or conceive of in the past (the Buddha, as Greg points out, tells us nothing exists in isolation, more recent philosophies introduce ideas such as 'without context there is no meaning').

In so doing, the internet (perhaps more specifically the web of humanity woven upon it) makes real what was once the realm of the transcendental philopsopher.

It makes this truth of our collective self accessible to anyone who chooses to connect. It can be accessed not only through philosophy, but also through action - by learning from connecting.

It makes real what we instinctively know. It provides the evidence.

Imagine the next generation: in which almost everyone understands humanity as a collective, not a series of national, political, language, religious or other silos.

How will that change politics, the law, education, the structure of business... us?

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?