Network Effect

 

xx_056_What_is_Real_Tullio_DeSantis_2010_detail

 

Super-organism of mind.
Externalized nervous system of digitized human impulse.
We live here in mental ways.
We inhabit this cyberspace always and forever now.
Even when we are not attending to it, it carries our interactive messages.
They live. They are read, assimilated, repeated.
They evoke responses in our absence.
We leave them here and return to them.
We return with the periodicity of planets circling stars.
Our new selves are here.

We are compelled to return to access the new selves we create here.
They are who we are as recreated daily in cyberspace.
Our digital personas become an externalization of our urges
– to communicate, to extend ourselves throughout space and time.

They have a life of their own.
We access and interact with our digital entities
– striving to become them, even as we create them.

I’m gazing past my computer, out the wide window in my study, toward the rest of the world, wondering how things from out there enter into this machine. The cables emerging from behind it seem as dumb and lifeless as plastic wash line but inside, of course, they’re bundled bunches of electronic neurons. All the numbers that refer to this machine are astronomical–megabytes of this, gigabytes of that. Somewhere, they connect up to terabytes and terabytes squared–vast processing powers beyond comprehension.

Inconceivably complex and beyond the ken of any one individual, the totality of information that flows through the Net in any given second is everywhere connected. There are live cameras feeding into it from all corners of the globe, billions of users adding content, news networks, satellites, observatories, radio telescopes–all the thought, fantasy, imagination of human experience coursing through these gigabytes and gigabytes of silicon memory. The Net is the global electronic consciousness of man, all mankind thinking together as one mind, one Mind.

Is cyberspace a place where human consciousness can merge with all the unknowable energies of the cosmos? Is there some theory of electromagnetic radiation, quantum physics, chaos theory, mental/spiritual energy that can explain it?

Things change. Entities that continue to survive and prosper change in positive ways. In them, destructive tendencies are harnessed in ways that can provide energy toward constructive goals. The community becomes a different version of itself each day. Tidal waves of effort and individual contributions move this place through cyberspace on its own self-defining trajectory.

As we are a community of contributed content, the act of self-definition is the very essence of what we are about. If one could observe the total ebb and flow of content and comment and absorb it all as it occurs, one could actually come to know who and what we are at any given moment. Of course, this is impossible for any single human being. We are too vast for that.

The most each one of can do is catch the drift of human trends as they fill the cyberstructure, animated by communicating our experiences and ideas among ourselves.

As any organism, we move toward self-definition guided by our past and propelled toward an unknowable future. As any body in motion, dynamical processes of flow control the course through which changes occur. As we are essentially waveforms, our transformations can outpace our comprehension.

One thing is certain. We are new beings in a new world each time we log in.

*

Image: “What is Real,” by Tullio DeSantis, acrylic on canvas, detail, 2010.

 

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