Putting my brain on bits.
9 minute read
This space is about capturing my thoughts and sharing them in the most engaging way possible, on the world wide web, utilizing the global internet. I realize that saying it like that might sound a bit strange, but the fact that the internet affords truly instant global communication to anybody with a signal is completey incredible, and totally unprecidented in human history.
There's probably no way I can say that in any way that can really help people to truly understand the awesome that this thing really is.
Like, I dunno, I just don't think words can convey the sheer scope and reach of the internet.
It really is amazing how fast information can be created and shared around the world using this relatively new technology, and how quickly it's been able to flouish, especially as low cost mobile devices flood the world at a pace never before seen in human history.
Seriously, like never before.
So maybe, rather than spinning this wheel in different directions, I can walk you through the steps that we have taken in get here. My hope is that maybe with a little context one can see a little bit more clearly, and this may help us all deal with the very real and very dangerous pitfalls of this thing.
Before these modern times people still, somehow, amazingly, managed to share their thoughts as well.
I know, I know.
Since humanity had not discovered how to harness the power of pulses of light before very recently, our ancestors had to find other means of spreading and sharing their ideas. Humanity started off by sharing their thoughts through verbal or physical conversation, as the human body was the most accesible technology available to us for quite a long time. Much, much, much later on people got even smarter and started creating written symbols, which meant that thoughts did not have to be shared in real time, but could be saved for later, at a different time, in a different place, and even without the person that the thought originated from. We started off with stone, then moved on to ground up and soaked trees, and even later on, people got downright ingenius and created recorded mediums which allowed them to put their thoughts literally on wax, or tape...or eventually, bits. But bits is where we are now, and how I'm able to share my thoughts around the globe at the literal speed of light. This insane miracle of a technology affords lightning fast dissemination of ideas and information to any person on the planet in the blink of an eye. As I stated before, this truly is an amazing thing...but it wasn’t always like this.
The internet and the world wide web are the latest and arguably the most transformative steps in the continual evolution of the dissemination of information. The internet and the web have worked together to democratize and disseminate more information in the last 10 years alone then in all of human history combined. There have been despotic dictatorships that have been overthrown, entire college curriculums that have been released to the general public for free and (other cool stuff), all because of the one two punch of the net and the web.
The life of information before the net and the web was very different. There have been real geographical and technological boundaries to information for almost all of human history, with new discoveries, concepts, and literature existing in only one place in the world at a time. It really started with drawings on the walls of caves.
This image is one of the earliest known cave paintings, located in a large cave in El Castillo, in northern Spain. It is estimated to be around 40,000 years old, and it's fucking badass that we can figure that out today. The painting itself is not all that sophisticated, but we should probably cut these early communcation trailblazers some slack, as they also had to figure out how to make the images stick to the wall, as well as actually pull them off, and make them last for 40,000 years, so that us modern folk could find them and be amazed. Also keep in mind that this is by no means the earliest cave paintings, just one of the earliest that we have found and have been able to verify through modern dating techniques. There could be much, much older forms of cave communication out there that we simply have not discovered yet.
Over time these basic attempts at capturing illustrated images evolved into what we call glyphs, or symbols with literal and consistent meanings, on the walls of homes, temples and tombs in many distinct and isolated cultures around the world.
This painting dates back around 20,000 years ago in a network of caves named Lascaux, in southern France. These paintings are more sophisticated than those found in El Castillo, and begin to show an evoloved sense of meaning in the ideas that are being communicated through the paintings, as the images are starting to resemble real world objects and animals, rather than simply making copies of hands and such.
When civilization began to take shape around the world our writing began to develop into even more sophisticated forms of idea transferance. In anceient Sumer, for example, one of the earliest known forms of writing emerged, which would influcne all others to come after it, known simply as Cuneform.
The image shows a series of more abstract shapes that each mean something unique, and in combination, can create more complex ideas that can then be transferred and transoformed more easily to those that would read them. This form of writing also helped people back then to craft more complex and meaningful messages to each other, rather than relying on single concepts and objects to be represented by eariler people.
These were effective means of communication for the people that created them, but they were essentially limited to their place of inscription, and could not easily be transferred. The logical conclusion at the time was to take the wall with you, so people started creating stone tablets, which would help transfer the writings of ancient authors to other places on the planet. The obvious limitation of stone tablets was weight. So there was a real physical limitation to how much ideas and information could be transported by horse or camel or other form of beast. Caravans and ships could transfer more, of course, but by todays standards, the amount of information that could transported in the hull of a ship was almost nothing. Especially if you weighed a vessel down with stone, it would most likely travel downward first.
The first technological innovation to significantly improve the transference of ideas was that of papyrus, or paper. The invention of paper allowed for the creation of pamphlets, scrolls, and eventually books, which would help accelerate the travel of ideas and concepts from one person to points across the globe, independent of the mind of another, and these ideas could then be copied again for dissemination to many more people. This was transformative for humanity, but it still had its limitations. The first limitation was that it took almost as much work to copy a manuscript as it did to write it in the first place. There was also the issue of travel, which was an arduous task during this time. Traveling by foot, carriage or vessel was difficult and time consuming, as is the case today, although much less so. The next innovation would help to alleviate the laborious chore of copying texts, but it would do nothing to eliminate the issue of moving an idea beyond human speed.
The next technological innovation would allow for the mass production of the written word, which would, in turn, ignite even larger revolutions of thought. The printing press, and movable type, allowed people to create a piece of printed writing by setting a large number of peices of wood, metal, or any other material that could do the job, with letters chisleded into them. This would mean that making many copies of a peice of writing would be as simple as putting a new piece of paper inside a press, then pressing the letters into the paper, so long as their was ink on the letters. This new and ingenious method of copying the contents of a peice of writing would vastly increase the speed of copying and also signifcantly decrease the amount of manual labor requird to copy a manuscript, which would open the door for mass production of ideas and information. The key innovation of movable type and the printing press, was that any manuscript could now be copied by a machine, and not by hand. This would lead to the widespread dissemination of information that would enable thought revolutions around the world at a vastly increased pace, from the christian reformation to the enlightenment and beyond.
This was a wonderful step forward in our technological history, and the changes in human civiliazation would be immesurable, but we still had not reached the apex of information transfer. At this point in our story, one could easily forget that there was still the limitation of moving an idea from one place to another, and even though our methods of travel had increased tremendously in scope and efficiency by this time in history, they still required the motion of people, helped by various land and sea traversing vessels, to move things around. But we would evenutually figure out how to solve this last piece of the information puzzle. It would be the telecommunications revolution that would ultimately changed everything one more time.
The telephone was the first technology that allowed an idea to travel faster then any method of transportation before it. It was independent of the need for a person to move the idea physically from one place to another, because our voices could travel through wires made out of metal large distances almost instantly, which would open up a new revolution in communication. There was one big downside to this method, however. It was only sound, spoken by a person, to another person, and not the written word, and to write down the words would take even more technology and labor. But we had figured out how to mitigate the need to move an idea by vessel. This revolution persisted in to moving images as well as sound, in the form of television, which would open up the world to communications of a visual nature.
The combination of the internet and the world wide web is the medium that has finally brought all of the best abilities of all the previous mediums together and combined them into a solution that is elegant, instantaneous, and truly limitless. The printed word, the recorded sound and the recorded image are now all distributed in the same manner, instantly, and without any natural borders. Countries may try to ban, block or censor content, but because the power of the internet is largely decentralized, no one nation state can control the net in it’s entirety. These are but a handful of the reasons why the internet is the greatest revolution in communication the world has ever seen.
There are downsides to this technology as well, to be sure, because when any and all of the worlds information can be spread literally at the speed of light to almost anywhere in the world, then all of the bad ideas and information that the human race has conceived will have equal opportunity to be spread around the world as well, along with the good information. I think this should be expected, and not be a surprise, as there are many types of poeple in the world with many different thoughts and viewpoints, and becuase the internet is distributed around the world with no gatekeeper, then all thoughts and opinions may enter. My personal hope is that the collective intelligence and reason of logical, compassionate and empathetic thought will spread faster, wider and longer than other thought and the tide of public opinion will keep trending in the direction to drown out the bad over time. The internet will only accelerate this process as well, and we will be left with a truly global and connected society that cherishes freedom and reason beyond anything else. I know that might sound rosey and unattainable at this current moment in time, but often if we look far enough into the past, we can see a positive trend in human behavior, from the vary earliest echoes of humanity up until now.
This technology persisted for many years before other forms of recording technology surfaced, which allowed for sound and eventually moving image recording. These mediums of recorded information were always only as good as the information that they were recording, and this is of vital importance if you truly want to understand what makes the web what is it today. It is the most transformative and efficient means of reflecting humanity in all it's glory and disgust, that we have ever had.
Which brings me to my thing. I am interested in supporting and expadnign the capabilitites of independent artists, as I am one myself, and because we lose too much control to other entities in todays digital landscape. We are at mercy of Google (YouTube), Facebook (Instagram and WhatsApp), Twitter, Apple (Apple Music, Apple+, Apple News, etc...), Amazon(I mean...), Microsoft, Spotify, Tidal, Netflix, Hulu, ... I don't know, other stuff as well... and many other large companies that can change their policies on a whim and have a tremendous impact on potentially millions of artists from around the world in all disciplines. My aim with this site is to try and create a compelling online experience for one artist, and maybe I can learn fro mthis and develop something for every artist, so that they could maybe own their own little corner of the web, and just maybe wrestle a little bit of control back from all of these large tecnology and media companies inthe process. I am under no illusion that this will be meaningful in any way, but I have to at least try, if only for myself, and see where it might lead me.
So keep checking in and checking out what I have to offer.
You might even like it from time to time :-)