Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Google Analethics

Lies are good. They aren't good per se, of course. But they are the secondary effect of something really important: your mind. Deceptive strategies are very common in nature. Plants and animals love to fool predators or preys; or better, they don't want to fool, they are just behaving as their behavioural program tells them. On the contrary, most sophisticated mammals, like cetaceans and apes, are capable of actual fooling or cheating. In other words they are able to start deceptive strategies by they own decision. A chimpanzee can behaving in front of a conspecific to make him believe he's believing something else. You can do this only if minds are playing. And you can be honest only if you can lie.

Lies and deceptive strategies are part of our cognitive behaviour. In a digital environment, in the same way contents are available to you, you make yourself available. It's good to be connected, but sometimes we forget that we are not invisible or that we are not in complete control of our availability. You can protect your access to the web, but because you don't know from who you are protecting, your defense can be surprisingly weak. You probably don't want strangers accessing your data: you don't want that someone takes out something from your computer. That is: you don't want to be stolen from properties (money, pictures, conversations,). This is an understandable concern, but it's just half of the story.

Your access on the web is projecting yourself in to a new environment. Your face is not just your picture, it's the persons you talk to, your responses and also the people (or organizations, or the cluster of information) you are not talking to, you are avoiding. Your identity is not only a bar code that can be stolen or used improperly: it's your identity in the self consciousness sense. We are in the early stage of our Internet citizenship, but its presence is already there and the first we become aware of it, the best. The google failure with buzz brought me a sort of relief (I esteem and admire google; they are good and they improved our on-line life. Even too much, I personally becoming too reliant on google, it's becoming too present in my on-line experience. To some extent google could be identified with my on-line experience in general). The reason of relief was the patently invasion of privacy determined by the convergence. This exposed our intimate digital consciousness: it means first that we have one (good), second that someone stored it (less good).

The possibility of being caught in illicit relationships in business, love and politics deployed an on-line ethics. It wasn't just the projection of our off line life in to digital relationship: you are not required to have met or said or done anything. The simple on-line relation stands as behaviour. And opens a stand alone moral environment, a space in which identities can play. It's a new ground, and it's gaining quickly importance. Probably you never spent too much time reflecting on yourself:your consciousness is often taken for granted, but I recommend some reflections on the digital one: it's still wild outside....

Monday, 15 February 2010

...and the winner for the category “best communication agency of the last 2000 years” is...:The Catholic Church

Believe it or not, when you communicate something you are endorsing a metaphysics. You can think that something like an idea exists independently by our mental or social activity, or that they are our projections. In the first case, you consider communication as logistics. You are going to search in the cupboard of properties the specific entities you want to communicate, you find (or believe to find) what you're searching and then it's just a matter of organizing the journey back to the receiver of the message. You can also adulterate the message (purposely or not...) and finally giving the message (or what is left after the trip) to the receiver. As the last step, it's important how you give the message in the hands of the receiver (or how he will accept the message).

On the contrary if you think that ideas are our projections, you'll tend to believe that communication is the generative environment in which you actually create messages. Contents are not preexisting the delivery activity. That means that every communication is propaganda. We are involved in communication wars, fighting for hegemonic propaganda. A second feature is that communication change with the pace and size of the process: size and speed manipulate the content.

Mass communication is not tailored to anyone, but it gives a platform for everyone. Instant communication fills gaps: of disinterest but also of understanding.

Back to the beginning: again on metaphysics. If you think that you are what you are, independently from the communication process and the message delivers an answer to a preexisting question, you support the importance of persistence of the message. A message that survives in time, is a good message. Currently the most performing, consistent and long lasting message is the one delivered by the Catholic Church.

On the contrary if you think that what we are is produced in communication, messages succeed each other, to produce the semiotic environment that hosts (that generates) what we are. 
The content of the message is in or outside the semiotic environment? You can discover it only through a narrative search, that is to say: through an exploration of a semiotic environment. Now: can we reach the limits of a semiotic environment? And can we look “outside” the events' horizon of our language?I shall answer (with a lot of Austrian logic): it is possible to reach the borders of the language and what lies outside, can not be a thing in the language. In other words, it's not possible to produce a message about what lies outside the semiotic environment (sorry for Catholic Church and blue-and-red pills):what lies outside the language cannot be said.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Do oniric characters dream of mundane lives?

You wake up and you're confused. It takes a while (some minutes...or more!)to get again in to yourself. Your brain while sleeping can take some sort of “free ride”. During the day it needs to respond to the environment; the physical environment, of course, but more important for the level of stress in human minds, is the social environment. The brain must re-address constantly the cultural and social patterns, to identify habits, behaviours. Moreover in the social and cultural environment, it can identify other minds and critically, “its own mind”, that is to say, ourselves...That's why when you wake up, your brain needs a while to “get the bearings” of who is the guy that is experiencing the sensation of waking up. In other terms, the brain needs to configure the person , the mind, you!

That's quite interesting for a lot of reason, but now we'll talk what concerns your dream narrative. In a certain way, you can experience a lot more of yourself, because when you are required to respond to the cultural environment, you need to cut of huge portion of your narratives: just a fraction of your narrative archive can find a place in your day to day life. So in your dreams, you experience some of the missing episodes. In your dream narrative you experience also another important feeling: dreams can seem bloody real. There are fundamental criteria to assess the reality of your day to day life from the mists of dreaming: consistency and persistence. Day to day life is consistent: if you do something there will be causal consequences independent from you. You do something, others do something and all these actions are consistent with each other and don't require you to be real, that is, things and events persist independently from the subjects who think about them. A dream could match these criteria, but of course this is not the case in the long term.

Now, the big thing is that you can clearly cut the reality from the dream narrative, but you can 't do the same on your narrative: there is no real narrative and dream narrative, but just a universe of narratives. Some could say that only narratives concerning the “real world” would be interesting or worth the highest interest. Unfortunately these would simply erase our minds from our interests. So when we focus only on one plane of the narrative, where are neglecting the rest. It can be fruitful, productive and efficient. You can operate in the world without paying attention to the narrative you are. Clearly. You don't have to question who you are constantly in order to perform actions in day to day life. In this way you act in the plot. Whose plot? Well of the narrative universe produced by the minds of human beings. And you are cooperating in the production of the narrative. It's just you neglect the creative side. When you dream, rarely someone thanks you because your a dreamer, they just act, like in day to day life.

Second, our lives are the metric to assess reality. A single night dream is not persistent nor consistent enough, a life it is. But so, how long is a life? Well, enough to call what happens during that period, reality. Ok. This is why a social and collective environment is the standard of what we call reality, is the dimension of real narrative. But we shouldn't fool ourselves: it's not that this dimension host the real narrative because it's the reality, on the contrary, it is the reality because the real narratives weaves this space as the real environment. But the persistence of this environment depends on narratives. Most of our actions can stand only if we consider yourselves, our characters as consistent and persistent in time. In more than one day. But also a lot of our actions can stand only if we project ourselves and our characters over our life-span. Think of religions or the responsibilities towards your off springs, or your society.

If you should assess reality based on yourself, nothing interesting will happen in 200 years, because nothing could happen to you. A killer in your dream will be quite disappointed if he knew you can easily escape with a waking up scream.

We dream and we live and we project possibilities. That is, we narrate and we live in narrations. Others prepared some of the narrations we live in, some will live in the narrations we left to them.And nobody is required to think that he's actually narrating. A bit like when you're dreaming, you don't need to think you're dreaming. Good night

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

The subtle line of rhapsodic existence:a quantum-narrative Odissey

The concept of existence should be stated as the best known. Indeed if you don't know to exist, it's difficult to know anything in general...This simple but crucial element of ...knowledge narrative, entail another thing: keeping on in staying existent... You can jump in and out from existence. 
Well unless you're an electron... Clearly we are too big to be in a probabilistic state rather than in one precise, deterministic location. Or better, we are so big that our wave length is very slow ( in this context a grain of sand or a planet are more or less in the same league of size...). One could speculate that we are indeed jumping in and out of existence but given our slow pace, you can neglect the “fluctuation in non existence”. Or even better, our perception (and all the mesocosmic related observations) can ignore the dance on the line of non existence.

Now follow your story, the story of your personal identity. It's just our bizarre way of speaking that can make you thinking that your identity exists...Your identity is more likely to be a collection of stories implemented in our body (in your brain and nervous system) in order to do marvellous thing like walking in different kind of terrain, writing, practicing kung fu, practicing watching on tv others practicing kung fu... Your precious personal identity is a store of episodes, including capacity to manipulate episodes (it's an “episode” itself). The most important episode, the most marvellous story ever told, is actually the consistency of the collection of the episodes. In other words, the persistence of the episode, in which there is a character unifying the collection of episodes. Ok , in even other words, the story you are, the story that you are telling to listen and tell the story you are.
The capacity of persistence is unique (to our knowledge) in our species, but this doesn't entail every single occurrence of the persistence is unique... Every human beings is endowed with persistence, the general capacity to assemble stories. We tend to tell stories and to collect story; our activity is made possible if the aggregating activity produces a character, a hero,a personal identity, an author.

Would you consider Hamlet, Ulysses, Don Quixote or James Bond “existent”? Are they “suffering”? Or are they“enjoying” a situation? What is making “real” their experience? We are acting on the stage we created. We are the authors of our characters. But “we” is a plural way to identity who? For sure, we are the inventors of the stories we live in, but you are not more the author of your story than Hamlet of his lines. It's a collective practice, a reflexive storytelling. In rhyme.Sometimes dissonant.
Your body and brain exist for sure. I mean, if speaking is meaningful, they are the criteria to give existence its meaning. But your identity is not more stable than an electron fluctuating on the line of non existence. It's the dissonant narration that we are composing, aggregating stories with the help of the persistence capacity. A bit like assembling poems and interpreting them.

You know, in ancient Greece, with the only technology of memory (and a decent dose of good taste in language), the ancient bards were singing every time different stories, from a huge collection of different bases. The Iliad and Odyssey are just one example of what a single bard in one occasion could do. Magnificent story, wonderful character and in fact, just the improvisation of a creative singer. It is called rhapsody the story assembling. And it's our way to dance on the line of non existence.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

The unexpected fecundity of public relations: the generative art of spinning facts

In “simple”semiotic environments,if I want to tell you something, I tell it to you. This is ok, if I need to communicate to you that the glass is empty or full: binary code. Semiotic environments, especially if populated by biological organisms, tends to be slightly more complicated. In mammals and especially in primates, you can observe a terrific explosion of semiotic complexity. Just to mention some in group of apes: I want you to believe that I don't know you know I've seen you. This is called Machiavellian intelligence and apes proved to be able to use high level of deception, manipulating other (possible) thoughts. Or better the projections of the subject about others thoughts.

Then we have societies, human societies. With institutions, group of individuals, just individuals, theory about single individuals can collectively organize their individual knowledge through shared individual archives.....

The semiotic environment of human societies is actually quite complex, rich, articulated, chaotic even if highly organized (or highly infrastructered even if wild...as you prefer...). So it happens very often that an entity decides to communicate with group of individuals with a facilitator,a messenger.

Very often we think that the entity is actually giving the content of the message to the messenger, based on “facts”. Then we think that is just about smartness and honesty of the messenger “how the fact is delivered in to a message”.

In reality, in the semiotic reality, the message is always a case of generation.

The messenger is always generative, no matter the content to be delivered.

In our society the messengers are building a narrative universe of stories and characters, manufacturing faces of institutions, values of corporation, facts of people's life. Far from being liars,manipulators of fact, the public relations messengers are the artificers of what's happening in the semiotic-spheres.

Indeed, humans don't inhabit a world of facts, but a world of transmitted stories, in which the fluctuations perpetrated by the intermediaries are generative and genuine new happenings. The first human fact was mute, solipsistic and sterile. Only when someone started to spin the fact in to a story, the fact started to be vivid, observable and real.

In our societies, what a company does is much more than the facts related to the company: you want to know the opinion of the company, the face of the company, jokes from and about the company: you want to listen to an articulated speech, what the company is. But rarely companies are so semioticly complex to be able to communicate what they are in the semiotic-sphere. They are invisible worms, eating soil of facts, submarine of narration. Messengers will catch the worms and the hunting will transform invisible companies in dragons, doves or donkeys. We are fact-blind and the messengers give us eyes, colorful eyes. It's a long story, with a lot of philosophical interferences (ah, these philosophers of truth...), our good Xenophanes said that “if oxen were able to imagine gods, then those gods would be in the image of oxen”, and the too good Kant said that with green glass, things will appear green to us.

I'm saying that things appear narrated to us, so someone must have narrated them. Narrations spin facts, so if we live in a semiotic-sphere, someone must have spun the facts...

If you have a face and an identity, trust me, it is after spinning and spinning. Nowhere on earth you'll find the immobile, static fact of your identity.

So my friends, let's spin!