Samantha Atkins sjatkins at mac.com
Sun Aug 3 23:30:54 UTC 2008

On Jul 30, 2008, at 11:44 AM, Michael LaTorra wrote:

> http://www.edge.org/documents/archive/edge252.html#pesce
> A Talk By Mark Pesce
> Introduction
> In his well-received talk at this year's Personal Democracy Forum  
> (organized by Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry), "digital ethnologist"  
> Mark Pesce makes the point that "we have a drive to connect and  
> socialize: this drive has now been accelerated and amplified as  
> comprehensively as the steam engine amplified human strength two  
> hundred and fifty years ago. Just as the steam engine initiated the  
> transformation of the natural landscape into man-made artifice, the  
> 'hyperconnectivity' engendered by these new toys is transforming the  
> human landscape of social relations. This time around, fifty  
> thousand years of cultural development will collapse into about  
> twenty.
> In presenting his ideas on "the human network" Pesce references the  
> work of archeologist Colin Renfrew, that "we may have had great  
> hardware, but it took a long, long time for humans to develop  
> software which made full use of it"; and Jared Diamond's ideas in  
> Guns, Germs, and Steel, that "where sharing had been a local and  
> generational project for fifty thousand years, it suddenly became a  
> geographical project across nearly half the diameter of the planet".
> In the 21st century, it's time to "Fasten your seatbelts and prepare  
> for a rapid descent into the Bellum omnia contra omnes, Thomas  
> Hobbes' "war of all against all." A hyperconnected polity—whether  
> composed of a hundred individuals or a hundred thousand—has  
> resources at its disposal which exponentially amplify its  
> capabilities. Hyperconnectivity begets hypermimesis begets  
> hyperempowerment. After the arms race comes the war."

It does not have to be a war of all against all.  That is just one of  
the options.  The other option is that that hyper sharing drives such  
plenty and multi-dimensional understanding that many of the external  
and some of the internal ones of such conflict subside.

> To understand this new kind of mob rule, it's necessary to realize  
> that "Sharing is the threat. Not just a threat. It is the whole of  
> the thing. A photo taken on a mobile now becomes instantaneously and  
> pervasively visible on Flickr or other sharing websites. This act of  
> sharing voids "any pretensions to control, or limitation, or the  
> exercise of power".
"Mob"????  This seems like a very classist and elitist position and I  
say that as a flavor of "elitist" myself.  That mob is composed of  
individuals who have exactly the same long term trans- and even post- 
human potential as you and I.  Every individual in it, no matter how  
different in ingrained cultural patterns and beliefs, is far more like  
you and I than we may be comfortable acknowledging.  What the hyper- 
connection between all does is make it far more difficult to hide,  
especially to hide unfair disparities.    Sharing is here to stay.  If  
we attempt to limit it to the few we most like and deny the future to  
others then we will certainly guarantee War.   Sharing is absolutely  
essential if we want peace and progress to the future we dream of.     
If instead we walk the path to War by limiting sharing then what we  
will end up with, if we survive at all, will be a great deal more  
hideous than what we once dreamed of.   The denial of sharing will  
lead to the detailed observation and in-depth control of everyone and  
everything or at least the attempt to do so.  That is not the path to  
what we desire.

I look forward to reading the rest of the piece.

- samantha
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