Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Modernity and the internet


Being truly modern the way Voltaire was in his philosophical letters, is to not consider ones traditions or norms as the only referent.The whole uniqueness of a tribe or folk just flies out the window with modernity. Then what is more modern than the Internet?
Where can one encounter the most varied information about culture and the way other people think and act. What is youtube if not a living repository of cultural activity? What is the blogosphere if not a repository of memes and ideas?

The work of Pierre Levy is then seminal in the definition of the anthropomorphic space that the Internet represents. It is a space in which ideas are detached from their human creators and can be shared freely. But it is only a repository which can be mined and harvested.  It does not derive or deduce new ideas out by itself. There again the work of Pierre Levy with IEML may open some new perspectives for expanding the reasoning capabilities of mankind. If these are the capabilities of the most modern creation or making what are its issues. The issues are not inherent to the Internet, we have a quasi infinite firmament of ideas.  The issues then appear when trying to find models in which to capitalise from that firmament. Well it makes sense that we are having trouble making money from the stars no?

The novelty of the anthropomorphic space that the Internet represents is so big that most of the models that we approach it with seem to break. It could be seen as a tool of communication between people.
Much like the standard press or billboards.  As such it is easy to capitalise on it as a trade channel.
What have humans been doing since the origins of time if not trade? Trade can be conducted across all barriers (geographical, linguistic, temporal) and has generated wealth and stability in many regions of the planet. So it makes sense that when confronted with a new space what we do is trade.

But to trade you need objects.
Ideas until very recently have not been free, they where always attached to a support. The support was bought, sold, traded as the objectification of the idea. Books where paid for, journals and magazines too. So for centuries the support paid for the ideas that it contained.
This object idea relationship is now fading away as the digital support in which ideas are now developed, stored and communicated changes its properties. It is no longer a tangible object.
Ideas are now stored as what they are, patterns. Patterns on a digital medium which can no longer be objectified. Out of the breaking of that relationship the whole model of trade breaks. And when such a basic relationship as trade disappears from the space, people panic. Out of this panic people have been trying to revert to the old object idea relation. What is a patent, if not just that, the tradeable objectification of an idea.

The current importance of copyright and copyright law is nothing more that an attempt at bringing a useless legacy into a new environment.  Holding on to a past and preventing mankind from flourishing.

It is as if when Voltaire was in London and writing his letters back to France he would be telling that in the London stock exchange people where segregated by religion. That a Christian could only trade with a Christian. That the Jew would only accept "Tov" as his contract word, and that the money of the one was not receivable by the other. It is now time to become truly modern and move on from this narrow mindedness. To embrace in the same way the new anthropomorphic space that is enabling us to reach a newer level of togetherness. Trade and finance have brought us so far, and they will not disappear, but the introduction of the collective intelligence should not be held back by stale models. The same way that refusing to trade with someone based on a difference of creed sounds backwards. Years from now paying for an idea based on its support will be inconceivable.

The struggle for modernity is well set, and it is now the struggle to free ideas from their medium.
The current SOPA, PIPA and ACTA struggles are clumsy attempts to objectify ideas based on deprecated models. However, these struggles are indicative of on which side the current social structures are leaning towards. If power is not at the forefront of modernity it may have the control of the resources but not the agreement of the many and in a new and uncharted territory as the Internet is people get very creative.

Ideas should be the stars that guide the evolution of our civilisation, towards rewards which are fare greater than what we can imagine now. Not objectified slaves of the accumulation of trade.