January 19, 2010

2010 Edge Annual Question - How is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?

The 2010 Edge Annual Question - How is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?

(H/T Eric Drexler at Metamodern who posted his answer - The internet helps you see what (you are missing) what is not there

some of the 169 responses

Science historian George Dyson asks "what if the cost of machines that think is people who don't?" He wonders "will books end up back where they started, locked away in monasteries and read by a select few?".

Web 2.0 pioneer Tim O'Reilly, ponders if ideas themselves are the ultimate social software. Do they evolve via the conversations we have with each other, the artifacts we create, and the stories we tell to explain them?

W. Daniel Hillis goes a step further by asking if the Internet will, in the long run, arrive at a much richer infrastructure, in which ideas can potentially evolve outside of human minds? In other words, can we change the way the Internet thinks?

Stewart Brand discusses how the Internet enables Ones Guild-

Our association is looser than a team but closer than a cohort, and it's not a club or a workgroup or an elite. I'll call it a guild. Everyone in my guild runs their own operation, and none of us report to each other. All we do is keep close track of what each other is thinking and doing. Often we collaborate directly, but most of the time we don't. Everyone in my guild has their own guild---each of theirs largely different from mine. I'm probably not considered a member of some of them

This year's Question is "How is the Internet changing the way YOU think?" Not "How is the Internet changing the way WE think?" We spent a lot of time going back on forth on "YOU" vs. "WE" and came to the conclusion to go with "YOU", the reason being that Edge is a conversation. "WE" responses tend to come across like expert papers, public pronouncements, or talks delivered from stage.

We wanted people to think about the "Internet", which includes, but is a much bigger subject than the Web, an application on the Internet, or search, browsing, etc., which are apps on the Web. Back in 1996, computer scientist and visionary Danny Hillis pointed out that when it comes to the Internet, "Many people sense this, but don't want to think about it because the change is too profound. Today, on the Internet the main event is the Web. A lot of people think that the Web is the Internet, and they're missing something. The Internet is a brand-new fertile ground where things can grow, and the Web is the first thing that grew there. But the stuff growing there is in a very primitive form. The Web is the old media incorporated into the new medium. It both adds something to the Internet and takes something away."

This year, I enlisted the aid of Hans Ulrich Obrist, Curator of the Serpentine Gallery in London, as well as the artist April Gornik, one of the early members of "The Reality Club" (the precursor to the online Edge) to help broaden the Edge conversation — or rather to bring it back to where it was in the late 80s/early 90s, when April gave a talk at a "Reality Club" meeting, and discussed the influence of chaos theory on her work, and when Benoit Mandelbrot showed up to discuss fractal theory and every artist in NYC wanted to be there. What then happened was very interesting. The Reality Club went online as Edge in 1996 and the scientists were all on email, the artists not. Thus, did Edge surprisingly become a science site when my own background (beginning in 1965 when Jonas Mekas hired me to manage the Film-Makers' Cinematheque) was in the visual and performance arts.

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