The network surrounding us, our network

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Everyone has multiple aspects to them, inner subjects, let’s say: businesses, interests, passions, values, perspectives, goals, needs, abilities, viewpoints, beliefs. People are connected through these subjects.

We sometimes have friends that know each other and we don’t know how they met. We only know it was not on our account, at least not directly; and, sometimes, it seems as if these two people were somehow intertwined. Like many others, they’re linked and they could easily become acquaintances, if they weren’t already. Evident phenomenon when it shows itself sharply. It is about this that we want to reflect upon, because it will definitely have a strong impact on our lives in the years to come.

As if we were small nodes, we are connected together, directly or indirectly, by an invisible network. It sounds silly if we are mistrustful and only consider the metaphysical nature of the statement, but thinking about this human-connecting network in those terms is not what this discussion attempts. On this occasion, we refer to a network that is not only actually possible, but also something of greater importance, with strong social, cultural and economic implications. We’re no longer talking about the mere dream of an ancient civilization or a worldview struggling to touch ground, shaking with hope and passion in the minds of a few visionaries. We’re talking about something real with strong implications on the path that our civilization will take next. We’re talking as well about how culture will reflect upon itself on being a human life construction and a collective projection of how we interpret the human condition that contains us all.

So what are we talking about? an existing network among us, something that spreads from us, that brings us to other people, that pull us gently, sometimes violently, but also something we drag wherever we go and there are human beings we can communicate with. The tissue giving life to human connections is made of very fragile threads, communication and understanding, and through these threads flows all human power.

Let’s say that if humanity were some kind of body, the network we talk about would be the nervous system, making all information flow, the system that makes the body aware of itself. But humanity has no anatomy. Amazingly, what has an actual existence are individuals. If we think it through, it provides a shivering feeling; for the world, as a human reality, is, to a great extent, that huge network. This world was built by our ancestors and in the upcoming version everyone will have its share, big or small. Thinking how that network spreads from us and it’s truly an extension of our minds and our hearts may seem frightening; for, in the world, there is only what every one of us decides to add to the network when we talk, when we write, sing or dance. Every act of communication becomes part of it, as a thread partly weaving the network. Our experience and our interpretation of the world lay there for others to see.

No less astonishing is the hardly noticeable relationship between individuals and the network. Each act of communication is what a computer scientist would call an instance of a class. In few words, each individual is a representation of humanity, a paradigm for others, a sample of what the human race is capable of that will surely repeat. Even better, an individual is a starting point, a redefinition of what is possible when one is endowed with heart and mind.

To what extent is this network not a prison? A thinker once said that human beings are born free and yet live tied up no matter where they go. We will deliberately leave this question open to discussion, because we think that just giving it thought is already an accomplishment during these times. We bet, however, that no man is only a victim of his surrounding circumstances. Along the same metaphor, we all weave while being being part of the fabric. That is exactly the reason why this grid contains us. We knit it and are wrapped and protected by its work. The world is transformed by its grace. Being artisans of the network is part of our human condition; for we aspire more than anything to reach people and to be reached in return— that is our condition.

But why should we think about such network? For a reason that our reader knows well —assuming that our reader knows everything that’s been said here. We refer to the Internet. We still live in the eye of a revolution that’s within another revolution, within another one as well. We’ve always been. When the first hominids began to teach their offspring how to use tools —unconsciously—, when the first humans began to communicate with more than empty noises, when human communities realized they were farming, when the earliest forms of writing started being stored in the most primitive media, when the Greeks created the concept of person. How could they imagine the scope of their actions?... We have gone through revolution after revolution. We have undertaken them, consciously or not. We do not really know nor do we have a way to measure the consequences of our actions. Once done, our actions go beyond us as individuals. Our ancestors remain, by the same token, fused in an immortality that cannot be individual. They are blended in that terrible, dazzling force we call culture.

Astonishing as all this may be, we must bear up, that’s the form of human life. It’s what our power consists of, we are constantly weaving and we can only lift our power by making the most that tissue. Even the individual, the concept of person, takes place in a cultural setting. The way of a person to show itself is by participating in the network and projecting there its inner transformation, which is its unique contribution; a single filament that wouldn’t exist if this single individual would not have given their part of his inner world, something only this person has complete access to.

We are all familiar with what has been said and are also vaguely feel what is about to come. The internet is precisely what is ahead in forms we can not even imagine right now. We can say about it what sometimes has been said about the French Revolution: We have yet to see the consequences. Though when it comes to the Internet, we shouldn't just say it, we should shout it out forcefully because the phenomenon is just around the corner and we have not seen most of it.

We are living an era that seems unprecedented; except perhaps the invention of writing, paper, the book in codex format, printing, the telegraph, the telephone, television. History seems to have innocently and passionately played the same game over and over. The so vast human condition seems to have at least two clear needs that intertwine as two powerful rivers that converge and become one: The need for an interface.

An essential extraordinary need for connection spreads wherever there is something human. We always want to take in the world as something external so that we feel able to arrange it to our own reality, our will and our lives. Whatever human beings glance at, their eyes only see ways to turn the world into their flesh and blood. The human imagination designs multiple ways to transform what it finds strange about life. The human mind does not satisfy to be astonished by world; conversely, it wants to turn everything into something that can be processed and understood, something relatable, something human.

The second type of the interface is the most powerful, for it multiples the other one and it allows its extension and renewal. This second type reveals the need of connection with others, not solely in the form of consumption and assimilation of the outward but in the form of giving and receiving our inner world, sharing what we have lived and experienced, knowing about inner world of others, all to connect with it. In different levels, this need repeats as a fractal, without beginning or end. Displaying our mind and heart and offer them to others, receiving the projections others offer to us is a ceremony whose forms have no limits. This is the most abstract and rich form of human religion. It flourishes and renews itself with every implementation, with every cycle of human life.

The Internet ... Is it necessary to say what we all already know? Together we are stronger. As our connection capacity becomes more dynamic, we become more powerful and multiply the possibilities of new connections among us, new ways of being connected and expressing and creating the world of tomorrow. There is crisis before us, a whirlwind that gathers everything that comes its way and transforms it into hope.

Many nowadays phenomena are everything but a casual tendency. Namely, the frantic spread of graphical interfaces that connect to the Internet, the reproductive frenzy in the creation of applications capable of handling millions of interactions that transfer data among users and servers, the avid temptation to interpret the trace of data that we leave in our way. These phenomena are rather inherent to our essence. Through them, we have spontaneously taken steps forward to understand the meaning of the data we generate. Those are human efforts that bring on reflection upon our own impulses. In an abstract level of thinking, the process is not so different when reflecting individually upon our own actions or upon the things we do without a reason. Data science is really a new branch of psychology, whose object is the culture.

We can say with every right that the Internet, as a cultural projection, is humanity’s fate. Aristotle used to say that the seed contains the tree, likewise, the book was always bound to be the path humanity was supposed to take, that felt the need to create. They are both cultural projections, inner projections of our deeply rooted need to create an interface for the world, an interface for others, a channel the mind opens for the heart, that longs to understand the world. More importantly, the heart spares no efforts for a project tirelessly recreated: a bridge for contact. The human heart yearns deeply to touch the other, for communion.

A new way of exploiting the network above-mentioned has emerged. Not coincidentally another network of our creation that extends along our essential network and allows us to weave new connections that don’t have the limitations of the previous ones. We do not know how this will change our world. Although ... we do know, look at the history of the revolutionary inventions made for the network before, how they modified and accelerated the course of history, how mankind stepped forward.

If we stop to think what it means to be present in this moment of history, we will end up crying with joy and amazement, we will be shocked and grateful to find out that we are the actors of the new great work of humanity, the witnesses of a blossom that future generations will worship as we did the Renaissance or the Enlightenment. People who do not exist yet will feel that the foundations of their way of life, their worldview, were laid by us.

Come and build the world with us, together we can do more. Meet Hands.

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Posted by Miguel Salas

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