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Tue

09

Oct

2007

Social Singularity
Tuesday, 09 October 2007 11:34
by Warren "Bones" Bonesteel

Currently there are more than one billion people on the internet. Some scholars and researchers claim that the next five years will see at least another one billion people join us. That latter number does not take into account internet capable iPods and cell phones, etc., which are projected to become even more available and ubiquitous over the next few years. In America alone, there are currently two hundred and eleven million people on the internet. More than seventy percent of them get some or all of their news and info from the WWW. The People are now beginning to flex their new-found muscles and take over the aggregation and implementation of memes and narratives that have traditionally been handled by other institutions.

Initially, I could find no name — or even peer-reviewed work — for the phenomena which I have witnessed. It is a trend that I have only recently come to fully notice and to fully appreciate in my travels and adventures on the Internet. Although I have recently spoken about the trend with a few of my friends, I was still searching for the words to properly describe what I'd seen and realized. I mean, how do you describe something that none of us has ever seen before? The closest descriptive term I've seen used is 'panarchy,' but even as all-inclusive as that term seems to be, it doesn't quite touch on the phenomenon that I, and others, have witnessed. This phenomenon crosses ideological lines as well as national and cultural boundaries in a very unique and profound fashion.

It is the sort of thing that we've only previously heard or read in the ramblings of daydreamers and fools. More than two hundred million people in America, and tens of millions more around the world, however, are beginning to take their dreams and hopes for the future more seriously than ever before. New technologies aside, the internet alone has so profoundly changed our personal and professional interactions that few of us can begin to articulate those changes. The power that has now been granted to more than one billion individuals around the world is difficult articulate in a coherent fashion.

The patterns of this phenomenon are readily apparent when a synthetic, multi-disciplinary approach is used. An objective look at the data speaks for itself. The trend appears to be building momentum. Except for the occasional "griefer," the trend crosses multiple disciplines, venues, spiritual beliefs and ideologies. I also believe that we're not speaking of several tens of thousands — or even hundreds of thousands – of organizations that are involved. We're speaking of several hundred million individuals from around the world who are working more or less independently of one another and coming to the same conclusions. This is not only about their concern for humanity or for the future of humanity. The common phrase you hear is that they wish to change the world for the better. Quite a number of them are even discussing what that actually means and what version of "better" they should consider, discuss, and hold as a standard.

This is not about their personal ideology or religion, although it is about that, too. It is about the realization of their newfound and individual power to influence and change the outcomes of current and future events and long and short term trends. It is about their ability to exchange facts, information, ideas, plans and concepts with others around the world. It is about their power and ability to coordinate ad hoc political and social movements in real time. It is organic, fluid, leaderless and very, very adaptable to changes in its environment. The People are beginning to work together towards one goal and one goal alone. The betterment of humanity, as they, themselves, have defined that goal.

This is a true mega-trend. We're going to see more signs of credibility and accountability as the primary standard of interactions. We're already witnessing the decline of unquestioned (and almost) religious respect for those who have lengthy CV's, high social status and other traditional credentials. We're also seeing a rise in creativity and in the sharing of ideas. There are even now growing trends in multi-disciplinary approaches to problem solving, no matter the venue or discipline. There also appears to be a growing trend towards Open Source works in nearly every discipline, particularly among those who wish to make the world a better place to live. Most of mankind's traditional institutions are so far behind the curve on these issues that they will never see it coming.

The media, our cultural and social institutions, the powerbrokers and politicians no longer control the memes and narratives of our society. The changes that we are going to see will be deep and profound. I have had a very positive feeling about the future since I — finally — understood what I was seeing. What is happening won't end in Xanadu or Utopia, but, in time, it should result in much better scenarios than we presently face as a world culture and society.

One point one billion People around the world are on the internet, with another one billion people projected to join them in less than five years. For our traditional information and educational Gatekeepers and for traditional bureaucrats, politicians and power mongers, this is fearsome news, indeed. For the rest of us, this is empowerment of a type and kind never before seen or imagined. This is true Democracy.

Two hundred and eleven million Americans are presently online. More than 70% of us get some or all of our news and info from the internet.. (And not all of us use Google or Yahoo.) Conservative talk radio, at its very best, reaches ten per cent of that number. Fox News reaches a million or two viewers during the best of times? Maybe fifteen million per twenty-four hours? The newspapers are losing readers and revenues on a daily basis. The traditional TV news gatekeepers are now below a nightly audience of 15 million viewers.

Future currency for everyone will be credibility and transparency. Indeed, that is even now becoming the 'currency' for us all. That credibility is predicated upon accountability. If we do not tell the truth, if we do not strive for accuracy in our spoken and written words, we will be held accountable. If we are not willing to accept correction or admit to our mistakes and immediately correct them, we lose credibility.

The future will not be about ideology, ambition or agenda. It will be credibility.

This is called a "Social Singularity."
 
Footnotes.

Regarding social intelligence (i.e. "The Wisdom of Crowds" by James Surowiecki) It's always a good idea to start with what is actually happening in the real world ..and then extrapolate from there.

From two differing ideological point of view:

"An Army of Davids" by Glenn Reynolds

"Blessed Unrest" By Paul Hawkens.

Refer also: The Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet (IPDI), The Graduate School of Political Management of The George Washington University. The Long Tail see also: John Smart Internet WorldStats shows that 211 million Americans are now online. More than one billion people around the world now have internet access. (Some scholars and researchers think the latter numbers will at least double or even triple by 2015.)

A Global Democratic Movement Is About to Pop By Paul Hawken, Orion Magazine. Posted May 1, 2007.

The Law of Accelerating Returns by Ray Kurzweil:

"An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense "intuitive linear" view. So we won't experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century—it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today's rate)." About Ray

"Yet even with the
computational limits every organism has, the more complex any system becomes, the better it models the universe that engendered it, and the better it seems to understand its own history and environment, including the physical chain of singularities that created it." "..there is something about the construction of the universe itself, something about the nature and universal function of local computation that permits, and may even mandate, continuously accelerating computational development in local environments."



USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future Online World As Important to Internet Users as Real World? USC-Annenberg Digital Future Project Finds Major Shifts in Social Communication and Personal Connections on the Internet

SIDE Theory, Small World Networks, and Smart Mob Formation: A Beginners Guide

"That's why extending the net is everything in the Long War, because ubiquitous transparency is our calling-card 5GW weapon."

Gatekeeping History and Orientation - The University of Twente is an entrepreneurial research university. It was founded in 1961 and offers education and research in areas ranging from public policy studies and applied physics to biomedical technology. The UT is the Netherlands' only campus university.

A RESEARCH LOG ON NEW MEDIA AND POLITICS PROUDLY BREWED IN CHESTER, UK

Changing world of commentary Bruce Bartlett July 11, 2007

Those who wanted more biting opinion gravitated to the Internet, where vast numbers of people offer commentary along every single point on the political spectrum. It became very easy to find writers expressing exactly one's own personal opinion about everything.

Bloggers also have the advantages of no space constraints, an ability to post comments in real time, and to offer links to supporting documents and sources. Now they even have audio and video.

As a result, the demand for traditional column writing has pretty much dried up, just as the demand for buggy whips collapsed when the automobile came along. I don't mourn the old system. I am a great fan of bloggers and learn far more from them than I do from the Broders and Friedmans of the world, who have largely become irrelevant to serious political discussion.

regarding blogs, A research thesis:

The Audience for Political Blogs: New Research on Blog Readership What does the average blog reader look like? More importantly what else is he or she reading? IPDI's latest research looks at heavy blog readers, a group of people everyone talks about but which we really know little about. Tracking down blog readers with surveys can be difficult and expensive, so most of what we know is a collection of anecdotes and experiences.

The Rise Of Blogs January 20, 2006 BELTWAY BLOGROLL

New Transatlantic Poll Reveals Significant Impact of Blogs on Political Activism October 9, 2006

Nearly one-third of Blog readers moved to action in US, France and UK Brussels" October 9, 2006 " A new survey of consumers released today in the European Parliament, revealed that nearly a quarter of the population in the U.S., UK, and France, read blogs at least once a week and of that group nearly one-third are moved to undertake some type of political action. And while only 14% of those polled in Belgium read a blog at least once a week, 43% of that group was inclined to take some sort of action.

Most notably, what once was viewed as a geographic disparity between the U.S . and Europe regarding the role of blogging in public affairs appears to have dissipated, with France and the UK nearly matching their U.S. counterparts in their reading of blogs and their subsequent call to action as a result.

We are seeing the continued growth of online political activism through the medium of blogs making them no longer an option, but rather part of the price for entry into the political forum, said Edelman CEO, Richard Edelman. Not only are more people reading blogs, but blogs are now acting as political action accelerators and creating a bridge between the online and real worlds.

The survey revealed in an average week, just under a quarter of respondents in the UK (23%) and France (22%) and slightly more in the U.S. (27%) read blogs. And of those that read blogs nearly a third in France (26%), UK (27%) and the USA (28%) took some sort of action after reading a blog.

New Media A Weapon in New World Of Politics By John F. Harris Washington Post Staff Writer Friday, October 6, 2006; A01

vs tv news "grazers" News Grazers, New Media and Political Engagement: Who Are the Grazers? abstract Forgette, Richard. and Morris, Jay. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association, Hotel InterContinental, New Orleans, LA, Jan 03, 2007 (use the search function to locate additional white papers.)

And a snarky look at the death of newspapers.

see also: Web 3.0 Semantic web 3D web Augmented reality "Second Earth"

Social Singularity Beside the massive acceleration in technological change that many believe will lead to changes in kind beyond imagining — TheNextSingularity - social/cultural/spiritual shifts (with or without radical technology acceleration) could lead to equally unimagineable-scale change. And in any technological singularity, certain kinds of social changes could dramatically influence the nature (some might say morality) of our post-singularity existence.

Social Singularity Through the Needle's Eye

On Cognitive Biases

Plato's Allegory of the Cave (4th c. BC.) (From Plato, Republic, Book 7) Part: I — Part: II

Discovering Assumptions.

The rest is up to you.
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Patricia said:

0
Outstanding!
Warren, You have come closer to putting into words what I'm seeing happening around the world. I gives me 'goose pimples'! You always help me to be more than I am.
Love
Patricia
 
December 06, 2007
Votes: +0

introvert said:

0
Provocative
There is enormous potential for either freedom or servitude in this paradigm shift in transferring information.
I hope for the former, but fear it will be the latter.
True democracy or a new tyrrany.
Who can tell.
TV and Newspapers are increasingly irrelevant as they steadily move towards the lowest common denominator - scandal.
 
December 13, 2007
Votes: +0

GrannyJ said:

0
...
My impression is that there's a huge amount of posting to the choir, in contrast to thoughtful discussion. Bad news -- it's amplifying ideological differences, as far as I can see.
 
October 19, 2008
Votes: +0

Kevin McDonnell said:

0
The moment passed, and it will not return without much strife.
Interesting, but incredibly optimistic given changes that have occurred in recent years. Your contention was one I shared up to around 2002 or even 2003.

But I truly hope that one point you made which seems to be where much of your proposition turns upon, actually turns out to be true. To wit: You make the point that transparency and credibility are the ultimate currency that determines the magnitude of individual voices, and presumaly, ideas. I really would love to have confidence in this assumption, but based on what I have observed, I do not.

It appears that, much like the public discourse in the "traditonal" mass media market, efficacy in the public discourse is more a function of volume, than veracity. And what is perhaps even worse (and potentially a reinforcing trend to this malevolent tendency), there is a broad based tendency to gravitate even now, to rhetoric that tells one what one wants to hear, rather than what passes any sort of objective truth test. "Interpretive" defintiions of the "trueness" of everything from historical observations to policy points, to character assasinations, are common if not ubiquitous. And more and more this occurs across large interlinked communities that are collectively, more or less closed to any rebuttals. Indeed, arguments are held to be worthy of contempt, and the intellectual tenor becomes quite extraordinarily emotive. This is indeed ideological, as the main epicenter of this self reinforcing closure is unsurprisingly, holding sway in an ideology that is historically anathema to liberty in the long term. There are reasons for that, and they will be inevitably manifest, regardless of the venue.

This means that the internet, as a social phenomenon in the way you describe it, actually has far more potential to be a powerfully reinforcing "binding" on the free market place of ideas than a liberator of it. A new twist on the "ancient" and etrnal method of mass power projection, wherein a tightly framed educational indoctrination, leads one through a conformist social framework, ultimately dropping this minted mind into a "vibrant" and "free" community of recast ideas and real time interpretations that endlessly reinforce the imposed inclinations of these "free" citizens.

This is something already easily seen in the way the internet behaves. It is far from the giant coffee house many hoped for. Particularly after in early days it began to truly be a serious challenge to those who thought such a coffeehouse would be the ultimate venue for their intellectual triumph. Many of these it seems, were used to having their ideas and political philosophies dominate... in a controlled and closed environment. And to this they have returned.

In that scneario, the internet, in general, becomes simply an extension of the already dominant frameworks of mass media, the arts and the academy. Naturally, political power rising past a tipping point will follow, leading to a "social" result far indeed from what can reasonably be called Free Society.

Tyranny of the likes tyrants have always dreamed of.

A very real threat.
 
October 19, 2008
Votes: +0

David said:

0
Incredible!
Be interesting to see how "credibility" matches up with diversity. Is "The Bell Curve" credible? Is democracy the best principle for organising a government? Are Islam, Catholicism and Buddhism equally moral as religions?

There are popular answers to all of these answers. I suspect that "credibility", in the 'web, means popularity. 'web-cred won't necessarily map to objective value.
 
October 19, 2008
Votes: +0

JorgXMcKie said:

0
gadfly
A friend returned, a couple of months ago, from research study that included a bit more than a month in Syria. Prior to going he had asked a Syrian friend about the availability of the web in Damascus and censorship.

The friend said that he had heard at least one internet cafe had opened last year in Damascus but that he would guess Assad would be trying to control web access and usage.

Upon arriving in Damascus, my friend said one of the first things he noticed in downtown was an internet cafe on just about every block and every second one seemed to be open 24/7.

The second thing he noticed was that after booting up and beginning to type in a url was that the first suggestion from his browser turned to be (in English) a gay porn site.

The third thing he discovered was that Skype was available everywhere and it cost about 20 cents per hour to talk to his family in the US in real time.

I think this is happening even faster than you suppose.
 
October 19, 2008
Votes: +0

Scott Somerville said:

0
Neural Networking
What happens if you link one billion human brains into one big neural network? The folks who experiment with electronic neural networks get a flexible, adaptive system when they put lots of independent nodes together into a circuit. Any reason why humans can't network as well as neurons?
 
October 19, 2008
Votes: +0

Kyle Bennett said:

0
True Democracy/ True Tyranny
introvert,

Be careful what you wish for. True democracy and true tyranny are not as far apart as you think. The future won't fit in that box. Look sideways, toward the opposite of both democracy and tyranny, and you might be looking in the general direction that Warren is pointing.
 
October 19, 2008
Votes: +0

analyze-rather-than-'believe' said:

0
The essence is that it's Many-to-Many, rather than One-to-Many
I've used the internet extensively since the late 1980's, and had your epiphany in 1991.

You said it's impossible to describe in brief form; but it is:

Rather than being a one-to-many broadcast media, like every single media that's come before; the Internet is a many-to-many media; the only one which has ever existed.

I said that in 1991.

I also followed it immediately with "the powers-that-be are going to CRUSH the freedom-of-the-net sooner or later, -because- it is so effective for the -citizens-."

In relation to the 'many to many' essence, I believe Kevin had an error of understanding in his comment, when he compared the net to previous public discourse, in relation to prior media like papers. There is no valid comparison. There wasn't any 'public discourse'. There was only the -broadcast- from a -single- source, and whatever few and trivial 'letters' the paper would deign to publish.

However, I think Kevin -did- hit things spot-on with this:

"Particularly after in early days it began to truly be a serious challenge to those who thought such a coffeehouse would be the ultimate venue for their intellectual triumph. Many of these it seems, were used to having their ideas and political philosophies dominate... in a controlled and closed environment. And to this they have returned."

Even the briefest perusal of DU or Koz will confirm that assessment.

While there is also some of that amongst 'conservative' blogs; it's very different in both degree and, more importantly, character.

Conservative people -inherently- do not constantly create ill-conceived or already tried-and-failed 'PC' feelgood notions one after another. By their -very nature- they don't.

Self-styled 'progressives', by their very nature, ARE the creators of these fads, the feeders to the cause-junkies.

Thus, the regular media, which is not only majority 'liberal' staffed, but also -lives- by hyping 'new' and enhancing fad-following, is indeed mainly a mouthpiece of the 'liberal' agenda.

This creates the big difference in character between the so-called 'liberal' frothing religious-like rejection of critique of their -beliefs-; vs. the more sober reality-based discussions of conservative people.

It has also effectively disenfranchised conservatives, libertarians, and basically -anyone- who doesn't agree with the 'progressive' agenda.

However, unlike Kevin, I -do- see the focus on credibility and fact-correction working. You see it happen across the cultural fault-lines even. Well, you at least see a Malkin or American Thinker correcting a post based on seeing verifiable facts posted on a 'liberal' site. I don't often see it happen the other way; but that problem is based in the 'beliefs' vs. reality issue already mentioned; which is fundamental to the cultural fault-line and not specific to this discussion of the net vs. old one-to-many media.

Thanks for a thoughtful piece, and for providing this opportunity to comment.
 
October 19, 2008
Votes: +0

analyze-rather-than-'believe' said:

0
correction-addition
whups...let me clarify...

My para. that begins with: "This creates the big difference...", seems to refer to the immediately preceding para.; which wasn't what I intended.

What I was trying to say is this:

Because of the -inherent- natures of both MSM and so-called 'progressives', i.e. they are inherently the main fad-propagator s and fad-generators, the media IS indeed overwhelmingly a 'liberal' agenda pusher. Exactly as the majority of citizens perceive it to be. The constant denial of the blatant truth are ludicrous.

Further, my para. starting with: "This creates the big difference..." was referring not specifically to the MSM inherently pushing liberal agenda, but rather, to the earlier observation of -inherent- sociopolitical difference between a group whose entire focus is on -ideology-, i.e. -mere beliefs-... vs. a group whose mindset focuses almost exclusively on -practicality-; i.e. 'things that actually WORK'.

That's a major cultural-faultline that's created by progressives, not conservatives.

I had hopes that the 'credibility and reality focus' as mentioned in this article -would- bring some healing to this fault-line; as the focus on -facts- educated young liberals to the truth that many of the the notions they're being indoctrinated in by elitist gatekeepers are in fact ill-conceived or rehashes already proved failures.

However, the past month or two of frothing, spewing, hate at even the slightest critique of any tiny piece of dogma, has made me question my earlier hope.
 
October 19, 2008
Votes: +0

John Van Rijn said:

0
Truth and Consequences
I do agree with your article, every man now has his own means of production, his own printing press. My own experience is that I always use the Net, because the quality of what passes for knowledge in Newspapers and Tv is very poor.

I believe that you are right that credibility is the key but the other side of the equation is people. To appreciate credibile writing requires intellectual application. My belief is that people will require information management skills (ability to understand logical argument, respect for facts, capability to build real-world hypotheses) and the character to manage the pyschological and emotion changes that the "Army of Davids" has to offer them.

I think the good news is that the wealth of knowledge and creativity on the Net will seduce many people into making the effort to be part of the singularity you describe so well.

Thank you for this article, it is a beautiful proof of your hypothesis.




 
October 20, 2008
Votes: +0

mrsizer said:

0
If only those billion people spoke the same language
"people around the world collaborating" is a bit of an exaggeration. While it's entirely possible that the early adopters of the Internet around the world speak English, the vast majority of people do not (at least not fluently enough to collaborate, even if they can order in a restaurant).

Machine translation is dreadful.

The situation is interesting enough; there is no need to exaggerate the effects.
 
October 20, 2008
Votes: +0

Butch said:

0
Earlier visions of the singularity from the Cluetrain
In 1999 a group of IT business leaders wrote an extended essay, "The Cluetrain Manifesto" in which they tried to get corporations to begin understanding and adapting to the new Internet ability to link people in very new ways. If you take the "manifesto" and substitue "government" or "politicians" in place of "corporations" or "leaders" you have a good fit for your discussion.
 
October 20, 2008
Votes: +0

petert said:

0
...
I can't get Eclipse to recognize CF8 syntax. I'm running Linux and Eclipse 3.2. I added the CF8 extensions from Macromedia using the ZIP as a source, all went well but It's not recognizing CF8 syntax. I also followed the CF8 Dictionary instructions, and found the cf8.xml file was already there so I assume the above install worked. In my CFEclipse Project/Properties I still only see language up to 7.01.
 
June 30, 2009 | url
Votes: +0

Vicktorya said:

0
Rattlin' Bones ...
Hello Bones:

long time no ... smilies/cool.gif

Just saying hello, reading along, and have posted link to this article on vicktorya.com

be well; godspeed,
Vicktorya
 
August 08, 2009 | url
Votes: +0

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