Friday, July 6, 2012

Glut Quotes

From Glut: Mastering Information Through the Ages by Alex Wright.

A network...emerges from the bottom up...There is no "top" in a network; each node is equal and self-directed.

The key to cultural innovation...population density...more chances to observe others in action would show a greater diversity of learned skills...sites in which individuals spend more time with others have greater repertoires of learned innovations.
Social concentration, it seems, is the engine of concentration.

Lately it feels like this is becoming the new conventional wisdom.  Are there any mad contrarians who which to refute this assertion?  Clearly the statistics and the facts are supportive.  Social people in cities are innovators.  Reading his auto-bio at the moment, I think of Darwin who was both--gregarious and urban.  But within this context it seems that isolation is also needed to develop thoughts.  Darwin spent a tremendous time alone with his thoughts--much more than the average person.  And I believe the same was true of Freud.

About two billion years ago, the first multicellular organisms--eukaryotes--took shape as host bacteria and began to allow other bacteria to take up residence within them, gradually conscripting their formerly independent siblings into a kind of cellular serfdom.
This vividly illustrates on a biological level Wright's point of hierarchies emerging from networks.  Network concentration yeilds hierarchical "cooperation" or functional unity.  Biological unities may emerge when cells in the same neighborhood knock boots, but cultural and technical innovations must follow a more complex pattern.  First of all, they have to evolve through a series of increasingly complex prototypal forms.  Can we say that the prototype is like a meme that  develops through social interaction?  Someone develops an idea, it spreads within a nework and get modified.  If the creator is lucky he takes advantage of the process and manages the development of the idea.  What role does the mind play in this process?  The mind is its own network albeit not a social network.

It would seem that the optimum occasion for innovation is having just the right kind of social mind--a concentrated urban network--a personal mind that embraces the social network but retreats and reflects inside the concentrated network of an individual mind.

Information is the justaposition of data to create meaning.
A very boring quote, sure.  But it can be innovation is just a set of justapositions that turn out to be useful and interesting.

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