Tuesday, February 17, 2004

A definition of globalism

Reading Mark Federman's document The Global Soul and the Global Village" (pdf), I attempt to extract a definition of the proposed concept of "globalism".

According to Mark who succeeds the work of Derrick de Kerckhove and Marshall McLuhan, globalism is different from the globalization of transnational enterprises. It is comforting to know that a global village is not anarchic but then one has to swallow its disturbing characteristic of non-uniformity, non-tranquility, discontinuity and division.

I find it interesting that the concept is an "-ism" and not "-ity". The "-ism" requires an action to be taken by the subject carrying that "-ism". Some common "-ism" I could recall of were "Buddhism, communism, nationalism". "-ity" seems to be a quality formed and perceived from an outside perspective, such as nationality which is given to you by the government or because you happen to be born in a certain geographical location.

This concept of globalism is described by Mark as a "a new modernity", a sort of post-postmodernism in which we are creating a new ground from the preceding ground of the postmodern that had shaken us from the even more conventional ground that was tied to geographic locale.

Mark refers to Pico Iyer's "Global Soul" and the challenge we face in forming this new identity. Here, I disagree with the perception that there is "no ground for cultural context or meaning". I think that the ground has simply shifted from nationalistic, border-confined ground to a larger more holistic ground of an Earth that is connected.

The most evoking symbol of this new ground would be the image of Earth seen as a precious, vulnerable, blue and white gem floating in space that was gifted to us through the camera lens of the Apollo astronauts. I think this new ground is one of teeming diversity, of a fully alive (and conscious?) bioshpere, where disunity, discontinuity and division can co-exist creatively as in an open complex living system where chaos is avoided through having entropy exported into the extra-dimensional scape of media, and entertainment or "play" of cyberspace.

This calls for an identification (or re-grounding) with a new cultural context that is acutally a larger geographical area. However, it is one that has more dimensional depth than just the physical, as well as one with emergent, ordered-chaotic diversity and non-unitary. I believe that once we have each personally experienced an understanding that no borders means proximity and realized that anything that affects you affects me immediately. This realization will flip Iyer's perception of "all rights and no responsibility" to one of self-chosen limited rights and voluntary undertaking of more responsibility than was ever expected at nationalistic level. This would have emerged from deep within a sense of self and identify that has experienced the world's connectivity and all its effects. This is the point where I agree with how Mark describes the nature of this new modernity as one in which we are experiencing as "experiential, as opposed to prescribed, pre-scripted and doctrinaire".


Sunday, February 15, 2004

Dilemma of a Reality Creator

For some time now, I've been probing the effects of a newly adopted belief: "The world is a conscious, participative, and intelligent universe". Through various sources I've constructed a personal ephemeral picture of a reality that is plasticy and fluid, a reality that constantly creates, deconstructs and recreates itself, a picture of multiple realities existing and interacting in porous co-existing multiple dimensions. I teased myself with questions concerning the laws and forces of such a world. I asked myself, "If all living entities are conscious and possess creative powers where together they create a ground for the physical reality that we feel, sense and experience, what would be the moral laws for co-existence in this reality? (I saw "living entities" being animals, plants, even inanimate objects, such as, the paper we write on, the computer we use, houses we live in, and ideas that we create, such as movies, political thought, and concepts of nation-state...what if they were all "alive" and each created their own realities? How would each of these realities connect, impact upon and interact with each other, and by what laws?)

What has been useful for me has been the application of observation to my own experiences when I feel that I am in such a moment of having created an alternative reality for myself. I have, for example, noticed that with each new level of perspective adopted, I am able to perceive a new reality upon the same kind of situation that I wouldn't have perceived with the old belief.

A example of this play, of experimenting with how 'what I choose to believe in' coloring my perception of reality, can be recounted through my most recent recreation of reality during my visit to Montreal and Quebec City. Always a new environment gives new input. What was unique about this experience was how within the structure of a dominant English-speaking majority of a nation-state,Canada, there exist as well, this strong culture of French-speaking people.

I found myself oscillating between the different realities, the very obvious outside realities of the French versus the English, between my outside and inner realities of being a person who constantly moves from one location to another nearly every two years, being confused several times about where my sense of identity belonged to. During this trip, we visited some old friends who had immigrated to Montreal from Singapore, a place in my past where we had originally met each other. So there was this extra pull of my old self then (working and not yet securely established in a family situation) and my other self of now (not working but quite established within a cross-cultural family). Then there was also the teasing question within my mind about the differences between the environment of a "developed" economy such as Canada, with all its complications of high taxes, employment situations, etc. with the intriguing contradiction of my background coming from a developing country where the economic situation was relatively lower in dollar sense, but much higher in many ways in the quality of life in non-monetary value sense. All through these provoking exploration of realities, I was of course, reconstructing my direct present-moment reality by redefining many values and beliefs I had previously just inherited from what the status quo "told", or you could say, "taught" me through "formal education".

One of the high point of this tour was when we visited the star shaped citadel on the "cliff" hanging over St. Lawrence river in Quebec City. This military structure was started by the French to help them fight against the British in the 17th century then was reconstructed as a fort by the British in the early 19th century to protect Canada against the invasion of the Americans. To me it was more like a symbol of power of the English-speaking nation-state imposed over the more dominant French-speaking people of Quebec, which quite frankly felt like a different country.

So many more questions came out as a result of my playful probing of reality and belief system. Here are some of them: In face of oscillating realities, what is a healthy operational mode? When we switch from one language to another in the process of translations (because I was operating in a four language mode during this trip), what happens when some meaning is lost in the translating? I saw the citadel in a way as a physical translation of culture and environment as well. This experential experience of my trip to Quebec really cannot be communicated through any form of written or spoken language. It can only be experienced, so culture is, in effect, truly a transformer of experience, and possibly a better translator than language itself? How do I resist from being completely converted by the consensus ground, and be more consistent with my own unique interpretation of reality that I accumulate through the actual events that I experience?

When I extrapolate some possible answers to the above line of questioning I found some intriguing answers through more questions such as, what if I am able to give up some sense of individuality, give up accustomed sense of national identity in exchange for a more universal group belongingness not restricted by imaginary borders?

The problem with all this reality reconstruction is, of course, that one could easily go off tangent. So it seems that there is some value in some form of consensus reality, isn't there? When a person can create, and edit his reality, there are so many alternatives possible. This seems to raise temptations to use judgment as selection criteria but isn't there a trap somewhere in judging? Because you have to decide on what is good and what is bad, based upon values and beliefs one is not so sure of anymore? Does that mean that impartiality and the recognition in the impermanent nature of all processes will become the most valuable cognition to have in a world of virtual reality?


Sunday, February 8, 2004

Applying McLuhan to Blogs:

What is the "message of blogs"? Blogging is a medium for?

Blogging has a kind of "secondary orality". Robert Fowlers describes' Walter Ong's concept of secondary orality.

Blogs are interactive. There is a response from the reader, as in a conversation. Someone is 'listening' to you and responds.

Blogs seem to recall to my mind a picture of disembodied body parts, a separation of mind from body of the person using the internet. So is the use of internet, signified through the movement of blogs a wholing process of global society?

2nd important part of blogging is that it allows you to eternally change your mind. As long as you keep blogging, even if you don't, the implications of what you have blogged somehow changes with the passage of time as well. You can build your concepts as you go along, deconstruct, and create a new line of thinking at any moment.

It is not the blog that's the message. but the interactivity between the disembodied writers and readers. The non-linearity of thinking despite the chronology.

The invisible reader experiences the blog in a multitude of ways, in a different perspective from the writer. The writing is accessed from different journeys, but sharing a kind of story-telling together.

A reader responding considers himself to be blogging as well when he makes responses.

The structure, look, design or even the content of a blog is not the message...

A blog cannot be analyzed, dissected by the design and look or even content of a blog. It needs to be analyzed subjectively, understanding, vibrating at same wave length as the intent of the writer. How many people resonates with it. The quality of the connection made , the connectivity establishes

How to design new methods of evaluating a blog?

The chronology of the blog also doesn't matter. It is produced and read at the moment. A reader reading the blog several years after it was created will feel as if it were being created in front of him as if it was being created in front of his eyes, because of the effect of the screen, which does not give a feeling of the amount of information "behind" the screen. Different from a book, you can look at it and see its limit, its number of pages, read the conclusion, and end, see its structure. Using the computer is different, because behind the screen is an unlimited amount of information, unstructured, no real method applicable, best method is intuitivity. In fact established methods is a detriment.

As time moves forward, intimacy arises.

It's not the content of what you write on a blog that defines it quality or attractiveness, but how you share of yourself,,,, is why so many journals exist.

When you have a potential audience of 6 billion, you know th impossibility of responding to all but the ones you feel you identify with. The best strategy is intuitively following your sense of self-consistency, not much room for ego.

How has blogging changed our relationship with relating and with time, and with access to knowledge or information. That seems to be the message of the blog. Networking. Transparency of identity.

Blogs, will eventually transform itself once its message has been delivered.


What is value?

Thoughts about value and its meaning has been on my mind for some time. Are values concepts that have proven to be useful of a social unit (such as, the individual, family, society, or an organization)? I think values are learnt, that they are shaped by the environment and the unit of consciousness. Values don't seem to be inherent, something that grew naturally within the unit. Could values be a manisfestations or projections of patterns of self-consitency, inner tendencies that shape that unit's personalities? Are values like imprints coming from an implicate order?

There are universal values such as love, manifesting in other values such as the value of relatioship, friendship, brotherhood, security, connectivity, etc.) Some other values I find myself constantly thinking about have been: growth, evolution, change, duality, opposition, balance, knowledge, journeying, creativity and destruction.

I found from "Three Faces of Mind" (de Beauport & de Melesecca) these interesting references about values:

"Values are the collective wisdom of previous cultures passed on from generation to generation.

"Values indicate the action that was lived and valued in previous generations, valued because at some time in history it meant survival for the community.

"Values are patterns of action originating in the past and repeated again and again throughout history.

"Values are transmitted to us usually through a particular person that we loved and admired.

"Often we can recall the person and the event through which this value imprinted itself on our minds.

"Values come to us through our families, religion, school, or country, profession, heroes.

"The point is that values do not originate in the present."


Friday, February 6, 2004

Cause of writer's block

Too many ideas and not knowing how to organize and put it all down. The excuse of waiting for a finished product actually stops the writing. I'm glad I got over my self-imposed block of wanting to write a summary of my presentation. Learning to live with the less than perfect seems to be part of my path.


Abstract of My Presentation on Emerging Values of the Emergent Paradigm: A New Worldview

I chose the Tarot symbol of "The Fool" to represent my journey towards understanding the above subject, because like the Fool, I find myself constantly on that cliff's edge cheerfully unaware that I am about to fall off that edge into unknown territories of chaos, into unfamiliar journeys of mind and psyche. I was happy to learn from my readings of Chaos Theory that "the edge of chaos" is where order and meaning emerges and processes of life goes forth.

If history could be looked at as a process of some 2,000-3,000 years where we pinpoint the beginning of our focus on the emergence of cities, (somewhere around 500 BC to about 1500 AD), we would be able to see that during this time span there was an emergence of the differentiation of languages. From the Latin group emerged larger groups of French, German, and English speakers. From the the spoken language also emerged the written alphabet, and phonetic script. This coincided with the feudal age and the beginning of the making of nations. Eventually several centuries later, the invention of print helped make a reality the French Revolution and the elaboration on the concept of liberty and individual rights. Close in its wake came the birth of a new world view and scientific rules marked by Newton. Looking at history over such a large span of time, one could then catch the notion of history as a process where one event leads to another. Understanding Marshall McLuhan's perspective allowed me to see how the invention of the Gutenburg printing press was crucial in creating the modern world we live in. Without that printing press would Newton's Principia have been published and widely shared and discusses among scientist leading to the birth of modern science? Would mechanical machines have been invented without his laws? Without machines, would we have had the industrial revolution?

During the past 500 years, we have seen an intensification of change brought about by mechanization. A speeding up of time and a compression of space was brought about by electricity and well as machines. The two world wars led to the structuring of the global economy, laying the infrastructure of communication networks, and the birth of telecommunications and then the internet and the world wide web. This 2,000 years process of change could be seen and described from many different perspective, religious, scientific development, commercial growth, communication, etc. The reason why I choose to see it from a perspective of science because its newly created vocabulary seem to be able to describe a new worldview which we are still struggling to understand. As in the word "emergent" and the word "paradigm". There is an emerging paradigm in the discovery of quantum physics. This new perspective took us from the material world of the atom to the intangible world of sub-atomic quanta and particles. Then there were the discoveries of complexity and chaos. These new perspective involved a redefining of values that were different from the material-based Newtonian science. And I felt that it was necessary to differentiate the differing values because despite our subconscious or even somewhat conscious awareness of the changed perspective that we have been inspired by these new sciences, most of us do not consciously admit the changes and try to use an outdated perspective to solve problems that have shifted to a different perspective. I think this is the cause of a lot of conflict and confusion in our day to day activities and that trying to understand how our perspective has changed can help lessen this conflict and hopefully design better policies and planning.