I love the idea, expressed in Kevin Kelly’s What Technnology Wants, that we started with “us” in primitive societies meaning our family, then progressed to “us” meaning our tribe, to “us” meaning our nation state to now when, at least for those of us inhabiting the web, our sense of “us” has expanded beyond all sorts of boundaries.
4 thoughts on “An expanding sense of us”
I believe this is a yes and a no situation! Yes boundaries are being broken down but what we then come up against are linguistic barriers. The tribe then becomes English, Indonesian,Portuguese or Mandarian. We have to be careful we don't create a laager through laziness on language, especially English speakers.
THE EXTENT vs THE INTENT OF 'US'!Hi Euan,The thing most people don't much seem to notice when they talk about this global brain of the web is the distinction between 'extent' and 'intent'.The visible extent of the web spreads further around the globe – that's the easy bit.But our intent – intentions – are within our heads, where you can't easily put a ruler against them. (Though they can be measured).It is the shift in our intentions – our caring, valuing and compassion – from egocentric (me) to ethnocentric (us) to worldcentric (all of us) that I find much more interesting than the spread of technology itself.Hitler had plenty of leading-edge technology – tied to extremely unhealthy ethnocentric intentions.Al Quaeda seem fairly adept with the global tech, but a very long way from world-centric (all of us) compassion.Ken Wilber has a nice model he calls the 4 Quadrants which simultaneously depicts internal (intentions) and external (extents), as well as between the individual and collective level.It's a great way to think about an issue – trying to ensure you leave no major elements out.He's a graphic I produced some years ago to try to applying the 4 Quadrants model to various aspects of Knowledge Management, information society etc:http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3246/3027649621_5aaa8b6b76.jpgCheers,Matthew Mezey
I agree that Ken Wilbur's quadrants are interesting and also often comment on the importance of intent. I was talking yesterday with Gordon Ross and Jon Husband about meritocracies and the risk of our assumption that they are in themselves a good thing leading to some of the extremes of fascism. For me the risk arises when things become fixed for too long or for the wrong reasons. So long as any them and us stays ephemeral and contextual we may be OK.
It's a complex issue, whether people do indeed think meritocracies are a good thing.As far as a I know there was a time – before the 60s – when the Labour Party and progressive-minded people generally favoured meritocracy, individualism, managerialism (by those with high IQs, not by 'discredited' ruling class).Michael Young, of course, warned against meritocracy in his 1958 book 'The Rise of the Meritocracy' – partly because being stuck at the bottom of the pile in a system that is 'fair' is the worst kind of cage imaginable. As it's all your own fault!The Labour Party gradually against meritocracy, IQ testing, grammar schools et al.Other concerns and goals won the day: eg egalitarianism, solidarity and the fear – indeed the experience of – the loss of some of the most capable working class leaders into the middle class.Yet the idea of meritocracy certainly endures – it sounds like a fair and common-sense notion, of course.One fear about today's meritocracy is that it has led to a 'cognitive stratification' of society – a knowledge elite along with an underclass etc. Unfortunately the more opportunity, openness and mobility there is, the more stratification that may result – or so some research has found. Egalitarians always hoped the opposite would ensue, yet mobility doesn't exactly seem to have that effect….Ephemeral and contextual sounds like a good approach! :-)Matthew