Monday, August 24, 2009
An idea jumped to mind this morning:
Wikipedia is a modernization, an extension, of an inherent humanistic trait that we have been exercising as long as our species as been able to recognize the importance of our gift that we can extract information from our environment to put into practice for our personal and collective advantage. The dissemination of such tried and true information has been the key to our species ability to flourish if one were to boil it down to one phenomena. As Renee Dubos theorizes in "So Human an Animal", (to paraphrase) that when humans first began, at the earliest stages of human development, to realize that their capacity to think in a way to utilize their immediate environment to their advantage, i.e. increase their chances of survival, coupled with a pre-existing disposition to an understanding of strength in numbers (coming from the social beings of apes), human understood that information extracted should be shared. This sharing of, the idea of throwing a rock at a rabbit or any other game for instance, the more people who understood this idea, the better. If more humans knew these concepts, they could not only practice the actual motions to better acquaint oneself to become better at the act, but they could use this as base knowledge to expand upon it by modest experimentation with other elements of his or her immediate environment to further increase chances of survival. These powers of observation were of coarse not limited to mere curiosity and experimentation but to exploiting beneficial accidents and learning from harmful ones as well. Such accidents include, but are not limited to: lightning and the domestication of fire (if you will) and the placing of a mud bowl close to or in a fire overnight and observing that it had hardened to the point where it will hold water and not rehydrate into mud. Of coarse, these mentioned accidents could only happen in a precise sequence of events, fire had to be domesticated first, before the fired vessel could have accidentalized. Following observations of such beneficial unintentionalities the spread of information commenced and humans were able to use their varying brain power to expand and perfect applied methodologies. This of coarse was the basis for everything to come: agriculture, systematic oppression, trade, governance, globalization, all things that seemingly are applied methods to increase our chances of survival or (seemingly more likely) offer a temporary historical space of an unrivaled standard of living whose side effects are perpetual and widespread global detriment.
Coming back to Wikipedia...this all inclusive avenue to spread information is what strikes us as an inherent element in the privilege of participating in being human. Beginning with gestures, then to sounds and words resulting in oral tradiditons, language, symbols and writing resulting in historical scribes and record keeping, and presently culminating in a homogeneous cultural input device that is the internet and Wikipedia being the embodiment of that device in a particular service. The misleading and scrupulous negativities that may be found are obvious. When we all have access to input, things should be taken with a larger grain of salt. Needless to say when an information's source is optionally divulged than a description of the String Theory should be more suspect on Wikipedia than on a National Physics Administration website, for example. This still infantile state of technological utopia found in the internet is like the fictional account of scientific exploitation of human development found in Aldus Huxley's Brave New World, which describes that a labratory which was able to accelerate the physical growth of people so that they reached physical maturity in 6 years was lacking the mental development of adulthood. This achievement was only good so far. The uselessness of 6 year old adults was of superior evidence. The internet reminds me of such a 6 year old adult whose uselessness is not as pervasive but may be construed in the frivolity found with in it, mingling with the intellectual pockets that justify its presence.