internet and consciousness

Paul Murphy paumur at
Mon Apr 3 07:19:22 EST 1995

>mckee at (George McKee) writes:
>>However, you can look at other organizations with high-speed interactions
>>among their members.
>>- Is a symphony orchestra conscious?  Is the orchestra's consciousness
>>located in the conductor?  What about a string quartet?

This is interesting.  The formality of symphony orchestra denys the
'consciousness' analogue, but still, a large body of musicians in a
freeform context improvising from each other (as Doctress Chen pointed out)
is reminicient of the consciousness we could hope to achieve on the net.

There is no centre in this case.  There is no formality, the musical
'concepts' will go in whichever direction it wants.  The individuals don't
decide, but can hope to alter the course slightly.  But they feed off the
existing line the music is already taking.  So who is writing the music in
this case?  The group?  Even a particular individual cannot point to a part
of the (lets assume the session was taped) recording and say "that was
mine, I wrote that", because each phrase cannot be looked upon in
isolation as they were borne from the direction the music was going prior
to that point.

But what does it mean to say 'all the musicians wrote it'?  I'd say we are
talking metaconsciousness here.  The music was the message as well as the
media of communication.

This can surely be applied to the internet also.  As a thread wends it's
way through the minds of those that read and add to it, it grows, the
concepts become sharper or more woolly depending on where it is going.  The
offspring threads take their route, the thread multiples itself across
newsgroups, rejoins, etc etc etc.  But point to a part and say, "that
concept was mine".  It can't be done.  Even in the part I play in this
thread isn't mine alone.  George McKee asked the question.  Andrea Chen
responded.  There have been many discussions before on this subject.  All
of the concepts that make up this response have been circling around the
various minds of those that frequent this space.  All I do is collate and
rearrange and add my part and the thread goes on to be shaped a little

This isn't the result of a single consciousness, but of many.  A
metaconsciousness.  This is perhaps not awareness, but it is the start.  It
could be pointed out that this goes on already as ideas are discussed in
the 'real world', and it is true.  But the speed and connectivity of the
internet means that the concepts are alive in many minds at one time, and
all are capable of input, of shaping the concepts.

It is a hugely complex network of hugely complex networks (us namely) and
there is a lot to suggest that it can achieve a similarity on a high level
to that of the lowest level, the human mind.


As time divides, we watch, we wait...
Internet:  PauMur at

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