The Internet as our Collective Consciousness

Had lunch today with a self described “curmudgeon emeritus” who is a guy that has been an entrepreneurial tech leader, political operative and businessman in the Twin Cities — and someone who proudly considers himself a geek. It was a very intellectually stimulating discussion.

Our conversation ran the gamut from pre-internet history (and even pre-industrial age stuff like guilds vs. the way things are organized today in to companies) and we did quite a bit of thought exploration about the next big thing and what are likely to be great business models in the next phase of the Web (Web 2.0 if you will).

Here is a brief recap of our conversation…

During lunch I kept thinking about the collective consciousness that the internet represents. To me, it almost seems that if I think it, I can search on it and someone most likely has already thought about it and placed it on the Web. This is exciting (and disturbing) at the same time ’cause gee…it would sure be great to be WAY out front of a trend or be a true thought leader! .

According to a Wikipedia posting about the eminent psychiatrist Carl Jung, Jung had a premise that we all “share a common psychological heritage, just as we share a common physical one. Symbols have a certain similarity and fall into similar patterns in different places and times, simply because all human minds are basically similar.”  I agree with that premise.

Symbolic manipulation is where computers shine and can really help us uncover the patterns inherent in data accessible over the internet and present them to us. Google has done raw internet search so well that they’ve succeeded in changing the paradigm of finding information on the internet. In Google’s labs they’re now beta testing a bunch of cool stuff like Google Suggest, which takes symbolic/pattern matching to an interesting new level. Try it.

But understanding the relevance of these patterns, how to mold, shape and match them to a business model or a need to be filled, is where humans shine. People are the ones who need to apply the depth and breadth of higher level reasoning to be able to figure out what the patterns mean, what the business model should be and whether or not anyone will vote with their pocketbook and pay for value.

Blogs are but one manifestation (and one of the coolest in my opinion) of that collective consciousness but search, community forums, comparative “shopping” services, the digitization of books and the general publishing of knowledge and access to information are just a handful of many others.

What is a blog but a piece or part of an author’s (or group of author’s) conciousness manifested in text, images, audio, video and hyperlinked connections to other internet content? When I think of the reasons why Google bought Blogger, it wasn’t because they’re interested in offering blogging, it’s because they can index bloggers’ conciousness, wrap contextual ads around it, identify trends (gee…several thought-leading blogger’s are talking about “X” so it must be important) and much, much more.

To me, however, none of this means anything unless there are ways to engage people fully and completely. My stimulating conversation today with Twin Cities’ curmudgeon is a great example because I walked away from our lunch conversation energized and filled with new thoughts, different perspectives, and some new ideas. The kicker?  How could this interaction have happened in a meaningful way over the internet? How could we have “connected” in the same way? I gotta tell ya, instant messaging, videoconferencing or the phone doesn’t cut it. This stimulating conversation wouldn’t have happened.

2 Comments

  1. 573>3 on March 13, 2008 at 2:10 am

    Do you beleive that eventually, humans would all connect into this web creating one big consiousness creating a conciousness inside the internet and the computer itself?
    so far as ive read, (on several other sites) the way a computer is created is similar to the human brain. all these devices inside it, like the hard drive or what ever else makes these devices work. they have electrical signals running throughout it sending and carrying info back and forth through the system, pretty much just exactly how we work and having the ability to remember things. well, not exactly remember but im sure you understand what i mean.
    it also has a little bit of A.I. wich i beleive with enough information and modification like what has been going on for a few years so far, it could eventually literally think for its self. eventually haveing its own thoughts, and imagination.

    its just a thought ive been haveing and im just wondering if someone else maybe feels the same :/



  2. Jahraad on December 3, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    I’ve read a bit about Carl Jung, I really like his work on Astrology, the elements and the temperments of human beings. I also would like to agree that the internet could be an extention of our consciousness, as long as the internet exsists, as far as we know only humans are using it and communication there every thought into it.



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