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Re: [ontolog-forum] Inventor of the Web Gets Backing to Build Web of Dat

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ali Hashemi <ali.hashemi+ontolog@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 25 Mar 2010 08:47:02 -0400
Message-id: <5ab1dc971003250547o718b82f7iac952b9848db7169@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Hehe Chris you beat me to the punch.

Regarding the section you quoted, I must stay I very strongly disagree with John's position.

[JS] No technology from stone carving to supercomputers has ever made
  any fundamental change in the ways that people think, talk, and behave.
Technology might speed up and facilitate many kinds of interactions, but
it never changes human nature.

Simply looking at the development of:

a) writing on stone tablets
b) writing on paper
c) the printing press
d) electronic documents

each heralded a completely new way of communicating with one another and also a very fundamental shift in how people thought. The development of linear though (and eventually logic) seems closely coupled with writing (in lines), and the ensuing metaphors such as "developing lines of thought." Such a shift is accented when we consider that in oral traditions, an idea is ephemeral in space-time, and approaches one's senses from all directions, whereas written text is highly visual, linear, static etc....

Similarly, the very nature of sharing an idea with others changes with the development of paper - greatly increasing the speed in which one could record a thought. A printing press completely shatters what it previously meant to have a "book of knowledge" or "access to knowledge". Again, a profound cultural and interpersonal shift in our communication abilities. Each of these new media have with them a whole host of effects which arise from a subtle shifting of our sense-ratios among other things. Morerecently, Pat Hayes noticed some of the effects that electronic communication media change our perception and understanding of names in logical theories.

On a different track, but just as importantly, the development of

a) footwear
b) the wheel
c) horseback riding
d) roads
c) motorized transport etc.

fundamentally changed the way people relate to space, distance and travel. These technologies shifted perhaps even more basically, the way agency and intention are projected over and through distance - enabling and giving rise to the first large ancient empires, allowing one person (or group) to project their will over large distances....

All of these technologies most assuredly made fundamental changes to how people think, talk and behave. I'm not going to touch "human nature."

That said, aside from the contentious paragraph, I too am in broad agreement with the rest of your message.


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