so much for cogito ergo sum

Posted on April 4, 2012


So this is me, Lans, on The Internet. But not really, right? This is my alter-ego. My A.I. And I’m not really “on” anything (that you’re aware of, anyway). And who are you? Are you aware, or are you because I’m aware?  Solo is on the webs, and U R 2.  So much for cogito ergo sum. Today You read, therefore I am.

This is not a pipe

My first experience with hypertext was an advent calendar.  Well, maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t, but the point is that hypertext to me is an interactive promise of something more than meets the eye.  With an advent calendar I knew when I opened the door (link) I would have a deeper experience with the face-value media at hand.

I think fascination with binaries (I love that I just pluralized ‘binary,’ btw) is not uncommon among content producers and consumers alike.  Literature and other forms of entertainment have been banking on this for quite some time.  As an audience, we love to be surprised or duped.  Look at Alfred Hitchcock’s twisted dramas and the mysteries of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous pro/antagonist Sherlock Holmes.  It goes back farther than that: sun/moon, night/day, light/dark, off/on, good/evil, Adam/Eve, God/Satan, a.m./p.m., happy theatre mask/sad theatre mask, republican/democrat, good witch/bad witch, prey/predator, wealth/poverty, man/nature, feast/famine, digital/organic, gay/straight, left/right, black/white, and so on ’til the cows come home.

Q: Why does binary fascination float our collective boat so often?  

A: (see how I did that?)

I might argue that with all there is available to us at any single moment in time, having but two choices is a HUGE relief.  Arthur C. Clarke award winning author Neal Stephenson has a brilliant quote from his book Anathem which sums it up nicely:

“I am fascinated,” I insisted. “That’s the problem. I am suffering from fascination burnout. Of all the things that are fascinating, I have to choose just one or two.”

 And what a fascinating world it is.  It just keeps getting more so – exponentially – by the nanosecond.  (Who knows the information exchange rate of the internet?)  We virtually live, work, shop, network, and fall in love electronically.  And when I “say” virtually, I literally  mean virtually.  Just 25 years ago, this claim  would have been a joke, or a big-budget Arnold Schwartzenwhatever movie.  I was alive then, and I saw the e-mood change.  My daughter, who wasn’t yet alive for the birth of the ‘net, can’t fathom a life without screens and devices.  But when she turns in a book report to her 8th grade English teacher, it’s a text image document created solely on a computer, without which she would not be able to complete the project as assigned.

I wonder what her world will look like 25 years from now?