Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mundo Memoria

I was here.
Human knowledge is stored in memories. Memories in mind, memories in books, memories in little silicon chips. Memories are metaphors of knowledge. A symbolic means of storing patterns of thought inside a brain and of moving thought from one brain to another. Memories are our cultural inheritance that provides a part of nature and nurture which compose who we become.

Our brains hold complex patterns of cells (neurons) that have thousands of connections (synapses) with each other. When a new memory is formed, these cells change their chemistry and connections. The pattern of these connections is much like symbols on a page holding information, but in the brain it written in contact and chemistry rather than ink and paper.

Parts of the brain.
The very structure of our brains is a store of knowledge of universe and self. It is a mirror of reality that summarizes data into a physical form in our brains. We build models of the external world from what is fed to our brains through our senses of sight, sound, touch, and taste. We also have a model of our own bodies inside our brain. Different parts of body connect to different parts of brain giving us a feeling of ourselves.

Thinking on our toes.
Think about your left middle toe. Until this moment of reading you most probably were not conscious of your left middle toe, but your body had a sense of it even when you did not think of it. This automated, non-conscious sense of self is a symbolic representation of your body in your brain. Most parts of your body are mapped in your brain, but not all. Your hair and fingernails are only indirectly modeled, while your fingertips and eyes are highly connected to your brain.

Our understanding of others is a capability where our mind projects this sense of itself on to others. Our brain uses our own symbols of self and see others as being similar. Learning to skip rope is an example of how we watch behavior in others then internalize it into our own sense of self and try to jump rope with our own bodies.

Handy communication.
This ability to relate others to ourselves is where humans begin to think symbolically. Our gestures are symbolic communication. When someone else motions in a direction, we understand that they are giving us a model of behavior we should follow. We put ourselves in their place and understand that we are given information about our actions.

At some distant time, the first drawings of things in the world appeared as memories of the world as experienced. The first known such drawings are outlines of a persons hand on a cave wall.   A simple symbol that communicated “I was here.” Viewers of the hand understood that it was symbol for a hand of another, like themselves.

Matter and motion.
As time passed more complex forms of externalized memory were developed. Symbols of animals with symbols of humans hunting communicated shared experiences. These early communication tools are like bumper stickers share identity between minds.

Models of mothers and babies took three dimensional shape as dolls and manifestations of our desire for family. Our idealization and wonder of procreation led us to marvel at ourselves and our context. Figurines of people and things provided an new way to externalize our thoughts for others to understand and use.

Ideas of things and actions, of nouns and verbs, allowed information to be transmitted outside of one brain into another. Memories stored externally permitted communication between minds.

Speech is symbolic way of transmitting knowledge between minds. Speech is a form of memory sharing using vibrations in the air to relate models of the universe.

Speech allows communication by proximity rather than by visual means. Paintings permit those who see images to share thought with the painter, while sound enables us to share symbols spoken.

Listen and speak.
The art of speaking permits communication of ideas in real time better than painting.

Many animals use sound as a means of expressing ideas. Crows have been known to communicate complex ideas using both sounds for objects (nouns) and actions (verbs). Speech, however, only allows communication in the moment. Visual images allow spreading meaning through time.

When speech became symbolized using painting, we started to write. Writing is a means of combining speech and painting together in one form. At first simple images were given to mean simple ideas. With practice humans quickly added to their vocabulary of speech painting.

Painting speech.
The ability to indirectly represent complex ideas in a physical medium had a startling and unexpected consequence. That which is written can last through many generations. Writing is communication from past to future. Writing allowed us to start building a storehouse of knowledge to hand down to generations unborn. Through communication from the past we have built a great storehouse of knowledge.

Our tools for communication are rapidly evolving. Our ability to access specific information has grown exponentially our past few generations.

Gutenberg provided a means to copy writing quickly and distribute it widely. Printing is a centralized system that allows one person to speak to many across time and space.

Upon discovering electricity we became able to use sound as a transmission medium that allows near instant communication across the planet. Telephones allowed people to talk through space simultaneously. Radio permitted a much faster dissemination of information allowing many people to hear one mind's thoughts across space. Television added sight to sound permitting a very dense communication from a central source to many minds.

Memories connecting the world.
The internet is quickly becoming our new way of communicating memories. It permits us to share memories in two directions with no centralized point needed.  The internet transcends  space and time. A web of memories is connecting the entire species. Shared memories of all, by all, for all.

What started with simple gestures conveying understanding of a ones self to be like another, has led to us to become something totally new and different. A type of hive mind of memory. An extended set of cells and connections that absorbs and uses knowledge far beyond the capability of any of its component people.

In this sense, our memories are becoming a new kind of mind, with a new kind of memory, with an yet not understood sense of global self. The world, is seems, is growing its' own mind.

1 comment:

  1. "The world, is seems, is growing its' own mind." - yes the memory is growing and the source is our knowledge. But we retard our growth by holding tacit knowledge. When do we overcome it?