Monday, August 31, 2009

More thoughts on the book: Wired for Thought by Jeffrey Stibel

Previously, I gave a rather lackluster mini-review of the new book Wired for Thought: How the Brain Is Shaping the Future of the Internet by Jeffrey M. Stibel which claims that "The Internet is more than just a series of interconnected computer networks: it's the first real replication of the human brain outside the human body", but I have had a few more thoughts, in particular related to the concept of a "collective consciousness."

My main regret is that I failed to note that the World Wide Web as a whole does to a fair extent represent a dynamic snapshot of the collective consciousness of the millions of people who use the Web. Blog posts and Twitter streams do in fact give a reasonably accurate sense of the topics that are at the front of our collective minds and the tip of our collective tongues.

The Web itself does not sense or have consciousness, but users using the Web as a wall to write on and read from can convey their thoughts and reactions through the Web.

But, I think that is about as far as I feel comfortable going on this idea of the Web being analogous to the human brain.

After all, this collective consciousness is not really a consciousness per se in the way the human brain has a consciousness. There is no single voice of the collective. There is no I. There is no sense of self.

We cannot have a true dialogue with the collective.

We cannot ask a question and get an answer.

The collective does not have a personality.

You cannot have a one-to-one or one-on-one interaction with the collective.

The collective never makes a decision.

The collective does not have a responsibility. Nor does it have any obligations.

The collective does not exhibit common sense.

Nonetheless, the book does contain some interesting insights and is well worth a browse even if you do not purchase it.

-- Jack Krupansky

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