January 13, 2009
Our current educational system focuses on learning facts, retaining information, and completing a full “body” of knowledge.
And this is definitely not what I mean by the phrase “Information Body”.
I’m not exactly sure what I do mean, but I hope to work on that on this site with your help (thanks for the many helpful comments and conversations thus far), and also in conjunction with Tim’s work on the MandalaOS over @tmbchr, which is what started my thinking down this path in the first place.
(In fact, a recent post from Tim included “I’ve learned that the best way to learn large sets of information isn’t necessarily through wrote repetition…”)
In our current way of looking at reality, we think of knowledge as fuel-to-burn, so that the more info we have in our brains, the better we’re able to function. But this comes from a component, plug-in type of thinking where information is removed from reality, put into our brains, and then recalled at a later date, information thought of as something apart from us that we have to later consciously recall in order to make any use of it.
But as the amount of information available increases, the simple accumulation of knowledge will only serve to weigh us down more and more, especially when it becomes dead weight as things change with more and more frequency.
Perhaps this misguided attempt to hold as much information as possible is what is causing Alzheimers, senility, and even those simple “senior moments” where the memory simply, and momentarily, fails. It’s because we’ve burnt out certain regulatory functions in our brains through the accumulation and retention of too much knowledge. A poisoning we brought on ourselves by the long-term mis-use of the drug “information”, which we have been continually refining for aeons and aeons (and which the universe was refining long before humanity came on the scene). It has reached such high levels of concentration, that consuming it is no longer an option. Time to start mainlining….
John Robb over at Global Geurillas points out that our current system of, as he puts it, Industrial Education, will be made obsolete by the coming collapse(ed), and the rise of resilient communities. In fact, he repeats a lot of my arguments there, under a slightly different context.
My main claim here is that rote memorization the not the most efficient use of the brain’s memory-function, and that the alternative is to focus instead on our ability to handle and manipulate information, to increase our motivation and our ability to learn, rather than focusing solely on increasing our knowledge base ad-infinitum.
It takes longer to get this kind of mental functioning to work properly (and reliably), but the momentum and motivation of our thoughts won’t slow with our increasing ability to handle information, as they slow when we try to store and recall more and more information on command.
It’s like an electro-magnetic field: the more electric power is put into it, the more the magnetic force can push or pull. And it’s a wholistic way of thinking, where all things are connected in the present, and a total understanding of the present (and whatever the present contains), is therefore valued over and above the accumulation of past knowledge.
This is seen by the popularity of advertising certain video games as brain trainers. These games do not require the accumulation of much information, as they are quite simple to learn and to play. Rather, the focus is on the processing of new information as it comes up.
If applied across the board to all puzzle/stratedy type games, we can propose that video games are training people to create sets of rules in their minds for faster and faster the processing (or ‘through-putting’, to use a bit or corporate speak) of information. The information being handled becomes of less importance than the skillful means used to handle that information.
And so I say that we have been using the brain wrongly. Memory is only one of its functions, and it’s a function that we would be better off using in a more subconscious manner, given the vast amounts of information that are readily becoming available.
To continue to spend time forcing more and more information into our memory-storage for later conscious recall will only serve to stress this function of our brain unduly, leading to it’s early burnout and senility.
Because really, our current way of describing our “interaction” with reality is actually pretty stupid! We think that we have to take information from our data-rich reality, extract certain facts which we consider to be important, and record them for later use (and in doing so, separate them from reality).
Then we repeatedly expose ourselves to this captured (dead) information, as a substitute for real experience. This stems simply from our own lack of faith in reality and the mind to meet and combine as necessary when necessary (because it’s always necessary!).
When the memory function is placed in direct contact with reality (instead of being used as an information storehouse that is separated from reality), it works more as a reality augmentator (that is, a creator of an augmented reality). It functions similarly to the way hyper-links work on the internet (which I think is training our minds in order to bring back this connecting function).
Right now, we think of the conceptual-mind->reality relationship as a type map-and-territory relationship. One represents-but-is-not the other, and we create the map in our heads by learning about the territory through direct experience. Now I agree, “the map is not the territory“, but honestly, we only function from a map. We can’t even SEE the territory (it’s an at-least-5-dimensional time-space, a much too large data-set of information).
Therefore, we must give the map up to the territory, and allow the territory to fluxuate the map. For more on this, see Alan Chapman’s Coments on the use of the Holy Guardian Angel in his variety of Magick: “I’ve said it is important not to end up focussing or holding on to a certain feeling/sensation/experience, but the act of genuine surrender or devotion is to allow whatever sensations to come and go as they might, because you are no longer a concern. You have given yourself over. This mediation is not on one feeling, but all feelings; not one sensation, but all sensations. In order to do this, you must get out of the way whilst remaining aware of the present. “ A useful metaphor, in the very least, although how much so really depends on your own feelings about Magick…
Computers, the web, electronic media, it’s all been designed by our subconscious to massage us back into McLuhan’s echoing tribal electronic syaestheticsphere. “History” or “dominator culture” only happened so that we could develop memory as a tool of the whole. Because conscious memory is necessary for traversing a fourth dimensional time-line, but not so important for navigating fifth dimensional time-space…
Lastly, Overcoming Bias’ “set(s) up a world that works by better rules, and then fad(es) into the background, silent as the laws of Nature once were; and finally fold(s) up and vanishing when it is no longer needed.”has a recent post regarding regarding his ideal AI as something that
This, I think, is exactly the type of behavior we want from our own consciousness (and, I would add, might be the whole reason-for-being-conscious in the first place), and I think that we can achieve this kind of consciousness through making information storage more (but not completely) unconscious and training our mind to process information straight from realty more and more efficiently. And I don’t think we need a computer to do this for us, but that’s just my take on the matter. AI is definitely not my area of expertise, so, take that for what it’s worth.
This, then, is more what I mean by the information body. It is something that we use to move through information-space, rather than something in which we store any information. And in the end, it’s something we’ve been capable of doing all along.