IN STANFORD in the late 70s, I had several long conversations with a researcher who lamented about returning to SIngapore because he would be moving away from the epicentre of robotics research. It would be much more difficult to share information. He had a stack of record cards that explained his work and at the bottom of each card a handwritten link to another card. It was the first time I had seen analogue hypercards used in a scientific way.
Shahid had borrowed the idea from Vannevar Bush who had outlined the web's core idea--hyperlinked pages--in 1945. In Sausalito, California, not far from the Stanford robotics lab, Ted Nelson was toying with his hyperlinked dream machine that would organise all the knowledge of humanity. By sharing information, we could save the world from stupidity. Nelson was working on his ideas more than a decade before Netscape was a word. Former Wired editor Kevin Kelly¹ writes how Nelson's "transclusion" and "intertwingularity" would support the grand utopian benefits of an embedded structure and save the world from stupidity.
The biggest impact of this interconnected world is that it supports a self-nurturing vision of an emerging culture based on sharing. That culture manifests itself in a new type of thinking, aided by electronics and abetted by humans. Once the humans mark what they want to share, the electronics kicks in and disseminates their material.
This blog is part of a 500-person Irish ecosystem of shared thoughts. What I write here becomes part of a daily digest read by a few hundred on the day and a few thousand within a month. The best words become parts of an unarticulated collaboration that manifests itself in the efforts of focus groups or community events. It amazes me how individual thoughts become pockets of conversation and then how some of them coalesce into inflection points that energise action.
I sincerely believe that well-focused writing on blogs can animate intelligent thought. I believe that blogging networks innately offer a collaborative interface for our civilisation. There is no hysterical proclamation accompanying this realisation. It's happening and it's running every minute of the day, free for most viewers. I wonder what we will make of it in the year 2015?