If it’s not on Facebook, it didn’t happen.

That’s the popular wisdom of today at least. But hey! Let’s not assume we are surrounded by idiots and instead try to find the dust off the scrapings off the husk off a seed of truth there somewhere.

In this there is first the point that our memories aren’t the best, and so we outsource to various technologies. Previously these would have included journals, diaries, letters, then Polaroids, Super-8, up to the blogs and various other media of networked communication. That’s the basic ‘storage’ problem.

There is also something else, however, which is a bit more numinous, and it is that nebulous idea that fetishists of technology (be they committed, or opportunistic such as those in technology marketing/p.r. [I refuse to give public relations a seal of approval via capitalization]), in terms of a supposed innately human need to connect. Remove the hyperbole, and there is simply the structural resilience of connecting things to other things that brings the storage of my first point to a quite different level.

We are inhabitants of a social rather than a merely physical reality. So if you have a thought or an idea, this is wonderful, but it has no social reality, and it has no reality that can be accessed by anyone other by yourself via your own memories – and that’s assuming you remember. So, by embedding this idea or thought in a formal structure (and this is a purposefully inclusive notion, so that it can include writing, painting, photography, programming) it becomes a part of social reality.

In network terms, a node is a node is a node if left to itself. What makes it become more than this is if it is connected. So, by communicating in this manner, an escape velocity is attained such that we can escape the circular logic of  solipsism. The argument for open-source and the commons holds for all thought and creativity. I may have had the occasional idea in the past that I scribbled down in a notebook…but if people can’t read it, why bother write it?


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