Think like a network [draft]

It is nice to focus on our own social group. The search for more community spirit seems to be a common denominator of many people who have fallen, for various reasons, out of love with the individual consumerist worldview and its promise of satisfaction through material saturation. So we head for the exit, we dream about the perfect community and see ourselves dancing next to the embers of a shared evening’s bonfire. We draw circles in the sand and construct our super ecological mandala community. We are “the new we”, we are the generation that must be able to live as one giant community and share the limited resources we humbly ask nature to provide. We must be.

We want “our” ecoparadise to be the best the world has ever seen, and our social group to become the bearers of the best of all possible Moral Codes. We want to be the example that lightens the path for others, who are not yet fully enlightened. We feel connected to life, to everything. This connectedness feels wonderful. But it also leads to a strange paradox. Because everything is One, we cannot accept moral dilemmas, the kind that had philosophers scratch their heads for millennia. An unsolved, or unsolvable moral dilemma means reality is still somehow divided. So our holistic worldview needs to filter out opposing voices in order to sustain itself. (I’m not quite sure if this analysis is adequate, but it’s the way I think it is).

Can we experience the pervasive connectedness and the need solidarity we need now – in another way, without this robust holism?

Can we think “as one” in a practical way, without strictly identifying ourselves with one master-narrative that has all the right answers? Can we think as a network of people, broadly moving in a similar direction?

Can we not think “which people can our group absorb while still maintaining our predefined strong moral code?” but rather “how can we help the network that is broadly moving in the same direction as we are?”

Perhaps this sort of cooperation is possible if the common cause is good enough. We know humans are capable of working together, as projects like Wikipedia demonstrate. When we contribute to the open encyclopedia, we ask “how does this benefit the network/the cause of open information?” Let’s spin some ideas…

Wikipedia is about describing our shared reality. So it’s not too far off to suggest we might one day want to change it – by rewriting our reality as a wiki. Think wikipedia pages describing communities, drafted by their very own members, who are in good faith. Think realizing such communities by purchasing the property and creating co-housing cooperatives, repopulating abandoned villages, or building an ecological settlement from scratch. Until all its members think the community is ready to be realized in physical form, they can “move” to another virtual village (another wikipedia page). At the end of this editing process, when everybody involved accepts this new reality (or at a given deadline), we (re)build a humble pieces of the world according to this futurepedia.

The process of editing the descriptions of the villages, the moving back and forth of members until some optimum condition is reached, cannot be automated, for the same reasons why a cocktail party cannot be automated. It might however be possible to introduce some gaming element, with bonus points, treasure hunting, guessing etc. This might help break the ice and shorten the timespan we need to create groups/communities that work.

[I want to publish an extended version of this article on Which aspects need more words, and is it clear what I’m trying to say here?]

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