Here’s a choice selection of the posts, tweets, and news stories that caught our eyes as we cruised the information highway over the past week . . .
In the News
Clicking through the snazzy site that covers this week’s announcement of the 47 million-year-old Ida, easily one of the most significant fossils ever dug up from a pit of volcanic shale, I was taken aback by the sheer weight and span of evolutionary time. How many countless generations of each of these ten primate species, for example, were born, smooched, peeled fruit, swung around in trees, and eventually died in the impossibly long march up just the top few rungs of the mile-high Darwinian ladder?
No matter how many times I force my stubborn brain to consider its own apparently uber-consequential existence as merely one infinitesimal nano-fraction of earth history, not to mention cosmic time, the eerie sense of magnificence that ensues never seems to last for long. I’m just not sure we’re built to handle that kind of self-annihilating perspective—at least not without a rare and radical transformation of our self-structures.
It reminded me of a similar “stop you in your tracks” moment I had recently listening to this talk by Kevin Kelly—a consideration of the future rather than of the past, but one which demands no less a stretch of the imagination . . . and of one’s habitual self-sense, as well. Kelly is a noted writer, futurist, digital philosopher, and all-around idea man who helped found Wired magazine and serves on the board of Stewart Brand’s Long Now Foundation, among many other things. His description of the next generation internet—and the exponential merging of our identity with our technology—is a mind-bending window into a future that seems both farther away than it probably is and closer than any of us are likely prepared for. Kelly’s vision of “the one machine” is not dystopian, however, but decidedly optimistic; if you find the notion of an ever-deeper merging between man and computer frightening, he says, just think of how dependent we already are (in a good way) on another human-created technology: language. Check it out:
Two years ago (when Kelly gave this talk), 2 million emails were zinging across the net every second. Two years from now, email may be just a distant memory. Maybe we’ll all be “fluttering” instead . . .