I Think This Should Be A Word: Infosphere

Actually, the word infosphere already is a word, at least according to the Wikipedia, but here I wish to clarify what I will mean when I use the term, unless otherwise specified.

In my opinion, we need a single word that means, roughly, informational environment (context, situation, habitat, milieu, etc.) and I think infosphere is an excellent candidate for that job. To elaborate:

One’s infosphere is simply the sum of all of the information to which one has access in any given period of time.

This includes, of course, but is not limited to textual information, or even information conveyed by pictures, per se, or even that conveyed by speech. As I will be using this term, one’s infosphere is really all of the information to which one has access in some given period of time — literally any and every sort of data that can be detected by the senses and evaluated by one’s brain, and this includes even that brain’s own memories.

Now, to my view, this really seems synonymous with one of the meanings given by the Wikipedia:

“The term has also been used by Luciano Floridi, on the basis of biosphere, to denote the whole informational environment constituted by all informational entities (thus including informational agents as well), their properties, interactions, processes and mutual relations.[1] It is an environment comparable to, but different from cyberspace (which is only one of its sub-regions, as it were), since it also includes off-line and analogue spaces of information.”

And really the only reason I don’t feel comfortable about endorsing that particular wording is because the Wikipedia then goes on to explain that,

“According to Floridi, it is possible to equate the Infosphere to the totality of Being. This equation leads him to an informational ontology.”

And I am not at all clear on what that’s supposed to mean, and until I have a chance to read Floridi’s explanation I think it best to assume for now that the two definitions are somehow (and quite inscrutably) distinct, and especially to emphasize that I will be using my own definition of the word, at least until I have come to understand Floridi’s well enough to be sure they are the same.

[1] The Wikipedia cites this as a reference: Luciano Floridi (1999), Philosophy and Computing: An introduction

The End of Rage

Angry man

Image found here.

I believe rage has failed us, and I hereby declare it publicly: I give up on rage. I think it has failed us in its only potentially useful function which is to protect us. The idea here is that rage is supposed to prepare us for fighting, either individually or collectively, against some sort of an opponent or perhaps a collective of opponents, and the goal of that fighting is ultimately survival.

Well, perhaps that worked well enough in the olden days when the worst we could do collectively was hunt some woolly or flightless or saber-toothed species of mega-fauna into extinction, but those days are long gone. Now we’re in a situation where we have so many massively powerful tools for fighting each other that we could bring about an apocalyptic extinction event, and this with not much more effort than it would take the President to pick his own nose (and maybe Tweet forth a photo of some sticky little prize scooped therefrom).

Talk about counter productive!

Religious people are always going on about love, but to me that seems almost as hopeless as rage. Of course I love. I love my family, and a few friends. I do believe in love. I have always believed in love, but especially so since my children were born. But when the faithful talk about love — “Universal Love” — I just find it naive and all but irrelevant to us human beings. How am I supposed to love perfect strangers? It makes as much sense to me as a “Universal Screwdriver” — the most wondrous of all tools, because it obsolesces every other kind of tool. I can hear the advertisements in my head — the Beatles wrote the music: All You Need Is A Universal Screwdriver! The song’s cumbrous arrhythmia is no doubt a metaphor for something.

Nope — and in saying so I beg the pardon of all who are Holy — but as far as I can tell, love is not the answer. Much more plausible, to my view, is simple kindness. I’m pretty sure I could treat anybody kindly, at least in principle. In actual practice things could be more difficult, at least with some people. But showing kindness to a random stranger seems much more achievable to me than actually loving him or her. In any case, I’m willing to give kindness a shot.

But even if kindness is not the solution, I feel quite sure that rage is the problem — really the mother of all problems, or the mother-fuckler of all problems; and as such really must be abandoned. However it happens — whether we choose to stop raging, or wait until rage puts an end to us — one way or another, the end of rage is coming, and in my own case at least, has already arrived. You’ve read it here: I give up on rage.