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The Selfish Idealist

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If you do things for yourself, do you have to be destructive towards the world? Life can be made fairly good both for you and for the rest of us.

Maybe you'll not only help out, but even give everybody a good laugh from time to time.

The moon, an old friend.

Links in web pages

Digital sanity Posted on 04 Jan, 2020 02:20

Another side of the computer world that struck my mind the other day, is links.

In all the articles I have written about the computer universe, I have been looking for problems, so to say, elements that confuse my…established world of knowledge in certain ways.

To talk about “an established world” of knowledge may seem strange, but as I see the computer as it is used today, quite a bit of it does crash into established ways of thinking.

My writing on this is maybe one-sided in another direction, but we will have to discuss how to merge those two worlds, if you see it like that, how the “new” world should relate to the “old” world is a very necessary thing to talk about.

Both ways too, of course.

But what role do links play, what function in my head do they meddle with?

I would perhaps say, associations, associative thinking.

I remember conversations with friends from the north of Norway, a culture (well, actually several) which own a fantastic, crazy ability to imagine things. I will never get a full overview of this (happily) but it works pretty well for a lot of purposes, for instance creating new ideas where there are no solutions to a problem, or to see totally absurd connections in life or in society, so you totally crack in a flow of meaningless or meaningful laughter, often both a the same time.

In short imagination, to coin it a little properly and a little blandly.

I also get ideas, sometimes fanciful ones, but I was born in a calmer environment than the storms and the incredible idylls of the real north. I am ok with the calmer parts of Norway too, I love Follo and Asker and other slopes of farmland or hilly woods, where I grew up or lived later on. Oslo too, not far from nature, but still a small city. Nature, the surroundings, give me ideas down here too, just different ideas than up north.

The differences of the country are also not absolute, I think, they are a matter of degree.

Anyway, everyone has his or her own associations, to begin with. Your own ideas…that is what comes out of associative thinking.

There are other ways of being creative, also mentally, but this is actually pretty important. 

And under my fingers an before my eyes I find a machine world, and of course, the people who create it every day are also there, their ideas and habits come out of my keyboard and the screen. This world is for me not entirely positive, it moves me to and fro, in many different directions, often away from myself, it often works against my will. 

If you fit into this world very well, you may feel at home, you may even feel that it confirms your thoughts, I have heard people say that the computer itself gives them new ideas for work.

Well, for me maybe in some ways, too. But in many ways the opposite.

But talking about links, every time I push a button, symbol, something that contains a link, I am moved into a new world, basically, a new website or a new page on the same website, talking to me about something else than the text or the pictures that I moved from.

I didn’t make that path, even if I made the move, so to speak.

It came to me from the creator of the website.

Of course, new ideas, outside of this screen world, may also come from other people and other sources than yourself, but then it comes from…the world. 

This whole world is made by humans, even though it more and more functions as the world for us.

The links are another problem connected with it, and one may then of course ask all the usual questions about what sources the editors use and choose, what mentality does the publication maintain, what political views, etc. – and how it connects to this bit of the whole thing.

For instance the questions of political biases and objectivity vs subjectivity in journalism, etc.

Links are just another element, but still, an important one, I think.

Habitual thinking may be a bigger problem than before, if you don’t watch out.

It’s always been a problem, but today…hm.

Edited after publishing, sorry.



What kind of concept?

Digital sanity Posted on 02 Jan, 2020 23:09

An important issue in today’s Internet…situation is of course what algorithms that are used, what calculations are at the bottom of what we read, so to speak. They often lead our thoughts, ways of thinking, in certain directions, and are, I believe, mostly kept secret.

But another thing which is also important, is how the concepts which form this screen world are formed, and which they are. The algorithms read as concepts formed in words.

Someone sufficiently educated in informatics would probably be able to answer those questions reasonably well, but for me as a lay person, the question is, what is actually the structuring principle or principles of this work?  Programming and the organising of data the way it is done today is for a greater part based on math, and the work, to me, seems much like finding the simplest way of organising everything, possibly the smallest common denominator for two or more different elements in the construction that build up a website, for instance.

But how is this done, just slightly more concretely, and how does the math translate into words and sentences and the rest? What principles are in use?

Normally, in a book, we would be allowed to form concepts much more independently of the texts that we read.

Today this is no longer the case to the same extent as in the times before computers, we are guided more often than with written media into specific ways of thinking and ways of organising facts, most often without us knowing it, perceiving it, consciously.

This doesn’t have to be done with a conscious purpose, it also often just happens, through the transformation of the editor’s attitudes or the developer’s, and also the owner of the media, his or her personality or habits of thinking into the texts that we read and treat in different ways.

It’s not only about the content of a text anymore, form has new meanings and new impact.



Comprehensive

Digital sanity Posted on 18 Dec, 2019 10:35

I’m not sure whether it’s possible to finish talking about or understanding the computer world or not, when you are…kind of critical, and an outsider, not a professional.

It often feels like something that doesn’t have a beginning or an end.

But informatics is taught at universities, so somebody must have some kind of an overview.

Overview, exactly. 

You have that, at least in a certain sense, when you read printed media.

I mean, it is a concrete thing that you use for reading, you can hold a book or a newspaper with your hand, the text is there, it won’t go away or multiply.

Today’s news, for example, a copy of New York Times or even The Sun, books, pamphlets, whatever, you know that this, exactly, is what the author wrote, or what the editors of the newspaper thought was the most important news today or this week, or at least, this is what they wanted you to read.

It’s all there.

If it is a fairly good newspaper, you have kind of an overview after you’ve read your news of today. If you read it regularly, you probably also know more or less where it stands politically, what to expect and therefore what stands out against that background.

This is knowledge you can bring with you into the world of the screen, but there are problems connected to overview.

In a field of knowledge, there is usually something which is called a comprehensive collection of knowledge, and it means that a book, for instance, brings you basically the whole story about the subject, nothing important left out, so that you could possibly use it as a source if you teach the subject in case or are going to teach yourself something. Like a textbook, like an encylopedia. They are, or should be exactly that. Comprehensive.

It may look like all kinds of languages right now are more or less mashed by the marketing department’s need to sell whatever message there is in a text, and the word comprehensive is also used to sell books, to tell you the fact that we have more information than our competitor’s edition  or whatever is the thing that is sold.

Even if some fields of science seem to move pretty fast today, they do not move as fast as the Internet itself. I have in my bookshelf an edition of Encyclopedia Britannica from the 1980s, and there are a lot of basic facts there that haven’t changed much. If they have, it is still useful to adjust the new knowledge to the basics in a field.

If you are going to take a PhD (I don’t have one) you have to have an overview of your field at the moment of writing the dissertation and defending it, which today probably means that you have to spend a good deal of time online to check what new things happen in your field as you work on your dissertation.

But after all, science and research are slower things that journalism, not to speak about blogism. Both newspapers and blogs have a serious and a less serious end, but even the serious one moves faster than research.

We are still humans, capable of forming concepts, grouping facts and issues and making  headlines and paragraphs…and not only technical, like the computer nerds whose products we have to use for writing.

We can still think.

Can’t we?

I hope so.

“Change is the only stable thing” was a headline in an ad for one of those courses which seem to go on everywhere in the business world these days. Even if the business world seems to speed up things and work in this fashion right now, stuff like that makes me think that they somehow lack real education, more knowledge than a practical or economical grasp of what to do, especially in terms of money-making or competition.

Britain was once famous, at least in my head, not only for specialists, but for also educating generalists who could be used in many jobs and circumstances, who of course were supposed to be able to succeed according to a company’s aims, but hopefully also according to other principles, more generally accepted as human or beneficial for people or for society as a whole.

The educated mind, I think it was called.

Not that other countries don’t have the same, of course they do, but the British or English variant or idea seeped into my mind at some point.

I do read a lot of news online, so checking the Britannica or actually studying articles now and then, gives the updated information a firmer ground to stand on. And other literature, when I have time and energy.

The basis of sociology, chemistry, musicology, was laid before the computers, not to talk about philosophy, other life sciences etc. Things happen in science and technology nowadays, absolutely, but especially in the world of humanities I think the past has a lot to give.

The CO2 problem was mentioned in this edition of Britannica as a scientific possibility, not an established fact.

One basic problem today, of politics and also of understanding the world, is that too few think about what should be done, and as a consequence, what is the actual situation? –  instead they think too much only about how to get things done,  and vote for politicians who seem to be able to do things.

What things, and why do exactly this? are at least here in Norway, fair questions to ask.



Moving, moving

Digital sanity Posted on 16 Apr, 2019 08:54

I have written a stack of articles about the Internet, and they are all written with a minimum of specialised concepts and special language, because I wanted to see the whole thing from a viewpoint close to the ground. Computers looked straight in the eye, so to speak.

I meet IT people, even people who run their own IT business, who claim that having an overview of the field is not possible.

I am sure that this is wrong, but it is a common problem.

I also know people with a clearer view of what they are doing. They can actually give totally relevant answers to all my questions, and make clear what are the choices in this world and what is necessary, unavoidable.

This knowledge has not spread wide enough, for instance all the way to people working with support and sales. They speak to me pretty often as though I had no concepts, and I suspect them of having none, or too few.

You can at least say, we don’t speak the same language.

This actually ought to be fixed right away, and not only in the talk about computer matters, but in the programs themselves.

They should be examined, for instance by language teachers, to establish real communication between the developers and the rest of us, actually between the computer world and the general public, and the settlement should include clearer borders between normal, everyday language or other professional language, and the computer world’s lingo, which often climb in or cling to established languages.

The lack of overview is a problem in the general public, and it has been like that for a while. You could say that this is normal anyway…but the computers have created some new confusion.

Giggling from the boys and girls who make the things is a spice of life when strange things with strange names are let loose over the heads of all of us. They are not data viruses, but you could call them mental viruses. Journalism has maybe already made a word for it.

I believe this creates trouble in all kinds of administration and in politics. The situation in media is a thing in itself. Remoteness is an important concept, which does not always originate in the computer world, but can be aggravated by the use of computers. Reality is blurred in new ways.

The screen is by many conceived as a reference for truth, and I believe you must be fairly well grounded already to find out what’s right and what’s wrong in this way of seeing it.

Confusion hits “the rest of us”, people who are not computer insiders, because it is a business in amazingly quick development, and because it has beginner’s problems.

I sometimes meet computer people who are rather on the edge. You can feel the vibration of the computer being part of them, and it looks unpleasant. As a teacher I sometimes feel the need to create human presence there and then, to calm down their system or soften the thinking.

The problem with the computer world is also connected to language. Their language – not programming languages, but the words that are used – are actually invading all other languages, not least everyday language, with a small epidemic of professional expressions that are new, and pretty often is destroying or changing mainstream concepts and often also mainstream ways of thinking. Also sometimes there is internal humour which should not be spread…without explanation.

I have been talking about an unconscious “programming” of us all through our use of the machines. I am talking about unconscious NLP-ish things and simply habits, in which we are trained through the use of the machines – and I think I believe that these things easily make you think actionsinstead of thinking concepts. I wonder whether this can make a habit of instrumental thinking, that we see problems only as practical problems and maybe easier confuse situations where you have a choice with those where you have none.

Automatisation of all sorts of…actions… – it is worth considering what it does to us and our ways of thinking.

Simply put I think I believe that the computer world as it appears today favours practical ways of thinking to theorybased ones. This is a coarsely formulated idea, which certainly deserves closer scrutiny, but I think there is something to it. Maybe it is also a question of humanities vs natural science or math.

I have a certain level of knowledge in music and literature, and all my writing about computers is probably also a reaction to what may be of thinking in terms of “natural science”, or mathematical ways of thinking, or engineering-ways of thinking. The whole project of making a computer is to create an artificial brain, right? – or an artificial human…and the principles of this world is to a great extent the principles of machines, or of making them. In many ways this isa machine, with no movable parts, but with a lot of the processes resembling movements.

Maybe this one-sided way of thinking is also only a stage in the development of the IT field, parallel to the first cars, and steam engines, where the mechanic parts in the beginning were more or less out in the air.

I am not updated on the field of “humanist IT”, there may be interesting things there.

The computer world, the education too, at least produces a new type of engineering consciousness. It may produce other things too…

The engineers themselves have always been a little annoying, for instance in their tendency to think in numbers – important when you build something, not as important when you deal with people.

Human and administrative systems built on too many figures also sound unattractive, in my mind. I don’t quite like the idea of society as a machine either. It is part of the picture, I agree, but other metaphors should supplement it. One-sided thinking is maybe not so wise if you are a leader somewhere.

Freedom is after all also an issue worth addressing or considering.

When I write music I am also not in the world of numbers, but many composers are these days, I believe.

What comes out of artistic creativity you don’t know, either, until you have finished making something. I guess the way of thinking is not everything either – the experience of the piece of music or whatever you have made – is still the proof of the pudding.

I sometimes dance all night long to the sound of dj-genres, the harder the better, and find Bugge Wesseltoft’s electronic playing even more interesting than his acoustic piano playing, which I am also a fan of.

I am not one-sided – no, no…I just want control over my work.

You can turn slightly psychotic from trying out the wrong type of program, unless you think that way already. It is surprising to what extent we can cut concepts into two or more pieces, turn them upside down, mirror them, reinterpret, use them for gymnastics or other movements, but I am not quite sure how useful everything is. I could probably enjoy a little more of the different possibilities than I do today, but hardly all of them. I enjoy entertainment, but not all the time.

It would maybe be nice to have a computer which stopped developing. I think I would like that. It feels like we are past the peak of creativity in many of the updates that continue to invade me, the feeling that there is actually not more to be done, but still the work goes on.

On the Internet there are also many charlatans, sorry to say, they are after your money, basically. For instance there is the habit of asking for monthly pay all the time, a subscription, sometimes for products which I think should be sold to us as a thing.

I prefer anyway a clear head, when I want to think, as far as is possible.

Things that move my world around, the whole time, is…usually annoying, at least when I am working.

Edited after publishing.



The Internet seen from the point of addiction

Digital sanity Posted on 05 Apr, 2019 10:31

Another look into the screen world which surrounds us all.

The typical computer game logic moves you inwards, inwards, or in the direction you choose to go, it doesn’t stop, really. No really dead ends, I think that hardly exists unless you download a pdf or something.

A creative mode? Not for me, not like that, I think. Maybe later, I don’t know.

The screen is a window towards something, you watch and you watch, you’ll never finish to find out what’s there.

But it is not nature, even if many treat it like it is, they try to research this world, in a way without actually realising it is a manmade universe.

Some say the sense of sight has a special position among the five senses. I don’t know, but it is at least sensitive enough to be dragged towards an open computer with a visible screen.

I am not sure that it is wise to let sight have such a dominant position, at least not alone.

It also has a close connection to muscles and movement of the body. Again, some assume that it has to be like that, that it is a physical fact, but I am once again sceptical. I am not so physical myself, but I know others who are. A lot of things can not be drawn by myself, I can’t fix it, but verbal explanations come easy to me.

I would say there are differences in the ways we function, also in things like these.

I am not sure that it is very wise for society to let go of the word as the lingua franca…the mode everyone must relate to and understand a little of.

The discussions here about learning styles in teaching, for instance, somehow have to relate to this question. It is ok, no, it is absolutely necessary, to let a child develop his or her own curiosity and to have his own ways of thinking too, but kids have to understand what a concept is, everyone should, and be able to use them, it is necessary to function constructively in society. You can subscribe to and live by whatever philosophy or mode you like, this is freedom after the law, but I think words should still be considered the thing we all can’t manage without.

The language…of common knowledge.

There is a lot of movement which goes against this right now, and partly because of the computer revolution, or it happens through the using of computers.

I strongly believe in the right to be different, but also in connecting with each other so that you don’t mess up others’ worlds more than you have to, and make sure that dialogue comes before changes that affect your neighbour, so she can adjust and react to what you say, and tell you whether what you do is ok or not.

Tolerance and knowledge about each other, this is at least two things that are necessary for living together.

This applies to normal coexistence in a neighbourhood, and it also applies to politics.

I think it must be a general principle in social life.

The growing amount of symbols which surround us makes it more possible to move around without really knowing where you go or what you do. In the computer world this is a normal problem, but it exists also in real life.

In the end you can also maybe hardly take in reality except though the screen. One of the kids have already made a new kind of philosophy out of the computer logic. I don’t know quite what it is, but I can feel that it’s there.

I can’t suddenly crash them on such things, they have to rule and make their own lives too, in addition to my meddling, but my task (or their own) will be to connect whatever they are with the real world, or whatever you want to call it, the fog and the blue sky and the face of your friends.

There are already many human worlds in play, this is not new – all kinds of art, science, crafts, engineering, personal or professional philosophy. I just don’t want to end up in the tummy of this machine.

You could make a case for the point that everything that goes on on the screen is pictures, or are made into pictures, that visual rules, laws, principles, that are used for layout and design, rule the day and push away grammar and language to a certain extent.

This illustrates what I think is also right, that the Internet or computerised solutions maybe do not have to be made in any special way, or at least there is a lot of unused freedom there. Things do not have to be like they are today.

I am still not sure in what ways math or natural science thinking really affect us through the work of people who create things on the screen, or maybe there are also other ways of thinking that are more important, more frequently in use.

The ultra sharp picture is one thing, which has an aesthetic side, in addition to what is argued for, that it is close to reality, almost as in real life, which seems to be an ideal.

The tempo in the changes that are going on all the time is another thing that needs to be considered. It stems from largely practical creativity, I believe, a kind of engineering world which is imposed on all of us. A quick look in a textbook for constructing algorithms (or, as the book enthusiastic says, the discovery of them) tells me that a lot happens backstage.

But I don’t know what calculations, if you like, create what visual things on the screen, and what things that are unimportant for the result, for us, except if you are interested in technical things.

How does the thinking of the developers etc come through to us, that’s the question.

Nothing exists, everything is possible. this is also a way of seeing the flexibility of it all. Harry Potter live.

And why do they correct me on things they know too little about?

The rules of written Norwegian has in many ways always been kind of messy, and many decisions on grammar or spelling were left to everyone’s discretion, even when it comes to orthography, the situation has been a little a mild anarchy partly based on the survival of the fittest. The most elegant or just the quickest way of introducing or removing a grammatical or orthographical form wins. Partly.

As things are now, autocorrection frequently gives you a little kick in the ass, and you must be strong if you want to keep your own variant of things, your own way of speaking, actually, writing. This applies probably to other languages too, because freedom of style exists in every language.

The English or vernacular language of computing has also invaded everyday language. All kinds of phenomenons are given new names which are spread through the bath tub which is the Internet, new names which belonged to old concepts too, and no one except the computer nerds really understand all of them in this new world. You could say that they are technical concepts in a world that most of us don’t know too well, but the words are often picked out of the old world, and the new usage differ from the old.

People who don’t know language rules often don’t react.

Programs are often, it seems, messy and unsystematic, and in some ways give us chaos in thought also because of their structure, the way they are built. I think this is partly true.

The systems change all the time.

This is also destabilising our ways of thinking. I hope we will soon recover and get back the capacity of having an overview. The world will have changed in our absence, I guess…

I am sceptical towards much of the aesthetics I see on the screen. Maybe I am oldfashioned. Ok, I’m not up to date with the art world, I have seen only a little of what’s going on in computer art. Obviously cool things are made too, I’ve seen a little.

Nice, absolutely.

But all the old art genres are also needed, I would still believe that they are closer to reality (my reality?) – at least they give other ideas about what the world is like which I would not like to see abandoned altogether. So there is a conservative point of vies. If you are really computerised you may argue that everything can be put into a screen, but a screen can also be put into a traditional painting, film or text.

I also welcome all sorts of things coming out of the computers – music, not the least. I am notin favour of prohibiting or squeezing anything, I just don’t want my old world to be completely squeezed, either.

Of course, every art form needs to connect with reality. The good things always do.

Both ways, then.

Of course it is in a way ok that those who cannot liberate themselves from the real world in any other way than with the computer, use it, but I had lots, really loads, of ways of doing this in the old days, ways that are partly left unused today by myself because of this bloody machine which I even have to write this on. Books, music, arts, nature. The city. People. There is a long list of mental escape routes and places to change or reinforce views on anything, none of them being a computer.

If you love machines, and many do, the machines are ok anyway. I think I basically like thoughts and don’t want to lose myself.

Ideas normally feed my imagination more, also in art, and I don’t want to lose it. Definitions and discussions about ideas give me entertainment and connect difficult sides of life and reality. A new app sometimes works the opposite way.

A world of ideas does exist…and is lofty or airy enough for me, I feel no need to dissolve physical laws to any greater extent with other means. I also usually keep my feet on the ground even if my head is in a floor above it.

I grew up to a large extent in a humanist tradition, and the computer world puts into practice a lot of physical or mathematical principles concealed as writing and pictures.

As I have already said, the concept of information in this new world is probably ingenious from a technical point of view, but philosophically I need to step back for a moment and try to understand what is going on. The new phenomenons multiply all the time, a little like Gyro Gearloose’s duplicating machines.

The lack of physical presence leads for me after long and intense use of the screen to nausea. It is a little like being laid on a stock shelf, packed in plastic, or eating, working and copulating on an office desk made of lackered beech and aluminium. I used to have nothing against offices, I enjoyed working in an office, but there was usually an escape from them.

Being flooded with information is also a thing. It is seen as progress, and it is, in a way, but it needs sorting, to put it very simple.

Mass outlaws content sometimes.

An obviously negative consequence for the world is the remoteness which can arise when so many things can be done on a distance, without the immediate physical responsibility for the consequences of your actions, whether we talk about words or bullets.

Automatising can work similar ways, you receive a “request” without anyone really having sent it, someone has only made a machine that sends it to you. I t doesn’t have to come only negative experiences out of it, I came in touch with an old friend in this way, but it is at least highly surprising in the beginning.

The fact that the door towards the world is always open is sometimes trouble, for instance, old friends may be annoyed by the fact that you don’t get in touch, and your habits are still connected to the old world, where the new possibilities of getting in touch didn’t exist.

We have to decide what new social habits to develop.

Loneliness is there, quite a lot, sometimes I am really alarmed by things someone says on Facebook, and I don’t even know him or her well enough to say something, or I act cowardly, I do nothing.

Sometimes it feels like real trouble.

Maybe things are also moving in another direction than towardsloneliness. After all the new technology has immense social possibilities.

Sorry, computer friends, I sound completely negative, but whenever I am sober I am not after mashing this new world, I just want to keep my brain and my soul in control.

As usual, actually, I believe in establishing borders, then you can cross them. This is extremely useful in social connections, safety first, ok, but when you feel reasonably safe, you have a beautiful starting pojnt for establishing connections in any direction you would like.

PS I have to get back to you when it comes to algorithms, but here is another glimpse of something: “Algorithms to solve short-distance-problems” is a quotation from the textbook I mentioned.

I can hear that they talk about something, but I don’t quite understand what it is.

One could imagine that it was already four in the morning, when discussions have reached this point of clarity.



A Visual World

Digital sanity Posted on 06 Feb, 2019 14:11

How do we perceive and send visual messages?

The following text is partly written with a book about visual means in graphic designs as a source.

We see it

– as a representation – understood as a picture of something familiar from our surroundings or experience or both – concrete pictures of something.

– more or less “abstract” – everything from a drawing of a man to the primary forms (circle, line etc ) and everything inbetween.

– symbolic, through the world of symbols

Edvard and May-Britt Moser, who got the Nobel prize in medicine in 2014, found brain cells whose function it was to orientate us in our
surroundings. What those cells do is to make a kind of map over the place we are, based on certain concrete points, kind of a simple trigonometry, if I got it right, which makes us recognise whatever is around, also as some kind of abstraction. A map is also a kind of abstraction. We get a perception of the place we are, we can move around and get anywhere.

And what about the computer screen? If we intuitively perceive it as reality, not representation, we may get confused. Some think very simply on this point and do not easily or readily distinguish the two things.

I am used to getting carried away by a film very much, I am there, because the story is exciting, of course, but also because the pictures gives me the feeling of being all the places that the film shows us. We are so used to the film medium and the film language that we don’t have to think to do this. We can normally leave the cinema or start looking somewhere else than the film screen and immediately discuss what we have seen without very much confusion.

The problem with the computer is that it is not just a film screen, it is not just a typewriter, it is not just a calculator or a newspaper or a book – it’s all those things and more, functioning not only as a moveable film, which it also does, but interactivity is also there, meaning I can do things with some of it, change it, and the machine “responds” the way it is programmed and made to do.

It may happen that what used to be fixed, stable, a text, suddenly changes, because the man or woman in the other end does something with the website.

And if this wasn’t enough, automatic functions make any of this happen whenever the maker of the little thing we watch want it to happen, whether it is a question of a particular time of the day, a particular day, whenever the program is programmed to do it, or as a response to something you do.

Automatism.

And all this is, this is my claim, organised in an overall concept of visuality.

And it is also, as I have been saying, moving and moveable in several different ways.

All the old media are more stable, things on paper the most, of course, and the further you go back the simpler the layout, and TV…although it is definitely moving, mostly one-way, from them to us. Text-TV, does that still exist? And even in an action film, there is in a way less commotion than on a computer screen.

How do I see – and remember – the world around me? How do I orient myself? I think there is more than one answer to that question, but we can still generalize a little.

I have a notion of three physical dimensions, which means depth, the location of me in connection to the surroundings, the surroundings related to me.

The other senses are also there, of course, not just eyesight.

Normally my picture of what’s around me is fairly stable, especially if I’m in a room, and I am usually inside, in a familiar place, when I work. I know where things are, basically, and they don’t move very much unless I move them. Things may occasionally fall down from a shelf, but that’s about it. If something happens I notice. The impression can be messy or tidy, and confusion of course exists, where are the bloody keys, but still I know more or less what’s around me. (If I work in a café there are more people and more noise, but that’s a matter of habit…)

I also have a notion of time, but if I sit quietly in a chair reading, the concrete time will perhaps be less interesting. I may experience things in the text, which also relate to time.

A printed text on a piece of paper is a stable thing from a visual point of view, and the things I deal with, what I actually read, are not always very interesting if you try to see it from a visual viewpoint, understand it with a visual understanding etc.

Books full of pictures are different, but very often the pictures and the text are chosen and put together to make a whole, to fit together aesthetically or according to subject or both. The picture, the place your eyes live while you
read, doesn’t change much as they move across a text, the content does.

It is then also a physically stable world. As I say, the variation goes on in the pictures, in the text. If they are good, there is always something new to find there, as the cliché goes, sometimes endlessly, food for thought for a lifetime.

It is a common thing to listen to music which you haven’t heard for a long time, to find music from your childhood etc. One thing is the change in fashion and style, if you consider this isolated, but the mood and what you considered to be the content back then can be interesting to think about in another life, your life of today.

I rarely do it, but the same thing is of course possible with books and films.

Physically nothing happens with your book. It is originally a world of handicraft. Technically it is not an interesting world.

The world of computers is an engineering world.

The picture of Internet can be expected to change anytime, at least this is a feeling that is hard to avoid.

There are also so many elements, probably billions of pictures, websites and parts of websites, so getting an overview even of what you do costs you energy, losing it is easy.

The picture changes, but not like a movie changes, unless you watch a movie on the screen, the whole thing moves more in sudden moves, or at least more in stages than a film traditionally does.

The layout in a physical newspaper is a little more messy than a book normally is, but we’re used to that, and it doesn’t move
either. Ads and editorial content were made different on purpose. I should try to analyse the whole thing better, because there are certainly trends on the Internet as well, which directs the development in this or that direction. But there are anyway many more types of information present, and forms of layout and presentation, than in any printed or broadcasted medium.

The Internet also has the problem of infinite moveability, meaning you can go on clicking into new things endlessly. This is an addictive element for me, and annoying, but I am not sure that this is the case for everyone.

If you analyse the whole thing as art, which I have tried to do elsewhere, here on the blog, it is normal to find infinity in places in I think any piece of art, music etc.

If you’re an engineering talent or have other, basically practical talents or ways of thinking, maybe this is unproblematic or even a source of creativity.

I don’t really know, but I see discussions about addiction that to me seem one-sided, because if you are addicted to something, it can sometimes be utilised both creatively and even professionally, or destructively.

I believe it depends on many things, but with uncontrolled or unreflected attitudes or behaviour you take chances. If you don’t know what you do, quite simply.

This property, the addiction bit is also utilised or exploited, however you see it, I guess to the full in computer games, but I think you can find this technique used many other places, at least things work like that in practice. Just looking into a newspaper can be a problem because there are so many articles. Getting an overview over the morning newspaper used to be easier.

This endlessness also has in it the possibility of domination over other means of expression, because it is massive, repetitive and almost physical in itself.

Memory, our memory, is filled from the screen with impressions which can easily be interpreted as impressions from the real world, if you are not conscious enough about where you actually are. Confusion easily comes next, because what you see on a screen is actually not real in the sense that one easily thinks.

Some actually say that what you can see is more real, more direct, than other ways of connecting to the world, the most basic way to see things.

This is definitely an illusion if you believe that it is the only way to see the world. You can probably build philosophy around it, but there are other ways.

Many subjects, the world seen with professional eyes, maybe all, may function as your philosophy on a certain level. A biologist will easily see phenomenons and things happening in the world through biology- or at least natural science-goggles, a musician may see the world as music or at least art, a carpenter has more practical views on the world. To move from one such world to another can be demanding.

Humans as a study object, an object for research, forms maybe the biggest problem in understanding the world, because we have everything – we are chemistry, biology, art, body, spirit, matter, nature, culture, practice, theory. We are and we become almost everything. To say unambiguously
what a human is must be more or less impossible. We exist in many professional worlds.

In principle, everything can be made into art, and a lot of things can be seen through the biologist’s glasses, but what we see and talk about, the different issues and subjects, will never be exhausted, never finished, the thinking will always go on, also if we see all this as a common project. The neighbour may always have something new to say to you.

The world lets itself mould into all kinds of thinking, and if you see it isolated, in valid ways. You could even claim that everyone has a point of some kind, is right in something.

Everything is food, or taste, everything is philosophy (well, this is a special case, but still…) everything is architecture, chemistry. Everything in life is science. Everything is practical actions. Money.

Fine, it is possible to see the world through your professional or personal glasses, but don’t put your views at work to a too great extent, especially not the last two points of view, which I feel is crushingly established knowledge right now. They are also necessary, but not exhausting, not covering everything and ruling out everything else.

Be careful.

And no matter how good you are in understanding the world – especially if you are actually good at it and have a lot to say – remember that your neighbour may have a view which also have validity and relevance,
which you may not know, you may not understand, or which doesn’t fit into your view on the world. It depends, both what we are talking about – our very lives may be vastly different and with necessary priorities that you don’t know about – and of course how we see things matter.

You carry always only one aspect or a choice of aspects with you into a personal philosophy, no matter how much you say or how broad your views are.

No one can think as everyone.

On the Internet, and in real life.

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After having written a long series of articles with the intention of understanding and more or less isolating the subject of the Internet and the computer world in my mind, I can see that they may work as and feel like a rejection of the whole thing.

Even if I have been thoroughly annoyed by the computer, my intention is not to stay there – I just want to use it for my purposes, so that it doesn’t use me for its own purposes. Or even more relevant, it seems, so that others don’t do it, consciously or unconsciously.



Infinity and other sides of the Internet

Digital sanity Posted on 24 Jan, 2019 17:09

It is a normal fact that a form of art contains infinity in one or several ways. I don’t know if musicologists or literature experts discuss whereand how this happens in a piece of music or book, but everyone must have experienced the greatness in art or music, or its ability to give new thoughts over time.

I’m as usual talking about any genre.

The fact that you can work on a piece of music for a year or more not only to rehearse it properly, technically, if it is possible to separate, but to know it good enough, all the way through, to give it to others in a sensible fashion – this tells me that what I have under my hands is a durable and many-sided object.

You can, if you are the right type of professional, keep going not just a year, but practically your whole life, on and off, with one project, a genre, or maybe one composer. This seems a little single-minded, maybe, to me, but every artist – and amateurs are often wonderful artists – everyone has things that never cease to fascinate.

Art usually doesn’t stop, as I say, you can see it in new ways, make new versions of music, or of course write new music and make new art.

Nature experiences can work the same way, if you need another reference. Sports, all kinds of hobbies, also sex, those can be creative fields…

Any medium, I think, every man-made object, probably, can be said to contain a form of overview, a view on the world, a philosophy, in addition to the feeling of watching or listening. It may vary over time, develop, and of course what’s in it depends on who made the thing.

You need to be somewhere, philosophically, to create something. Some know a lot about it for themselves, some don’t, but its still there.

The thought in it will be an organising element in what you listen to, watch, participate in.

For the artist, it is maybe not common to tell to everyone everyside of what you do, (that would maybe be impossible too) you create something, you publish or play, and discussions will come afterwards, if they come.

You can say, today it is more and more necessary to say something about what you do, to present it properly, because every culture in the world can potentially reach your desk or your city, and as an art audience we may often need to be guided a little to understand what’s actually in front of you. It can be problematic if the music or whatever doesn’t strike you as understandable, easier sometimes with an introduction.

In Norway it has been pretty common to take in art directly, spontaneously, by regular exhibition goers, and it has probably even been claimed as a rightto have it this way.

Well.

Much can be said for and against this, I guess, but I find it sensible to have both ways of thinking in operation among us, the knowledgeable one and the almost inexperienced or just almost interested. But less passion gives you less right to say something in the discussion, I think.

The Internet can be said to contain representations or reproductions of all art forms, in the form of pictures, film, sound. The medium itself, the gadget that it is, has its own ways of functioning which partly forms what comes out of it and what can come out.

New genres has also emerged which are made for the computer, meaning that we have completely new art forms, both in form and content.

There are connections between a picture and the eye on one side, and the rest of the body, movement and maybe other functions on the other, reactions that does not necessarily go via the conscious thought neither in philosophical nor everyday language…but for instance through bodily imitation and spontaneous movements. Some football fans in front of the TV jump and yell, which is both visible and audible, and there is an obvious connection between the body and the picture on one side, and words and the intellect on the other (and of course numbers, but they interest me less).

Similar things will go on in your head, it is affected by whatever purpose you use it for.

Learning through reading traditionally goes via the head, you take in words as an expression of a thought. Are you an apt reader, this can also happen quickly and pretty much spontaneously, it depends on how familiar the style and content is for you, and how complicated the content is to understand, also for you.

Some who did not grow up in an intellectual environment see words mainly as practical tools, as a means to tell someone what to do in a workplace, for instance.

This is a very important difference from the academic world, especially if this fact is hidden, not told, because underneath may lie a completely different understanding of the world.

Of course, you can always address someone, and you don’t necessarily have to consider which way other people conceive or understand what you say, but as I said, if these things are concealed because of shyness, for instance, you may end up with a lot of misunderstandings. It may actually be a good idea to try to understand enough of someone’s way of thinking to get your points across, so you don’t speak to the wrong end of the creature. We are all different, and today differences actually meet.

Many feel bad about their lack of knowledge, real or experienced, and won’t show it to you unless they have to. There is nothing wrong with their inborn intelligence, but say you have been treated like a stupid one all your life, especially in your upbringing, and also lived in an environment that has no direct contact with science, you may end up actually not knowing basic things. Stupidity exists in all of us, and a story like this is actually outrageous from a teacher’s point of view. Many have such experiences, and it is not enough to submit to their way of thinking, because it may be problematic or actually wrong, but someone has to meet them and address their problems in order to solve them.

I don’t believe stupidity has to stay stupid, it can be cured, basically by trusting the other person’s intelligence. Not doing so is devastating for the student, it is therecipe, I think, to destroy someone’s learning abilities. But you may have to stretch, and it is an advantage to have little pride, as a teacher.

You have to listen honestly to what he or she says but correct whatever is wrong, as you see it, without killing the guy or the girl, she or he may have been killed many times by others. Be careful.

In my experience, which does not have to be the only way, the presence of an honest and not mocking or condescending person is what you need. It can be a magic moment for a teacher. After all, shouldn’t we invite the “stupid” questions? It is old knowledge for anyone who is a learner that you get the really interesting answers when you have the courage to do so yourself. The only difference here is that you may get questions which doesn’t quite belong inside your professional or just simply “normal” way of thinking.

You still have to relate, but the person you talk to also have to accept the fact that some things are irrelevant. Some things are less interesting or not important, but not necessarily wrong.

All knowledge belongs in a system, and what is often wrong is that you emphasize a fact or a question too much, or you place it in the wrong position in the system.

For instance, to take something that I doubt that teachers in any level spend much time in discussing, we cannot knowthat there are no living creatures elsewhere in the universe, but it has actually never been shown traces of them, so if you hang yourself up on this, you may well miss most of science in general or the way that it works, just because no one wants to answer this question properly. Sometimes questions hang around all the way from childhood, and you are in real need of having them answered even if you are 37 and “should have” found out by now.

Everyone needsto define borders around their world.

If you get your stupid question answered you may end up with sort of an overview, and the feeling that someone actually listensto you, which can often be theproblem

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In film, for instance, it is possible to tell more of a story in less time, compared to a normal novel, for instance. This is simply put, and there are probably experiments with forms that contradict it, but it is true as a basic fact.

Pictures can contain much information, and they are often taken in more directly and unconscious than a text, unless you have developed a conscious relation with the visual world, professionally or in other ways, or you read…hm, really fast.

The interactivity in the machine also gives frames for “practical” actions, and not only writing, even if that is one of them, of course. The “machine side” of writing has developed a lot, you can “cut”, “glue”, push it around and a lot more, which all of them used to be practical actions involving more muscles….

All these bodily, but simple actions also goes directly into the world of reading and writing, and could easily create a practical universe of something that used to be a universe of thought.

To write an article on a computer is mentally something else than doing it on paper, even if it resembles a typing machine. But the whole thing affects your way of thinking, editing didn’t use to be done in a practical fashion, for instance, not in my head, unless you sorted parts of interviews after subject discussed, in a research project, for instance. Actually this resembles that work a little. These days I often skip the overview and go straight into editing, as if you were digging a ditch or cleaning up a room.

To what extent this is the case probably depends on what type you are, on many levels, but the technology invites us to forget some of the intellectual overview and replace it with a sort of step-by-step way of thinking.

This probably has to do also with the way today’s Internet and computer world is designed. I believe you can do practically anything with this technology in terms of organizing the information, cultural codes, habits and connotations, and not just relating to content. That’s obvious, but also to ways of doing the whole thing. This is an unchecked claim, but I feel that the medium interested user easily makes him- or herself into a slave of technology, much helped by the isolated environments of developers and programmers.

We feel the technology to be more of a cage than it has to be because we don’t know it properly, but the solutions also make it into a cage because the IT world are lousy communicators with non-IT-thinkers, they live in their own world and either expect us to understand fully what they are doing, or laugh at us.

At worst, of course. I am not saying all IT people are malevolent, but the thing itself explodes in our face.

All the practical or engineering abstractions which come to my eye easily take up space from the thoughts that were there from before, the thoughts that you actually depend on to do your work.

If you consider the screen as a picture, and the information you find is organised after visual logics, and you spend hour every day to absorb information through it, it may affect your way of thinking, both about or with words and pictures. I haven’t tried to analyse all the different ways this may happen, but for an academic on any level it sure is a different world that books, which used to be the most common place to spend your days or nights.

Your conscience is also affected by the fact that you do things all the time in front of a screen, or believe you do, at least, or pretend. I find it difficult to think in front of he computer. A book gave me more possibilities.

Or, maybe it is right to say that the screen invites you to practicalthinking, which I guess must be considered a separate thing. I have no idea whether this is scientifically explored or not, but I would guess so. Anthropology?

The book used to invite me, at least, to build theory, and ok, I’m not a professional academic, but I always talked to them and relate to their world as much as I can because I enjoy it.

How things areand how to do itis an important partition probably anywhere, from everyday life to politics. Many discussions end in the dustbin or on a real battlefield because those two things are not kept apart, thought through or checked properly. Some people are almost only practical, which means that they havea view on the world, but may very rarely expose it to the public or even think about it themselves, maybe because they are shy about it, too little self conscience, and because they feel that certain things are just like that, inevitable, nothing you discuss, everybody knows this.

They are blind for other world views than their own and take things for granted vwhich I’m not sure I would agree on. The peculiar thing is that the people who talk to them or comment are equally blind and take for granted that everyone has the basic academic knowledge which they have.

This is absolutely no attempt to say that the unschooled is always right, I regularly agree more with the others, but you have to start the discussion and it does not work without respect, which can be difficult.

This last thing is a surprise to me, that well educated people don’t know how the badly educated think, because you would expect science-minded people to be investigative enough to discover those differences, but there we are… I’m not saying that the ones at the bottom are necessarily right, on the contrary, but you have to listen because this is democracy and they claim their right to say things.

That in itself…I have to stop, but it has notbeen easy to take them seriously, and to listen you have had to filter out a lotof noise, misunderstandings and other things.

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You can of course say that the visual and practical differences between screen and paper are not absolute, they are tendencies, etc, in the sense that both media can be drawn in different directions. A scientific article published on the internet resembles more a booklet or a stack of paper, and an advertisement section in an “old-fashioned” newspaper may be closer to what goes on on the Internet.

That is the side of visual means when your webpage keeps still, of course the movement and interactivity comes on top. But the possibilities in the whole thing seem to be many – it’s up to our choice what we use it for.

I saw a computer animated film, pretty early in this “history of digitalisation”, which was very poetic, old-fashioned-looking, like it had been drawn.

The technique makes it necessary to do many repeated actions. I think I saw somewhere news about a research project looking into what goes on, motorically, perhaps, or sensorically, in the few centimeters between your brain and your machine, but I’m not sure. Sounds kind of fun.

In computer games this is obvious. The “technical”, practical, engineering creativity may then contain the uendelighet. How?

And what is the problem for a practical mind and a theoretically inclined?

I have friends who ponder on practical problems for years and then come up with really nice solutions, and I used to be the type that was constantly on a sociological study trip, or any subject. for that matter, if it interested me.

With two maybe different approaches to life, you probably also have a different approach to the computer world, although the world I grew up with was – in a way – academic, at least both practical and theoretical minds had to submit to academic facts. During the years that I grew up there was a big discussion about this, one position being that the practical ones were discriminated. A lot came out of that, but today I don’t quite know how things are in school.

You may say that on the screen technique and visuality easily becomes the boss, while on paper they are more subordinated other parts of our world. A writer, I think the Italian playwright and writer Giovanni Guareschi, in one of his books, commented on the difference between a smith’s work and a car mechanic’s, in the same way.

In the first case man is boss, in the second the iron.

It is, as probably most parts of Truth, not 100% true, but it gives us a clue of something. In both cases the important thing, as I see it, is not to give up all control over technology, but try to conquer it as much as you need, in order to use it for your own purposes.



A Borderline Case

Digital sanity Posted on 27 Nov, 2018 00:47

How do we create borders for our understanding of the world around us?

How do we, simply, create the understanding, the concepts with which we grasp things? In what different ways do we do it? How big are these differences between us?

Big philosophical questions, which can’t be thoroughly treated in a blogpost.

But I am looking for some differences which are especially visible and important today.

I think mainly about the computer revolution, but in the discussion about alternative realities these are also relevant issues.

How do people draw lines around phenomena that hit them, from private or other sources? How do I do it myself?

Many have a pretty unconscious relation to how they think, what system they inhabit, what ways of thinking shape their ways of thinking.

Everybody has a view on the world, on life, whether it is to a great extent self-made or to a great extent leans on other sources, on what someone else has thought out.

For people with academic education or upbringing, or interests, it is normal to talk about things you read and discuss what it means, and what it means to you. Some also have a personal philosophical position.

There are other ways of thinking, not least purely practical ways – also including “how do I achieve the one or the other goal.”

It is not an unusual position to start the whole thing, a personal philosophy, with “to survive, a human needs to eat” then maybe money, and next maybe…how do you get them.

I don’t really know very much more about normal roads from this, further into “practical” philosophies, practical, popular ways of thinking. They are probably also mixed with other systems, also from academic sources.

Everybody have some fixed notions, some looser ones. Some seem to have a very simple basic system which cannot be altered, they never change their opinion on certain issues, they only change what they do.

Or maybe I was just the wrong person to adjust or comment on the view of the people I met.

Reactions may, of course, come for many reasons.

But I believe everybody may have issues like that, and some are blocked on more basic points than others, maybe.

Perhaps I am wrong in making these categories too sharp, maybe the different ways of thinking only apply to different fields or have varying functions for different people.

This, I think, is most certainly the case, but it is sometimes a question how relevant your thoughts are for politics or societal matters if they are largely formed by some other work with a remote connection to it. It is a really difficult point for democracy, because you can’t just rule someone out of the debate, that’s against the whole idea of society, of democracy.

But the task of judging competence, relevance of an argument today…

Is there a good reason to be stubborn? You never know quite what you run into when you talk to someone, sometimes hang-ups, sometimes basic truths. One must consider.

If you have only little schooling on a field, but still opinions and some knowledge, you may be more sensitive towards derision and ridicule made about what you hold to be holy truths.

Sometimes those truths are actually holy, more or less, maybe you shouldn’t give them away, but with a diploma in your pocket and the finished work that goes with it, it is easier to be sure of yourself and not be offended by nonsense, and you may also easier have the ability to consider any objection and simply any point made, even if it is coarsely formulated. It may be easier to discuss with people outside your field when you feel safe.

It is also easier to discuss, because you have access to concepts and the habit of discussing them.

If you really lack education, sometimes your confidence is so small that you don’t have the courage to say anything, and what you might have to say won’t be heard. The respect – especially for formal education – may be so huge that you eradicate your own mind, almost, when you meet these things.

People with this type of attitude may have real trouble in being heard in many environments, and are, I believe, also often misunderstood.

It is also many times difficult to make a connection between educated and uneducated thought, precisely because you have to be so careful not to offend or straight out crush people’s arguments. It may be the case both ways, maybe depending on who is “in charge”.

If you have got too much flattery for your knowledge for no reason or for not good enough reasons, your self-confidence may be totally unrealistic. I sometimes wonder, with some politicians, whether they are of this type or the former.

Too many also have too much respect for the political positions, or other titles, famous names.

Even a member of parliament had in my mind status and deserved in my head really too much respect, until I interviewed one of them once. I was not really impressed by the knowledge he had.

But his private attitudes, the person, did not shock me at all. Many see politicians, usually the ones they disagree with, as bad people, which I often find strange. Their politics, or part of it, may be stupid and stubborn, but more rarely the person, I think, privately.

Many believe pretty straightforward what they see on the TV screen or the Internet, this is life, this is reality.

This is a problem.

Maybe you can sometimes see something of a politician’s personality on the screen, but remember that it is all directed, made into a piece of news, what you see is what the journalist or the desk feel is interesting. It is only a few seconds or minutes taken out of days and weeks and years of presence on the political stage, whether the more negative or more positive side is highlighted.

Seeing people from the gallery in parliament tells you a good bit more, even if you are not as close as the corridors.

Some politicians seem just as straightforward as their voters, and some are not. Still too many comments are on the simple side.

I think if you grew up or live in a professional environment, you act professionally and play your role, not out of dishonesty, which some think, but because you know what the job itself, and the position, demands, and relate to that.

If you don’t know this kind of environment, you don’t know this, that one is normally playing a role, you may believe that the minister thinks like yourself. As I said, it is not necessarily dishonest to be a professional if you use it in the right way, you just have one or a few extra links between yourself and what you do, what comes out when you are at work.

I am used to leaving my private life pretty much at home when I work, and instead bring principles of conduct, interest in the work itself, and of course friendliness and presence, but not all the time private presence and feelings.

And when it comes to “reading” the “simple” ones as they speak, I feel that the professionals often read into his or her words just as much of his or her professional attitude – which simply isn’t there – he or she probably knows nothing about it, what you see is maybe in some other sense what you get, or they talk simply from another world.

But if you constantly ask them professional questions and expect them to be answered professionally, in the end they learn the language and behave like one, but is still a straightforward amateur with rough thoughts in their head. You just don’t see it or hear it, unless you are the same type yourself, maybe.

The problem of communication across the lines of real professionals and real amateurs creates a lot of trouble.

I would also start with checking this as a possibly important thing, if my job was to find out why the bureaucracy is still growing. It does here, under a more or less populist government. The number of public employees grows a lot, even if the far-right and moderate politicians want the opposite.

When it comes to lightweight statements in public life, you still have to check what they say, whether there is something in it or not.

This is a problem, because their stubbornness and ignorance sometimes make them say and propose and now do things that can takes years to find out the real truth in.

Their unfamiliarity with the system also creates language problems. If you are used to thinking in abstract terms, and used to know how the system works, simply used to…using the system, you sometimes don’t understand what they are getting at. It may be that they try to do something real, but you don’t always know what, because discussions have been going on for too long, with too many questions and answers on a faulty fundament. You may have missed an initial point, which in its turn does not belong where it ends up.

Comments from the side is often not entirely wrong, but many are given too much weight, they should be more thoroughly sorted out and interpreted before they turn a whole discussion in a wrong direction.

Of course, some arguments are nonsense all along, but to consider what’s what also includes the task of finding out what is important both in different walks of life, and for the system itself.

Comments come from sometimes very different and today totally unfamiliar positions.

I believe, even if I should take care not to generalize too much, that many problems could have been more easily solved, without turning a system or even the system more or less upside down. Sometimes maybe the biggest problem was that no one listened to “unqualified” critics simply because of their way of speaking, and a small problem, or a problem which could be solved, grew into something which couldn’t be handled.

I believe it happens.

Or the one side cannot understand the importance of something for the other side.

That certainly goes both ways, “beneath” and “above” the line, as I say.

The Internet and the world of computers – as we use them today – I feel have a strong element of abstraction, in the sense that it creates a distance towards reality. It is after all a screen we are talking about, which we spend so much time on and in. Our minds may well conceive it in the end as real, unconsciously.

I try to give my kids an understanding of fiction and abstraction, also because it is part of my education and work (I am also a musician and a piano teacher), but in a sense I don’t really think they need more practical experience with these things, they have so much hands-on experience from a wee age of these things, I am sure they know intuitively a lot more about it than me.

What they need is real life experience, more of it, I am talking hiking, washing up with your hands, not machine, making wooden things by hand, cooking – the kind of practical problem solving, using your body to do it.

I normally talk a lot, by Norwegian standards at least, with the kids also, which I consider a very “real” experience for them, also because it means a lot to me. I am not so remote with them, I think.

But they need more practical, physical experiences to counter the hours looking into the screen.

The computer is also in one sense pretty much a practical or technical world in my opinion, after all, it is a machine.

But you move very few muscles, and if you are lazy you solve few problems too. For a non-practically, non-technically interested it is also really a different world. One-sidedness can be a problem in any field, and the distance that technically thinking contains and technically doing contains, creates trouble for me.

I mean, we are more or less (some of us think too much) relying on normal machines for physical tasks. The new problem is that thinking is automatized and engineered.

I don’t know if you can say it goes further than the first industrial revolution, but it certainly goes far.

I am kind of happy that my kids have to learn to write by hand.

I met a conductor on the local train who found it comic that you should have to open the window, by hand, to get the temperature down. Seriously, there is a ventilation system here, and it should work, shouldn’t it??

Anything that connects you to yourself, the world, other people, is useful, especially when you grow up. Art, musical experiences, as I say, practical work, sports.

Actually it depends also on the attitude and contact of the one who teaches you and shows it to you, even with computers, I have to admit, in spite of my scepticism.

If they know the way to the ground through their activity, you can learn it, and what you get if you’re lucky is the ability to trust yourself and your own judgment, and hopefully from there you can learn the ability to communicate with others and judge their statements and opinions and doings.

Practical people need to consider that there is remoteness and there is presence also in the intellectual worlds, and the intellectuals or intellectually inclined need to consider that also practical people think, in their own practical ways too.

To make these two worlds communicate is a major task, especially today. Of course, not everybody is only one or the other, luckily, maybe no one 100%, but there is certainly a polarisation going on these days.

There is a lot of good things in everyday popular culture, much presence, for instance. If you talk about everyday habits there is normally an honesty and clear notions which may make it clear who you are and what is said, but the link to educated knowledge is not always clear or there at all.

Especially in the media today this is of course a problem. But remember that on both sides of this border there are people who actually connect to the “other side”, and of course, actually, everybody is a mix of thinking and doing.

In arts and music these things mix to the extent that it often gives no meaning to split them up. The problems of communicating across these lines, which often follow class lines, maybe reach a peak when there is a lot of social movement up or down, which I thoroughly believe is the case today. And up rather than down.

One of the abilities that art has, books, music, whatever, is to answer or help you answer yourself, the question “Who am I?” or even “What should I do?” – and not only once and for all, but frequently, if you seek these experiences. It can talk to you about new things you experience as life moves forward. Or when it comes to a halt, it can sometimes help you come past an obstacle.

I am not a big sports fan, but I believe it may have more or less the same properties – every activity that brings you close to yourself in a deeper sense, more or less any activity which really means something to you, could probably and will probably sometimes have such effects.

# # #

In modern art, the idea that everything is art has provoked many who only want to see beautiful things, from the past or present.

I frequently want to see and listen to beautiful things from the past and the present myself, but for one thing they are never only beautiful, they also contain problems and sometimes violent elements.

I also find it not such a bad idea that you can take ideas from art and put it into any part of your life, of anybody’s life. The art of living, life as an art form, sounds like it could be liberating if you use it sensibly and the things fit you.

Of course, sometimes an exhibition is more sociology than aesthetics, but if it has interesting content and is meant to be like that, who cares?

Actually, it is also only a way of saying something that can be said of many fields, maybe all major ones, whichever they may be. Everything is art, sports, etc.

One should perhaps limit this way of thinking too at some point. All the talk of creativity in business life…most of it is about how to make money, or about administration, which I think has not and should not have too much to do with art. I don’t know, at least I feel that the border between real creativity and the simplification of routines seems often not quite in order.

Privately, I find art experiences useful, sometimes challenging, even sometimes too challenging. There are things I avoid, but maybe just in certain periods.

There is also probably a limit to how thin you can brew a pot of tea, how far you can stretch a method or theme in art, but before you scream out slogans against artists, consider the art of sushi, yeah, finely cut fish, exactly, where the shape of the piece of fish is basically the art, there is no mixing of ingredients in this.

It is supposed to affect the taste, I think. At least the experience of the food.

The blending of tastes does of course exist in other parts of the Japanese kitchen, and in other things that you eat with the sushi pieces, but not in the art of cutting itself, which takes you years to learn.

Consider also the many types of green tea, which I would suspect to create pretty different sensations in the mouth of say a Norwegian and a Chinese.

When it comes to “giving the mind a ride”, as some modernists state as one aim of modernism or of art, I also think you can maybe reach a limit – if you loosen up everything, in the end you will need to fasten some things.

I myself write a lot of music which solves problems and land on a calm and usually reasonably happy note, but without avoiding the problems, I hope. Without them the content of the music would be sparse.

Sometimes maybe the protesters against art are the ones who could need that ride once in a while.

# # #

I wanted to say something more about the Internet.

The property of limitlessness in the Internet exists also in the social side of it, meaning for instance that contact with other people does not have real or physical borders, only the ones you create in your mind or create in your mind and represent on the screen.

This demands new things of us, and we must be in the total beginning of a sensible use of this technology.

Normally when people leave the room they leave, but in Cyberspace this is only partly true.

You also don’t always know what is the case, whether they are still “there” or not.

This whole universe seems sometimes dangerous or possibly creating chaos, you start comparing it to the collective subconscious or other concepts of unsure or varying content, a common Sargasso Sea where everybody’s souls and thoughts are contained and in movement.

We’re all in the same bath tub.

There is a lot of work and energy put into security in this universe, but in a world which seems so far pretty chaotic.

To define or draw the lines around such things as privacy or your own personal borders has both judicial and psychological sides which are far from properly defined.

The merry enthusiasm that sometimes flows from the professional computer people does not always calm my nerves. Too many voices seem unconscious of or uninterested in these problems. I like the freedom the new reality gives, in a way, but so far not quite the mess of it all.

Addiction is also a problem, partly because so much is streamlined according to the habits of the computer field or computer science itself. I am not sure whether the strategy of digitalising more or less the whole society was so smart, the way it has been done here in Norway.

It is demanding for society, and also costs us money, not least buying the machines and the “solutions”, a process which does not stop.

There is also a problem here, in Norway, that there hardly exists a common public ground for debates and information anymore – news, actually – which means that irresponsible governments can rush things through parliament, things which need either to be stopped or changed through discussion, and they are passed almost unseen and unheard and are implemented almost or totally without people knowing it.

The people. Us.

The fact? that visuality, to sort things by their visual properties, is closer to a practical way of thinking than a thinking in theoretical concepts, is also a thought which could need consideration.



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