Being raised in the village: on distributed consciousness

The mobile device or the ubiquitous and real-time internet comes closer to connecting our raw thought to the network of minds, ideas and utterances. Simply speaking we have more bridges today to collective consciousness. Social media together are a clearinghouse where ideas are collected, played with, then buried, amplified, interwoven or transformed. The author and her individuality isn’t dead yet. Far from it. She must simply negotiate more frequently and in closer proximity to a massive episteme — the earth’s bazaar of interlinked ideas, the “noosphere”.

I am interested in the future of mental individualism in the face of this “distributed” or collective consciousness. Stevan Harnad points out that thought can only be “‘distributed’ within the heads of thinkers, but not across thinkers’ heads.” The global “brain”, therefore, is a metaphor, an illusion of an entity. I take this to mean that we will never become less of individual thinkers just because of some massive, inescapable sphere of mental activity that seems to overshadow everything else.

Yet we individual cognizers are being affected by the public sphere in ways we can only begin to understand. I co-founded Mindbounce, partly as an experiment, to see what happens if we accelerated the interaction our brains would have with an external hive of ideas in real-time. In the beginning there was physical and temporal distance separating our minds from the public sphere. You had to ride a horse or log into the internet to reconcile your thoughts with the external thinking public. Now the public is attached to our hip with a mobile device. Mindbounce would ideally accelerate this trend by letting a public of sorts proactively come into many separate individual mental spheres in real-time. Collective intelligence now whispers into your ear, if you let it.

See the tour on YouTube: “Text editor turned wisdom market”


Distributed Writing Mentorship: introducing
July 30, 2009, 2:47 pm
Filed under: academia, learning, mentoring, tutoring, Web 2.0

Ever wonder what it would be like if there were a button you could press to send angels suddenly swooping in to help you avoid the numerous pitfalls of writing, like being stuck on a sentence, making an idea more coherent, or identifying the most pertinent literature for your research?

To this end, launches on August 15th, 2009, offering students a space to write their papers so that select college graduate mentors can stumble upon or seek them as they earn money selling writing and researching wisdom, one piece of feedback at a time. If the mentor sees a need, he or she will provide a comment that will benefit the author of the paper. We call that comment a “bounce,” and each bounce can cost anywhere from $1-6. At it is possible to upload a paper into the system and have your paper reviewed by highly educated mentors whom you select by associating the document with any number of tags found within a universe of academic subdisciplines:

Both students and mentors can link up by selecting the same tag from among hundreds of academic sub-disciplines

Both students and mentors can link up by selecting the same tag from among hundreds of academic sub-disciplines

There are other preferences that put the author in the driver’s seat of the mentoring relationship as well. Authors can limit the money they spend to specific aspects of mentorship, so that if an author is only seeking help with language or with the substance itself, we ensure that he or she will only receive feedback in those specific categories.

The idea is to have students set their preferences whenever they feel like so that they can concentrate on the writing. As they write, they will see the appropriate feedback trickling in on the left hand side of the text editor as illustrated here:

Each bounce in the margin on the left carries customized feedback that could be coming from dozens of different mentors

Each bounce in the margin on the left carries customized feedback that could be coming from dozens of different mentors

By letting various mentors into your document, you allow for a diversity of voices to weigh in on your project’s needs and requirements. It is a completely different experience from handing your paper to one person who looks at it in your absence. Use Mindbounce if you are looking to establish a tight back-and-forth dialogue between you and a ready-made, but customizable community of qualified mentors who can approach your document from various angles at all hours of the day.

Early stage testers can have their writing projects mentored at half price starting August 15th. Our service is invitation-only to ensure that we always have the right number of documents and mentors interacting inside our system. Interested customers can request an invitation by filling out a short questionnaire.

For more information about the types of academically friendly mentoring services we provide, please visit our about us page.