Mapping the Semantic Mind vs.The Web

by Jay Deragon on 05/01/2011

It seems as though everyone is talking about the next iteration of the web, the semantic web. However few think in terms of the next iteration of the human network with technology, the semantic mind.

At its core, the semantic web comprises a set of design principles, collaborative working groups, and a variety of enabling technologies. Some elements of the semantic web are expressed as prospective future possibilities that are yet to be implemented or realized.

The third, semantic, program is what is generally known as “the intellect”. It is imprinted throughout the educational process. It handles artefacts and makes a “map” (reality-tunnel) that can be passed on to others, even across generations. These “maps” may be illustrations, symbols, words, concepts, tools (with instructions on use transmitted verbally), theories, musical notation, etc. Right-handedness is intimately connected with our tendency to use the left-hemisphere of the brain more than the right, in accordance with our left-brain schooling of reading, writing and arithmetic.

“When someone paints a new semantic map, or presents a new model of experience, this is always a profound shock to those still trapped in the old program, and it is generally considered a threat to ideological territory.”

Since words contain both references to the senses and connotations of emotional states, plus poetic or rhetorical hooks, humans can be moved to action even by words that have no meaning or reference in actuality. This is the mechanism of demagoguery, advertising and much of organized religion.

It seems to be installed in us to believe in everything that is written or said in the media – they seem to have a parental authority. We forget to examine the realizm and limitations of the statements; as when politicians make speeches and they all sound plausible despite saying the opposite. A healthy scepticism would expose all sorts of unproven assumptions and altered or omitted data.

Whatever threatens to remove a person’s status is not processed by the semantic mind but through the emotional-territorial program, and is rejected as an attack on one’s ego, social role or feeling of superiority. This is simple mammalian herd-behavior, typical of perhaps a majority of the human race who have not developed their semantic mind to a useful degree.

The huge amount of TV viewing, from childhood onwards, exposes the population to an input-overload of information, facilitating a hypnotic trance in which suggestions of cultural patterns are installed and survival and emotional-territorial reflexes stimulated. At the same time, the subjects of cultural trance are also de-sensitised from reacting to stimuli that would normally be fight/flight provoking, such as aggression, poverty, starvation, tragedy, manipulation, injustice, abuse, crime, violence and murder. The media is therefore an immensely powerful control mechanism, whether or not it is consciously used in this way.

The semantic mind allows us to sub-divide things and reconnect things, at our pleasure. There is no end to this labeling and packaging of experience. On the historical level, this is the time-binding or cumulative function described by Korzybski, which allows each new generation to add new categories to their inherited mental library.

In this time-binding dimension, Einstein replaced Newton before most of the world had heard of Newton. The process is accelerating as time passes, because the symbolizing faculty is self-augmenting. Similarly cultural patterns are passed on, since the vast majority in a given society have roughly the same semantic program and this is reinforced daily by assumptions in the media that are taken for granted.

When someone paints a new semantic map, or presents a new model of experience, this is always a profound shock to those still trapped in the old program, and it is generally considered a threat to ideological territory. The long list of martyrs to free enquiry demonstrates how mechanical this fear of new ideas is.

The time-binding semantic program is a mechanism of negative feedback – it does not seek a steady state but constantly seeks a new equilibrium at a higher level. It seeks a moving goal, like a guided missile. This third program has always been heavily sanctioned with rules, laws, prohibitions, taboos, etc. because it breaks up the cycles of constant human affairs and threatens vested interests. Many such taboos are unconscious and pass themselves off as “common sense” or “common decency”.

In the semantic program time becomes conceptualized as well as experienced. We know ourselves as receivers of messages from sages of old and as potential transmitters of messages that may be considered long into the future

{ 1 comment }

sebastian May 6, 2011 at 6:39 am

This is an interesting perspective and clearly the semantic web will be viewed as a threat by many of the current web’s users. There is a need to balance the change that the semantic web brings with more emphasis on the context that individual users and teams bring –

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