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March 16, 2007

Collective Thinking


by Kristóf Nyíri

[...] Raimondo Strassoldo employed less uncertain terms. As he put it: "There is a time for speaking and communicating; but there should also be a time for thinking, for meditation, for contemplation, for concentration, for reflection, for introspection, for internal talk within oneself and, perhaps, with the inhabitants of the self." Strassoldo observes that with the spread of the mobile phone people "only seem to be able to exist as nodes and terminals of communication networks". As he sees it, the young are ever less capable of becoming "autonomous, self-directed individuals", and he recalls David Riesman "denounc[ing] more than half a century ago the trend toward other-directedness". (6) Strassoldo's reference to Riesman is not entirely apt. The latter did in fact make the connection, in his 1950 book The Lonely Crowd, between the printed book and inner-directedness; (7) however, Riesman's notion of other-directedness is thoroughly bound up with the experience of centralized mass media. Networked communication of course provides one with very different experiences. Do we have reason to believe that the network individual's cognitive achievements (8) are in any way inferior to that of the inner-directed one? It was in the wake of Strassoldo's talk (9) that I decided, during the planning stages of the present conference, to dedicate my paper to the topic of collective thinking. (10) ... From Collective Thinking by Kristóf Nyíri [PDF] Also see Thinking with a word processor and The Networked Mind [PDF] by the same author.

Posted by jo at March 16, 2007 02:58 PM