Essays, Analyses and Meditations


Back to my essays | Back to the Philosophy pages | Author

The Digital Individual

  • Metabolizing information is the real challenge for the individual of the digital age. The speed at which we can absorb information is much faster than the speed at which we can process it. The web browser (the person who browses the World-wide Web) is a massive consumer but a poor processor. The web browser mostly lets the random access to websites (frequently driven by search-engine rankings) shape the individual's understanding of the world, i.e. her/his identity. As a whole, society's psychology is shaped by the websites we access and the interactions that follow.
  • We are approaching the day when we will simply download our life from the digital world just like today we download songs and films.
  • When the USA opened new land to colonization, the goal of the individual was to get as large a piece of land as possible. In the digital age the goal of the individual is going to be popularity on the web. The race for geographical territory has been replaced by a race for attention.
  • We still have to find meaning in the sciences. The cognitive sciences present the human body (notably, the brain) as an information-processing system. But where does wisdom come from? The biological sciences present the species as an information-processing system (notably, the genome). But where does identity come from? The physical sciences present the universe as a colossal machine. But where does consciousness come from? The digital sciences present the noosphere as a colossal web of interconnected pieces of information. But its main function so far has been to create a new battlefield for unbridled capitalism. The sciences are still unable to bridge the semantic gap. In fact, that gap between reality and meaning is increasing.