1.1 Mapping our existence

William Wightman quoteIt was over five and a half thousand years ago, at around approximately 3,500 years B.C.E., that the earliest recordings of human history began. The temperate climate and hospitable conditions in the region of the Middle East and the Mediterranean basin, known as the Fertile Crescent, produced good soil and were agriculturally productive.

The abundance of resources that the land generated led to a consequent need to create inventory and with that came the first instances of state formation.

The Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, Chinese and Mayans all built some of the first civilizations and empires out of their fertile land conditions. In doing so, they also developed new levels of collective intelligence that inform much of the way the world still works today.

Roman roads laid down some of the first pathways that, thousands of years later, are still the routes on which we travel. Many ideas for governance and basic infrastructure came out of those earliest incarnations of connected living.

The future world is one in which code’s playing an increasingly large part in our lives now, right up to reconfiguring our own DNA.

If code is to create added value for human life then the question it must answer is the one asked by MIT’s Center for Collective Intelligence: How can people and computers together achieve a better quality of life, in a more intelligent way, than any individuals, groups or computers that have done before?

MIT Sheldrake pic

Envisioning the future might hold some of the answer. So does looking back and learning from the rise and fall of the civilizations that have done it already.

An exploration of time through the ages poses questions along the way about what matters in curating and mapping our existence and what we can glean from it.

As we go about the business of gathering and harvesting data, if we don’t know what are we going to do with all of it, what’s the point or purpose of doing it? One of the most basic building blocks of digital civilisation, and one that we can learn from the ancients, is about making a better state for ourselves through inventory.

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