The future of thinking

Possibly soon, and perhaps even now, children may be taught one skill above all others to prepare them for life. It is a virtue and it can be trained: Impartiality. Parents/schools/media might teach children to be as unbiased as possible. Because this skill could be the most important prerequisite to be successful – whatever success could mean. Success in the eye of one beholder might look like economic success, ecologic success in an other’s. There might be a huge number of qualities that describe success.

Impartiality seems to me to be the most important prerequisite for being able to profit from the multitude of signals that are being received from more and more directions, also due to technical developments1.

With prejudice, on the other hand, it is difficult, in my opinion, to profit from the information provided by others outside the boundaries of prejudice – independent of the technology used. A multitude of signals, many of them contradictory, come from a multitude of directions, via smartphone, computer, newspaper, radio, television, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, you name it.

All these different perspectives seem to me increasingly affecting peoples’ thinking. It seems to negatively affect biased people (they seem to get angrier) but does have less of that effect on the more impartial folks who seem to me to relax more. Maybe for the more biased people the multitudes of signals sounds more like a cacophony, incomprehensible noise.

When you look with a few eyes at something very large and complex, it seems to me that you can’t perceive much more than the detail that happens to be in front of your nose. You would need many different angles to understand large complex things. If the thing is then still moving, as it is said that the world is changing faster and faster, so if the thing to be grasped is a “moving target”, it can therefore only be grasped if one has learned to look at it from many angles at the same time. Unbiasedness seems to me to be the prerequisite for allowing perspectives that may even contradict one’s own way of seeing.

The problems humanity will face in the future will probably be both bigger and more complex than they are today, and they will then have to be examined and understood from many different angles in order to be able to fix them. The unbiased would thus become more and more important, because they would be able to do so. The bias seems to me already on the descending branch, as can be observed, in my opinion, in many places. The discussions about diversity of all kinds, which seem to have been increasing for years, are in my opinion an expression of exactly this development; exclusion and bias are becoming less and less appreciated, according to my observations. The underlying reason, in my opinion, is not so much the striving for justice, but the awareness of the value of the many different perspectives.

I am convinced that societies that are able to admit the greatest possible number of perspectives can see better, recognize better and understand better. And that, in turn, seems to me to be the best condition for being able to respond wisely to change. If it is true that the world is changing faster and faster, societies will be less and less able to afford to be selective and to allow only those perspectives that their biases allow.

I suspect our children will be smarter than we are because they will be better able to load themselves up with knowledge from thousands of perspectives. And they will probably be aware that each one alone can only ever perceive a tiny angle of reality.

These children will, I suspect, be unbiased, smart and humble. Geniuses.


1 I am without doubt unable to turn off these signals and I find it increasingly difficult to turn the volume down a bit.

Revisiting 13thFloor

18 years after its making I revisit the interactive documentary 13thFloor wearing the glasses I wear now.

Contents

In 2004, German writer Kolja Mensing and media artist Florian Thalhofer spent 31 days in Grohner Düne, a 1970s social housing complex on the outskirts of Bremen that is home to 1,600 people.

Media scientist Bernhard Dotzler called 13terStock an “interactive home movie”.
and attested “a convincing answer on how to show today’s reality has been found by the film”.

Technology and structure

13terStock was originally built with Korsakow 3, a version that only allowed one interface for the whole film. Later, 13terStock was rebuilt and different interface layouts were added. The keywords are thematic: There are five main topics “family”, “money”, “home”, “war”, “rules” and a number of subtopics for each of the main topics.

There is also a laypot (“birdseye view”) which serves to give a feeling of overview.

Pictorial description of the intro scene

It starts quite abruptly, when one looks out of a slight overhead view onto the desk of a roughly 50-year-old man, whom one observes making a short but complete telephone call, hanging up and saying quite noncharlant that he is a Social Democrat. Then a large white building complex can be seen from a distance. It is obviously the apartment complex that is the subject of this film.

The next shots are now closer to the object, you look from above into the courtyard of the building complex. The camera shakes, and where there were windows a moment ago, black areas now appear on the image, on which small and barely legible terms are written that could also be catchwords or headlines. The black tiles remain, while the image of the camera under the black rectangles shows impressions of the inside, of the life behind the scenery and no longer the view from the outside on the Grohner Düne. The black tiles are hyperlinks an serve as windows into the house and the lives of its inhabitants. While in the background the at that time hip Berlin band “Teans Team” sings also quite noncharlant “Jeder Tag wunderbar“ – “Every day wonderful”.

Disclaimer of the pictorial description

I designed the opening scene of the work described above 18 years ago. Today, I look at it through the perspective of pictorial description. The method of pictorial description was not accessible to me at that time, because I deeply despised this method, which I had become acquainted with in art classes at school, because I understood this technique to be cold and lacking in emotion, and in fact I still see it as such. The method of pictorial description is not about feeling, it is instead about describing how feeling is described.

“Every day wonderful” was my alsolute favorite song at the time and that’s the only reason I chose it. Not because, as I realize today, it precisely frames what the perspective of this work is about. To show the, one could say, beautiful, livable, special and thus interesting. Without making oneself mean with the protagonists of the film and without putting oneself above the protagonists. They are different from us and this is stated repeatedly in the work.

“Without making oneself mean with the protagonists and without putting oneself above them”

I suspect that we were only able to achieve this feat because we were not conscious in the making, because if we had been conscious, it would have put us above the protagonists, who apparently did not have this media consciousness either.

The author becomes visible as the point of perspective in a mediated reality

From the very beginning, we have interwoven the object of our investigation with the personal horizon of our experience. This starts already with one of the first diary entries, when Kolja Mensing describes 18 year ago Florian’s apartment and compares it with Grohner Düne:

“Florian’s Berlin apartment is in a discreet new building from the nineties, more or less next to the Ministry of Economics and Labor and thus not far from the so-called government district.” Kolja wonders if the same fortune as Grohner Düne could happen to Florian’s building complex. “After all, just like many other large housing estates, Grohner Düne was once a sought-after destination for the aspiring middle classes in the early seventies – and back then it didn’t even take ten years for the paradise for young families to become a temporary camp on the outskirts of the city for asylum seekers, guest workers and social losers with German passports.”

We have described Grohner Düne from our perspective. And by describing ourselves, the audience has the opportunity to understand the authors’ perspective and correct for it accordingly. Just like I can do now even as the former author when I calculate my younger self out of the perception process of mediated reality.

And whoosh, I look at myself from the outside. And this probably also happens to a viewer who is not also an author, although the effect is probably weaker.

Die Zeit wrote: “one of these tracks simply shows the images recorded by the video surveillance cameras in the Grohner Düne. Another uses a television reportage that reported on the project of the two filmmakers. So they become part of their own work, which in turn is part of other image systems.”

Good morning

This morning I woke up and the world was still there. I was somewhat surprised, because the dream that preceded it did not suggest such an assumption.

So or similarly it goes to me every day and so or similarly it probably goes to everyone every day. We recognize the day by the continuity, by the fact that the day continues on what is already known to us from the past. The bed we wake up in is the bed we fell asleep in.

Conversely, we find it difficult to recognize the dream by its lack of continuity. The dream is simply there, or we fall into the reality of the dream without getting to the realization of the dream for being a dream.

Science knows different theories why we dream and this means nothing else than that we do not know why we dream. We do not even know why we sleep and there are even thinkers who wonder if the reality we are in during the day is actually the right one.

Good morning and have a wonderful week!

My opinion about opinion

Opinion usually has something to do with level of knowledge, and the level of knowledge can actually always improve. Probably it is rather the rule, than the exception, that opinion changes, if knowledge rises. The further one looks into the past (be it the personal one or the one of mankind) the rarer become there, to all appearances, the exceptions.

So what is there to give on opinion? – Probably not too much.

If one then still considers, how much opinion upsets, and not only emotional energy requires, which then cannot be used any more to extend knowledge (by arguing, for example, instead of asking), I can’t help but think: One should leave opinion be, where it is only possible. And when it is not possible – because sometimes you need an opinion – it is hopefully wiser, when you have not wasted so much energy to have an opinion about everything.

Open Letter To My Friends or How To Build Igloos

Quite a few of my best friends are getting uncomfortable whenever I’m going to start saying this word once again: “multi-perspective”.

Because this is what I call what I have been seeing more and more and everywhere for a few years now, like a little plant that is slowly spreading more and more in all kinds of places. But my friends don’t want to talk about leaves as much (as I do), and how could you blame them? After all, my friends are interested in other things too, like art and culture, or which wardrobe to buy, or where to get the best. (“Thanks for the tip, Jim, we found one!”)

I still live in this world, after all, and I know and appreciate the value of such conversations. We live in the city, so the stuff that grows there isn’t that important after all. My friends are not botanists who could engage in my attention to detail, which is what it takes when you want (or need) to examine leaf structures. I have to, I can’t help it. “Damn, this is important! Yes, even that one particular little plant growing there between the cracks in the road.” And so my friends flinch slightly when I point again to a leaf of a plant and exclaim: “multiperspective!”.

My friends don’t seem to see for the city how a plant is becoming dominant right now that will probably have completely reshaped our thinking in a few years (and I suspect that this very thinking will be necessary to turn the trolley around once again, and so maybe, like in a computer game, get to the next level. As I said, I suspect that, but nobody can know that yet. Just as you can never know how the future will develop. But there are weather forecasts. And I am something like a weatherman. Because as fate would have it, that’s exactly what I’ve been studying for more than 20 years. What exactly? That little plant.

Weed, i.e. cannabis, i.e. the plant that at least a few more people are interested in, is: absolutely nothing compared to it. I can see how what is emerging is already colossally changing our thinking. “Yes, yours too! Just look, then you can see it. And don’t think that it’s normal, just because all your friends feel more or less the same way.

How can I say? You can clearly see it if you look in the other direction than most are used to. The view of the universe is dark, if one has the sun in the back. On earth, this phenomenon is called “night”. But the night is coming to an end. And you can already perceive the dawn. If you look in the right direction, of course. If you look anywhere, then you very likely don’t get that it’s dawn.

The plant is getting bigger from day to day, here is a particularly beautiful specimen I have now come across: Can you please take a look at it? Listen to the this podcast, and every 30 seconds recall the word “multiperspective”, imagine in your mind my voice and what I have been saying for years about the structure of the leaves. Can you see it now?

For those of you who don’t know WTF I’m talking about – this plant, of course, has also been noticed by others. People who put it differently. More and more people are describing the same phenomenon, it’s just not so easy to tell because they describe it from many different angles and give it different names.

Judith Aston pointed me to the term metamodernism, I would think it is the same thing:

Of course, one could now ask: “Okay, this thing, this little plant, metamodernism, multi-perspective or whatever, it’s coming anyway. Why should we intervene somehow (and how at all?), it’s nothing bad, isn’t it? So why spend so much energy on something now, when there are other things at least as important?”

This question is very justified and I would answer quite soberly: “Because you want to educate your children well today, in order to prepare them well for the future. So you have to teach them today, how to recognize the plant, how to understand its effects in order to be able to work with the plant and not against it. On the other side are then at best those who later constantly get tangled in the branches of the plant because they have never learned to see it.

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