Sunday, 25 September 2011

Distancing Through Clustering Theory





Well, I took a holiday from this job I gave myself to explore personally innovative ideas. I took a holiday from that means that I have arrived in this bleak town of Brussels, started fights with different administrations and administrative comities and read nothing particularly interesting. My life is the life of everybody, minus this blog and some other projects with other people less self-disciplined than I am.
It is though funny that discipline is not ingrained in me and in most people I know. The few people I know who have a need to be active and productive are people who grew up with limited television time, and my little sister. The rest of the population is easily satisfy by a screen and talk all day long about their failed dreams of being some day famous. I think that there might be some conclusion there about the influence of the television over our lives, but I am not sure.

I am an adept of cinema and find a lot of pleasure of watching most films and I have found what makes an annoying film for me: predictability. This is why I have found in these last weeks lots of pleasure watching Film Socialism of Godard, Habemus Papam by Nanni Moretti, Outrage by Takeshi Kitano and The Housemaid by Im Sang-Soo were all great surprises for me. Of course, those are all well known controversial directors and it is just abiding by the cliché of the pseudo-intellectual for me to advise them to you.

Anyway, the idea that came up to me recently is the antagonism of the global village theory. As you probably know, most people would profess that the world is getting smaller as the phone connections, the internet, the television and the transports are getting faster. Indeed, an earthquake taking place in Kathmandu in a morning will be known to have happen in the afternoon in the rest of the world. But as much as information travels that fast, I think that we might actually see the growth of something quite opposite to a global village. I do not at this time have a name for it, but by the end of this article, I will have an epiphany.

Now why would I say something so counter-intuitive ? Well, it is just that distance is not calculated by speed. Speed is calculated by distance and time. Physical distance is, as far as we know, a component of our universe that does not change on Earth. Now time is something that is accelerating, as it is relative to our lives and we find the need to do everything quicker. Polls show that we get frustrated waiting for our computer to turn on. If time is accelerating, it means that what we are used to take one day, would actually in our mind take longer even if it takes one day. For example, we do get worried when we come back from holiday and our postcards have not arrived yet, when the post has never changed its habits we do find it slower and slower.

Of course, when we talk about the global village, we do not talk about physical distance, but relative distance is something quite different. Relative distance has different definitions, but I will explain it as the space created by every individuals at the moment. Which means that if you live in a city, you are closer to a lot of individuals, but you will feel more alienated from your neighbors as you do not have the same grounds for social interactions, compared to village folks who do know how to interact and what to interact about.

So as it seems that information makes it way quickly from one side of the earth to the other, you have to observe to what extent people are open to those informations. Here is another component of my theory: information saturation. Information is now distributed by individuals and institutions. More and more information is leaking out, meaning that everyday, every body has to increase its filter to see what they are willing to accept or not. As the filter gets stronger and stronger ( filtering out more and more informations) it means that the information collected will be more and more self-centered. Let's take as an example Facebook. The more friends you have, the less you hear about them all.

What we will see in the future is an increasing price for diminishing physical distance as well, which is exemplified by the rising cost of capital city's real estate price. I do not know if the price of prostitutes has risen as well, but I would not be astonished by it. We are becoming more and more individualists when we can become more connected and this is because we have not reach the balance between the outside and the inside, between in-group and out-group between aliens and friends. Uncertainty brings us always back to positions we know and we are now becoming conservatively hermits. I still haven't found the expression for the theoretical pendant to the global village. I really don't know, maybe the saturated agglomeration.
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