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I’m still sleep-dprived, but I’ve had a day to think about what I posted yesterday about truth being a property of networks.

It would have been clearer for me to say understanding is a property of networks. Then I wouldn’t have left the impression that I think facts are a matter of majority opinion. Facts are facts. That’s pretty much their essence. Understanding, however, is plural, at least in many domains — less so in the sciences, more so in the humanities.

On the other hand, our age should be embarrassed that we’ve reduced truth to mere facts.

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4 Responses to “Networked truth, part 2”

  1. on 14 Apr 2007 at 5:53 amRaimo van der Klein

    Are you talking about “purpose” and “meaning” of individuals, objects , products,etc?

    I believe that the fact that we are connected i.c.w. high allfleuncy accelerated our holistic view of the world. We feel as “one”. This results in the question: What is my purpose in this bigger picture? Resulting all in the activation of the right brain half.

    Purpose is different from truth. Purpose is subjective. By looking for purpose looking for the truth becomes irrelevant. It is searching within us to find passion, meaning and purpose. That is your truth.

    We are transforming from a “what” to a “why” society. From defintions to meaning.

  2. on 15 Apr 2007 at 4:03 pmadrian chan

    i’m sleep-deprived myself today, so I’m on the same wavelength as you at least in one sense. I’m curious about your use of the term “understanding.” I know it only from social sciences, and linguistics in particular, where it means, roughly, “agreement between persons about something said,” and in its strong form, “agreement between persons with something said”. I only know it as a form of intersubjective consensus, realized around the reasons and validity claims raised through some kind of linguistic utterance.

    I wonder if the strength of p2p, networks, etc in producing the kind of knowledge I think you’re driving at is in fact in their distribution of force/power, their way of decoupling claims from structural bias. We do seem to invest networks with equanimity and structural equivalence. But I think truth is a matter of normative claims, no? Does it not involve not only what i say but what i am right to say, what i am permitted to say? If truth has power, it is not in its claim to factual truth but in its imperative claims, no?

    I’m interested in how the structural analytic of networked means of production might be merged with a discursive and linguistic analysis of the production of knowedge by means of networked communication. I’m inclined to think that unless we produce a theory of p2p communication that describes social practices, communicative practices, concepts of truth and understanding in networks remain epiphenomenal.

    Would love to hear your thoughts on this. I brought it up with michel bauwens when i was blogging for the p2p foundation but never got my thoughts together on it. The theory would have to merge p2p networks with mediated communication and interactions, and would have to address the effect of absence and asynchronicity on the production of linguistically-mediated experience. It’s possible that talk by proxy and by mediated artifacts results in so much slippage that claims by persons on persons thin to the point of losing their emphatic power, and that networked communication is but a community of interpretants struggling to negotiate the ambiguity of non face-to-face exchanges.

    i must be tired. i wrote that with the voice of stephen hawking’s voice box in my head. i hope it doesnt read like that!


  3. on 16 Apr 2007 at 8:26 amDavid Weinberger

    Raimo, with “understanding” I think I’m aiming lower than what I take you to mean by “purpose.” For example, if you may want to understand why Don Imus was fired or why the miasma theory of disease held on so long. There is no single correct understanding, I don’t believe. Or, if there is, no one person can know that she’s got it. We do better by having linked understandings in conversation with one another. (By the way, Steven Johnson’s The Ghost Map includes a brilliant discussion of the miasma theory, which is why it springs to mind.)

    Adrian, in a formal sense, I suppose p2p networks do decouple claims from structural bias because you can find within the network every claim that proceeds from every structual bias. (“Every” is too strong.) But, as we then navigate through the network, aren’t we once again introducing our own biases by deciding which links are worth following and which ideas are worth believing? There’s no escape. There’s only better or worse…and then we have to argue about what “better” and “worse” mean. (I’m pretty sure you agree with this. Sorry to point out the obvious.)

  4. on 25 Apr 2007 at 2:02 amadrian chan

    yes, so credibility, history, past experience are then the qualifiers. none of which tho connect to normative claims (the p2p idea being precisly the subversion of meta narrative and institutional authority, to point out the obvious ;-)). but my concern is still that networks built on mediated talk undermine the emphatic power, the possibility of consensus and agreement, for example, in f2f. mediated networks are structurally homological to everday social networks. but does that lead us to miss the difference of technology? we know there’s more absence than presence, lack of connectedness compensated for by connectivity, etc etc etc in talk technologies. this would make for a pressing and real conference topic. i dont want to stand for a nostalgia viz f2f community. i’d like to forge a theory that can show how mediated communication is not fatally undermined by the distance and atemporality it is supposed to fix. but it’d still have to be a theory of talk (imho!). … enjoy your dialog as always!