Humans and tools

From Kevin Kelly: an overview of human history and some thoughts about the relevance of language as the original social media.

Language accelerates learning and creation by permitting communication and coordination. A new idea can be spread quickly by having someone explain it and communicate it to others before they have to discover it themselves. But the chief advantage of language is not communication, but auto-generation. Language is a trick which allows the mind to question itself. It is a magic mirror which reveals to the mind what the mind thinks. Language is a handle which turns a mind into a tool. With a grip on the slippery aimless activity of self-reference, self-awareness, language can harness a mind into a fountain of new ideas. Without the cerebral structure of language, we can’t access our own mental activity. We certainly can’t think the way we do. Try it yourself. If our minds can’t tell stories, we can’t consciously create; we can only create by accident. Until we tame the mind with an organization tool capable of communicating to itself, we have stray thoughts without a narrative. We have a feral mind. We have smartness without a tool.

There’s quite a bit more, and it’s worth reading to discover why Kevin concludes “In a world without technology, we would not be living, and we would not be human.”

Author: Jon Lebkowsky

Co-wrangler of Plutopia News Network, cohost Radio Free Plutopia. Podcaster, writer, dharma observer, enzyme. Former editor/publisher, FringeWare Review; associate editor at bOING bOING and Factsheet Five; writer at Mondo 2000, 21C, Wired, Whole Earth Review, Austin Chronicle; sub-editor at Millennium Whole Earth Catalog; blogger at Worldchanging. Digital culture maven, podcaster, writer, dharma observer, enzyme. On The WELL, Cohost of VC (virtual communities), Media, and Civil War (.ind) conferences.