Think about something unthinkable for a moment: the Web, through which you probably reached and read this, is a space without a topos where the only signifying system (for now) is language.
No physical space, no other signals, e.g. tactile or olfactory, to create meaning. Only labels and connections used to create places.
(cf. “How to organise space where everything is made of language, without the intrinsic structure of physical place to guide us.”, a question by Andrew Hinton in his presentation: Language is Infrastructure – IA Summit 2014)
Big thanks to Bob Strassel for pointing to this amazing presentation
Although the web has no topos, it’s not Utopia
*from Greek ou=‘not’ + topos=‘place’
The Web is what it is, yet another step on our path to archiving, transferring and retrieving knowledge. It’s flat period, the time when it was not understood by machines and was not an extension but rather a strange replica of our lives, was a transient one. The more aware we become of the power of the web of people, the closer we get to the understanding that the web is not flat.
Steadily the gap between a thing and the sign that represents it is filled by an ecosystem of other signs and things, existing not only on the web but also on many other planes. Planes which we are more and more capable of mapping, representing and exploring in a holistic way.
Functioning as an environment where things exist through language only, the web is slowly evolving into a space where things are more and more connected to the flow of life.
Our interactions on the web make this possible.
Translating signs into understanding and actions
With every metamorphosis of the web (and of search), this complex interconnected structure (wildly diverse) is encompassing more and more spheres of our lives (even more wildly diverse), and in turn is being encompassed by more and more of our activities.
The more sophisticated the ways we use this interconnectedness, the better our meaning transfer and the richer our co-existence in the semiosphere.
On the Web, a semiosphere that never sleeps, nothing manifests it’s meaning, unless:
the receiver is paying attention and is about to translate a sign into understanding and actions.
the receiver is ready to think unthinkable thoughts…