In previous articles I have described the Interconnectedness of 21st Century individuals as an emerging communication and extended network ecology between individuals, technology, artificial intelligence, control systems, and other decision making and communication processes that I don’t even know exist. In fact, I’ve already argued that I can’t readily recognize some forms of interconnectedness because as a child I learned to do things on my own and on my own resources. Maybe, as Walt Disney reminded us, I need to remember that its fun to do something impossible, and be a child again, discovering this new world. Our youth have grown up using hand held computers and communicators (cell and smart phones, gaming units, tablets, “wearables” etc.) to extend their environment to places and distances and even realities that many older adults cannot understand at all.
This extension of self via cognitive linkages/interconectedness can be for a purpose, as in the case of developing country individuals who use new technology and the internet to achieve freedom and opportunities generally unavailable in their region, or as a collection of functions that are made possible with interconnectedness, as is the case of the wealthy first world child that uses their smartphone for making friends, planning, dating, trivia, games, homework, etc., in which knowing how to navigate their brave new world is more important than actually exploring its capabilities.
Of course, truly innovative and smart 21st Century individuals do both: they learn how to have new capacity and functionality in their lives, and they apply these skills and abilities to specific purposes. A high profile example is that of hackers, who often use their newly learned skills and the access to international networks for purposes that global financial systems find abhorrent. The book “Unthought: The Power of the Cognitive Nonconscious “ by N. Katherine Hayles, the author covers 50 years of develelopments in the study of thought, cognition and consciousness, and presents a solid case for the evolution of a new form of intelligence, one which uses “cognitive linkages”, a scientific term that could be summarized as interconnectedness, to allow individuals to do what would have been impossible a few decades ago.
By recognizing, learning about and utilizing other forms of information gathering and decision making, the individual is capable of doing more than what his natural abilities can allow for, and that is the major difficulty established systems are facing with the innovators of this new century: that the experts running these systems usually have little if any clue as to all the changes and advances available to our youth and to young hackers. This will be the subject of a future article on Interconnectedness and Regulation.
So, are we “mature” individuals doomed to remain unconnected? Of course not. Otherwise I wouldn’t even be writing this article. But we do have to make an effort to understand the changes, the novelties, and the possibilities that are available to those that are discovering a new frontier for their thoughts! We might not want to accept it, but most innovations are actually products of reusing and recycling old strategies, techniques and tools, simply changing the names and technology associated with them. And, when we understand the origins and fundamental concepts of any technology, we can figure out how to use it or them to make our plans, our businesses and our lives be successful!
Yes, it’s a short article, but I hope you understand that interconnectedness must be both functional and purposeful, and that only you can make it so. Otherwise, you will only enjoy some few advantages of the new technology and cognitive linkages, and miss out on a whole new world. Or, if you are young, you could get distracted by fun and games and lose out on achieving the success you dream of. It’s your choice and mine to make. I choose connections. How about you?
Manuel F. Perez, MPA, CAMS