Civilisation 2.0 book in a 2007 post

[Originally published 31/05/2007 this post was lost in blog crash some years ago — but up again here ]

C i v i l i s a t i o n 2.0

af Tor Nørretranders

Recently, I published a book in Danish on the theme of civilisation 2.0, obviously a broader version of the Open Source idea and the Web 2.0 meme. The book introduces the idea of The Link Age, a deep transition taking place at the moment. Links are the basic constituent of human societies, natural systems and our worldview.
Danish cover
The basic idea of the book is that many of the problems and challenges of present world are linked very intimately together: Climate, obesity, social distance, epistemology. It is all about the fact the the real world is a process of constant flow (renewable energy, matter streaming through the body, relationships coming and going and sensory information flow), but that we insist on seeing them all as constant objects. We like depots of energy, depots of food, secured social status, and things we can call constant objects for a constant mind. It is our dependence on these “constant things” like oil, like staple foods, like status, like truths and rules, that create our problems.

My basic historical argument is that the transition from hunter-gatherer life into agriculture circa 10,000 years ago (the origin of civilisation) lured us into starting thinking in these terms of constants rather than flows (since we left our immersion in a self-renewing nature and started growing stuff ourselves to deposit and store). Later, we learned to depend on energy deposits rather than the flow of sunshine, etc. Presently, we have reached the end of this line of thinking and will have to reinvent everything: going with the flow again. To do that we have to rely on renewable energy, food and matter and on links, intentions and correlations, rather than stable stuff. We have to get on-line with the sunshine again.

The book draws heavily of network theory (graph theory), but also on ecology, sociology, citation studies and many other scientific fields. Its is written for a general audience. It was published in Copenhagen by Thaning & Appel in May.

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