3 INSIGHTS about human interactivity

This was extracted from an email, not sent;cut/pasted here, expanded & edited.


I just had an insight.  Human persons, in contemporary humankind, are like bacteria or amoeba – primarily SINGLE CELLS, in limited relationships. As bacteria, they can temporarily form systems with some degree of structure/function. The slime mold has always fascinated me, in its ability to move back and forth between a collection of separated, single celled fungi, or assemble into multi-celled structures and back again into a collection.

The human person, in a future Humanity, will be more like cells in our bodies – both: specialized-in-function and each sharing the potential of our common DNA. No cell or cell type in our bodies is omnipotent. Each has a range of functions to perform, for the whole; and their viability is dependent on the health of the whole organism.

Actually, in a crude biological analogy, the “organelle” of a “cell” may be more an analog of a human person; where “cell” is analog of a viable human community/org. Living Organisms are holarchies of systems, with many levels of nested holons.  See James Greer Miller‘s Living Systems.

We don’t know what a “life” (each of a body’s cells) “experiences” beyond functioning as a component of an organism, . I don’t assume they are purely deterministic and have no mind or spirit – at their levels. What I mean, is that to “surrender” to be a functioning component of a larger organism, doesn’t necessarily imply that our lives are diminished – relative to our lives in our present “isolated” state as “individuals”. Today, the primarily deterministic Nature/Nurture dance gives our “selves” little-to-no “choice” on “who we become”. “Individualism” is a dangerous myth.

I expect that each human person’s “life” will be far richer if they were supported/enabled/augmented/facilitated (seafed) to perform more functional roles for the whole of viable humanity (emergent by dynamic design as we emerged from a newly fertilized egg cell).

In reality, today, every person has actualized very little of their potential – as analog to biological stem cells. We have the potential to be much, much more – but, we can become only one, of many types of human persons. No human can become humanity, nor can we “represent” the “whole of humanity”.

This is not a new insight, but one experienced by many. What is important is that we seldom actually apply it in human strategy planning. The context behind contemporary human behavior (quite varied) is very different from this perspective (humanity as analog to a biological organism).


Below is an example of what I/We need to explore seafing nu relationship patterns.

One small technology: we need a way that others can respond to a single sentence (or paragraph) in a larger text – and develop dialog around that link.

Such apps exist, but have never been put to that use. We need to learn to dialog in hypertext. The app, QuickDoc, facilitates this, but I never have succeeded in getting others to really engage in hypertext dialog.  Part is due to my own forgetfulness and not pushing myself when others have tried responding to my QuickDoc articles.

SEMS: ONE FEATURE OF COLAB SCAFFOLDING, is an example of a QuickdDoc with some (extensive) comments – to selected paragraphs. This was active in 2008; I had completely forgotten about it. Most of the comments are themselves long docs and should be also placed in the QuickDoc format. Note, different participants can dialog among themselves about a comment. I have about 40 QuickDocs, none active. Protocols and committed teams are needed to make QuickDocs meet my requirements. I need to get back to it. I put my Spanda Journal chapter on QuickDoc, but haven’t done anything about it.

A version called QuickTopic could be a substitute for email threads. I think I might give it a try. Actually, QuickDoc is a special feature of QuickTopic, called Quick Doc Review which permits you to upload a WORD doc, and then format it for links.

A Google search for QuickDoc takes you to a very different place, but one which might be worth looking into.

After this return to QuickDoc, I am strongly motivated to shift my UPLIFT correspondence to this media.  Academia.edu is another site that permits some commenting from within a document.  The Spanda Journal, in which I published a chapter, used this for the different authors to interact with each other. Few did. I have only read three other chapters in that issue of The Spanda Journal, and I expect that was the case for most of the authors.

I am suddenly reminded of a different app  CritSuite that permitted a person to comment to any point on a page in the internet – but it never took off. It was developed by a team working with the founder of nanotechnology, by Eric Drexler and The Foresight Institute. CritSuite was last updated 1996!

CritSuite couldn’t work for the whole WWW. It worked by processing each webpage through its system, adding the ability to link to it. But, it would be quite useful for a specific semfield of webpages.

A while back YouTube added a crude feature where you could link a piece of text to different moments in the YouTube video – not text in the video. I don’t think it got traction. I fantasize a web of videos, linked to special moments in each of them. An emerging hypervideo dialog!

As is typical of many technological innovations, the applications they were designed to enable were often minor compared to those later uses, unforeseen (by most) at the time of the innovation.

The opposite occurs for conceptual innovations, the early insight is usually far more comprehensive than what later manifests.  The early envisioned GOAL of the conceptual innovation gets replaced by the more practical, initial OBJECTIVE. Doug Englebart’s vision of AUGMENTATION is far from having been achieved. The visions of the ENA (Electronic Networkers Association) in the late 1980s are long forgotten and many not yet achieved in 2017.


At the time of my initial writing the email from which this post was extracted, I had a flash of insight about the features of those domains of attention that have made often astonishing gains, compared to those domains of attention that seem to be stagnant, if not in decline.

The physical sciences have achieved partly because they had a powerful semfield where both students and professional scientists dialoged about VISIBLE sems: initially diagrams and equations on the chalk board.

“Sems” are material patterns/structures that when commonly perceived generate “meanings” among the participants and facilitates their dialog about their “experiences” with the sems. They can gesture to parts of the sems in developing a shared vocabulary. Texts are a common example of sems.

A “semfield” is but a system of related sems. The archive of all human texts, diagrams, drawings and paintings is a massive semfield.

In the 1990s I video taped a major seminar that included the presentation of studies about chalkboard physics. Its significance periodically returns to my mind. {Might I still have the tapes – but probably not a device to play them?}  Persons just talking to each other without a collectively perceived semfield seldom “go” anywhere.

Published literature is a weak semfield, as the texts are seldom jointly studied at the moment of dialog. With all the talk about the USA being a “constitutional” democracy, the actual semfield of the constitution (and the texts of all legislation and legal findings) are seldom specifically referred to, and then often citing short parts “out of context”. Yet, the practice of “law” is a crude example of the use of textual semfields. The problem with the legal semfields is that they are only accumulative. We have yet to master how to effectively dialog about textual semfields.

It is important to note that relative ease whereby the phenomena studied by the material sciences is successful, can be adequately explained by viewing them as “simple” systems, capable of mathematical representation. “Simple” may look complex, but compared to the human sciences, they are quite primitive. As some have said, “the human sciences are not “soft”, compared to the “hard” sciences, but “difficult”.

I recommend the creation/establishment of a special type of dialog that is always about a common “systems for explicit attention”, such as a semfield.

Semfields are one of the most significant tools emergent for humankind, and unique to we humans (on Earth). We are still in our infancy in learning their potential. In the form of “fake news”, semfields have demonstrated a downside, that must be accounted for.

Author: nuet

01/24/1935. BS-physics RPI 1956; MS-physics UofChicago 1958; PhD-physics Yale 1965; PhD-Edu Psy Uof MInnesota 1970. Auroral Research Byrd Station, Antarctica 11/1960-02/1962. MINNEMAST curriculum dev 1964-68. Woodstock. faculty Pima Community College, Tucson 1974-1997. Transdisciplinary scientist, philosopher, educator, futurist, activist. PC user since 1982. "Wife". daughter, 2 grandsons. 5 dogs & 7 cats. Lacks mental imagery in all sensory domains.