Digestion

This Artwork Represents…Superorganisms?

Posted on: October 22, 2008

I love this image.

Spied on WIRED by Josh McHugh. By the Swiss graphic designer Martin Woodtli. The image accompanies a story on Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson’s forth-coming book, The Superorganism. Given the color and intensity of the image, my first thought was that this WIRED story was specifically about art, a new technology, or music (something visually or tangibly creative). So I was a bit intrigued to read that it was about evolution and the idea of ‘superorganisms’, which, until five minutes ago, I’d never heard of. In a previous book also by Wilson and also Bert Hölldobler, The Ants, it is explored whether “large groups of animals [could] function together as a single entity with distributed intelligence? Did evolution work through such groups, selecting at the group level rather than the individual?”

Aside from sparking controversy and conversation in the biological world, it got web geeks and thinkers talking.

“Cybervisionaries saw in the superorganism an ideal way of describing the networked global brain that they were just beginning to imagine…Wired‘s Kevin Kelly drew on Wilson’s theories for the conceptual framework of the Hive Mind, humanity’s emerging cognitive interconnectedness. Even today, Kelly is writing about the One Machine and the Technium, a neologism he defines as “a superorganism of technology.”

This brings to mind the communication ‘processes’ and power of social networking communities when working as an entity across and outside of the web. Thoughts? I need to read up more on this idea…

Oh yeah. And now maybe I see relevancy of this colorful image. It sort-of symbolizes many (different) strands merging (converging?) into a single mass.

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1 Response to "This Artwork Represents…Superorganisms?"

The big question is, how do you distribute intelligence among multiple organisms? Something like a jellyfish colony growing a shared brain among the various members is a possibility. But distinct, separate individuals sharing strategy, memory and creativity enters the realm of telepathy and other ESP.

The closest ting I can think of is social networking but even then, it’s people exchanging their personal knowledge and ideas with others in a collaboration.

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