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Flat vs Deep — Frames & Hierarchies

This post may be a little bit unpolished and raw. I have been mulling it over in my mind for a few days, or rather the “it” (the post’s title) just became clear to me now at this moment … but I have been mulling something over for several days already without any clear unifying idea. My mulling over started off by reflecting on some loose ends from Chapter 7 (“First Essay on the Impact of Phenomena such as Presence, Awareness and Focus on Social Cohesion“), and I knew I needed to go into a “deep dive” on (at least) one particular aspect: the interplay between language and cognition.

While I do not doubt that our thinking on a very basic level probably happens without the codified language (and writing) systems we have developed over many thousands of years, the moment we want to share our ideas with others (at the very latest), we need to formulate them. My hunch is that adults also often formulate ideas in this manner to themselves, and that this process is probably closely linked to what many refer to as “rationalization” (and here I intend to also explicitly state that the associated revisionary nature of the rationalizing process is also at play, and that the languages we are “trained” in also in this sense frame the borders of our thinking [1]).

I mentioned “Frame” theory in Chapter 7 … but frames are not the only relevent concept. Similar theories also focus on “scripts”, and there are also doubtless innumerable theories concerning narration and narratives in general — at least that is my hunch, just going by the plethora of storytelling that goes on in the world. The landscape must be quite vast.

And here is the link to my present focus: the Internet is also usually interpreted as a vast space, especially in the mythology of companies like Google, which promise to deliver answers from the far reaches of cyberspace in a split second. All over the world, illiterate noobs believe that such companies have arrived at golden rules and formulas to figure out the truth behind any question whatsoever. These novices are so gullible that it does not occur to them in the slightest that these companies do not care even just one iota about satisfying the users’ quests, but that the companies are (and must be) primarily concerned with the maximization of profits — and according to the business model, that translates into delivering answers the companies are able to make a pretty penny on.

Oops — got a little “carried away” there … that is the risk of writing “on the fly”, I guess.

Back to the “vast” idea. Both the Internet and language are vast technologies… but it is unclear whether / to what extent they are flat or deep. Let me unpack this a little more.

A long time ago, I maintained that the Internet is “PHLAT” (“pretty hyperlinked local and topical”) — and I still fully uderstand my own thinking from what has in the meantime become “decades ago”. Any page on any website can link to any page on any website… well, with some caveats. First, consider the historical evidence: the Wikileaks “hero” Julian Assange to this day remains at risk of becoming punished by the federal government of a country called The United States of America. Likewise, Putin just this week declared it a crime to say particular things in particular contexts (at least that’s what I heard on the “news”). And yet, in general, when I make an observation about something written somewhere on the Internet, my observation of this writing is normally unproblematical for me … much in the same way that there are generally no significant repercussions to me when I go outside and say “it’s a beautiful day” (whether the sun is shining or a storm is wrecking havoc is not something I can be held personally responsible for; and either way, these observations of occurrences are simply my own subjective opinions).

Oops — yet another tangent. Sorry about that.

Let’s get to the “deep” aspect. Way back in time (decades ago), I also maintained that is one of the most valuable sites on the Internet — and I also still understand what I meant and also still continue to feel this way. Yet back then it was not as clear to me as it is clear to me today that .com is a directory of brand names. I did in fact say it at the time — and upset quite a few domain investors in the process — but my theories about the significance (or insignificance) of brands had not yet crystalized to the extent that they have in the meantime (cf. the “irrational media” concept described in “Hope & Change: Flipping the F-word & Removing the Old-Fashioned R-word” [ ] ).

Also, in the meantime the landscape of the Internet has become orders of magnitude more vast — or rather: the number of fiefdoms has expanded at a very significant rate. Most of the people on Earth are completely unaware of this, and only a very few people worldwide can even grasp the notion of “proprietary top-level domains” at all (see “Auctions + Markets for Domains, Domain Names + TLDs” [ ] ). At this moment in time, I consider the vast majority of top-level domains approved by ICANN to be quite similar to what were once known as “publishers” in the paper era. This exponentially expanding array of registries will include both steadfast (and thereby reputable) registries such as .com and comparatively clandestine operations such as .sucks (which at the moment seems so lacking in reputation, that I don’t even know whether it still exists at all).

Now note that the depth of these registries is not merely a thought exercise. was quite actually shut down, in a very “real world” manner. What is more, domains in top-level domain registries can only be registered once per registry, and increasingly proprietary top-level domain registry proprietors will become more and more concerned with the “going concern” of certain high-profile strings. Even if each top-level registry can register up to about 1 googol domains, the very few domains of significance will matter a lot more than the very vast empty spaces that will probably remain available forever.

[1] Note here also a point of overlap between Wittgenstein’s notion of language and Freud’s notion of self, and also how both of these influencers were themselves quasi “culturally contextualized” (Vienna / Viennese culture in the early 20th Century)