Tribal narratives in the age of fractals

Spring 2013

Now let's examine the question is this behaviour a function of belonging (to the tribe) or a function of the technology, the platform or more accurately the experience of using the platform? Is this behaviour a human:human or machine:human response?

Each of these social media platforms, channels, lists, apps, … call them what you like, is best understood as a Fractal Narrative. The behaviour, the process, the social narrative is replicated at every layer of the community. Giroud’s mimes meets Dawkins memes. We mimic the behaviour unique to each platform at the same time expressing or what you would describe as sharing our own narrative . A narrative fragment tailored to meet the behavioural requirements of each platform. A fractal. A fractal narrative expressed across 2 dimensions. The first being the platform. The second being you. The story of you. Or at least the fragments of the story you choose to share. In this context The prismatic self is merely the aggregation of these fractal narratives. Say SBS TV’s 7 Billion stories fragmented across multiple fractal narratives.

Some would understand these fragments of the personal fractal narrative as masks. Which is to say the prismatic self may be best understood as a collection of masks. Our activity on these platforms as little more than marking territory. Behaviouralism. Social game play. Conditioned responses. These social platforms little more than primitive social experiments. In this context the gift economy is just another facet of these experiments in machine human interaction.

In the end though I suspect the young and the young at heart frequent these social platforms not so much to connect but to play. Simply because the machine has disrupted play. These platforms are merely playgrounds where people pretend, experiment, play games, share experiences, role play, create, mash-up, trade… They are learning experiences. Virtual spaces where people explore aspects of their personality that they once explored in the playground. They are very simply electronic sandpits. Places in the clouds where castles are built and new adventures and lives are imagined. Options are explored and meaning is constructed or maybe discovered accidentally and only fleetingly. The same goes for relationships.

In the end we play daily with lists constructed by people we may never meet. We play daily with machines. Our interaction is with machines or at best machine augmented humans. Even our own personal prismatic self is in reality little more than an expression of our machine augmented self. The prism is limited to the UX. Not so much a gift therefore I am but I type or swipe or click or scroll or like therefore I am.

All of which is to suggest that social media reflects the technology that allows this experience to exist. The question being of course does it augment the social condition or does it radically change the social condition. The nature of the social contract.

The next question being of course what do the philosophies of “dead white men” teach us about the machine augmented reality of our time… but I’ll leave that discussion for another day. I have already hit too many keys today.

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