Friday, February 11, 2011

SkyBook - Yesterday's Facebook: A Page from Tinguely's Journal

Does it ever seem odd to you that many of the world's civilizations were pyramid-builders?

How did they all happen upon that particular architecture? Every child who has ever experimented with blocks has found that the most stable edifice is a pyramid, so perhaps it's not so earth-shattering as it may seem that so many people decided to try their hand at a pyramid.

But still, why is it that they seem to have so much in common?

What if the solutions are in the stars?

Let's think about this.

Back in 1,000 BC, the stars were absolutely brilliant. They were bright. The constellations were in your face. Imagine the night of a new moon. The moon could be so bright there could be moon shadows. It's hard to imagine from the vantage point of today's cities.

Brilliant stars, maps in the skies. The night sky was so fascinating I'm sure that during the new moon people dragged around exhausted during the day after staying up all night watching the skies.

What were they watching?

What if they were looking at star-based blueprints? What if there were blueprints for buildings, structures, etc? Okay -- and let's get more extreme -- what if the sky was yesterday's Internet -- a shared repository of image-based knowledge. Images blended with oral traditions. It was a scary time. Very little was written, scratched in stone, or carved into cuneiform.

Forget mp3 files. Forget avi. Forget everything that could be made dead, like paper.

With digital spontaneity, are we more like the star-gazers than the Francis Baconian "New Atlantis" Royal Society types? A printed page is static.

Oral tradition and knowledge gleaned from the ever-moving skies are fluid, and aggressively mediated by society and human desire.

Knowledge gained through social networking is fluid, ever-evolving, mediated by human desire (and tools -- technology).

Tools of transmission: technology.

Ancient technologies? Tools of transmission? What were they?

The stars themselves, but oral tradition -- frozen (and ultimately misrepresented) by glyphs, cuneiform, diagrams, art.

At any rate, it's food for thought.