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Complex interests, detailed interests

BoingBoing points to some wonderful comments by Vint Cerf in an interview in Esquire, including:

The closer you look at something, the more complex it seems to be.

So true. And also quite different from one of the founding ideas of Western culture. For the ancient Greeks, beneath the apparent complexity there had to be a simple order, or else knowledge wasn’t possible.

You have to wonder about the role our current technology has played in our moving from the Greeks to Vint. (1) We are far better able to externalize ideas now, so that we can know more than we could when memory was confined to what fit in our skulls and could be written down by hand. (2) Our technology now lets us put things together far more complexly than the physical world does; reality is designed to keep things apart (to be something is to not be something else, said Aristotle), while the Web is designed to link things together. (3) Our technology connects us in socially complex ways, enabling us to understand things together.

And it’s not just that things become more complex the closer you look. They also become more interesting. Everything is interesting if looked at closely enough. I take that as one of the lessons of the Net. [Tags: ]

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