Hyper (Medication Optional)

The Personal Democracy Forum (PdF) (http://www.personaldemocracy.com) is the world's largest and best known conference on the intersection of technology and politics. For the sixth year (from June 29-June 30, 2009), more than 1,000 opinion makers, political practitioners, technologists and journalists came together to network, exchange ideas, and explore how technology and the Internet are changing politics, democracy, and society.

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Though in its sixth year, I attended PdF for the first time, this year. My motivation was more than professional, it was personal. My attendance became mandatory after learning my Cambridge-culled friend Mark Pesce would be presenting “The Dangerous Power of Sharing (Power)” to PdF’s second-day, mid-afternoon, pre-Networking lunch audience at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall, steps away from Columbus Circle in New York City. The venue is popular for those as famous or more famous than Pesce (Jazz great Wynton Marsalis is an example of the latter).

Pesce, whose six-year-long, real-time-residence is Sydney, Australia, has Northeast, United States roots. Indeed, New England was once our mutual geographic anchor; the topography of which was distinct in our shared social network (some of Pesce’s closest friends became gold-mines of conversation at parties Pesce promoted and at which I was present and participated to the fullest extent).

While both of us enjoyed the dynamism of Cambridge, Massachusetts for its obvious and storied intellectual repositories (look no further than Pesce’s alma mater, MIT) Pesce and I once shared and enjoyed a cadre of people that was far removed from the virtual (one of Pesce’s passions); it was a social network that accentuated the actual.

As a ‘green’ tech-journalist, I sought Pesce’s presence and accepted his invitations to party at his MIT- adjacent apartment because I observed in Pesce, a sure-footed geeky masculinity which had not completely revealed itself, but was nonetheless part of Pesce’s panache and prestige.

Pesce’s expertise and insight into virtual reality/virtual worlds made my association with him during my live television days at Cambridge Community Television good for my show’s ratings. Pesce was described by many of my Talk Tech viewers as “the most captivating and dynamic” of all my tech-infused guests.

So Pesce’s arrival in New York City as a participant in PdF 2009 represented a reclassification of sorts — he went from being VHS archive material shelved safely amongst my VHS library to a tangible example of the phenomena Pesce eloquently emphasized (with above average visuals not standardly employed via PowerPoint) at PdF 2009: ‘hyperconnection.’

For the last four years, Pesce has practiced "digital ethnology", observing the behavioral, cultural and political changes wrought by the new technologies of sharing and communication. In his writings (both hard copy and e-thereal) Pesce has used his considerable talent for making logically-rendered, inspired, utopian terrains possible.

“We are so much better connected than we were even a decade ago, and this connectivity breeds new capabilities. The first of these capabilities are the pooling and sharing of knowledge – or ‘hyperintelligence’. Consider: everyone who reads Wikipedia is potentially as smart as the smartest person who’s written an article in Wikipedia,” Pesce portends.

The methodology of Wikipedia (which allows anyone to be an author or editor), is similar to the methodology of Wikileaks argues Pesce. Such an organic cyber-propelled community, a vast hyperlinked world of accurate intelligence fused with a collective knowledge and respect for statistically rendered demographic differences disrupts the ‘power grid’.

The success of Wikipedia in providing accurate and up-to-date information has been stunning and surprising to many. Wikipedia shows that the collective wisdom of an informed community of users may produce massive volumes of accurate knowledge in a rapid, democratic and transparent manner. Wikileaks aims to harness this phenomenon to provide fast and accurate dissemination, verification, analysis, interpretation and explanation of leaked documents, for the benefit of people all around the world.

According to Pesce, hyperconnectivity also means that we can carefully watch one another. We learn from one another’s behaviors “at the speed of light” he notes. This new capability – ‘hypermimesis’ – means that new behaviors can be seen and copied very quickly. Hypermimesis means that communities of interest can form around particular behaviors, ‘clouds’ of potential.

A f2f (face-to-face) with Pesce delivers a confident intelligence (notably lacking in conceit); which isn’t successfully transferable to the Web; no matter how many dimensions one imagines in virtual space. Notably not transferable, as well, is the glimmer in Pesce’s eyes when he considers the possibility (as he seemed to with me) of a conversation come full circle — a conversation that has been gurgling between Pesce and I since Google — whose SEO (search engine optimization) network infrastructure insists there are about 161,000 results for mark pesce..

At PdF 2009, I had an opportunity to assess if Pesce’s real-time persona is any less hyper than when I last saw him — at a party — where the dynamic of the room was elevated by intellect, computer-centered-conversation and many occasions when Pesce and I couldn’t help but laugh in each other’s presence.

My human architecture; the very one that forced me to stretch upward to a once frequent place on my time-space-continuum — where the body says what words cannot — when my affection for Mark caught up to him in the form of an embrace as he emerged from backstage — was a paradox drawn to human scale: A man credited with co-creating VRML (Virtual Reality Markup Language) and who has a record of evangelizing about it was forced to get real — in a New York second.

Thanks to futurists like Pesce, the odds of democratizing the future enjoy a greater likelihood. Pesce (and his futurist allies) understand that citizens, domestically and globally can upend present-day, closely-held hierarchies. The power of political change, its very motion (the ‘push back,’ (as some in the cyber-scene identify it) is actualized and manifest on devices (choose your telecommunication talisman) that drive the visual narratives of resistance in places seemingly disconnected to us (e.g. where Islamic law claims absolute authority).

For some, a mathematical approach to Pesce’s bottom line is contained in this Tweet:

Hyperconnectivity = hypermimesis = hyperempowerment

Kindly direct any Twitter-based-technically-viable-utopian-driven tweets to me @right_hook

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