Collective Intelligence

Location: Hartford, Connecticut, United States

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I, at some point far away a while ago, renamed my blog 'Collective Intelligence'. I'm sure, too, that I had all sorts of plans to post entries that somehow tied into that scheme of things. They seem to have slipped my mind, however, in a fit of fickle fury.

And so now I am reconsidering renaming my blog, yet again. Except that I can't seem to think of any clever or witty titles at the moment. Here's where Colin could be helpful - instead of offering movie reviews... he could come up with some clever idea for a blog title... I love Colin, I do... but I'm still upset with him for NOT giving me an 'A'... call it ego, if you will, but it's true and I admit it. BECAUSE this is my blog, I CAN say that. The only difinitive thing I've decided is that I can say whatever I want on MY blog (courtesy of RenReb). I've been told I need to be more selfish - yes, you heard me right 'more selfish' - and so this is one way I can be more selfish without possibly dire consequences. I have also been told that I need to stand up for myself and stop letting people step all over me. Okay, then, passivity gets me nowhere. I can see that. But isn't there a certain wisdom in the saying "choosing our battles?" Always seemed like an economically viable (emotionally speaking, that is) manner of dealing with life and its precarious situations. I'm still torn between the new (potential) me and the old one... I mean, who the hell wants to want around angry all the time? I don't usually have the energy for that... nor the desire. And really... I don't know about you, but MY time is often worth more than the effort I would have to exert to fight every little thing that struck me the wrong way. A lot of the time, it simply isn't worth the time. I have other things to do; people to see; place to go; and a world of things to learn... why become paralyzed over trivial things or people?

And I am a firm believer in 'choices', not 'submission' or subjugation or persuasion by force. I'm perfectly at ease with someone who disagrees with my point of view. In fact, it fascinates me, for whatever strange reasons that be, that people view things so differently from each other. It's the key to what makes us all tick... tick... tick.

Now that's a deep discussion. For another time, I'm afraid. Just wanted to touch base with everybody (like anyone really reads this - haha). Seriously, though, any clever or witty suggestions for a new blog title welcome!!

Monday, January 02, 2006


While many of you have continued to blog... I, for my part, have continued to read your posts. That must account for something, no? Well, suffice it to say that this holiday season has been tunultuous for me, given the present circumstances, and it's about all I could muster in order to try to stay connected with your stories, anecdotes, tidbits of info, humor, insight, and life on the outside of emotional turmoil.

I don't often share your keen abilities to see and write about the issues in life that you all find humor in - though I do so enjoy commenting upon them when you bring these issues my attention. See the problem is, my posts seldom open up that particular brand of dialogue, and mostly, I'm way out there, entirely too damned serious, and often dig beneath the surface to the point of losing my audience thereby rendering them either speechless... or more probably so, uniterested.

I guess that makes me guilty - yes, guilty... of trying to speak to or for a particular audience... waiting for commentary (as Brett once admitted, and others followed suit) that is all part of the blogging phenomenon. So what does blogging mean to me?

Blogging is bottomline, the keeping of a personal journal and creating communities of like-minded, or interest-sharing individuals who keep in touch via the Internet. One thing that I have remained steadfast in is the fact that blogs, blogging, and the blogoshphere all remain a world of ideas - some great and interesting and thought-provoking - creating links in our own minds just as technically as they create links on the Internet.

But the human mind still fascinates me as one of those secret places whose ticking keeps on going like the Energizer Bunny...

01/06/06 - Con'd

As you can see, I never finished my other post. I have followed my other faves, though, and enjoyed the ride. One thing I cannot understand is the movie-review phenomenon that seems either 1.) to be a filler when the author has nothing else to write about, or 2.) possibly real interest. Hell, I watch plenty of movies, but few of them move me to real emotion, and even fewer of them seem worthy of my time to write about. I suppose if I got paid to write about them, I would and then there would be some point. Most of the films out today seem so artificial and far-fetched that they seldom draw me in. I want characters built solidly enough to be able to empathize or sympathize with, to feel as if I might know them and share in the glimpses of their lives. I want plots that are believable and possible in the realm of reality - not in the sphere of shock and stupification. I don't know, call me weird, but the world is full of fascinating real stuff, real people, real problems. If an author or character can exclaim to me: TAKE MY HAND AND FOLLOW ME - SEE WHAT I SEE, HEAR WHAT I HEAR, FEEL WHAT I FEEL... then I'll be a willing participant. Not till then, though. Sorry guys. And especially Colin, who often has some thought-provoking, very sensitive posts, followed by such things as 'movie reviews' and commentary... I don't know, it just doesn't do it for ME. That's not to knock those who enjoy it, mind you, I'm just venting... and this is MY blog, and I can say whatever I want. (I borrowed that line from the RenReb - hope you don't mind, Renreb - ;-o ).

And that's how I see it.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Creativity and Communication

“In America it’s taken for granted that a community
left to its own devices will spontaneously organize,
without waiting for higher authorities to do it…”

-Passage from Made in USA

Human thought processes are largely metaphorical, a fundamental mechanism that allows us to use what we know about our physical and social experiences to provide understanding of countless other subjects. It is only in the detail that these processes differ, but biologically, humans are structured the same. They diverge only when it comes to comprehension and reason. This metaphorical concept, according to Clotaire Rapaille, is a code – a mental highway that every word has meaning and is usually unconscious in the brain. It is “the permanent, unconscious structure of a topic.” (Rapaille).

Unconscious or hidden forces tend to pre-organize the way people behave towards a specific concept or idea. Rapaille’s technique is known as archetype research, and is a revival of the psychoanalytic methods that were popular in the 1950s and 1960s, in which the technique was not to ask what, but to ask why. It attempts to dig down to our deepest associations in order to discover the best way(s) to influence the collective cultural mind of any given group of people.

As an accepted linguistic theory, emotion is understood to be the ‘linguistic glue’ that keeps meaning alive in our minds and sinks into our unconscious. Rapaille’s word association digs beneath the surface by recognizing that straightforward questions are aimed at the cortex of the brain – the seat of our intellect. Therefore, by directing queries to what he calls the reptilian part of the brain, or the home of primal emotion, he decodes the very fundamental imprints that answer what unstated needs and wants are satisfied through a particular medium. By appealing to the logic of emotion and not to the logic of our intellect is what drives most people and causes them to behave the way they do. In order to truly influence people with an idea you have to dig deep beneath the surface to where their mind-sets began. In other words, a metaphor is a fundamental mechanism of the mind. It shapes our perceptions and actions without our ever noticing.

Decoding the Blogosphere

With blogging, like the act of learning to read, the whole world suddenly opens up with a single key. Its success lies not so much within the message itself, but within the framework or structure of the source:

“You have all the potential connections of a telephone
communication network, but don’t have the telephone
number. The first imprint is pre-organized by the culture.
Emotion is the energy that is necessary to
create the imprint and produce the neurotransmitters
in the brain. Language, by far, is the first level of
crystallization of the imprint.”

-Interview with Clotaire Rapaille, Frontline

This does not mean, however, that the message is always a good one. It simply means that we are able to recognize the real message.

The blogosphere is made up of millions of different communities that have congregated because of common interests.

If ‘X’ writes a short
post that links to my blog, he uses key words in the title and again in the body of the text where it is bolded. This is attractive to search engines, like Google, for example. So whomever searches for this topic will likely find his post (since he is hypothetically higher in the hierarchy than I initially am) and will follow the link to my blog.After some time and after I have written several posts containing the key terms, both in the title and in the body (perhaps a couple of times each, sometimes bold, sometimes italics), Google and other engines will begin to pick up my blog whenever people search for this particular topic. If there are enough people interested in this topic, they will, sooner or later, all show up on my blog. Again, hypothetically, I can become the hub for this topic. After a few months, if there are a couple of dozen of blogs writing frequently on this topic, I can start a carnival. Another year and I may be hosting a complex website that contains a blog, a list of all related blogs, an aggregator of all related blogs, a homepage/archives of the carnival, calls to action, and links to important websites that track this particular subject.Give it another year, and I could be hosting physical meetings of interested bloggers. And the possibilities are endless. Blogging and linking are intertwined in a complex maze of networks from people unrelated far and wide that come together for the mutual benefit or interest of the subject.

And it all stems from the structure that becomes the very nature of the message because the message is an integral part of the structure, and at times, they seem inseparable from one another.

The Associated Code

By relying on code as defined by Rapaille, and allow for retrieval along natural axes, we overlap associations. On the web, this initiates a sort of "viral marketing," or recommendations proliferated directly from one user to another. A blog is a live web page and its dynamic is driven by its links. These links become the architecture of participation - an open source community - whereby the users add immeasurable value to the delivery of information. The delivery system becomes the structure and within it, the message.The blogosphere is equivalent to a global brain, which is contained by what Rapaille has coined the 'Cultural Code.' Every culture has a set of beliefs - a mental category - which is basically the first set of mental connections we make. They are the first imprints we gain into our social worlds. Eventually, this system becomes unconscious, and is employed throughout our lives. So the information that spreads - that we spread - has gravitational cores of set principles and practices that, tied together, form a sort of solar system that represents in some way some or all of those principles at varying degrees from that core system.

Emotional Whippets

Whether we talk about advertisements or blogs, a large part of their appeal relies heavily on emotion – appealing to the reptilian part of our brains.

Here are some of the websites we’ve looked at that illustrate this point: - the answer to every housewife's dream of fame and fortune... This site reads like a personal journal on the petty trials and tribulations of a woman who relies strongly on appealing to other women through the common problems they face daily. It’s not a matter of experiencing unique problems; it’s just that Dooce is well-worded and funny to read. What matters here is that a good many other women return to Dooce, day after day, to follow this epic yet endless novel. It doesn't matter if what she purports is part and parcel of her daily life is real or not because she tells it in such a way that so many other woman can relate to.

Seemingly unimportant events are like soap opera episodes not to be missed because they're too clever, witty, gutsy, and satisfying. She appeals to the ‘reptilian’ part of our brain – to the emotional aspect of our daily lives. She's the woman we all want to be... sometimes. Sometimes we want to be her, or just like her, most of the time. And sometimes, most of the time, we want to be like her all of the time.

Whatever Dooce may or may not be, she has created the perfect, flaw-filled, bored, American housewife that so many women can relate to.

Coffee Rhetoric

Yet another blogsite whose appeal lies in the fact that its author does nothing more extraordinary than the average young, single American woman. She shares the trials and tribulations of such common problems of dating losers and the bar scene, good or not-so-good hair days, being verbally accosted by a lesbian on the bus ride home from work, and other non-descript but the oh-so-common trials of daily life, again, that so many of us can relate to. And she does so with clever story-telling aptitude in language we all use and understand. It is appealing to a particular sub-culture on a wide-spread basis.

Renegade Rebbetzin

And the last of my examples, a little narrower sub-culture that nonetheless has an interesting appeal is the site of the Renegade Rebbetzin.

RenReb’s ability to richly express the tribulations of being an Orthodox Rabbi’s wife, with all its responsibilities and pitfalls, while also being a mother and a housewife, an upstanding citizen in the community, a friend, a daughter, and countless other roles results in an easy-to-read and relate- to experience, narrowly based on a sub-culture that is part of a much larger culture. It has a definite appeal to the Jewish community as a whole, but it also has a certain appeal to the community of women, Jewish or not. She may not realize it, or certainly intend it to be this way, but its general appeal shows through writing and with the topics on which she remarks.

Blogs, by the very structure they assume, extend the massive appeal of self-expression to dynamic, almost continually prolific linking and commentary about life and any kind of information on the Web. It weaves a dense network of links throughout with one's own personal perspectives and preferences as one hub.

Therefore, the style of blogging is arguably more effective than the words themselves. The idea of wandering as a writing and reading practice is appealing to many people, and the message contained in the blog is inherent in its structure. And it is our cultural codes that tie them all together.

Blogging appeals more to the emotional, or reptilian, part of human nature than it does to the intellect. Rapaille calls this “the logic of emotion,” whereby a connection is made deep within our subconscious minds and is directly related to the first imprint we have of words or things and to that with which we associate them. By digging deep beneath surface, begging at the core of what makes us behave the way we do, these codes become the structure and emotion of the way we communicate.

“I don’t care what you’re going to tell me intellectually,” Rapaille says, “I don’t care. Give me the reptilian. Why? Because the reptilian always wins.”
Emotion before logic? Yes. The logic of emotion. Absolutely.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Twice in one evening???

I found that I could not sleep... I dozed; I tossed; I turned; and then, I got up and sat down to write. Something happened today that touched me deeply and is replaying itself in my mind over and over again...

As we sat watching TV together after school, my ten-year-old daughter, Serena, who has Down's Syndrome said suddenly to me, quite out of the blue: "Poppy not nice... he far away and Afif and Tristan he keep away." She looked straight into my eyes as she said these words, choking on every one. As she finished tears were rolling down her precious, little cheeks. She got up from her chair, walked over to me and put her arms around my shoulders... and with her head resting upon my chest, she said, "I love you." And we both cried.

I never realized before just how profoundly she has been affected by the actions of her father (I cringe because he doesn't deserve the title...) I guess I figured because she was mentally retarded that she didn't really understand what was going on; maybe part of me also thought that she couldn't possibly feel the pain and separation like I do... or my parents do... her her uncle or cousins do. It's always seemed natural for me to assume that her slow reactions were not just slow, but somehow dulled, too. I was wrong.

At that moment, my pain seemed inconsequential compared to hers. It's one thing when our hearts break... it is an entirely different matter when our children's hearts break, and even worse when we can do nothing to make it better. There are no words to ease the pain or to mask the ugliness of what her father's done.

At that moment, I felt like a failure. I've finally come upon a situation in life that is bigger than I am - one that makes me helpless and vulnerable and weak... One over which I have no control. One over which the law of this great country has no (immediate) control. It seems that even God has no control over this.

Funny thing... words have always been my savior - always and without exception. I've always been able to get through anything with words - either writing or talking my way in, out, or through anything or anyone I've ever come across or up against. But even they me fail now. They pale in comparison to the pain.

So in my moment of great failure, I witnessed my little girl's greatest moment of triumph - so perfectly imperfect... so naturally tender... and so surprisingly profound ... that it rendered me speechless and filled my heart with awe.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Oh, the guilt...

... of not blogging - it's overwhelming! You're all so efficient at continuing to blog... all I manage to do is comment, which to me is half the fun, anyway.

But seriously, I think it's time I came up with some clever, witty, and original stuff of my own, I just can't seem to find the time. Right now, it's nearing midnight and my mind is sort of mushy, so original is not exactly in my repertoire at the moment. It's just that, after reading Patty's post, and Brett's and Bill's and Elin's and Eric's, and... and... and Colin's being lost somewhere in cyberspace... I felt this twinge that I should at least be 'in the social sphere of things.' Guess I'm feeling left out... :-(... and a bit lonely.

Of course, I could always turn to my cyber-friend, the Renegade Rebbetzin I suppose. But I must admit, a lot of her lingo - and that of all of her commentors (except for me) - quite escapes me most of the time. Guess that would mean that I'm not truly a part of that community, huh? Damn... does that also mean I'm a social misfit?

Oh... the possibilities - they're greater than the guilt.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

To Think or to Feel...

It is a question that each one of us can ask ourselves, but I don't think it's quite so easy to answer. Part of that might be due to our memories - or lack of memories prior to age five.

According to Myers & Briggs, by the time we are three years old, the core of our cognitive organization is well-fixed. Seems to me that if that's the case, we surely are born with certain tendencies and the environments into which we are cast help only in shaping how we use the way we perceive.

Can we unlearn one way and relearn another? That's food for thought, certainly. I would suspect that one could incorporate aspects of the other without ever changing his or her intrinsic design.

The question I am left with after reading about personality types and the benefits of knowing your own, for example, is now that I've confirmed what I already suspected, what do I do with it now? Does having this knowledge benefit me in any way in my daily dealings with colleagues, family, friends, even mere acquaintances?

If your job somehow relies on communication with people - more than your ordinary line of communication, I mean - I suppose it could be beneficial to know your own strengths and weaknesses... but what about the other persons strengths and weaknesses? What if they collide with yours?

I suppose for self-help reasons such knowledge might be beneficial (considering it is legitimate knowledge to begin with). One could use that knowledge to try to make informed decisions by considering other avenues of action - different than the one(s) he or she would ordinarily and most naturally choose, thereby trying to perceive things differently.

It's certainly fascinating stuff, especially for a writer. We always want to know what makes people tick... what makes some people think and feel one way, and someone else another way... we muse at trying to figure out how people think and why they feel the things and ways they do.

It can be very beneficial socially, for the same reasons. Improved communication; better self-understanding, and better understanding of others. In a well-rounded sort of way, this type of knowledge can be great. In more specific ways, I think someone would have to delve pretty deep into the psychology of it all to better grasp what it's potential really is.

Perhaps ideally, though, an even mixture of feeling and logical thought - linguistic and numerical logic even, could be combined for the most productive personality type.

And now that I have confirmed and learned all about my 'introverted' self, if someone could please tell me HOW I can learn to be, at least temporarily, more extroverted so that I could learn effective public speaking... I'd be most obliged!!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Last Class Blues...

It may seem as though I sort of skipped over - or traveled a path outside the realm of those of my classmates - but I did not. I read with delight and great interest all they had to say; I marvelled at their candor and humor and took many notes on their outlooks and opinions. But for this blogging class, I tried, pretty much, to stay on course with the subject at hand. (Well... except for the three posts in which I made feeble attempts at joining their worlds of living emotion by delving into the personal...)

Okay, so I failed spectacularly in comparison. Not only that, but I've actually reverted to that good old tried and true medium of communication - the printed one - to air my 'dirty laundry' (I use these words in strictly humorous terms...) But there are motivations for this... I am currently working closely with the editor-at-large of the Middle East's largest English daily newspaper on the whole (sordid) story of the subject of parental kidnapping. It is in my best interest this way. The world of blogging is wonderful and potentially far-reaching, in its own ways, it is or can be immediate - but all of this is dependent upon having an audience... and the right audience... and the time to earn one. Standing alone, I do not.

Initially, I thought that perhaps blogging about it would invite others to blog about it, too. I thought it might start a community of sorts. But it did not. It is a complex and highly charged subject; a subject most people don't know anything about - and why should they,really? (Now, if I had an audience like Colin does - one, yes, that he's built up over the years and through diligence and hard work - then perhaps the blogging thing would have worked - and there's nothing to say it still won't... it's just that my needs are more immediate than I have time to build connections and a following. In fact, that isn't my motivation (at least not in this realm), and therefore, that particular type of blogging won't serve the purpose I need it to.

But blogging has been therapeutic... and has fertilized creativity at a time when I've felt anything but... and a lot of self-discovery... an incredible amount of thought... it's opened up a whole new world of interest and the opportunity to meet some wonderful people - both in class and through some of the blogs we've studied (a few I've opened up dialogue with).

Blogging is for reasons personal to each individual... it provides satisfaction through interaction; it provides validation for some - perhaps for all in one way or another... it builds communities where people can meet and discuss and share ideas... ideas... the flow of ideas - what a wonderful place filled with ideas, this blogosphere is!