Some time ago Barataria proposed the concept of Syndesics, or the body of knowledge and practices regarding connection. The purpose of this is to understand connection as a derivative of change for the ultimate purpose of understanding change itself.
It is also a way of understanding what may be the ultimate connection in a technology driven world, which is the connection between arm and mind which renders new ideas into practice. But the foundation of Syndesics, still a work in progress, has to be a bit more abstract.
There are two ways of looking at Syndesics. The intellectual one is as an extension of Connection Theory, proposed by James Burke in a BBC series in 1978. His assertion is that technology advances primarily by connecting existing technologies. In this view, every technology can be combined with another by anyone to produce something new. As there are more technologies, the rate of change accelerates as more potential connections can be made. Burke called this the “Trigger Effect” of all tech.
Every technology is also an enabling technology – though some are more so than others.
You can also look at connections in a more spiritual way. Any object can have its parts replaced, but does that change the nature of the object itself? In Syndesics, the nature of all things is tied up on how their parts are connected, much as atoms bond to form molecules. It is the connections that are the essence of all things and all being.
To be more practical, however, requires some analysis of connection itself.
We know from history, for example, that some new ideas are more disruptive than others. Communications advances have a tendency to fundamentally change the entire world, for example. From the building of roads to create empires to the clipper ships which connected the world, this has always been the case. As communications was divorced from travel with the telegraph, radio, and eventually the internet this only accelerated.
What is unique about communications technology? And are there other technologies which have the same effects?
All things start with ideas. The connections which are most important in terms of advancement are he new ones which connect two ideas which were once seemingly unrelated. The further apart those two ideas are, the more revolutionary the new idea is. For the purpose of this part of the analysis, it is important to stay with ideas and not physical objects created by reduce those ideas to practice, but this does come into the analysis.
There are three basic forms of ideas which can be identified, namely:
- Facts, developed from the scientific method or discovery,
- Processes, either as a personal skill or a developed methond, and
- Perspectives, stated as values or frameworks for understanding.
These basic forms of ideas can connect in six different ways:
|These concepts are connected||They form these new ideas|
|Facts to Facts||Disciplines (- ologies)|
|Facts to Processes||Inventions|
|Facts to Perspectives||Models|
|Processes to Processes||Technologies|
|Processes to Perspectives||Products|
|Perspectives to Perspectives||Ideologies ( – isms)|
From these six basic connections and their product, we can evaluate changes to see how many they form at once. To go back to the internet, for example, we can see how it has affected each of them. Facts, in general, are more readily available and the internet has enables many to be connected. It has its own disciplines, inventions, and models. It is constantly creating new technologies and products. Ultimately, people of diverse backgrounds are coming together to create new ideologies of many kinds. As an enabling technology, the internet is Sixth Order.
This is what is unique about communications technologies, at least over time. We can measure at least the range of the change they spark by noting that they enhance nearly all aspects of connection which are possible. It may be possible to refine this considerably based on the apparent distance made by each connection, but suffice it to say for now that at Sixth Order connector is going to be much more significant than a First Order one, or even a Fifth Order connector.
The effect is certainly exponential. For now, we are dealing in orders of magnitude.
This tool is useful because as a technology is adopted by the world we can trace what it changes based on what it ultimately connects. The technologies which are of a higher order, meaning they connect more concepts, are more disruptive.
In this way, Syndesics is a tool for evaluating the nature of change and identifying areas where change is more significant, thus requiring further attention.
The internet is obvious enough as a Sixth Order highly disruptive technology. Those who created ARPAnet back in the 1970s had no idea it was going this way, and certainly lacked any ability to understand just how vast the implications were of the new connecting device they were creating. They lacked all of the language to even begin to understand it, let alone describe it.
But they did know that it had the potential to be disruptive. And this begs the question, “What else in our world is just as disruptive, and how do we go about understanding those changes so that we can master them?”
That’s two, questions, really. But they beg an analysis of two things which are closely connected themselves.