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CHAPTER 4: SECOND GENERATION - PRINT AND FILM

Really we create nothing. We merely plagiarize nature.

Jean Baudrillard Simulations


4.1 Perceptual vs Conceptual Map

The second generation is defined as the use of extrasomatic tools to store information outside our bodies. We store information outside our bodies in words (Print) and in images (Film). Capturing this distinction between word and image requires a more sophisticated model than the Triad Model, presented in Figure 3-2. By depicting the person as the triple overlap of ecosphere (natural world), sociosphere (social world) and technosphere (artificial world), the Triad Model focuses on the objective world of behavior with respect to those three aspects of the environment. However, each person at the center has a subjective map of this objective world which partially determines this behavior. That is, our behavior is determined by the world-as-we-see-it rather than by the world-as-it-is. It is necessary then to add an inset to our model, depicting this subjective map (see Figure 4-1). This is the level of experience.

The nervous system is unique among all systems in the universe, because it can be viewed from the inside (experience) as well as from the outside (behavior). A full description of the function of the nervous system must explain both behavior and experience. The view from the inside and the view from the outside overlap. However, there can be aspects of behavior which are not aspects of experience, and aspects of experience which are not aspects of behavior.36

The subjective map could be considered as composed of a perceptual map based on things in the objective world and a conceptual map based on words in the objective world. Since the speech center is in the left hemisphere of the brain, it is a useful heuristic to associate the conceptual map with the left hemisphere.

Despite the fact that I attended the university most famed for its research on perception, I still was taught that this left hemisphere was the "dominant" hemisphere. Since motor functions cross over, the left hemisphere controls the right side of the body. Most people are right-handed, right-footed, and right-eyed.37 The right hemisphere was viewed as a sort of spare in case there was damage to the dominant left hemisphere (based on the evidence that indeed if there was damage to the speech center in early childhood, it could switch to the "submissive" right hemisphere). Now, it is clear that the right hemisphere is best considered as creating a perceptual map of the objective world.

Because of my traditional training, I strongly emphasize the conceptual over the perceptual map. An example of this is that I write directions when given them over the telephone (left side of Figure 4-2). When driving to visit my friend Sally, I had to stop a couple of times to reread my directions. In the interval between this first and a second visit, I had been thinking about my neglected right hemisphere. Hence, the next time she invited me, I drew a map as she was giving me directions (right side of Figure 4-2). This time I drove straight there, since I had a map in my mind. It is obvious to me now that nature would not create the most complex system in the world simply as a spare part and that the drawing of a map while getting directions clearly calls for the use of the right hemisphere.

When Barry Lucky gave me directions to his sound studio in the basement of his farm in Alexandria so that I could come to have my Siliclone pressed into a CD-ROM, I drew a map.38 Halfway there, I realized that I had left the map at home. My first reaction was to go back for it, but I discovered that I had the map in my head right down to the address of his farm and followed it right there.

My use of diagrams in this book - Four Generations of Media (see Figure 1-3), Triad Model (see Figure 3-2), and so on - further illustrates my attempt to learn to use my right hemisphere. Sometimes it is better to show than to tell. We have to learn to use our whole brain and not just the left side of its upper crust. A picture is indeed sometimes worth a thousand words.

Another exercise to activate my dormant right hemisphere is to carry a small camera at all times. I have always carried a notebook for fishing in the stream-of-consciousness. That is, as the stream of consciousness is rushing past (or trickling past on bad days), I write down anything which is deemed interesting. My experience has been that we tend to forget even if it seems so unforgettable at the time. I'll always remember whatshername. From time to time, those notes are thrown into shoe boxes for each of the projects I'm working on. When it comes time to write that paper or give that lecture, more ideas emerge from that box than went into it. They've been breeding. Any new idea is a combination of old ideas. Now, I carry a small camera to do the same for the perceptual map. It alerts me to interesting stills in the mind movie.

The small camera embodies the Advanced Photo System. This system has a number of features distinguishing it from the traditional 35 mm camera which has been essentially unchanged for decades. It is more compact. It uses cartridges which can be easily popped in and out of the camera. There are three optional aspect ratios - classical, hdtv, and panoramic. The photographs are returned with a colored contact sheet. You can receive the images on floppy disks or on CD-ROM disks as well as hard copies. Electronic messages keep you informed about the mode the camera is in, the number of shots remaining, and so on.

Those improvements in the design of the analog camera are another illustration of the sailboat effect. The design of sailboats improved dramatically when the sailboat was challenged by the steamboat. Now the design of analog photography is improving because of the challenge from digital photography. While digital photography can not match the resolution of analog photography yet, it is enough of a challenge to force the manufacturers of analog cameras to finally improve them.



36   A student once pointed out that I tend to touch the top of my fly from time to time while lecturing. This reminded me of the time when another student had told me after I had delivered a two-hour lecture to 700 students that my fly was open. My unconscious gesture was a part of my behavior which was not a part of my experience. That is what we mean by "unconscious". From time to time, when I am lecturing, I am reminded of my mother. She never understood why I continued going to school after I was allowed to leave. When people in the village asked what I was doing, she had to admit that I was still going to school. The next obvious question was how I supported myself and her not-so-obvious answer was "he lives by his wits" Here I go again, I often think while lecturing, living by my wits and I'm on half-salary. Unless I choose to pass on those thoughts to the class, they are a part of experience which is not a part of behavior. Such unconscious behavior and unexpressed experience demonstrate the need to explain both behavior and experience.

37   We all know whether we are right- or left-handed. In Scotland, everyone - or at least all boys - knew whether they were right- or left-footed, because of soccer. Few of us, however, know whether we are right- or left-eyed. With both eyes open, line up your thumb with some object. Close your right eye. If your thumb is no longer lined up with the object, you are right-eyed. With both eyes open, your dominant eye does the lining up.

38   Preview of coming attractions: The Siliclone is a silicon clone of myself. It will be discussed in detail in Section 8.2.