This post is a fulfillment of the promise I made in my previous piece, Networks are Expanding Our Ignorance, to expand on my musings regarding Logan’s thesis of human meta-languages being evolutionary responses to information overload, specifically dealing with, The Sixth Language: Learning a Living in the Internet Age.
Language consists of a whole spectrum of responses from mimic actions through spoken word and poetry to literature and nonfiction. Syntax is one of the qualifiers of language. Most meta-languages such as: the written word, mathematics and scientific method are formal, linear and precise. They all belong in the bundle that can be referred to as CSWL (Clinical Standard Written Language). Columnist, Jon Evans, feels that Clinical Standard Written English (CWSE) is transitioning from being the accepted norm and the authoritative voice to being a form of communication where “you have deliberately hidden who you are, by donning that mask called CSWE.”
Informal, networked language such as: oral language and Internet Lingo have a syntax that welcomes branching, leaping and associating. Traditional sequencing is disrupted and associating quickly becomes a form of content.
Overload of information has given rise to the Internet and the leaping associative nature of its navigation (ease of access of information is a defining factor in Logan’s claim that the Internet itself is a whole new human meta-language).
The language of the Internet is leaning towards turning us into knowledge nomads. Jobs of the future are nomadic – based, not in a defined space/location or at a defined time, they are self-directed and self-paced, a transient series of jobs. In the knowledge era our work is not our training or our education or our jobs; our work is our life-long learning (continous learning being another one of Logan’s Internet qualifiers). The silos of personal and professional are becoming more and more blurred in a profersonal mix (an example of Logan’s alignment and integration). In the culture of the Internet the task is to create, nurture and leverage our uniqueness to add value to our lives, our philanthropy and the jobs we create.
“In the past, we applied for jobs. Now we are asked to design our work.” – (Moravec, 2008)
Knowmads and technogypsies represent a new culture created in response to the evolutionary occurance of Internet Lingo. Moravec states that, “A knowmad is a nomadic knowledge and innovation worker – that is, a creative, imaginative, and innovative person who can work with almost anybody, anytime, and anywhere.” He estimates that by 2020, 45% of the Western workforce will be knowmadic.
Logan is clear that syntax and semantics are both important aspects of determining if a form of communication is a meta-language or not. Obviously, he is not looking exclusively at words as being the building blocks in his meta-languages (i.e. numbers, symbols and hyperlinks also qualify as basic units).
Could Twitter be considered a basic unit in Internet Lingo? It is a unit that fully embraces the concept of leaping. Maria Popova sees Twitter as, “greatly challeng[ing] the binary dichotomy of attention as something that is either given or taken away, distracted. Instead, these tools allow us to direct attention to destinations where it can be sustained with more concentration and immersion.” Rita J. King in her piece, How Twitter Is Reshaping the Future of Storytelling claims that Twitter as a “medium is remaking us”. Colleague, Sean Jones and I wrote a paper, Zombie Lingo, that addressed the question of Twitter being an example of Logan’s 6th Language. In it we examined Jesse Stommel and Pete Rorabaugh’s hosting/creation of Twitter vs. Zombies and concluded that Twitter is an example of an Internet language.
Given all of this how do I, or should I, approach my thousand plateaus of rhizomatic learning? The scale of the Internet means that, with eyes wide open, I become more and more aware of what it is that I do not know! Through my readings, my personal learning network (PLN), and through collaboration I am beginning to be more fluent in the language of the Internet. I rely more and more on both my mechanical and my human filters. For example two, of many people in my PLN, who were influential in this post were Howard Rheingold and Cathleen Nardi. Howard introduced me to Logan’s work and Cathleen helped me move my thinking forward as a result of her post, Down the Rabbit Hole. As part of the two-way [multiway] communication of the Internet (another Logan qualifier) Cathleen’s thinking has been influenced by my writing – all part of the Thinking Out Loud that characterizes the epistemological shift resulting from and resulting in the Internet being a new leaping meta-language which is producing knowmads!