Welcome to the Immaterial World

 

I entitled my very first Blog post in February 2015.  It represents an ongoing quest, namely, Growing More Human.  Over the weekend I continued that quest in Italy at H-Farm’s Kinnernet Venice hosted by Yossi Vardi, Maurizio Rossi, and Riccardo Donadon. The very ‘H’ in the name ‘H-Farm’ holds primacy and represents ‘Human’; it emphasizes the human dimension that is fundamental to both H-Farm’s mission and to the Kinnernet ethos.

This weekend H-Farm and Kinnernet Venice welcomed me to the immaterial world. I interacted with David Hanson’s humanoid robot, SophiaSophia

I underwent a virtual body swap and felt what it would be like to inhabit a man’s body (thanks to Eliram Haklai).

I unleashed my creativity and painted a
virtual picture with tree-dimensional brush strokes, stars, light, snow, fire, and rainbows using the Tilt Brush by Google. I experienced motion sickness after spending too much time using my Avatar to chase Jarret Goetz through Virtual Venice in full 3D mode and flew for the first time in the geo-mapped Metaverse (thanks to Qbit Technologies).

I also explored Venice in real life.  I used it as the setting for an adventure to discover original tales and solve enigmas in a game scenario (thanks to the company WhaiWhai). It would be remiss of me not to mention that I also ran on Venice’s pavestones at midnight trying to find a secret spot to sip the world’s best Bellini under starlight and enjoy the exhilarating view on the canal of the Santa Maria dell Salute church with cherished friends.

This is Venice – a great city of historical artistic and intellectual creativity and achievement. The historical Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia is a successful example of a city republic using self-governance regime, a symbol of wise government and freedom.  A place that played a crucial innovative role in world financial developments, devising the main instruments and practices of banking and the emergence of new forms of social and economic organization (see “The Ascent of Money”).

In this place and in its historical shadow, Robert Wolcott eloquently reminded us that “for all of human history in all times and in all places, we have lived in contexts of scarcity and opacity” (an excellent and more comprehensive detail of Robert’s perspective is available in his KIN Global 2016 conclusion here). As a species, we have had an inability to consider beyond the near in both time and space. But as external forces and phenomena loom large over us, he stirs us to investigate how the tensions of the outside world act on our sensitivities and our vital and expressive energies and our inner will to power.

As we change and as our world changes, we seek to answer persisting and new questions: what will remain unique to being human? Why do we exist? What does it mean to be human? Is anything uniquely human? Do these questions even matter? Might we even change what it means to be human?

In Venice, we explored the boundaries of who we are as a species.  We were reminded to be mindful that we’re entering new territory with an inevitable new political ordering.

Kinnernet Venice was a call to action.  It was a call to share insights, knowledge and practices of how people and organizations are leveraging conversations at Kinnernet and to take the real and practical steps, examples of which are outlined in the book Maker City, co-authored by Peter Hirshberg, to: build community, create economic opportunity, revitalize manufacturing and supply chains, reshape education and workforce development and redefine civic engagement. In summary, we are called to what John Clippinger refers to as a sense of personal agency and the principle of personal authorship in fostering a desirable future.

During my adventures running around Venice, I kept seeing posters throughout the city advertising this year’s Biennale Architettura. The posters feature the image of a lady on a ladder gazing into the horizon. This image provided much fodder for funny and insightful commentary by Peter Hirshberg and Brian Collins during a session on Maker Cities that I thoroughly enjoyed. I still laugh just thinking about Peter and BriBiennalean’s sentiments on the ‘potentialities’ and ‘great disappointments’ represented in this ‘monochromatic scheme’ but it gave us a playful platform to think about the image’s deeper meaning and to, even if ironically, inspire us to climb up onto the highest steps to gaze over a far broader horizon, and by doing so to conquer an expanded eye.

As we endeavour to grow more human may there be a dawning of the ultimate that emerges from what is already present within the penultimate. May the human person be preserved, protected, and directed toward future foresight by focusing on the abilities present within the current order. And may technology enable us to grow more human.

 

“The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community.”

– Dietrich Bonhoeffer

*Featured Image by Guido van Nispen

 

 

 

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