East-West and Object-Event

I am still thinking about a discussion I had with John Seely Brown last week.  I was emphasizing the role of events and experience in emerging computational paradigms.  And he asked a very interesting question:  Is this somehow related to Eastern thinking?

Objects are concrete and Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press brought abstract thinking to dominant position.  And this abstract thinking made objects center of thinking.  With Multimedia coming to dominance now, can we start thinking more naturally.  To me it appears more evolution of thinking as a result of the technology pull.  Technology of printing pulled us towards text.  Now the multimedia thinking is pulling us towards natural varying sensations like audio and vision.  Text is frozen abstracted version of speech.  And speech itself is abstract symbolized representation of our thoughts and experiences.  So text pushed us away from natural expression more towards abstract thinking.  And that has several advantages.  Several very important concepts and advances emerge out of that abstraction. 

Natural has its own advantages.  I don’t see any conflict between abstract and natural — in fact I see strong complementarity and synergy there.  We need to exploit that.  And that is my interest.

But coming back to East-West and Object-Event — do events are more eastern.  I really did not think so.  John Seely Brown’s thinking was that abstract is more western — my response was  that is the evolution of western due to Gutenberg. He added that he thinks in East people think more in terms of relations and as I was talking about EventWeb, he thought that events are more central in relations.  And that is an intriguing thought.

East does consider relations more important!  Is that really the case?  Or is it the effect of slower development — or slower evolution in the last 500 years?  I see that with rapid globalization the two parts are coming closer.  Western people talk about Yoga and Eastern people are seeing more individualistic thinking.

 In any case, this is an interesting thing to think about.

2 thoughts on “East-West and Object-Event

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