A thousand times an ant colony of fifty times a cat

Culture is important.

Particularly, it’s important for technology which is about how we as humans talk to one another.

Telephones, computers, mobile phones, internet… They’re all about how our particular species of primate communicates. And now they’re becoming one powerful industry newly reformed.

We’re each a neural network, thrown abruptly into a chaotic world, which by sheer force and pain and amazement has cohered into the awareness that we are.

I’m amazed when my kitten, now a young cat, first goes out the cat flap[1], climbs on the garden wall, wanders off so I can’t see him. Finds his way back with a dragon fly, tortures it in the kitchen. Emotionally manipulates me with a purr and a rub of his fur on my face.

Yet in this café… Just this one small place in this one corner of Liverpool. In this café, bursting with people with life. Eating brunch, discussing business details, chatting with their loves…

Each of us 50 times more complex[2] than my cat, bound in shared experience to me. Our own thoughts, fears, illness, hope, love, astonishment, as many, as different as me and you.

The user interface we text our family member with.

The algorithm that shows us news.

The affordance of the tool we use to invite friends to our birthday.

The etiquette of when we can phone and whether we can knock unplanned at a home’s door.

The pressure of politeness, or not, in a vital thread.

Tangled bonds of trust, centralising and decentralising in a constant game[3] of tribalism evolved over a span of ages.

I’m reading a book about ants. We’re more like them than we know.

I notice that while I think I use analysis and research (say a new product to buy), most of the time I just do what a friend does (buy what they have). Which is much like how ants decide where to join in the foraging.

A powerful communications industry, newly reforming.

Do we go with the flow, let oligopolistic capital and secret states run their course?

Or do we concern ourselves with how it forms?

We’re ants.

The scents we leave on the trail, the smells we spread when we greet, the frequencies of other workers we count as we pass…

We do all the same things and so much more.

The changing tools we choose to use to manipulate information alter the rules of our herding.

50 kittens worth of cerebral cortex per organism formed into a global colony a thousand times the population of a leafcutter’s.


[1] Itself a computer now, only letting his surgically embedded key open it. More on that another time.

[2] Is that linear? Who knows! What does that even mean!

[3] Thanks David for the article link.

5 thoughts on “A thousand times an ant colony of fifty times a cat

      1. Incredibly my 15 year old database tables were all still in latin-1. Once I’d changed them in MariaDB the rest of WordPress copes really well. Indeed, it was working well I think for latin-1 characters. All UTF-8 now, hooray!

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