April 16, 2021

The Network and the conquest of time | Trends

The Network and the conquest of time | Trends


Living in a space without places, without distances and, therefore, without delays, which is to live in a network -life in digital-, provides, among many other things, a different experience of time and which can be very useful. It is enough to see it materialize in an object the activity that we are doing with our mobile phone, and not just be a small stamp (app) floating on the screen, as if it were on a liquid sheet. And converted the two-dimensional stamp into the object with which that activity would have to be done if the app, would occupy a place and we would separate a distance, which needs to be traversed to reach it: there is, therefore, to be a time. We spend not only energy, but time.

Perhaps we are not fully aware of the time that is released in this digital life, in a network. What do we do with this time? Do we appropriate it, as a good provided by technology, or are we volatilized before taking advantage of it?

A way to travel through the history of humanity is that of its conquest of time. Time is not something that is given to us, and that we can lose (even kill, killing time), but something that is achieved … with difficulty. And this effort to produce it is from our first steps as humans.

The fire, controlled at the stake, that is, an artifact, was already an important step in this conquest of time. Not only produced heat, transformation and protection, but light, and with it gain time in the darkness that made us stop the activity, snuggle and wait for the natural light of the new day. In that time, the spoken word could vibrate in the air, and with it the transmission of knowledge and stories.

Narrating is another fabulous cultural invention that produces time, because the experience of what has been lived is transmitted without having to use the receiver the same time to assimilate it, so it is released for other activities. Had there been more Funes the memorial, Borges' character, the bonfire would have been of little use, since Ireneo Funes did not forget anything, so counting the memories of a day cost him … another day. Today, in an overinformed world, the need for new narrators is imperative so that ellipses, coherence and abstraction give order to the chaos of excess, and that noise does not deprive us of time.

Fire, electricity, transport, machinery, robotization, the Red …, human ingenuity to buy time. And time is what humanizes us, our own time, because it is an inner experience, cerebral (complex, therefore), that springs up in us (and little by little, because we have to conquer it, produce it), therefore, it is not something exterior that we receive.

If we are today aware of a bad diet in a society of abundance, we should start to worry about the form and quality with which we fill the gap that opens the achievement of our own time in a society of overinformation.

The body demands energy to stay on its feet, and the brain asks for time to continue weaving the inexhaustible connectome of your neurons. This need for energy for the body is manifested by hunger, which moves to look for food; and the cerebral need does, curiously, with the feeling of boredom, which moves to interact with the world to obtain information. Being bored is a symptom so human and born when you have a time for you, not alienated, and the need of the brain to feed on uncertainty, that is, information, hence the search interrogating the world (with the word, the look, the hands …).

And if it is counterproductive to anticipate the child's hunger by offering food that still does not claim the stomach, it is equally negative that you do not let yourself get bored, that is, that you begin to feel and value your own time and seek to use it.

Well, adults lose their own time, which has been so costly for the human being, because boredom is avoided with entertainment, which, converted into a consumer product, anticipates the first symptoms of boredom. And is that exaggerated and general consumption is another way to end the achievement of own time, because it alienates to get more purchasing power.

You have to ask for a training (culture) not only for work, but also for die of boredom. Not only education to be operatives (alienated time), but to be vividores (own time).

The constant agitation from place to place, the dissipation of the compulsive click on the screen … are other ways that we lose time before we get to him and that we can get bored. We find ourselves, with our own time, as the winner of a lottery prize that is immediately surrounded by promoters and applicants of all kinds, and who often make the money earned volatilize. If we are today aware of a bad diet in a society of abundance, we should start to worry about the form and quality with which we fill the gap that opens the achievement of our own time in a society of overinformation.

We are worried that robbery will rob us of being able to spend our time working (even if it is an alienating job), but maybe deep down there is the fear of boredom, if that expected productivity pays us with time for us. We will have to think about another function of education for the new life in digital: because if education avoided to starve (now that of a much higher consumption than subsistence), it may be necessary to ask for a training (culture) not only for work, but also for die of boredom. Not only education to be operatives (alienated time), but to be vividores (own time).

Antonio Rodríguez de las Heras is a professor at the Carlos III University of Madrid

Life in digital it is an imagined scenario that serves for reflection, it is not a prediction. Through him move the alefitas, prothetic beings, in continuous connection with the digital Aleph, since the Red is a phenomenal contraction of space and time, like the Borginian Aleph, and not a mesh.

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