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Re-Emergence of the Language of the Birds through Twitter?


Re-Emergence of the Language of the Birds through Twitter?
Communication concerns
Instrumentalization of language as a "death of language"
Meta-narrative as "gateless gate" to the "Language of the Birds"
Indicative possibilities for eliciting a Language of the Birds
Interrelating emotive interjections in response to integrative failure
Epimemetics, biomimetics, epimimetics and biomemetics
Memetic flocking dynamics through Twitter
Emergent Language of the Birds?
Personal implication and embodiment: transcending personal "twitter"

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Twitter, with over 100 million users worldwide, has surpassed 10 billion tweets, with some 65 million tweets posted each day


The shift into a potentially more basic, affect-defined communication mode calls for understanding of the repertoire of the briefest expressions to which people have access in responding to patterns in which they have little say -- being "in-formed" but with little capacity to "out-form". Such "in-formation" is effectively designed to evoke a very limited range of emotive responses. These readily take the form of pattern-breaking or pattern-affirming interjections -- increasingly by people who have little time or inclination for more. There is effectively a radicalization of language in response to the urgencies of system goverance.

The question is then what is the spectrum of these emotional effects, if such can be determined as offering an "instrument" (in the musical sense) for breaking conventional patterns and enabling fruitful engagement. Any such repertoire is liable to include distinct emotional responses, notably associated with jokes, drama and threat -- whose evocation is typically sought by those able to "play an audience". Recourse to interjection is understood here as effective recognition of inadequacy in transcending dysfunctional patterns -- typically an expression of extreme frustration in the face of tedious repetitive argument -- contrasting with interjections affirming a current pattern in "cheerleader" style.

In what follows the associated set of communication concerns is contrasted with the quest for a language adequate to governance, as notably recognized by Umberto Eco in exploring an appropriate language for "The Making of Europe" (The Search for the Perfect Language, 1993). He summarizes the insights of philosophers, theologians, mystics and others for at least two millennia about the idea that there once existed a language, notably a "language of the birds", which perfectly and unambiguously expressed the essence of all possible things and concepts. He explores the history of that idea and of its profound influence on European thought, culture, and history.

The question here is whether global use of Twitter -- exemplifying many of the current communication concerns -- can be understood as enabling the emergence into practice of a form of that mythical Language of the Birds, common to the memory of many cultures. These include Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and shamanism, as indicated by Philip Coppens (Tweet Tweet: the language of birds). Despite that title however, no reference is made to Twitter, whose potential relationship to any "language of the birds" does not seem to have been considered by others.

Global governance is faced with escalating costs of interpretation and translation -- having abandoned the possible use of an "international" language such as Esperanto. Ironically however, international institutions are making increasing use of Twitter in informal communications and public relations. Twitter has already superceded the greatest aspirations of the United Nations as a vehicle for dynamic, interactive, unmediated communication amongst "we the peoples" --- with the UN remaining incapable of imagining anything better.

What might be the nature of a language, possibly a meta-language, honoured equally by many cultures -- typically in conflict -- and therefore appropriate to more effective global governance? How might it be elicited from cultural memory, as advocated by Susantha Goonatilake (Toward a Global Science: mining civilizational knowledge, 1999)? To what extent can the requisite harmony (enhanced with counterpoint) be enabled by composition within formal frameworks characteristic of the most fundamental patterns of East and West (Enhancing the Quality of Knowing through Integration of East-West metaphors, 2000)?

If 3 rules suffice to simulate the swarm intelligence of bird flocking, what is the minimum size of the rule-set appropriate to sustainable global governance exhibiting "collective intelligence"? To what extent is a set of interjections a comprehensible indication of the elements of that rule-set -- as code for the necessary "corrective" guidance they each imply? Given the striking elegance of some animal swarming movement, what degrees of elegant intelligence might be associated with a rule-set of very limited size governing the movement of memes within a global knowledge society?

Some caution is required in any deprecation of Twitter in a period when global governance might well be caricatured as "twitter" with a view to "tweaking" -- twittering "while Rome burns" in the style of Nero. However a challenge for the individual is to transcend personal "twitter" in reframing a global response to the future.

The following exploration is dedicated to Johan Galtung on the occasion of his 80th birthday.
He originally instigated the focus on Forms of Presentation
through the Goals, Processes and Indicators of Development project (1978-82)
of the United Nations University.

Fig. 1: Themes interwoven in this exploration
(as advocated in Interweaving Thematic Threads and Learning Pathways, 2010)
Interwoven thematic discussion threads

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