Tag Archive: Master Story

We live in an age, somewhere post modernism, after the demise of meta-narratives, somehow knowing where we are not and desperately trying to figure out where exactly we are. This short sketch is an attempt to struggle with the “exactly where we are”. I propose three common denominators for the age we live in, Digital, Networked, and Anthropocene.

Without a doubt two of the most significant developments during the late 20th century was the personal computer, which Taleb signifies as a Black Swan Event, and the web, another of those Black Swans. The Web made it’s debut during 1989 and it spread to offices and homes by 1994. Digital cameras arrived on the scene in 1990, cellphones during 1977, cellphones with cameras during 1999, chatrooms opened it’s doors during 1980, Facebook launched 2004, Twitter 2006 and an ever increasing list of portals where digital data is created and stored. The mere act of using the internet during 2011 will create more digital data about an user than the user him-/herself can generate. The dawn of the digital age broke over the earth during 2002 when more digital data was generated than analogue data. 2011 will see another 1.8 zettabytes of data created, 33% more than 2010, or in other words, the equivalent of 57.5 billion 32GB Apple iPads filled with data. Enough to build a technological wall of China, as long and as wide, but twice as high. We truly live in a digital world.

One of the mainstays of the digital era is the hubs, nodes, linking datacables, and wifi signals that create a vast Network of 1’s and 0’s. The network(s) that underlie the digital world is not merely a bunch of microchips and optic fibre, but creates an environment which allows not only digital communication and data creation, but for interactions in the “real” world with very “real” implications. We use networks to order our lives, from buying food to organizing social get togethers, from insiting revolution on the one side of the planet to exploiting the planet on the other side, from building community with family and friends vast distances away to destroying communities close by. Today more than ever before do we realize that we are part of a vast network, both digitally and naturally, where technology matters but networks far exceed the virtual world. It seems there might be truth in the saying that when a butterfly flaps it’s wings in America, it creates a tropical storm in the Orient, a truly networked society.

Last, but not least, is the realization that we live in a day an age, a biosphere where the activities of man(!)kind is shaping the very space we live in. It’s been suggested that a case can be made that we are living in the Anthropocene, a new geological age or even a new geological epoch alltogether. If the suggested Anthropocene is an age it falls under the epoch Holocene. If not and it is recognize as an epoch in its own right, it follows on the Holocene that started approximately 10 000 years ago after the end of the Pleistocene and falls under the period Quaternary, which started an estimated 2.6 million years ago. The term was coined by ecologist Eugene Stoermer and widely popularized by the atmospheric chemist, Paul Crutzen. The Stratigraphy Commission of the Geological Society of London deemed the proposal, to formally accept the Anthropocene as part of the Geological Time Scale, as having merit and thus the proposed addition of the Anthropocene is currently being studied. Accepted or not, we are living in an age where (wo)mankind has an ever increasing impact on the world around us.

The age we are experiencing at the moment often leaves us gasping for air, scrambling for descriptive words. There might be many such word and concepts out there, however, I want to welcome you to… the Digital Networked Anthropocen (DNA).


In search of our Story.

“How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people”  –  Albert Einstein

We are beset by two questions: Who am I and where do I belong? The first question is answered in “my story” and the second is answered by a “master story”. My story is a fairly easy thing to write with some thought and time. It starts at birth, ambles through early childhood, primary and secondary school, maybe university, marriage or not, hobbies and interest and continues to the day of our death.

My story however has the danger to start floating in space if it is not connected to something more; to a Master Story.  It is clear from Einstein that we sense this Master Story but we are not to clear on what it is. We do know that this story will always include that we exist for others.

This aspect I think is being denied by the popular Master Story of the day. It seems that people today use their existence as motivation for self gratification and advancement at the cost of others. The prevalent paradigm is not that I exist for others but that they exist for me. Evolution and the “survival of the fittest” maxim become the pillars of thought and the critique of a God-centre must be destroyed at all cost. The goal becomes a nihilistic quest for satisfaction before death ends it all. This Master Story is essentially a self-centred story.

The counter culture Master Story is that of a God-centred story. People are acknowledge as being more than mere animals; entities that is created in the image of Community. It acknowledges that we do not live primarily for ourselves but that we live for others. Death is not an end but a transition to something other. The Master Story of faith gives hope and purpose; it focuses us on the other.

In a world that is besieged by all kinds of crises; we could do worse than to take to heart the advice of Einstein that “only a life lived for others is worth living”. It might solve some of our problems, not immediately, but in the long run; problems of the community, economics, environmental and maybe even the self.