Thursday, January 29, 2009

Positive Solitude, the losing capability

William Deresiewicz's article The End of Solitude is a great writing. I, however, suggest the title to be more clarified The End of Positive Solitude. "Positive solitude" means being positive/happy alone. Due to the prevalence of World Wide Web, our young generation is gradually losing this precious ability. Deresiewicz wrote, "We lost the ability to be still, our capacity for idleness. They have lost the ability to be alone, their capacity for solitude." What a pity to all of us!

Why is positive solitude important? Positive solitude is the one place where we can gain freedom from the forces of society that will otherwise relentlessly mold us. Moreover, being able to be positive solitude is the prerequisite of being able to think and create. Without positive solitude, inevitably we lose the true freedom of independent thinking.

The Web, especially Web 2.0, has generated too much distraction. Many people have felt that they could not think any more by themselves. By contrast, whenever there is a question they simply jump onto the Web and googling, which is nothing but to invoke a public vote for the answer. Public vote does answer many question except bringing up the truly innovative thoughts because real innovation never gets popular at its beginning (otherwise it cannot be innovative since everybody has known it). Comparing to the present age and the golden time of thinkers in the 18th and 19th centuries, we can watch the difference. In that period of golden time, people were able to access much less information than we live now. They were more solitude in mutual communication but they had produced much more innovative thoughts and products. Why? If a society has been customized by the votes, it loses the ground for true innovations to grow. The story of Imindi in last year's TC50 conference was a recent example.

It has been a crucial challenge to both of the educators and the Web researchers to figure out a solution to prevent the further loss of positive solitude, or even to gain back this losing capability. We must seriously address this issue in the next generation of the Web. While Web 2.0 has over-amplified the benefit of collective intelligence, in Web 3.0 we must pull the public back to individual intelligence. In Web 3.0 we should build users their solitude spaces so that they may be able to perform active thinking quietly by themselves. This is another reason I support Imindi. The history will prove how pity the growth of a great innovation is delayed.

Newest update: Coincidentally, Jason Calacanis's new post We Live in Public expresses the similar thought. It is worth of reading.

1 comment:

Hannah said...

Very interesting post. I would like to quote you (fully acknowledged of course) in a paper I'm writing on the subject. Would that be okay? Email hannahhudson.inbox at gmail dot com. Thanks.