Lost in ‘know-ware’ land

 
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By Christian Nielsen

It is the cypher of the age, the new C-word that the know-ware machine must not detect lest it conjures up undesirable meanings, and undesirable consequences.

Wordless fragments orbiting an unknown Universe… whoa, that’s deep.
Image: ESO

Friday 2 October 2020

There are so many powerful things going on in the world right now that I should be writing about but I’m blocked. A few words keep popping into my head that act like beta blockers against all other themes. Isolation, containment, quarantine, tracking… Just writing them here, I wonder if I may have woken from a cryogenic sleep to an altogether different era, or perhaps planet.

My fingers hover over the keys that write these epochal words, unsure what should follow, somehow aware that true meaning is found in association and inevitably draws its own conclusions. More words appear like health, safety, protection, and wellbeing, and the four primal words are calmed. Doubts are archived in the ‘hardware of knowledge’. It is all for the best.

But there is a flickering cursor of something else. Is it danger? Or is it just the workings of the unknown as different associations leach out of ‘know-ware’. Words like fear, paranoia, hysteria, anarchy, revolution… coerce the primal words towards a whole new lexicon, one that thrives in the modern world of instant information driven by poisoned semantics.

Yet another set of words awaits an Enigma machine to be deciphered; its readings privy to the few who deem themselves worthy, unlocking words like big brother, big data, dictatorship, and fascism. Words that for many come prepacked by history but take on novel forms in the information society of many characters.

There are those in this society who dream of other times, when these words – alone or aggregated – may have had simpler meanings.

There are those that use the words for their own bidding, and those who are affected by these actions – for better or for worse.

There are those who believe what they want to believe; and those who seek alternate meanings through the prism of prejudice.

There are those who see the primal words and feel that hope is somewhere else… another time, another place.

There are those who are energised by the words as a conduit for transformation, higher forces for the common good.

There are those who heed the words solemnly, others quietly, others acquiescently… awaiting the time when new words have their turn in the waves. 

There are those who rail against the encircling words, firing salvos and pushing for explanations that pierce the stated truths.

And there are those who struggle in other ways… to find the one ‘key’ word that makes sense of it all. 

That word sits behind the blinking cursor protected by myth, loaded by folklore – ‘speak not its name’ – as denizens skirt round the beta blockers. Wordless fragments orbiting around social niceties which  sometimes gravitate together but form no true covalence. The bond is missing. It is the cypher of the age, the new C-word that the know-ware machine must not detect lest it conjures up undesirable meanings, and undesirable consequences.

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