Digital communication systems have invaded the contours of our personal and social life like never imagined. As we are realizing that digitization has begun to influence our thought processes and behaviors, it is time to reflect on some digital interaction models between individual psyche and the collective society. These concepts may appear counter-intuitive at the outset. But they are playing a big role in our digital expressions and experiences.
The whole sum of the digital experiences and imaginations prevalent in a society. They manifest in the interfaces between technology and society, business and economy, individual and organizations. The moment social expressions interact with the digital media formats, digital consciousness comes into play. There are studies on the cognitive and behavioral processes behind digital consciousness. Digital consciousness can play a big role in the next generation information systems where cognitive computers and natural language processing algorithms are going to play a big role in extending the reach of digital business. As digital systems are becoming more conscious, conscious human beings are changing to more digital in nature. Digital consciousness will help us to understand the meeting point of these two tendencies.
While digital represents the most advanced facet of communications and technology, archetypes are the constructs that denote the most primitive and subtle psychic realms of human society. Digital archetypes are the subtle and submerged drivers for further digitization in our society. According to this notion, digitization is not an accidental occurrence, rather an economic and scientific manifestation of an enduring tendency in the history of mankind. Humans have invented symbols and expressions from primordial times. These acts of symbolism and poly-morphs can be seen in digital expressions as well. Due to their historic existence, digital archetypes run through the cultural and racial threads. Thus digital archetypes are excellent sources of information for digital ethnography, anthropology and design research.
This is an interesting concept. The contradictions between content and form has been perennial in the world of art and literature. Now we can see the dichotomy between content and form very prominent in digital expressions and experiences. Digital content and digital form are overlapping into each other’s domains. Digital content can exist in an physical form as well as digital form. The quantum signal processing and quantum cryptography are some good examples. These systems employ physical properties to encode and decode digital information. Likewise, with the digital form can encapsulate both physical and digital content. Optical and acoustic signal processing systems and wearable devices are some excellent examples for encoding physical information within digital formats without digital transformation operations.
Semiotics is the scientific study of symbols and morphs. Digital semiotics will be the study of digital signs and morphs. To study signs and morphs we should understand the communication systems and models. Man and machines cannot be isolated while we study communication systems from a semiotic perspective. Hence we should take a holistic approach to enlist a few fundamental processes relevant to digital semiotics.
These four paradigms operate on three distinct layers of digital experience. Digital consciousness is something we can evolve through digital experience. Digital archetypes are the immutable principles of digital experience which we can learn to improve our delivery of services and engagements. Digital duality is an inherent ambiguity in the digital communication that need to be managed through intelligent transformation methods. Digital semiotics will help us to streamline our digital expressions and symbols so that they are better understood and digested by the audiences.
What do you feel about the term ‘digital transformation’ ? This was a topic emerged during the candid conversation with a friend of mine during the last Friday evening. Both of us stared at each other for a while. Then we went back to our thoughts.
For me, the combination ‘digital + transformation’ was more than the sum of two words. Yes, it is beyond the simple application of digital tools to transform the enterprise. I believed the concept of digital is more that the devices and tools that generate digital signals. It is a way to adapt to the needs of the current space and time.
For my friend, it was a method devised to modernize the enterprise to meet the contemporary needs of market or society. He added one more thought saying that it is an organic alignment to the needs of the current market and society.
Thus for both of us understood the need to adapt / align / reflect to the needs of the contemporary market and economy. Digital transformation is not an adaptation of predefined tools and processes, rather a conscious attempt to be in sync with the contemporary society and market. Then the natural question is whether the current society is digital?
Our current society is not yet fully digitized. Yet we embrace digital platforms and lifestyles like never before. We may need to traverse centuries further to be called fully digital society. May be we will never get fully digital as a new concept my disrupt the society in future. Hence digital transformation methods of today may turn obsolete when society enters new epochs.
Thus we need to realize that it is not digital tools and methods that drive the transformation, but the need to align with the contemporary society. It is an intuitive and conscious motive to be in tune with the times. Thus keeping our transformation methods consciously in perpetual beta and evolving phase is as important as digital adoption.
Picture: Irrational Geometrics digital art installation by Pascal Dombis ( from Wikipedia )
Digital transformation is an interesting business paradigm as well as a mathematical conjecture! You may see a lot of hidden dimensions and aspects if you visualize digital transformation a little bit in terms of mathematical physics.
In mathematical parlance, we have heard of a lot of transformation operators such as Laplace transform, Fourier transform, fast Fourier transform etc. You may see digital transformation as one such operator for a while.
Let’s consider the current enterprise context as a state of business flux. Flux is an interesting term used to denote the collection of vectors varying in multiple dimensions. Hence business flux is an apt term to denote any enterprise in our times. Every enterprise is made of cultures, technology standards, business models and processes which has evolved at different points in time with different velocity and variance.
Digital transformation operator is applied to this business flux. What happens next?
Enterprises kick start their transformation journey when the beginning point is not well defined. How should we baseline this beginning? It is worth serious attention.
What is the nature of this business flux?
When you look at a business flux, you can see a few interesting patterns. Some of the projects, processes, cultural behaviors, technology standards etc may be antagonistic / divergent / inertial to the digital transformation trajectory, while others are coherent and convergent to the digital transformation operator . These divergent parameters need to normalized to the baseline. This digital normalization is an essential precursor to the digital transformation journey.
What happens in this normalization? The divergent elements will be undergoing a preliminary phase in which variations will be minimized and then passed to a filter. In this filter, these elements will be functionally connected to the business baseline.
Locating the digital inflection points in the enterprise is another essential prelude to digital transformation. They will become critical nodes to define the pathway towards digital transformation. We will cover this aspect in another article.
Constructing an artificial intelligence paradigm beyond the limits of cognitive computing
Nature is a beauty and the beast at the same time. Bewildering varieties of designs, and fathomless sources of information. This nature is full of vivid beings and diverse entities that presents social and engineering challenges of any scale you imagine. Let us observe some natural processes. Honey bees do construct their honeycomb in unimaginable precision and dexterity. Ants march in patterns so curious and laborious. Birds build nests using any material you can think of. The list of natural engineering marvels is endless as it goes. Behind these wonderful creations and engineering skills in nature, there lies a computational intelligence embedded in the nature. Animate and inanimate nature around us are harnessing the power of this computational intelligence for conditioning their internal and external reality. What is this natural computational intelligence essentially?
Our natural beings measure, compile, decipher, encrypt, optimize, forecast, predict themselves and engage with the world around them in numerous computations. Thus every minutest entity in this material world has an abundance of computational capacity within.It is interesting to note that 99% percent of these natural computations are unconscious, subconscious, spontaneous and very instinctive. This realization is very important as cognitive computation forms only a mere 1% of the entire natural computation happening on this universe.
Our recent progresses in the area of artificial intelligence have enabled us to develop a lot of neural algorithms and a few cognitive computers like IBM Watson etc.But nature is way beyond the powers of cognitive computing frameworks. Natural computation is largely instinctive and unconscious in itself. One key challenge is that natural computing is so much hardwired and intrinsic to the beings that they don’t visibly expose the internal elements of computation in their life processes.
Hence on a primary observation we can say that nature has intentionally encapsulated computation in its powerful patterns and designs. Some may attribute evolution as the reason for this gradual emergence of abstraction in natural computation. Thus data and logic associated with natural computation is well abstracted by nature. When we interact with these layers of abstraction in the nature, we get a lot of knowledge about the internals of these patterns and designs.
Artists among us get inspired and venture to create forms of fine art that inspire humanity further to create forms of art and engineering. When engineers among us understand nature, we assimilate those abstractions in our mental models and venture to create forms of figures. When philosophers among us explore this natural abstraction, we try to create finer forms of abstraction from the highest level of perspective possible. When scientists among us interact with nature, we rationalize and speculate with nature such that we dissect our knowledge of reality itself. Hence nature remains as the most elementary and abundant source material for all sort of human and natural computations. Thus both cognitive and instinctive computers will need to rely on nature to further its scope and boundaries of knowledge.
In our recent times, we have made a lot of progress with cognitive approach to natural computation. It is imitating the complex cognitive activity of mind that deals with semantic structures. We are also successful in constructing engineering models that imitate the computational behavior of neurons and the processes that happens in neural-synaptic end points. When we consider these behaviors in natural entirety, these exhibits are not an end in itself. Natural computation progresses beyond cognition. Cognition is an advanced natural process. We have a lot of natural computational processes which are wide spread, rudimentary, adaptive and essentials to the genetic and stem cell structures. We need to explore them as well. Thus understanding natural computation calls for a dialectic approach to the forms of real life processes. Both advanced and primitive processes should be comprehended and modeled and unified with a dialectical unity in perspective.
Picture Courtesy: Flicker/Pavlina Jane
Social enterprise is an enterprise which has its reach and influence beyond the boundaries of its own policies and physical networks. In other words, social enterprise permeates into the society. In this 21st century, our society is increasingly networked through devices, channels and deeper engagements between stakeholders. Hence major telecom service providers envisage our future society as ‘network society’. Terms like social enterprise and social business gain more prominence and wider meanings in the terrains of networked societies.
As per the definitions of social capital scenario, labor hires capital in a social enterprise. Hence capital will be circulating more frequently and intensely than labor in a social enterprise. Due to this pace or acceleration, naturally accumulation of capital will differ from conventional enterprises. More than through static accumulation, capital will grow through circulation in a social enterprise scenario. Hence it’s growth cannot be measured at a specific geographic location in a social enterprise. Rather, capital will be distributed across the key locus points of circulation of capital. NGOs, civil society organizations etc are some good examples for social enterprise. This capital that circulates non-linearly in a social enterprise can be simply defined as social capital. To govern social capital, thus we need a decentralized power structure within the organization.
Thus NGOs and similar organizations that aspire to build a networked society of social enterprises will be following a decentralized power structure. This seems to be one of the primary reasons why NGOs actively support a decentralized power structure and political economy world wide. As the world around us is increasingly becoming a networked global society, we will see the conflict between the accumulating and circulatory tendencies in the finance capital formations. In such a situation, it is sure that social capital and social enterprises will face challenges in confronting the socioeconomic and political pressures from the global finance capital controlled by trans-national trade networks and multi-national corporate companies. It will be a money ball game worth watching !!
Internet is evolving and revolutionizing every media ecosystem connected and dependent on it. The relativistic acceleration and the quantum of information gravity of digital communication systems is so much high that we have already started thinking about digital universes and digital consciousness vividly. Digital time and analog time have already become distinctive dimensions! May be we can define this state of affairs as a hyper computation landscape where computation itself has become a relativistic communication between analog and digital universes. There no need to mystify this kind of a perspective as we humanity will coexist in digital and analog universes.
A few decades back theoretical physicists and the most elusive mathematical algorithms were dedicated to the realms of astronomy and high energy physics. Within a short span of 25 years or more, internet and world wide web demands attention from the club of exotic mathematicians . Theoretical computation has absolutely no boundaries at this moment. It traverses through neural networks and genomic sequences. This is no wonder or miracle for any science student of our times when we consider the pace at which our databases and named graph stores are growing. Data has become the prime mover for the global finance capital and hence it moves faster than the flight of capital between nations and markets.
Can you imagine what will John Von Neuman, Charles Babbage and Alan Turing will do if they were offered a re-birth in this earth of evolving internet architecture?
They would have seen internet as a tower of babel in the making. It is because our inventions and innovations in the internet ecosystem is happening in silos and the confined walls of enterprises such that there is so much of redundancy in the systemic design. Whenever a new protocol or a new communication media emerges, such as web sockets and web RTC, leading technology players start to develop their own private incubators around the base idea and come up with their own separate solutions. It is good that there is a democratization of protocols and media types. But are we really optimizing our systems around our freedom to innovate?
In a system perspective, Internet revolves around the possibilities and horizons of protocols and media types. HTTP is just one protocol among the myriads of communication possibilities around us. Even hypertext is not a rudimentary concept though it has become one of the fundamental premise for the internet architecture. Considering the deeper aspects, the very existence and adaptability of hypertext, hyper links, intelligent session management methods, digital and analog state of information etc makes internet one of the most creative inventions of our time. Nations and corporations are aspiring to control the future road map of internet. IETF and W3C are sometimes the battlefield of ideas and lobbying interests.
Is internet becoming yet another Tower of Babel in the biblical sense ? We have to remember that once we failed to build this architectural marvel though it was the foremost ambitious project of the prehistoric times. What we need is the business agility, technical maturity and architectural creativity to open up internet once again getting rid off the redundant protocol stacks, operational frameworks, chaotic varieties of content types, rigid and lack luster algorithms and computational models. I can assure you that it is not a small task upfront considering the quantum of chaos in the digital universe.
Applied creativity? yes, like applied sciences, creativity is a field of knowledge that need to seen from an application perspective. Recently I read about applied creativity from Harvard Business Review.
It has prompted a lot of questions about applying creativity in a dynmic social enterprise. Every enterprises of today are dynamic and social in nature, whether you classify them to be monolithic, matrix, functional or hybrid. Hence applied creativity can transform your enterprise innovation style in radical terms.
We are familiar with the terms such as ‘mindmap’, ‘roadmap’ etc in our daily workplace. We visualize mindmap using various techniques. Many of us apply mindmap techniques while we confront a vague or a complex and vivid problem set. How about visualizing a roadmap towards an innovative ecosystem inside an enterprise ecosystem?
There are different routes to achieving innovative products or services as a final destination. Irrespective of the routes taken, you should be good at identifying problems in the current state of things and behavioral settings of cultures. This is only part of the journey. You should cultivate a problem solving mindset and an impetus to create solution. One may say that creativity lies at the bottom of these things.
There are schools of thought that endoreses applied creativity as the key driving force of innovative ecosystems in enteprises, whether they are start-ups or big-wigs. Creativity can be applied either in the open innovation or reverse innovation workflows, though with different perspectives. It is very important to understand this element of perspective in applying creativity.
Every enterprise, every social entity, every human entity, every human experience interact with a creative problem differently. Some enterprises showcase amazing agility to a creative problem. Someothers defend a creative challenge with astouding resilence generated from its DNA. Someothers try to persist and walkthrough the situation carefully.
Hence the important matter is to have an objective approach to applied creativity. There is nothing like a universal toolbox to apply creativity. Bringing this kind of perspective to creativity can inspire new inventions and to nurture talents within the organization that can be both disruptive and sustainable at the same time!