Sunday, September 20, 2009

Radial Expansion: An Introduction to Post-Central Thinking

bubbles, bending

(That's "Post-Central" as in "After the Center" rather than "About the Post".)

There is no such thing as the "center" of the universe, as fans of Carl Sagan will know.

The universe is finite and unbounded, which is to say that despite being of limited volume, it has no outer edge that we three dimensional beings can perceive. As such, from our point of view at least, there's no such thing as a "center" of the universe: it is expanding in every direction.

The same thing, as it happens, is happening to nearly everything that anybody is doing anywhere.

No, really.

In past ages, any field of human endeavor had a clearly-defined center. Paris was the center of the Arts for a while, New York the center of the business world, Chicago, the city of Jazz. But increasingly, this isn't the case. New centers are springing up, but at an even faster rate, those centers are being upended by small groups of people or individuals who no longer need to relocate to a particular city to be connected to their community.

In parallel to geographic de-isolation and de-localization, intellectual property, skill sets, design, manufacture, internet access itself, and just about anything that readily attaches to a noun is being splintered, spread apart, and made cloudlike. And all of those clouds are getting bigger, without getting denser at any one point.

This is radial expansion.