Sacralization of Hyperlink Geometry
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Published in part in Computer-Mediated Communications
Magazine (March 1997)
(Special issue on spiritual implications of cyberspace)
I have long been amused by the thought that rotating disks (whether floppy, hard or CD)
had an intriguing resemblance to high tech versions of traditional Tibetan prayer wheels.
The problem with this is the materialistic data on most disks and the 'hands-off' status
of the user. There are packages which periodically 'interrupt' any ongoing user
application --like a spiritual virus -- to present insights and imagery, including
consciousness-focusing mandalas. But what is my cognitive involvement in any such
pre-packaged presentation, especially when designed as a form of spiritual propaganda? A
friend has produced a sophisticated mandala-generating package, based on number theory and
sacred geometry, allowing the user to explore a very large and beautiful range of mandalas
by changing parameters (http://www.alegria.fr/~chryz/). But how can I attach cognitive
significance to the elements of what is displayed? Mandalas need to become clickable
images. Icons need to be configured into mandalas.
Like many, I believe that the combination of Web technology and multi-media approaches
have an awesome potential in reframing contemporary challenges as well as personal and
group integration in response to them. But despite what has been achieved, the significant
breakthroughs are still to come -- but they need to come soon.
The key for me lies in the potential of available computer technology to configure
seemingly unrelated, or opposing, perspectives and understandings. This is vital in an
increasingly fragmented and alienated society. Hyperlinking together documents on
disparate topics is a necessary start, but it is not sufficient. There is a major
distinction between wandering the highways and byways of the Web and acquiring a sense of
pattern -- a platform for new types of initiative, and a receptor for new kinds of
insight. How do new levels of significance emerge through the Web for users bent on
learning, but with quite different learning styles? The design of Web menus, as crude
lists of hyperlinks, illustrates the problem. Into what sort of insight-enhancing patterns
can hyperlinks be more fruitfully woven?
Elsewhere I have contrasted the 'information
highway' metaphor with 'songlines of the noosphere' -- combining the
traditional Dreaming insights of the Australian aborigines with Teilhard de Chardin's
futuristic spiritual perspective. The journeys a
user makes through the Web then become like spiritual pilgrimages ofdiscovery between
sacred 'sites'. But for this to be of deep personal or social significance, such journeys
would have to be genuine learning journeys of transformation. Journeying would then both
sustain and transform patterns of insight. But paradigm shifts, like spiritual
initiations, only become possible for the user when a rich variety of contrasting learning
trajectories are somehow woven together.
Any competent webmaster can design journeys through a pattern of sites today -- like
colour-coded walking tours through natural parks (eg the 'red 6-hour tour'). But what
encounters would make them challenging learning journeys -- modern versions of cultural
'Grand Tours' -- rather than simple trips? I suspect that creating such patterns will
emerge as the art-form of the near future. Will principles of geomantics and feng shui
turn out to have relevance to the quality of 'positioning' of a website with
respect to other sites -- notably in virtual worlds? Reacting to information overload,
users will seek guidance towards meaningful pattern formation in their explorations of
hyperlinked documents. It is only the subtlest patterns which will be able to carry the
most profound spiritual insights of the future -- and those most relevant to structured
response to agonizing issues like Jerusalem, Bosnia, Rwanda, Northern Ireland, and Tibet.
More intriguing is the possibility that such patterned journeys may interweave to form
structures that can only be fully understood in 3D or 4D, rather than as 2D subway-style
maps. These will be the leylines of the noosphere. I suspect that the most
significant structures will have symmetry features like those in sacred geometry, and for
good reason. It is the mnemonic resonance around the pattern that will be able to hold
higher degrees of difference in order to sustain a higher, or subtler, order of consensus.
Cathedral, mosque and temple architecture was the vehicle for major structural
breakthroughs centuries ago --both physically and through their social analogues. These
have been thought by some to be the templates for modern corporate organization.
Similarly, the multidimensional architecture of more fundamental patterning between Web
documents will create the space for a new kind of understanding, whether individual or
What would we experience if exposed to hyperlinks patterned as a 4D hypercube -- now
essential to the wiring of super-computers? What will the future Mozarts and Beethovens of
hyperlink pattern design do for planetary civilization, for knowledge and social
organization, and for dialogue? Such structures will offer templates for new ways of
The geodesic structures of Buckminster Fuller offer vital pointers to future Web
architects of the spirit. The tensegrity principles which underlie such spherical
structures suggest how 'associative' and 'incompatible' relationships
between documents can be fruitfully interwoven. It is these principles, based on the
fundamentals of sacred geometry, which illustrate how patterns can be transformed --
offering zoom facilities between levels of cognitive complexity, from the most spiritual
to the most material.
All of this is imminently practical as
discussed elsewhere (https://www.laetusinpraesens.org/docs/hypconf.php). We ourselves are
currently exploring patterns in the 260,000 hyperlinks in relation to 12,000 world
problems, to 29,000 action strategies, to 4,400 modes of spiritual awareness, and to 3,000
human values -- as profiled in our Encyclopedia
of World Problems and Human Potential. This is presented on the Web
We have generated hyperlinked 'problem home pages', 'strategy
home pages', etc. We are identifying 'vicious cycles of problems'
and 'serendipitous cycles of strategies'. Such cycles are defined by
specific patterns of hyperlinks -- feedback loops linking up to 7 problems, for example,
whose nature is a real challenge to comprehension. These cyclic patterns also interlock
with each other to create 'spherical' structures. It is these structures that we
believe identify the 'great circle' routes of insight traffic. These
'songlines' will enable adventurers to circumnavigate planetary consciousness
and anchor understanding of its globality. How otherwise will we be able to comprehend
that we have been 'around' the civilization of the spirit?
With their value and human development equivalents, these structures may be of vital
significance to framing and understanding the new challenges and opportunities of
humanity. The level of perception is shifted from isolated issues to 'holding
patterns' of increasing complexity -- effectively the cultural keystones of our
civilization. In our work we urgently need software to be able to generate 3D visual
structures from such unstructured hyperlink information, as a clickable entry to parts of
the pattern -- clickable 3D mandalas (check out our 3D experiments). No visualization,
no comprehension! No comprehension, no meaningful dialogue!
It is ironic that some of the more complex possibilities are best illustrated by the
Chinese taoist classic, the Book of Changes, dating back several thousand years. As
an experiment, we have created Web pages for each of its 64 binary-coded hexagrams (see accompanying figure ) and then
hyperlinked them together on the basis of 7 transformations out of each document. Users
can in fact click through some 3,136 relationships in the demo (see
https://www.laetusinpraesens.org/docs/chingndx.php), since we have juxtaposed 7 parallel
interpretations of the hexagram texts, applied to: dialogue, vision, conferencing,
policy-making, networking, community and lifestyle.
The taoist philosophy and pattern of the I Ching hexagrams
echoes the work of Buckminster Fuller. Like the Platonic and other symmetric
polyhedra, the key patterns may all be based on structures which are 'empty
at the centre'. Cathedrals and mosques created new kinds of spaces to sustain
a new quality of interaction between people. As information architects, Web
designers may be the 'cathedral builders' of our era. By configuring
hyperlink patterns around an unoccupied virtual reference point, they can now
explore their spiritual and practical significance for transformation. These
patterns will be the containers of collective consciousness in the emerging
information society -- the 'magnetic bottles' for spiritual 'plasma',
to employ metaphors from nuclear fusion research in its quest for ways to sustain
plasma creation and avoid its'quenching'.
The classic quote from Lao Tzu offers a potent guideline: The
names that can be named are not definitive names. Naming engenders ten
thousand things... Thirty spokes share the wheel's hub. It is
the centre hole that makes it useful... Therefore profit comes from what
is there; Usefulness from what is not there.