In a prior post I defined spiral memes (SD) as the taxonomy of epistemological character development levels identified in human history by psychologist Clare Graves. After reading Beck and Cowan’s book on SD, I started connecting other facets of society to the SD taxonomy. One of the most compelling examples I’ve come up with is the dominant information transfer mode of an SD level. The theory being that a distinctly different societal meme/phase should flow information differently the phases that came prior or after. Here’s a quick figure showing what I’m alluding to:
I’ve preserved the same individual-collective evolutionary progression along with the SD color scheme denoting the differing levels.
Ok now let’s provide a narrative for what this means.
Level 1-Survival: Early civilization was primarily concerned with survival, but the invention of linguistics allowed us to work together.
Level 2-Tribal: In our tribes now we could hunt together and live together. Several species have advanced to this level, wolves, apes, and dolphins are great examples.
Level 3-Authoritarian: The ability to write and record commands, and pass them on to sub servants was a key control mechanism exercised by British/Imperial rule and other dynasties. The printing press enabled a phase change in the quantity of material that could be produced, and who could produce it.
Level 4-Legalistic: To prevent arbitrary authoritarian abuse, the masses printed holy documents, governmental laws, and science/knowledge books. This information was housed by democracies in libraries for sharing with the masses. This empowerment to the people caused a phase change away from authoritarian abuse in the dark ages and ushered in the Renaissance.
Level 5-Performance: In the late 1800’s we realized that numbers could carry meaning and thereby store information much more effective than printed ink. This performance increase allowed mass volumes of information of many forms and types to be stored, copied, and distributed much more efficiently than printing. But how to distribute to the masses?
Level 6-Communitarian: With the ability to store and record masses of information as complex as a video or audio, we now pioneered the ability to share it broadly with the masses, recorded or live. Public Broadcasting anyone?
Level 7-Systemic: Realizing the needs to store all of the information in a consistent format, the advent of silicon data storage was the next phase change. Now we could store, in principle, all information in a singular format. Sharing was a natural desire.
Level 8-Holistic: The connection of information in machine after subsequent machine enabled the first truly world-wide human invention: the internet.
A natural question is whether the communication method drives the advance of society, vice-versa, or both. What can be said for certain is that phase changes in all systems identified in history occur when flows within the system change and the majority of participants are ready.