Human-Computer Interaction: Ergonomics and User Interfaces - Vol. 1

By Hans-Jörg Bullinger; Jürgen Ziegler | Go to book overview

Spatio-Temporal Perspectives:
A new way for cognitive enhancement

Andreas Goppold c/o FAW: goppold@faw.uni-ulm.de

Spatio-Temporal Perspective is about gaining vantage points over time and space. We are all aware of the Y2K problem, caused by the impending turn of the millennia according to the count of the Christian calendar. Due to shortsighted programming, computer systems world-wide are threatened with malfunction in the year 2000. Programmers world wide scramble to patch the sometimes 30-odd year old programs. This may not help as expected, as one forgets an old wisdom from the tailor trade: If you mend a garment too much, it will come apart in exactly those places that didn't need mending. The problem prompts us for a more profound consideration: That it may be time to overhaul our calendar system altogether. As the world is drawing together into a global civilization, the standard calendar system of Christian reckoning smacks of the parochial euro-colonialism of a by-gone era.

From a global, culture-neutral spatio-temporal perspective, the Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist calendars offer some striking advantages over the Christian one, as they allow us to relate the present media-technological revolution to the evolution of human symbolic intelligence in a novel way. The Jewish and Hindu, as well as the Maya calendars position the zero-count at some time before 3000 BCE. By the Hindu reckoning, the beginning of the present era, the Kali Yuga (KY), was at Feb. 18, 3102 BCE, such that we are now in the year 5101 KY. The Maya calendar starts at almost exactly the same time ( 3114 BCE), and the Jewish calendar some time earlier ( 3761 BCE). The Buddhist calendar is around the 2500 mark now, which is about half the KY reckoning. A profound aspect of this numbers game turns up when compared to media technology: Our present computer technology is about 50 years old now, printing technology about 500 years, alphabetic writing has 2500 years, and writing, as it was developed in Sumer, arose quite exactly around 3100 BCE ( Amiet 1966, Cohen 1958). Moreover, we can date the era of graphical symbolization around 50,000 years ( Semiotica 1994, Anthro). There is nothing magic or otherwise special about the number five, except perhaps, that we have five fingers on one hand to start counting with, and that the Jewish jubilee is 50 years, which is about two human

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