Local and tacit knowledge

A second issue that demands attention when discussing the cognitive clash in mediated presence concerns the exchange of local knowledge systems. Being in an environment and being in touch with the knowledge structures that characterize that environment influences the way cognitive structures develop. Both in the GHP and the 0+Ball people from different social environments brought their local knowledge to the table: the server programmer, the interaction designer, the network specialist, the nurse, the politician and the person who was ill at home. Places, including professional realms, contain knowledge and influence the way the cognitive structures of people living in a specific place develop in order to survive. The clash between intention and realization is also influenced by these cognitive structures that people possess. In mediated presence, where place is no longer a factor of distinction, certain local and tacit knowledge is difficult to mediate and certain cognitive structures that people possess may not even be recognized. This is one of the deep issues of modernization and intercultural communication.

Writing about the concept of 'reflexive modernization', John Grin describes the risks and side effects that modern society no longer tolerates as blind spots that modernization produces because of its development towards progress through control. Grin understands these blind spots as a loss of Metis, the Aristotelian notion that refers to the ability to take contextual conditions into account. "This disdain and associated undermining of metis has reduced society's capacity to compensate for these blind spots." (Grin 2006, 100). Because local and tacit knowledge and contexts are hard to mediate, these blind spots will only become larger and more numerous. The more that mediated presences become part of dayÐtoÐday life, the harder it will be for such specific knowledge and cognitive structures to survive. The more blind spots that are generated, the more the capacity of society to deal with these unwanted risks and side effects is reduced.

However, there is not only a loss of local, tacit knowledge, something new may also evolve. As early as 1995 Pierre Levy, author of "Collective intelligence, towards an anthropology of cyberspace" (1994), and Derrick de Kerckhove, former director of the Marshall McLuhan Institute in Canada, argued at the Doors of Perception 3 conference, that a new intelligence is developing as a result of the evolving networks. Inspired by the specific kind of collaborations that take place during a game like soccer, for example, Levy argues similar effects occur in manyÐtoÐmany communication environments like MOO's and MUD's (as in online game environments today). He names this 'collective intelligence', which lives in and through the networks. De Kerckhove perceives of all manner of proof for Levy's theory. How does a clash between intention and realization occur in this collective intelligence? What causality will it offer? Are there clashes or is it a morphing atmosphere that surrounds us more and more densely like a fog? Does collective intelligence offer a new kind of tacit knowledge that will generate brilliance by itself? Does this collective intelligence only evolve online, or is it a property of the wisdom of crowds as James Surowiecki suggests? (Surowiecki 2004).