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Good evening, I am Stewart Brand from the Long Now Foundation. Those of us who are writers have a peculiar relationship to Steven Johnson. Basically we think that it is not fair that he he doesn't keep writing the same book like most of us do. He does a completely new subject every year or so. And that he can do that and master the subject that he takes on as he did with Emergence for example, as he did with Everything Bad Is Good for You and as he has done with the new book called The Ghost Map which he will talk about a little bit tonight in a much larger context. He is a polymath and he can do it in writing, he can do it presenting, as you will see. And will you please welcome Steven Johnson. Thank you Stewart, thank you. Thank you very much Stewart, thou, far too kind, I think I will just leave it at that. I don't want to disappoint anyone after that introduction. I want to thank a few people first those of you who preferred the 7.30 time, who nonetheless made it here today. I am particularly grateful to you. Clearly the strategy going forward should be to vary the time slightly with each event just to throw people off and see who your really loyal customers are. And I want to thank Long Now which I am a huge fan of and and folks like Stewart and Kevin and Danny and Ester and Brian and Alexander whose work I have just been admiring up close and from afar for a long time. It's a great institution. This event which I have I have never seen any of these talks but I have kind of followed them online since they come around and so it's my honor to be here as part of this. I am going to talk about this idea, the Long Zoom. Technically you are required to come up with a catch phrase, it has the long something, it's the long boom and the long tail and the long now. The long zoom and boom I think is very exciting that it rhymes like that, so it's just an extension of the whole brand that I am very proud of. But it is some of these themes are going to be kind of worked into my next book which right now is not actually called The Long Zoom but who knows what's going to happen. It's still a long way off. But in some ways I am going to be looking at some of the themes that have shown up in the last couple of books and kind of explain them in the context what I mean by the long zoom. It's especially nicely to be asked to come here at Long Now to talk about this idea because this is is really not an idea about kind of thinking across the scales of time. But rather thinking more across different spatial scales and across different disciplines. It's the conceptual move from the from the very large to the very small and to being able to kind of capture all the scales in between, the stages and and to use that framework in a useful way. That's that's what I am calling the long zoom. And I wanted to just start by wanting acknowledging that this is not a new idea. What I think is interesting here is that it's a framework or it's a perspective that's becoming increasingly kind of current and contemporary and accessible thanks to technology and science and in some ways to popular culture which I will talk about a little bit. But I thought it would be useful just to start with a little bit of prior art, to acknowledge some of the some of the things that had happened in the past, kind of some icons of this kind of perspective. The first is this classic sequence from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man where the young Stephen Dedalus kind of writes in his notebook during his class his kind of place in the world, Steven Dedalus Class of Elements, College, Sallins County Kildare, Ireland, Europe, the world, the universe. That's the kind of where I am and where am I in the world, long zoom perspective, how do I fit in and all these things. But one of the more recent kind of iconic visual representation of this course is powers of 10 I will just show you a snippet of this is now, one about 40 years old 30 years old and what's so great about this I think looking at this now is how exotic these view was and how now it just pretty much looks like Google Earth, right. I mean this is elaborate kind of contracture to show to think about thinking across scales and how you could zoom all the way out and and now we are literally like, oh I need to do that to figure out the traffic directions to this place, the baseball I am going to today. And so it's literally this kind of perceptive on the world is at our fingertips in a way that we could only really dream about. And I also like the way that in this part of it you kind of zoom out to that vision of the whole earth that had you know seems so empowering to Stewart so many years ago and that was so empowering to so many people. And I think in some ways what we are talking about here is not just what happens when you can see the whole earth in kind of one frame but what happens when you can then move from that frame all the way in to the guys hand and the picnic blanket and then all the way into the you know, some atomic particles roaming inside that hand. That's the that's the long zoom perspective. And then just to update it, I could have shown a million examples of this. But the one I thought was the kind of the catchiest is I am just showing a part of this this is the opening sequence of Fight Club, here you go. I am not and it's no sound here, but you get the idea. It actually starts inside all the way inside, you know kind of synaptic firings inside Edward Norton's brain and then slowly kind of zooms out all the way to the little beats of sweat and then all the way back to the gun, bail over the gun and then to the actual kind of opening shot you see in there. But you know every other episode of CSI has a sequence like that now too. You know this is common place and part of this is when you start seeing these in a sense ways of seeing, showing up in the popular culture as just this kind of device the people use again and again the part of you goes, okay, there is something happening here. There is a certain kind of perspective or framework; in this case it's a moving across perspectives. That's when we start thinking there is something something interesting and resonant is happening. And then the other little piece of prior art I wanted to show you were the and the graphics of this are even better than the David Fincher is this sketch that, I thought Stewart had done but it turns out Alexander Ross have done but it's in The Clock of The Long Now book and I love - I just think this is a great sketch. And this is really about times; this is what happens if you look across these different scales, the point is that on these different scales they kind of move at fundamentally different speeds, fashion is just fantastic up there. That is exactly the shape of fashion. In some ways I think the one thing that I now but correct but I think slowly I am going to talk a lot about using the long zoom perspective on culture. And I think in this case the culture is talking about kind of long term cultural changes and I would actually the kind of culture I am talking about is closer I say to pop culture is probably sitting there some way between fashion and commerce and moving at a much faster rate. There is an interesting question whether that deeper culture is also accelerating as well or whether it's that kind of culture continues to exist at that slower pace. That's something that I don't fully have the answer to. So what I am going to try and talk about in a sense is freezing this, not looking at that kind of forward projection in time but kind of taking up one big vertical slab up to the middle and looking at at a couple of case studies where I have tried to analyze something across all these different scales and hopefully make the case that this is a useful way of just seeing the world and talk a little bit about what happens when you see the world that way. I wanted to start with the story that's at the center of my new book "The Ghost Map". The last book I wrote before The Ghost Map was a book about basically video games and television shows. So I went to the next logical thing which is 19th century cholera and actually you know, one of the funny things when you do this I mean Stewart kind of was alluding to it in his wonderful introduction, when you jump around from topic to topic like that, reviewers really like to make connections and they like to show the continuity and explain what it is that connects these two books and I kept saying to people they are actually different books. There is I just decided to write about something different, there isn't really a common theme. And all these reviews of The Ghost Map we would try and kind of figure out ways to relate it back to this book about video games and so there were all these kind of comic attempts where people would basically they would say, well with cholera Johnson finally has to admit that some things are actually bad for you you know. And in another it was like you know in the figure of John Snow the doctor railing and some medical orthodoxy of the day, Johnson clearly sees an ally in his battle against the video game theaters out there it was like, no, I don't at all, what are you talking about. So anyway but one of the things that happened was I wrote this piece about the game Spore which I am going to talk about at the end which visitors to this event have heard much about in the past and it was a piece about this idea of the long zoom and I realized that as I was writing the piece that that common threat that united these two projects and they both were kind of anchored around this long zoom perspective. And so it turned out there was kind of a secret link between these two books. But interestingly I hadn't been aware of it until I actually had finished both of them. So that's what happens when you write books. They have a life of their own. So The Ghost Map, it's said in it's a true story set in 1854 in London in in the late August and early September of 1854. And it's an enormously interesting period in terms of the history of the cities, because London at that point was the largest city both in the world and the largest city the world had ever seen, it was two and a half million people. Like Paris and Paris was about you know about 1.2 or 1.3 million at this time. And it was effectively a modern kind of industrial Victorian city living with an Elizabethan you know, kind of public health infrastructure. It had no real waste management, it had no real no public health system and people were literally kind of drowning in their own filth. I was saying to Stewart before that I have talked about this book a little bit at talks where they were basically kind of breakfast events. And it turns out that people don't really want to hear about intestinal diseases while they are having breakfast, it's an odd day, I had not anticipated it. And but you have the situation were literally this you know the city people would have these cesspools with human waste in their basement kind of three feet deep. And you had an enormous amount of livestock just kind of running through the city, people had cows in their attics that they would keep their for milk and not just the horses but they were slaughter houses in the middle of the city. And it had two kind of crucial effects that are essential to this story. The first is it was an enormously smelly city. You know any description of London from the period whether you read Dickens or Mahey or Engels you know, kind of starts then with this sense of you walking and you are just overwhelmed with the odor, I mean it was just an incredibly noxious place to live in terms of the smell. But it had you know one catastrophic effect which was basically that the waste of the inhabitants living in the city got crossed with drinking water in a number of different ways because they did not understand fundamentally that it was a good idea that separates your waste from your drinking water. And what ended up happening is that there arose this theory which had a long kind of pedigree called the miasma theory which basically was holding that every major disease out there that was kind of arising in epidemic form, most notably Cholera was caused effectively by foul air. Edwin Chadwick, the kind of public health pioneer of the period testified before parliament this kind of classic line saying, "all smell is disease", right. Any thing you smell that's trying to kill you, basically it was the idea. And so the city institute of this incredible set of reforms and kind of beginning in a sense of the public health and movement and a lot of the things that we take for granted about the state intervening and that kind of quality of life and the sanitation of the city. All these movements were initially formed to deal with the smell problem. But as it turned out the smell wasn't actually killing any one. What was killing people most notably in the case of Cholera was in fact the drinking water contaminated with these cholera bacteria that was coming out of people's excrement. And so the first wave of reform, there was this incredible reform in 1848 and 1849 called the Public Health Nuisances Act and what it basically did in the name of miasma was decree that every one had to empty out these cesspools in their basement and flush all that stuff into the river. And then they would drink the water from the river, right. So you get the idea if you were modern bio-terrorist you could not come up with a better scheme to poison the water sliver of an entire metropolitan area. And so the cholera got worse and worse and worse and effectively you know at that point almost the entire medical establishment was basically facing the wrong way on this issue. So the question that I really wanted to wrestle with in this book and this is really where the long zoom comes into focus is really two questions. One is how does a bad idea stay around for so long? And then when that idea finally gets overturned by a good idea, a better idea, a better idea, a correct idea, why does that happen at that point? What is it about the particular kind of configuration at that moment that causes the bad idea to finally die off and when you look at it with hindsight it should have died off years and years before but it took it so long. And then what was the kind of the the threshold point that that caused it to turn. And that kind of question, why do ideas prosper at a certain point? Why do some bad ideas prosper longer than they should? It's a question I think that you have to ask and answer from the perspective of the long zoom. And the threshold point really ended up revolving around this this week in late August in 1854, at 30 Broad Street in Soho, the densest neighborhood in all of London, a kind of an island of working class, poverty in the middle of one of the more kind of posh neighborhoods Mayfair over here to the left and on on August 28th of 1854, a very popular well some of you know the story I won't go into it in too much detail, but a very popular well got contaminated with the bacteria that causes cholera. Within the space of about two or three days the kind of most deadly kind of torrential outbreak of cholera ever to hit London erupted in that neighborhood. Within the phase of about 10 or 12 days the neighborhood had literally had been decimated, 10 percent of the population had died. And probably 50 percent would died if so many people haven't fled. It was just utter devastation, incredibly you know, just gripping tragic scenes of you know, entire families dying together in their you know, one room flats over the space of 24 hours and it's kind of agonizing death alone in the dark, just a horrible, horrible kind of scene. But a very dark moment turns out to have in a in a bizarre way this kind of happy ending because this outbreak ended up being the turning point in solving the riddle of where the cholera was coming from. And it produced ultimately a very famous map, where I got the title for The Ghost Map. May be you have see it much of you probably would have seen it in Tufte's Books, those of you information architects out there, it has become a kind of an icon of great, classic, early cartography and information design. And it was created by John Snow. And Snow wasn't just a classic great 19th century mind lived crucially lived in the neighborhood just just kind of down here on the edge of where the outbreak took place. And what's interesting about Snow is when the story is told about cracking the code of cholera and the use of this map and Snow is Snow is rolling it, it's often told in fact in the - in the first version that that Tufte told in his first book. He got all pretty much all of the facts exactly wrong. It's pretty amazing. And I know of course I know, it's never been corrected. He then kind of retold the story in the next book and got the facts right. But you would think he would go back and just mention that he had it wrong. But basically the story is often told as this kind of triumph of information design, that Snow made this map of the outbreak and the outbreak and the map kind of pointed him to the culprit of this pump. And in part that's true and in part that's fundamentally wrong. And I want to explain why it's wrong. But just to explain the map for those of you who don't get it, the map basically is showing deaths at all the various addresses, so these big black bars you see right around the pump in the center, those are places where the longest one is the residence where about 20 people died. And so it's a bar for each death. And you can basically see that kind of death radiating out from that pump. It gets thinner that you further get out from the pump and one of the things, also that Tufte didn't mention is that a later version has this grey line going around which is actually kind of a map of time projected on to space. That outline is the map of the area where it was closer to walk to the Broad Street pump, in terms of the actual kind of time walking down these quirked London streets than it was to walk to any other pump. So Snow had kind of calculated all the distances and figured out you know, this is area where people were likely to use this pump as opposed to these other pumps. And in fact the diseases the outbreak is really contained almost exactly within the kind of erratic contours of that line. So it is undoubtedly a very powerful map. And it's great example kind of the power of visualization this could have been a statistical table of you know, distances from the pump, the number of deaths. It would have you know, taken you you know, three hours to go through the data to make sense of it. Here you look at that and you say okay, there is something wrong with that pump. So it was very powerful but Snow actually had the idea five years before he made this map. He had come up with the idea that cholera was in fact in the water and not in the air. In 1848-1849 he published extensively about it actually, had been roundly ignored by the authorities, had done a number of studies trying to find kind of comparable statistical break down where he could show that the likelihood of the cholera being in the water and a number of them were quite convincing but somehow they never took hold. And he was effectively kind of sitting around waiting for something to come along that would help him make his case. And so when he heard that all these people were dying just a few blocks from him he went straight into the belly of the beast and started knocking the doors to try and figure out where people were getting their water. This is interesting kind of symbiotic relationship that Snow had to the bacteria, that he needed the bacteria that kind of destroy the neighborhood in order that he could save it in a sense. But he also needed help. So he came into with a theory and he ended up having a wonderful kind of partner in this investigation who was always been ignored in the telling of this story, who is the Reverend Henry Whitehead, who was at that time about 26 years old, this is him at the end of his life I have no idea whether he had a beard like that at that early age. And he was just this classic you know, Whitehead was this classic you know, local vicar, who was hanging out in the neighborhood, knew everyone, was just classic kind of connector, he would you know, he was constantly staying in the pubs until late at night with his parishioners, he was that kind of vicar. And going over for tea and all that kind of stuff and at a certain point in the middle of the outbreak he heard word that Snow, this local doctor had developed this theory that the pump was the cause of the outbreak. And he started investigating because he knew first hand that the pump at Broad Street had the best water in all of Soho and so he got involved in this case too, tracking down, trying to disprove Snow's theory. And what he had that Snow didn't have, because Snow was not really kind of a social person at all, he was brilliant mind but he was not he was not the kind of personable local vicar like figure, that Whitehead was. So Whitehead was able to get into people houses and talk to them and interview them at length and to track down the people who would fled through his kind of extended social network. And he ended up doing a lot more of the actual kind of street level detective work than Snow did. And so ultimately, he actually drawing upon also a lot of kind of public information that was being made freely available by William Farr, who was kind of the head statistician Snow, Whitehead, put together this overall kind of table and a few other kind of charts and eventually, overtime, convincingly persuaded the authorities that in fact cholera was in the water. It took longer than people think. But by the time cholera came back to London in 1866 with real severity the authorities immediately treated it as a problem with the water. They had already started building the sewer system to deal with separating out the waste from the drinking water and they instructed everyone around this new epidemic in 1866 to boil their water and that was the last time that cholera attacked the city of the London. So they went from total ignorance to complete conquering of this disease in London in 12 years and were because of this confluence of forces. So how did this happen? What were the different kind of levels kind of coming together? Why was the break through here? Part of it was because Snow himself was thinking across scales, he was thinking in this kind of long zoom perspective. So he was actively trying to find that he believed that there were some kinds of microscopic life that was that was causing this disease. He didn't have the technology of the day to actually see it. He was constantly analyzing the water for, but the microscopes wouldn't let him see it. Right about that time someone in Italy actually was discovering the cholera bacteria but Snow never heard about it, the scientific world really never heard about it for many years. So he was never able to see this creature but he was thinking that it was there and he was actively looking for it. So he was thinking on the level of microbes. But he was trained as a physician, this is crucial, this story and one of things that drove him initially to the theory that it was in the water, not in the air was that the symptoms of the disease, the bodily symptoms of the disease looked like something that you had ingested rather than something that you have inhaled. So his physical training and kind of reading the symptoms of the organs of these you know people who would die from the disease, that was absolutely crucial to his development of the theory. Then you have that kind of human skill of Whitehead himself both really the skill of Snow, his particular genius, his ability to do these things, his particular background that led them there and then the kind of human interpersonal skills that Whitehead brought to it, his ability to kind of track down all these people to build that broader social network. And then the ability to look on the scale of the neighborhood itself, to zoom out to the perspectives so that you could see all those stuffs arrayed on that map. Then the public ability or public accessibility of all that data that Farr was distributing in a sense part of the platform for this was an open source model of government data about mortality. You know the government could have said, okay we are going to compile all these statistics about who is dying and what, where. But Farr had this great idea that they should make that available to everyone because someone may be was going to find something of interest. And without that open access to that to the government statistics the case wouldn't have been made convincingly enough. And then Snow was also thinking on the scales of the entire city. He did a massive map of all the different kind of water supply companies in London and the different cholera rates depending where they were getting their water. And the very nature of the city itself caused the solution in a sense to come into place, by being so densely populated, by making that pattern visible in the streets and deaths on that map. The solution became visible in a certain way. So in the end when the question is asked you know, how did this how did Snow come to this break through? How do we solve this riddle? You can't answer it convincingly unless you look at all those different levels, right. This is the only kind of optimal view that accounts for what really happened on some level. Now there is another word for this which is Consilience, an old word re popularized by E. O. Wilson a number of years ago, in a controversial book. And one of the things that controversial about it on some level is the encroachment into culture. I think most of us in the room agree that science works this way, in thinking across different scales. That at each scale there is a kind of discipline appropriate to that. And one of the ways that science works powerfully is by connecting the scales up and down the chain, so that one scale makes predictions about the [0:26:45] ____ that might happen on the next scale and then you bring in the next one on that skill to verify your your prediction. Snow's idea was I believe there is something in the water. I can't see it. But my prediction would be that it would have this effect on a body if ingested and look I have got this evidence here that shows that. And my prediction would be, when you get those bodies together in a neighborhood around an infected contaminated pump, you will see this distribution. And at each level he made a prediction that was proved out by the subsequent data. That's we agree that's how science works and that's the kind of Consilient movement from from the very small to very large, at each step another discipline. Where the controversy comes in is when you connect those kinds of scientific disciplines to the cultural disciplines or the disciplines of the humanities. And a lot of people, I think wrongly, believe that Wilson's argument is ultimately trying to reduce everything down to explanations that come from the sciences, when in fact I think that's not how it actually works. In fact each level in the chain has its own autonomy; the beauty of the model is that you can connect them all. So the question is really can you have the cultural consilience, right? Can you bring the realm of culture and ideas and personal experience into this into this long zoom perspective? That's what I want to focus on for for instance the second half. One example of that kind of cultural reading is is this question why miasma stayed around so long as a theory. That's the kind of history of ideas question, why was it there, why do people to get stuck with it? And I think that again it's one of these cases where you need to think about that cultural condition across these scales. So it was a very old idea. Hippocrates had written about you know, the importance of air in all sorts of diseases. Miasma you know is a term that he used in some fashion and then you also of course have the ways that cities were developed themselves kind of the lack of public health infrastructure, the lack of ability to kind of see these patterns up until this point, both caused the problem and they caused so much smell that it was very hard to kind of override that immediate kind of sensory impact, which I will get into sense in kind of neuroscience to that. Then you have limitations in technology. It was very hard to see this bacterium. So the technological kind of path was just not quite there up to see around miasma. Then you had the kind of contemporary political landscape and one of things that happened is cholera was was more rampant in poor, most destitute neighborhoods in London because people were crowded in together and they were living in worse conditions and so there was a great kind of political orthodoxy of the day that said, well these people, because of their moral debauched life styles have somehow brought this disease on to themselves. And that kind of kept in place on some level. And then you have the kind of Great man theory of History where someone like Chadwick was very influential and testifies in front of parliament that all smells disease and people listen to him on some level that has an impact as well. Then the other thing that I would add to this is there is a much longer and smaller element of this as well which is the evolution of the human sensory system. So for various reasons we have evolved to be able to detect very small molecules, odors that signal decay or as we do not have the ability to visually see bacteria. You have a glass of water that's contaminated with you know, 100s and 1000s of bacteria, cholera bacteria and you will not see any coloration in the water, discoloration in the water. But you can smell, you know, it smells full of human wastes from you know, 50 feet away. And what - we also now know from our brain imaging is that the smell system actually evolved into a kind of alarm system in the brain. So that when we smell these odors we have an immediate kind of revulsion reaction to them, which we do not have to a glass of water that contains an odorless bacteria. And so on some level people, when they would smell these things, they would smell them and think this has to be killing on some level. This is just how I I smell this and my brain sends off this kind of alarm system at some level its just hard to override that system that evolved in an environment where people were not around decay and vast piles of human wastes as much as they were in modern cities. So miasma is this kind of perfect storm of all these things coming together working on all these different scales. So now we lets go from 19th century urban decay to SimCity. One of the things that was interesting about the response to to Everything Bad is Good for You was the defense of popular culture and defensive of the kind of growing complexity at popular cultures. And everyone focused in a sense on the first half of the book which was making the argument that pop culture had gotten more complex. And you know there was a very interesting debate about that and what that meant and what effect it was having? But I always felt that that was kind of the easy part. And that you could make that case pretty easily and the more interesting thing was to explain why it was happening. Because we have this kind of long standing assumption that we have lived in a race to the bottom culture, everything was getting cruder and simpler and you know, there was the dumping down effect everywhere. It's kind of a natural law of modern media in society. And in fact what you find is this trend towards increased complexity. But that was interesting and we should have a theory of why that is happening. And so in the second half of the book I tried to kind of develop that theory and what that is really a long zoom theory. But to just to explain a little bit about the trend, you know, the original story the the original kind of experience that got me on this was was playing heavy Will Wright theme to to this talk I guess fitting. Seven or eight years ago I was on a family vacation with my wife and I was she had a seven-year old nephew, she still has a nephew, but he is older now. His name is Vaed and it was a rainy day in this vacation and I had been playing SimCity a little bit and so I thought oh this will be fun I will load up SimCity and show it to Vaed and this will be nice and so we loaded up and I gave I gave him what looking back on it I think it was probably a pretty condescending tour of the game which is basically tour of the graphics you know, so it was like, oh look Vaed there is that's the mayor's house that's where I live and look at the little playground, you see the kids there playing, that's neat and look at that big tall building there you know. And this goes on for a while and then at a certain point I I say to him you know you know, look at this area here, I have got all these factories that are all run down and I can't seem to get this part of town to work. I mean this one is totally abandoned, I am just stuck here. And he looks at the screen he looks you know, back at me and looks at the screen again and he is like I think you need to lower your industrial tax rates, you know. You know it was just one of those moments really like, oh the world is just tilted a little bit, you know and it was one of those things where I thought hang on, here is this kid who is seven, who is basically picking this up, he wasn't he hadn't actually played the game before. But he was just kind of looking at the graphics and the interface and just soaking it all. And then he was basically learning you know, urban planning you know, principles of development and lower taxation will get more to you know, and he was picking this all up. And if you would sat him down in an urban planning classroom. you know and tried to teach him this stuff, right, he would be asleep throughout the door in like in three seconds, he is seven years old, right. But something about this screen and the game and the whole experience was he was learning without even realizing he was learning. He was picking up you know, a lot of information. And so I started to think well this is you know every time I looked around, people were talking about how all of these video games the kids were zoning out and everything is so stupid and and I thought, oh you know, there is something really interesting is happening that nobody is talking about here. And and you could look at it I mean you just see in the interfaces, I mean you go like you think about the progress from this you know, to like to like this like this is World of Warcraft, right. You know, I mean you can't a lot of you think about the interface complexity of these things now. Like what this screen from World of Warcraft like you can't even see the game, right, because the interface is like oh, you know, that the game is the interface right. I mean somewhere back there there is like a dragon or something like that. But you know, there is this immense data overload and this is you know, this is legible to probably many people in this room. It's not actually legible to me but you know you just look at all the variables going on here. And somebody sits down in front of this and it's like right, okay, yeah I see what's going on. So to be able to you know, we went from you know, from like oh yeah yeah I got - so once I eat the pellets they turn blue and I can chase them I get it I get it how this works, you know I can figure this out to you know, I can't even keep up with this. This is so that's the trend and part of this is our ability to kind of adapt at an ever accelerating rate to new interfaces and you know, kind of increasingly complex interfaces which is big part of it and the thing I have been thinking about for a long time. But but there is even more to that and it doesn't just you know, it's not just a game. You know, I mean I think you know a show like Lost which came out actually after Everything Bad was finished you know, it was kind of the great you know, to me a kind of indication of the theory of this huge mega international hit show that is just astonishingly complex in terms of the number of you think about those of you who watch it you think about the number of kind of open variables and narrative quote lines and mysteries you know, there are literally 100s and 100s things that we don't know, I mean to the point of great annoyance. But you are still you know, they are demanding an amazing amount of just a buffer a huge buffer in the in the kind of narrative memory of the audience. And with Lost it's great because there is a control study for this too, because it's like people stranded on a desert island trying to deal with this crazy island and like you know, in television we did that once before all right. So yes, you could look, so there is Gilligan and there is lock and you know, you could tell which one is got more complex. And in fact Lost is itself a kind of a long zoom show. So if you think about what kinds of plotlines or you know, what are the things are relevant to the plot of Lost. They you know, really there are things up and down the chain that are central to the plot of the show. So this is a basic kind of ontological question like are these people even alive, right. I mean that is the thing that shows wrestling with all the time, like did they die? And this is all just a dream or if one of them is thoroughly insane and it's all his hallucination. I mean these are the kinds of questions that the fans are dealing with and this is huge biological question of these women, I am not going to give anything away, I promise. But this question about women on the island getting pregnant and what's going on and there is a soul there is an ultrasound you know, in just a couple of weeks ago. Then there is this kind of sociological things of the others and these different groups and and you know, this whole question of kind of large group behavior and who these people are and bands coming together. And there is an immense amount of technology in it, old technology, new technology and a basic question of whether whether there is magic in the world it's a big question. A big question that that people want to know, I mean there is a lot of technology and the question is can the seemingly supernatural things be explained. Then you have this shadowy corporate world, the Dharma initiative kind of hovering over the whole things. You have this kind of global corporate kind of back story. And then you have the physical geography of the island. So you know, to ask of a show like Lost, what is you know, front and center and in the narrative. Where does the narrative live? Like it really truly lives on all those different levels. And if you went back to you know the most complex shows from from the 80s, even back to Hill Street Blues or something like that. You know, it would it would basically live you know kind of in sociology you know, somewhere between biology and sociology, like individual people, may be a little bit of kind of the city. A little bit of the city in that, but basically live you know you would never have kind of ontological issues, you never have big geographic issues. And it's basically kind of clustered in this kind of zone of people groups of people, the workplace, crimes. The Wire by the way is a show that structures like this too without may be ontology. But everything is else is there. So so that's basically the you know, couple of examples of this increasing complexity. So the question is why is it happening, right. Why we are having this happening? And so I I kind of tried to identify a couple of different things. And they came from again from different disciplines. And again it's just kind of convergence of different scales that that causes the snap. And the first thing that I came across when I was writing my book about the brain mind wide open, is something that the brain scientist [0:39:03] ____ calls the seeking circuitry of the brain which is kind of a subsystem in the brain that is largely kind of modified by the neurotransmitter dopamine which is central to many, many things about including addiction. And the seeking circuitry is basically optimized for systems involving or experiences involving reward and exploration. Right so any anytime you are in a situation where you basically are are seeking reward and you have a kind of a reward craving feeling you have a very strong drive to explore your environment. And if you ever kind of been around somebody who is going through like withdrawal from from a dopamine modified drug, like you know, kind of cocaine or something like that that, you know, that kind of craving, searching your room, looking for the drug and hallucinating and all that kind of stuff is totally the seeking circuitry going into over drive. Most of us have it in kind of normal patterns where we you know, when we are hungry and explore for food. We can understand you know, how this evolved. It's not that how to explain. But here is the interesting thing about it. If you accept this idea which I think most people do, that there is this kind of reward, exploration and nexus in the brain and that it has very powerful urges and it has very powerful controls over tension. So when we are in that mode we really are focused and we are willing to kind of focus on that at all cost. The prediction from this level, from the level of the brain science, is that a media form that comes along, structured around reward and exploration is going to be very addictive. And when I when I first came across that I was like oh that's what it is with games, that's the structure of almost all games that are organized formally around the words. I mean games are that is one of the basic things as you are trying to get that prize, you are trying to get that fancy mayor's house, you are trying to get that giant gun, you are trying to get that magic pill that's in the corner. What ever it is, there is rewards and almost all games involves some kind of explorations, some of them you know the there are whole multiple genres that are really about exploration, where you are really moving around the world looking for things. And so that was part of the explanation there and peoples spent a lot of time thinking about like, how would you talk about games? What should be the kind of critical vocabulary? And I always felt that intuitively, talking about them as narrative form seems wrong. You know when you sit down in front of a game you are not trying to finish the story. You don't really care about the characters, you are not like, I wonder how this is going to turn out, result. You know you are there because you are like, where is that lock? I have to find that lock. I have to you know, I have got a key. I need to find the lock, right. And so on some level there is that basic sense that you were being driven into these games by this by this kind of structure. And that's one of the reasons why a 10 year old is willing to put up with this immense complexity is because the structure of it is really optimized for the structure of his or her brain, in that sense. And the other thing I have picked up from the wonderful game scholar and educational theory scholar James Paul Gee is this principle from cognitive science and kind of learning theory which is the regime of components. And the idea behind this is that, the space were we learn the best and where we get into learning in kind of a flow state where we don't even realize we are learning is that space where we are challenged but not too much, right? So if it's too easy it's boring, if it's too hard, it's boring. But if it is kind of like hmmm I don't know the answer to this, but if I try, I think I can solve it. That's the zone where people really end up learning without you know they get kind of pulled in and sucked in. And so one of the things that that has become clear to a bunch of us who looked at that is that things like games live permanently in that state. Unlike, say novels, which have no idea what your reading skills are and have no idea whether you are bored or not or whether you are focused or if you have read the other literary references that they are alluding to. A game is very much aware of your skill, I mean even though even Pacman got harder as you got better, right? It's built into the kind of DNA of the game form. And so game sit there at that zone. They are always saying, ok you are not quite enough to go to this next level, when you train your skills, you hone your skills a little bit more and then I will take you up to that next level. And so people live in this regime of confidence, competence the whole time and that's another reason why they are pulled in, and that's another reason why they can be trained to do such astoundingly over whelming things like make sense of that World of Warcraft screen. And then I started to think well, that's what's happening even outside the game in the culture at large, that people who grow up playing video games and grow up learning these ever more complex interfaces and grow up playing Zelda at eight, when you sit them down in front of a TV shows, if you put those people down in front of, you know [0:43:26] Freeze Company they are like, hell what. You know this is so easy. I want something you know in the regime of competence. And so a show like Lost is one of the shows and there are a bunch of other ones that are out there, realize that there is a certain generation that expects to be challenged. And in fact a show like Lost is kind of structuring itself like a game. So it's kind of a played by people that's designed to be exploited. It looks a lot like Mist in fact, in a lot of ways, - that kind of one of the most influential games in the 90s. And one of my favorite examples of this is this is something I found of one of the Lost fan sites after after this this thing is insane. After the just to not to give any thing away again but after the end of season one and beginning of season two, there is a mysterious hatch. And they blow up the hatch and they go down and the first episode of that season is a kind of half of it takes place inside this kind under ground player. And you know two days after the show after the episode aired, on one of these fan sites this image showed up on a fan site and it is an annotated map of the under ground layer that some insane fan with too much time on his hands or her hands some how I feel like it's hands did this thing. And it's annotated. So all of those I don't know if you can see this, but all those little the little dots have numbers on them and so you know with this this is annotated list and these are all the screen graphs that they got. So they sat there with the DVR or the Tevo, grabbing the frames and then figuring out the camera positions and the little maps next to them show with the cameras and then there is a description of all this kind of stuff and it was just like I mean and it goes on. I mean it literally goes on this is you know just the beginning and this is I don't know, it would be equivalent of like 40 of these pages. And you know Kevin always about talks about the wonderful idea, the gift economy, I mean it's like I love this, Sony does this and they just upload it and there you go. Here you go guys, I did a map you know, knock yourself out. And you know with in like you know, 20 minutes some body is like hey, great thanks, I notice one little thing. If you could just you know so. But this is you know this is like a game walk through, right? This is some body exploring the world of Lost and trying to make sense of this. So this is incredible engagement of people being pulled into this world and I think it's because of that exploration drive, the seeking circuitry drive and this regime of confidence that they been trained to the point were they accept this level of complexity and they expect this level of engagement. And the other principle which is which is really not a principle that comes out of cognitive science in neuroscience it comes out of really more economics and technology is the market that these things are being kind of thrown into, right? So there is a just incredible speech from a number of years ago that from the 70s that the television executive gave, where he was talking about their basic mission and they were like, look there are only three channels. So we got 30 percent right out of the gate, right there, you know. And so all you know, but if we put some thing on that's in any way objectionable people are going to turn the dial. So you get a little confusing people turn the dial of the other network. If we get a little too racy then people turn the dial, if we say some thing that's politically charge, people turn the dial, so what our goal here and I can't remember if he was ABC or CBS, where he was, but he was like, our goal here is to make the least objectionable programming in the world. You know that's what that's how we will make our money, you know. And in fact really that was the model when every thing basically aired once and every thing was live from the consumer point of view, right. So you know you either have repeats in summer but you know, there was barely anything like syndication, you know this is the 70s, there wasn't really Cable. There were no DVD's; VCR's were just come in to market. And so basically every thing you watch television was a totally live medium in terms of view in the living room member seeing was obviously it was taped or live depending on what was going on in the other end. But you just sat there and watch and if you miss some thing it was gone. You know people weren't like oh, Starsky said that to Hutch. I want to rewind and see exactly what he said, you know, I am not sure, I think I missed some thing, was there some thing in the back of the screen? No body was thinking that way about television because the technology literally kept you from doing it. And so the television got really, really simple for an understandable reason. It had a kind of poorly trained audience who had no way to pause, rewind or watch again. But now you think about the condition we are living now. You think about that person with the map who built this whole thing out of being able to freeze and look at these images and you think about the after markets for DVD's, you think about buying shows on iTunes, you think about the incredible vast fortunes made by syndicating things. You know the money is more and more in making shows that people will want to watch multiple times, right. So there is the the whole economics of television has started to change. At least in this world of kind of narrative and fiction television, so there is this huge you know interest now like, I want to make some thing that some body is going to watch and then watch on syndication and then buy the DVD set. And you do that by making complicated things. You do that making things where it's interesting to go back and watch it over again. And so you go from least objectionable to most objectionable, I mean the most repeatable. I mean you get to most repeatable, most objectionable movies still have you know a fear factor. But for most repeatable you know you are in this model where you want to watch it again and again, because there is a lot there. Every time you see it you will see something new, The Sopranos, 24, The Wire, these are all shows that are big hits. Particularly Sopranos, particularly Lost, particularly 24 but that are you know far more complex than anything that was on television before. So in trying to understand why this upper trend and complexity happened you can go all the way from the kind of a brain science, the kind of cognitive science, the understanding how interfaces evolved just appear technological change of the processing power that's involved in making these games, that's obviously driving a lot of this. The new forms of distribution and then the new kind of repetition economies to drive all that. To explain why this trend is happening I called it in the book, [0:49:38] the sleeper curve, you have to look at all those different scales. The question isn't kind of fully answered with out thinking that way. I want to show one one other thing that's not my work and I am sure lot of you don't know about. But it's an example again from the kind of cultural side. It's Franco Moretti's book Maps Graphs and Trees which came out a year or two ago and I think it's actually one of the most important books of kind of cultural criticism that has come out in a long time. And what Moretti is trying to do he is at Stanford and he was my old mentor in my grad school days. So there is some overlapping in our work. Moretti is trying to take in a sense this he has not called at a long zoom perspective, but he is kind of moving back and forth between the different scales of reading. And that basically literature has been kind of anchored in, either that kind of close reading of looking at the text or then connecting the text may be to the kind of cultural moment and saying how the text is kind of represents that moment in some ways. What Moretti is trying to do is kind of greatly expand the approach he has made all these he did a book called the Atlas of the European Novel that looked at how these novels actually move through space which is really interesting; a whole geographic perspective on plotlines that open up a whole new avenue. But this last one he kind of tours through a bunch of different ways, kind of levels to zoom that you can look at. And he has done this kind of this really crazy charts like this is the history of kind of novelistic genres from 1740 to 1915 and its all these I don't have their titles in there because you won't be able to read them because there are so many. But it's like you know that the kind of Newgate Prison Novels and the Silver Fork Novels and then [0:51:10] ____ Novels and the buildings from on. And always different genres that proliferated and so basically they catalogues the actual stuff, he didn't look at the cannon. And he didn't look at kind of the anti-cannon. You looked at the whole system of production; try and find what was the in the entire ecosystem of literature that people were reading. And what was happening to that kind of the species, in that ecosystem. And when you zoom out to that perspective, you find a bunch of things. One, there are lot of species we didn't know about, right? I mean the diversity of the system is pretty interesting. And two, they keep dying off at this incredible rate. So there is this very kind of strong things we are like you know 10 or so, kind of appear as a kind of Gemini for a while. And they die off after about 25 years and then another 10 kind of comes into place. And there is a little variation there but its but there is way more diversity than one would have thought. And there is way more turn over. They have these shorter life spans. And in fact he has this great term for this kind of approach which is distant reading, sort of close reading, its distant reading. What happens when you zoom out far enough to look at the whole system? But then, he also goes in all the way to look at devices, kind of the evolution of literary devices inside novels. So he is looking at actual kind of formal properties as they get picked up and become standardized. So, one of my favorite examples of this is the evolution of the detective story, kind of perfected by Conan Doyle. But before Conan Doyle kind of reached this perfection there was a long period of kind of experimentation, where there are lots of different approaches to telling a detective story and many of them very comic and many of them not very entertaining. And it's basically because people hadn't quite figured out the rules yet that were going to satisfying to a reader. And it basically revolves around clues, right. The standard that eventually got kind of hit upon kind of end of Sherlock Holmes and there are a couple of Sherlock Holmes stories where this is not true. But Conan Doyle kind of formulizes the idea that the detective story has to have decodable clues. So the clues are actually visible to the reader in some fashion, they are kind of mentioned or they show up and there is some form in their connection to the eventual kind of resolution of the mystery has to be visible on some way. So there is a whole range of detective stories where there were no clues at all, that were published. Where people were like, yeah this guy was murdered and what we are going to do, we don't know. Oh my god, it was her. You know it was just like, oh it's exiting, somebody was murdered and then they found out who it was and there was none of that sense of oh, I thought it might have been that, because you mentioned that there was that. And it was Conan Doyle who finally kind of figured that out and then ever since then you know that has been the standard and that's the way you tell detective stories. And if some how you come along and you forget to mention the key thing that was staring you right in the face people say, that's not very satisfying, you didn't play by the rules on some level. So, in this context, like Frank was going back and looking at the actually kind of evolution and the form on the level of the device. So, what I think is trying to get built here is the beginning of a kind of a long zoom theory for how literary systems work. And I think the big question here, I mean you have you know the broad movement of societies; you have literary markets, people increasingly focusing on that kind of the flow books and what people were buying. You have the existing biographical history of office which we've been doing forever in terms of literary study. We have kind of [0:54:33] narratology and now we are getting better and better thinking about the circulation and evolution of devices. But I think there is one last link there which is a logical link down to the individual mind; what's going out in the mind of readers? So in this particular case, if you believe that there is a kind of evolutionary sense, this selection pressure on certain devices, that there is a lot of experimentation and then the market place kind of decides that they like their clues to decodable, right. Then one other things we have to explain is what is that process where by a brain is able to on one level have a position on a literary device without probably being conscious of the device itself, right. There aren't people saying like, that Conan Doyle was good, he has decodable clues. There is just this kind of sense like, that was satisfying; I like that one better than the others, right. I think most kind of theories of literary devices will have to assume that the audience is not conscious of that and yet some how they are conscious of that. And if you get in to that realm and if your language gets murky, like saying somehow they are unconsciously aware of it. That's when you will have to be more specific and that's when you have to be able to say, okay you know, let's figure out how his actually works. We actually have models for this. I mean I have got a three year old son who is learning how to talk and he is going through that phase where he has he has learnt to how to you know, conjugate regular verbs and so he is making all those mistakes by taking irregular verbs that is and making all these you know he saying things like, I bringed it, because somehow he has learned the rule that how you you make a past tense verb. And he is executing that rule very nicely, it's producing wrong words. So we notice it. But obviously he is not conscious about. He is not aware that, oh this is actually how you you know this is how you conjugate these things. So there may be some kind of neuroscience basis for this that we can understand, we can understand what's actually going on in the brain. But if it gets to the level I mean it's like that classic cartoon where they have the giant science equation on the chock board and all these numbers and formulas and things like that and another part because on here in middle it says a then a miracle occurred you know. That's why we are here. We get you know we are really good, we are getting better and better kind of connecting these levels and then we get to the actual brain and then it all get fussy you know, we are like well, we don't talk to those people. But we should be talking to those peoples and they should be talking to us. There is a lot to talk about, right. So the question is how do you kind of exercise this you know, what is what is the, you know if this is an important way to think and obviously its an important way to think about how ecosystems work, its an important way to think about how political systems work and cultural systems so if this is something that we want to do more and more how do we kind of exercise this cognitive muscle more and more. And it's a great question. I don't have all the answers, but it's going to be very interesting to see what happens with Spore, Will Wright's new game because Spore as a game is the one that has been the kind of most exclusively designed as kind of a long zoom thing. I mean it was inspired by Powers of Ten and a number of other things in this mode. And most you know this but I am sure, but it goes through as a game you know you kind of start with this a little little microscopic creature and then you know, you kind of evolves into this bigger creature that you get to kind of intelligently designed. And then you get out there and then you are kind of on the level of your ecosystem in your hunting and seeking and looking for a reward. And then you actually build a tribe I am [0:58:01] ____ and then you start building little civilization and cities and you kind of get to that scale and then you start thinking about planets and inter-galactic exploration, all that kind of stuff. And so it's really it's the great kind of embodiment of this perspective in a it's a tool for this kind of thought in Howard Reingold's great old traits. What I don't know I mean, you know I ask well about this one, you show me, demo, I have never quite figured it out. I think the test will be how much changes on one scale effect changes on the other scale. Because there one some level, I mean its going to be an extraordinary thing and its going to be an amazingly fun experience I am sure. But in terms of exercising the brain in this kind of consilient way which what you want to have is something where you tinker with the microscopic life and you see changes in you city, right. That's the real kind of mind opening kind of awe inspiring thing about this is that you are able to actually move back and forth between the different scales and see the effects they have on each other and to see it all as one kind of integrated whole. I think that that that would be a pretty powerful tool for the mind. We will see. I come back to the Joyce quote, after he writes that a little description of himself in the world, this is great passage where he says he reads down the list again. Then he read that, finally from the bottom to the top till he came to his own name that was he and he read down the page again. What was after the universe, nothing. But was there anything after the universe to show where it stopped, before the nothing place began. It was very big to think about every thing and every where. That's kind of what I want to leave you with, it was very big, it is still very big to think about every thing and every where. But it has also never been easier. Thank you very much.