Mining the Connections
Mon Feb 05, 2018 · 379 words

“All the people have already connected each other” is a notable phrase said in “Serial Experiments Lain,” one of the representative Japanese animations in the 1990s. It showed a futuristic vision of the cyber world. We are able to, even now, take many ideas from it.

Not same as what the IoT brings, we now have a feeling, “all the things have already connected each other.” As I wrote before, future cyber-archeologists will mine the connections from digital garbage piled up on the cyberspace. Things are also connected with each other like people are so.

In an impressive speech, Steve Jobs once adviced we “connect the dots.” I have to admit he is right. Nevertheless, I would rather say now we should do “mining the connections” instead. It is because, from the viewpoint of the cyber-archeologists, the “dots” have been already connected each other as I mentioned above.

Now a word “pratitya-samutpada (engi in Japanese)” comes to my mind. Kumagusu Minakata, a great Japanese naturalist, once said with the word all the things are related each other through a network that is not just a causal relationship.

Western science, as Minakata explains, relies on linear cause-and-effect relationships to illuminate the workings of nature, but such relationships reveal only one narrow facet of reality. The Buddhist doctrine of pratitya-samutpada—known as engi in Japanese—teaches that all phenomena arise together in an interdependent web of causality. Minakata felt that such a worldview opened the way for a far more complex, expansive, and multidimensional approach to science.

(source: Minakata Kumagusu: The Meiji Polymath Who Broke the Mold)

According to my understanding, the concept simply means nothing exists without being connected. Everything has been connected each other from the start. If we stand at the position of the future cyber-archeologists and look backward at now, at a sight, we are able to grasp “engi” from which things emerge. I call it “future-age-historian perspective.”

I say again “all the things have already connected each other.” That is, what indeed we have to do is not “connecting the dots,” but “mining the connections” because things are connected already and we have not fully recognized them. Connections are around and we are veiled with ignorance. The world is full of such connections, waiting for us to mine.

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