Ideas Are Things
by Adam Robbert
Knowledge ecologies have important implications for how we think about ideas. In the world of human knowledge, the idea acts as a cosmogram; an actor that is part of its surrounding terrain, an abstraction that is part of the territory it describes, exerting a pull on the world it tries to map. Ideas are things that, once generated by the thinker, immediately gain their own autonomy and ability to re-arrange other ideas. Plainly stated, ideas exist in the world in the same way as any other ecological actor; ideas are a part of the actuality of experience and are therefore amenable to an ecological interpretation. When mediated through the appropriate media ecologies, ideas can then impact the physical form of any other entity within their reach. As an abstraction, the idea is also a cryptogram, concealing certain features of the terrain it helps to enact. The contrast between the revealing and concealing character of the idea speaks to the fact that no single mode of thought has a monopoly on the real; rather, every idea is partial and relative to its ecology, capable only of exposing certain features of a more complex landscape. In this way knowledge ecology has a complex relationship to media ecology since both are actively foregrounding and backgrounding different aspects of a more complex reality.