The word

The word is a powerful invention. With the word it is possible to refer to a thing without the physicality of the thing. So powerful is this ability to refer to things in the abstract that it leads to another form of existence for whatever it is we are talking about.

Imagine a world without words. In this world you can only point to an object. You can only learn by example. This is a short lived world. Each generation must learn over the lessons of the past generations. But if you have words, things are different.

When an idea is attached to a word, the idea's own existence is liberated from the single mind which created it. The idea can now be spread to another mind. This transfer of knowledge between minds is the birth of society because now knowledge need not die with the individual.

The better we construct words and build languages the more powerful and complex the ideas that we can transmit. Eventually, humans sought a method to store information outside of the speaker's mind in a way that would persist even if nobody could remember what the speaker had said. We invented the written word.

The written word had the power of the spoken word and it did not die on the wind. The written word could persist and could be replicated with exacting precision because it had a true atom. The written word could be replicated with such accuracy because it was composed of "digital" components called characters. Generations upon generations could copy the written word exactly without alteration as long as they adhered to the same character set.

As humanity built upon its ever more complex heritage of thoughts and ideas it built for itself mental devices to help organize ritual games of thought we might call mathematics. We found ourselves faced with describing things that were extremely abstract and yet very real in their own right. Mathematics enjoyed a time where it was seen as much as religion and spirituality as it was a tool to understand the more complex limits of human understanding.

In time we formalized these mental devices, augmented them with physical devices such as the abacus and mechanical calculators. And, finally, in the last few hundred years we have built for ourselves machines that could encompass in their behaviors all the rules of some systems of theory. We built for ourselves machines that we could speak to, machines that would react to what we spoke to them, and would follow whatever rules we laid out for them in a pantomime of human thought.

We created the computer, a machine we speak to, a machine that holds ideas.

Currently, the pinnacle of human achievement the computer can only now mimic the thoughts of the persons who speak their specialized languages. These languages are devised in layers to compile or break down from a human readable language to a machine language. In the same way a written word can be reconstituted to form a spoken word and become a thought in a new mind.

In the way that the spoken word gave birth to society, the written word gave birth to civilization, the computerized word will give birth to something equally profound. The spoken word allowed a person to communicate a thought to another person. The written word allowed a person to persist a thought beyond the immediately living sending that thought through time. The computerized word allows a person to communicate a thought outside themselves, through time, and think it inside the machine.

The word is the vessel of ideas. The written word is the preservation of ideas. The computerized word is the execution of ideas. Idea become reality independent of the thinker.