Monthly Archives: December 2011

THE OVERVIEW EFFECT (or why I love the Internet)

A while ago, while stumbling around in the dark alleys of cyberspace, I bumped into an expression that instantly caught my attention:

The Overview Effect

I had never heard the words before, but reading their message, I immediately fell in love.

The term was invented by the American writer Frank White in the late 80’s, and it refers to the awakening of consciousness that a lot of astronauts experience as they are shot into outer space. Suddenly they see the Earth through the small window of the spaceship, and seeing their home – this vulnerable, tiny dot – from a distance, totally changes the way the see the world, the Universe and themselves.

Frank White describes it like this:

”From space, the astronauts tell us, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide us become less important and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this ”pale, blue dot”, becomes both obvious and imperative. Even more so, many of them tell us that from the overview perspective, all of this seems imminently achievable – if only more people could have the experience!”

Global consciousness in an instant – what a blast! Imagine how that could change us. Imagine what our world could look like if we all got to experience The Overview Effect…

Space journeys to the masses! A fantastic thought, but I guess most people would consider it quite unrealistic. According to the list of human space travelers on Wikipedia, only 448 lucky souls have traveled into space so far, and despite what people might have hoped for as they saw Neil Armstrong doing his famous moonwalk in 1969, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn just haven’t become the new Canary Islands yet.

So, what do we do? Are there other ways for us to experience The Overview Effect?

Well, think about it; The Overview Effect is what happens when astronauts see the planet and its people from an overview perspective.

Isn’t this perspective quite similar to what we are all experiencing as we are drifting around in cyberspace?

Through the World Wide Web we are able to view humanity from a distance, not through the windows of a spaceship, but through the windows of our computers. For the first time in history, our stories and ideas are woven together in one huge and complex picture, as people from all over the world are sharing their thoughts, questions and knowledge, their hopes, fears and dreams.

Never before have we been able to see ourselves more clearly than we do today. And the more stories we put into this virtual picture of humanity, the more detailed it gets.

Through the Internet, the majority of the world’s population is given the chance to experience The Overview Effect!

I believe this will change us.

That it will help us make the shift into global awareness, by reminding us that we are all interconnected.

We are all astronauts in cyberspace!