This article is a revised version of a plenary lecture and available in the APLS Journal.
"Is Humanity Destined to Self-Destruct?"
by Lynton Keith Caldwell

& Invited Comment by Heiner Benking in APLS Round-Table:
"Show or Schau?"

PLEASE go also to:
read the other comments in the APLS journal
and see the recent add on of the original development steps:
- what the GLOBAL CHANGE exhibition looks like in detail
- how the diplays of "SYSTEM EARTH" evolved and
- how they were presented in 1990:

GLOBAL CHANGE exhibition:
ENGLISH synopsis:
the TOPOGRAMM System:


We have played with the issue of show or show at the EXPO 2000 World Exhibition in Hanover. The question is not only if we are doomed to get flooded my data and "noise". This "overwhelm" or the "glut" includes all kinds of signs, not only pictures, words and numbers (see theory of signs from Charles S. Peirce) does not directly include the third category of Peirce "index". He categorized signs as icon, index and symbol  (footnote 1). As signs and in particular an index needs a framework, "legend", or a conceptual superstructure,  - you can also call it framework or embodied context-schema, we called it cognitive panorama,  where can point at and index and reginally and spacially "bundle" areas or clounds of meaning-, we have to be aware of the schema or map, the models and frameworks in use and how to bridge between them. 

What we did at EXPO 2000 WORLD EXHIBITION was to look at a sign or symbol worth to remember from such an event. Like the TOUR D'EIFEL in Paris or the PLUTONIUM in Brussels in early years, and we selected the T-DIGIT of EXPO 2000, as it showed in central location the impact of innovation on our lifes and our possible Futures by the modern communication technologies and media including virtual reality, tele-technologies and cyberculture. 

T - DIGIT at EXPO 2000

The Cube of about 30 meter length was called T-Digit and  invited as a regular Pavilon at EXPO selected groups to experience the impact of modern augmented virtual (synthetic) realities and what that will mean for our daily life in the future. As we were not invited to change the scheme of the EXPO organizers with the Millennium Presentations to modify the message of the TELECOM (which was already fighting the concept of "T-Intelligence" as not part of her trademark identity), we had to distribute the idea of the place of SHOW and nice and dynamic colorful pictures is not enough. (see: Humane Information Society with the Learning and Information Society "people") and show that such a structure and building can not harbor nice pictures on its surface, but that we can consider places and spaces more tangible, solids and real as most of the philosophers do. So what we did was to consider the Pavilion of the T-Digit as a deep place or space by giving positions or regions a clearly organized orthogonal location to help us find issues connected with for example biology economics and environment again and again in a repeatable way. We just "merged" or translated the positions from the: 

T-cube at the Universal World Exposition EXPO 2000
  • and the positions defined in the cube as built for the 

    We are presenting here pictures from the original GLOBAL CHANGE exhibition and from the EXPO 2000 World Exhibition. pictures were manipulated, the T-Cube by adding another structure or meaning as a map for "cyberspace", for general orientation and broader and deeper understanding.
    This is what we mean when we jointly locate, index, and jointly immerse into areas of interest and connected "subjects" of the "SYTEM ERDE". 
    Please see the central poster-walls  of the SYSTEM EARTH section which is covered in detail to show how and where we should continue our work and designs on how we can understand the System Earth,  the "coherence and connectedness of GAIA"  in "me&we" models, exercises we have been doing  with children  for years.... 

    Please also see as already above: ACCESS and ASSIMILATION, a text of how it came about and which applications in geo-eco-dynamics, geophysics and UN data harmonization have lead for example to these developments in Europe and are used for concepts and pilot projects to structure multi-media information found in multi-lingual and multi-cultural "environments" world-wide, and made us come to distictions between spacial and spatial with Kluwers Academic Publishers GeoJournal. I recommend to visit the critical section "SYSTEM EARTH" of the GLOBAL CHANGE - Challenges to Sciences and Politics" exhibition and see how our design or model evolved and how we are able to explore shared real and synthetic environments or augmented reality spaces


    We can not follow here the stages of development of the "map of what we know and do not know" or "Blackbox Nature - Rubik's Cube of Ecology" for more than 11 years, but we can say that knowledge is a very much dangerous embattled field with many people holding claim and setting boundaries and "standards". In a review of what is going on (future aspects" a senior advisor to the WORLD BANK has identified this and the approach by the WORLD PRESS CENTER as the two most rewarding regarding new ways of  structuring information in order to "survive the glut". What has been happening in-between? I got offers which were so "inhonourable" that I had to refuse (as then the ideas would have been shelved, closed and lost and the WPC is still struggling as their approach would mean a lot of information that would need to be "restored" in a new way. There is nothing new when I say "our store of knowledge is not in order".
    The approach to at least order our knowledge in a survey or birds-eye mode, providing orientation and avoiding deafening "noise" of data, by providing a rough map in a clear model is something very easy and simple. You just create a situation space, a potential place for signs, pictures and symbols, like objects have their place. Why souldn't we give a place for non-physical man-made artifacts?


    As we can not create "Futures", we are not destined to go to one of the others. What we can not do is to define and go to a certain Future, as there are many directions and targets, many possible Futures.  What we can do is make alternatives real and solid in order to evaluate and see from all sides, find agreement on where we want to go, instead of individually all struggling with increasing speed in unknown direction. (Analogy taken from Mark Twain's story where Tom Sawyer and Hucklebery Finn doubled their efforts only after loosing the direction...). 
    My Objective here and with the comment rushed to the editors long ago, is to make clear that we can make maps, agree on the maps and the directions to be taken, and go! but that we do not confuse visions or scenarios with realities which we have to expect, but that we better should see them as stars, which provide us the bearing and a general framework to help us find orientation and ways we want to create and try.

    As an aside, we have presented in the AC/UNU Millennium Project last year the STATE OF THE FUTURE AT THE MILLENNIUM which was as Global Challenges For Humanity to the UN - Millennium Summit and at Expo 2000 one-thousand year perspectives, alternative positive and negative "futures", like whether we want to end in: robot empires or silicone worlds, cyberia, paradise, ... . See chapter of the SOF 2000 report with the following "scenarios": Very Long-Term Scenarios, Still Alive at 3000, End of Humanity and the Rise of Phoenix, It's About Time, The Great Divides, The Rise and Fall of the Robot Empire, ETI Disappoints after 9 Centuries.
    See also the folio-presentation I did for the Humboldt University Lecture on the Impact of the new media: and the alternative models we find in literature, policy and story-telling.
    It is up to the people in society to make up their mind and come to informed and shared decisions, and start going instead of getting lost in a syndrome of flood, Babylon, bomb, or whatever the nightmare metaphors are. See folio Bable-Temple and our work on metaphors and "interface-interspace" design.
    I believe we are not doomed to anything, but we should be aware of the terrains, maps, categories, levels, and metaphors, our positions and perspectives and how we communicate and share the real, which has a "size" and can be measured, and which also has "scale" which includes proportions and consequences. The definition is borrowed from A. Buzzacott, see: here to emphasize that there is much more tangible and effective than what we can measured in our sweet solitude or "box". Please see: "Getting out of the Box" by Kurt Hanks on Paradigm Mapping and that I feel that we need to define a meta-paradigm to map out our "boxes" or "cells", just as Arthur Schnitzler wrote: In our thinking we are all "subject to single imprisonment" ("Im Geistigen sind wir alle in Einzelhaft") to share the in-between, just as models are the in-between between you and me, but also our ways to create, perceive, and assume by a developed "dialogue culture".

    His invitation to comment and his nice encouraging words directly after we met at EMECS in Baltimore were very important for me in order to keep on trucking and not letting go. Lynton wrote in a personal letter to me:

    "I was pleased to receive the draft of the Philosophy of Wholeness. Your approach to the integration of knowledge is certainly the one which ought to be followed. There are two obstructive problems. First, is to persuade the academics, especially the scientist that more than reductionist analyses and specialisation is necessary to guide mankind's future. resistance to the concept of the integration of knowledge remains strong. Seconds we need to learn how to discover and define this wholeness approach. Your proposals appear to contribute to this objective......I believe your contribution to be important and wish it well.".

    At this place I want to thank warmly for the encouragement I received not only from "elders" such as Lynton Caldwell, Robert Jungk, James Welles-Wellesly, Frederik Mayer, Alfred Schinz, Ralph Siu, but also friends like Anthony J.N. Judge ... Their "subsume and resonate"  I would not have been able to continue in times where I was stepping over every boundary, even without mandate! I have collected some of there voices to better explain what I mean and how others acknowledged it : sharing spaces, sharing voices, sharing futures.

    For a broader picture or at least my last year synopsis "klick" here:
    or what the system sciences "people" have published in their Newsletter and shows the criticality on how we see and define systems and "cyber" like in cyberspace and cyberculture, specially if we take such terms out of context or from fiction like William Gibson, who created with his "electronic space" a nightmare for our understanding, or if we take the cyber from "kybernetes" the steersman after Norbert Wiener, who saw like the architect Adolf Loos some need for positive and social causes and motivations.

    Curious readers are also invited to go to my "tapestry" of powerpoint folio collage or collection at:

    In summing up I want to make it very clear that we need no guru or higher order or hidden hierarchy, but thing we can understand and feel and share based on our common and natural senses. Please read below the "Wisdom of the Brahmins" from Friedrich Rueckert, he has been putting in his poetry all the challenges we face with boundaries, and what the potentials are, if we make up our mind.
    Whoever imagines mental barriers which actually do not exist
    and then thinks them away, has understood the world.

    As space is entrapped in geometry's network of lines, 
    thought is caught in its (own) inherent laws. 
    Maps make the world comprehensible to us; 
    we are still waiting for the star-maps of the spirit. 

    In the same way that ambling through fields
    we risk getting lost, the spirit negotiates its terrain. 

               Friedrich Rückert, Wisdom of Brahmins


    Footnote 1:
    Peirce referred with his 3rd category "index" to the correlation between the senses which is relevant to signs but needs to be extended if we refer to issues and the world "out there" (not just signs).
    This work on bridging concepts, cultures and terms, scopes, and schemas has lead to "concept and context mapping", where we extended the old schemas of terminology research, and worked later on "switching" concepts and systems. Please see the he article about "Concept and Context Mapping" and a summary on the "evolution" of meta-data outside and based on the "experience" of knowledge organization and the library sciences. 
    If we apply such and "index" to "what we know and no not know or have no idea about" we come to "clouds, bodies or deep regions which we can overlap, so that we can "subtract and add" with venn-Mengen -operations in a survey or bids-eye mode we can come to new approaches so search and find in a pattern oriented knowledge schema, can recommend new ways for example presented at World of NGO'S for the GO's and NGO's (governmenal-nongovernmental organizations) and "oversee" their repositories, and increase our reality and awareness (make our ignorance more obvious) about what we know when we stand where and look with a certain perspective. See "House of Eyes" and "Changing and Sharing Realities".
    This has some implications on the outcome we reviewed on behalf of Noel Brown, UNEP-RONA of the EARTH SUMMIT in Rio in 1992, how
    an INTEGRAL AGENDA was conceived at that time and how we could come together at shadowy round-tables or SynCon's to overcome the barrers of territories and mandates, not just for the town hall or an Earth Summit. More on such forms of dialogue can be found here (SOCIAL INNOVATIONS) here  (LEADERS DIALOGUE), and here (regarding dialogue-communcation-cosnciousness) and need to be seen in the light of Mediation techniques like the Planungszelle or Consultative, (please see the ENDE&ANFANG symposium we did IN MEMORIAM for Robert Jungk) but this only as an aside, as it leads to the culture of living with media and modern communications instead of being immersed in an in-reversable "cyberculture" (See WORLD TELEVISON FORUM - VISION_TELEVISION).

    Footnote 2:
    This work of bridging started with the UN Harmonization Projects in the late 80ies, see GeoJournal on Harmonization and Access and Assimilation and "Bridges and a Masterplan" presentation at ICSU-CODATA 1992, was used in a "habilitation" at the Institute of Philosophy of Sciences and Social Studies of Sciences at the TU Vienna, and is now an important activity for terminology groups which are today increasingly concerned with Languages and Cultures, especially in Europe.

    Maybe there are some people out there speaking German. I have written an essay  in a collection of articles for a book called "Kultur der Verweigerung - the constructive No". In English we want to call the book: "SAYING NO". It was published recently with Boelau publishers Vienna.  My "essay" you can find under the title: "Ohne Zusammenhang kein Zusammenhalt". I was after the publication blamed for having "usurped" this title from Immanuel Kant's "Reden an die Deutsche Nation", but I am innocent and not gilty. I did not know about his speach in 1805, but feel Caldwells and my contribution are addressing the global community now as Humanities scope widened and the impact are global and integral, so we can not just appraoch one nation any more (as already Margarete Mead wrote long ago). So maybe we test new metaphors like "a second skin" and try to explore and let go our ways of protecting our "boxes".  So please visit "Zusammenhang-Zusammenhalt" and let me know if you see ways or means to get it published in English.