Collective Intelligence was a visionary work in at least as many ways as it was a profoundly controversial and frequently misunderstood one. Written before the rise of contemporary social networks, it called for new technologies to “engineer the social bond” and highlighted a crisis of identities. Written before the creation of Wikipedia, it envisioned that cyberspace would enable the creation of a “cosmopedia” (of which Wikipedia is undeniably a seed).
Lévy’s vision of the utopian cyberspace as an improvised choreography of “angels” (p. 91—115) may challenge the irreligious sensibilities of some contemporary readers, but let us not forget that what he put forward is a fundamentally atheistic and humanistic project. If we substitute “avatars”, being the currently fashionable word to refer to virtual identities, for “angels”, his theses may appear more plausible… serendipitously, “avatar” etymologically originates from the Sanskrit ava-tāra, meaning “descent of a deity”.
Via Pierre Levy, Luciana P. Santos