The Mirrored World

Moon and water

Software is the mirrored world. The outside world is the “normal” world we live in. More and more however we see that, with the growth of the internet and numerous software systems we embed ourselves in, and increasingly grow dependent on, a situation begins to emerge of “two identities”: the Me in the outside “real” world, and the Me in this new inner world, this mirrored world, the person we are when googled to, the profiles of our identity on the various forums, the blog presence of more and more people. The virtual person that we increasingly are too.

These two me’s are, I think, an aspect of what software and language in a more abstract sense does, that is creating a replica of the outside world in an inner, mirrored world. The only way in fact to realise the potential of the computer revolution in way that is able to handle the immense complexity of this problem, is by seeing this software and building it as a replica, a mirror, of the “real” world. This is the way domain driven design should be done.

The domain, central in a domain driven architecture, is a simulation model. A replica of the outside world. An inner world. It is also an active world: the components from which it is built do things, things that are in a subtle but important way different from how things are done in the “real” world. This subtlety is deceptive. From Alice in Wonderland:


Alice through the looking glass
Alice through the looking glass

Then she began looking about, and noticed that what could be seen from the old room was quite common and uninteresting, but that all the rest was a different as possible. For instance, the pictures on the wall next the fire seemed to be all alive, and the very clock on the chimney-piece (you know you can only see the back of it in the Looking-glass) had got the face of a little old man, and grinned at her.

These two worlds are synchronous, in a very special way however, and adapters play a crucial role in that. They are the glue, the magic you might say. It is a world Lewis Carroll imagined, but in fact it is a world we have carried inside us all the time, since humankind began you might say.

Language, which is the label as it were of this website, is also the label I use for various developments concerning the modern computer. In another article I endeavour to sketch an image of this elusive thing, language. Language is what made people start creating a world that might have existed earlier, but with the words that were given to it became more concrete, and transferable to others in a different more powerful way. A virtual world of stories that begot a life of their own, stories that may have originated hundreds of thousands of years ago and the remains of which I am sure can still be found in our present stories, legends, fairy tales. Stories that have contributed to our psyche (Jungs archetypes). In those stories people externalised the inner world, and the listeners internalised them again. This inner world of stories is the core of our human identity.

Perhaps this mirror thing is the essence of life and intelligence. A while back biologists have reached front page news with the concept of mirror neurons. The property of constantly mirroring the environment appears to be an essential property of living beings, from one-celled organisms to us human beings, not only of neurons. In the book On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins, the writer develops a theory on the working of the brain based on this “mirroring” of the outside world, where our brain is constantly working to synchronise both worlds, including an intriguing attempt to “predict” the future.

Professor van den Berg wrote a provoking booklet Zien : verstaan en verklaren van de visuele waarneming in which he makes the observation that when someone enters a door our eyes actually follow the person before he enters our field of vision. Through the wall as it were. The same van den Berg, in his book Leven in Meervoud, made a deep impression on me in my youth when I read about his perceptions on “plural personalities”, something van den Berg argued only came to be after or synchronous with technological developments after the Middle Ages. We are mirror beings!

The article by Vannevar Bush, often quoted on this site, talks about memes, as if they are living beings that connect everything with everything, an idea that has been the foundation of the concept of hyperlinking, a basic concept of the internet.


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