Friday, September 07, 2012

Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations (IDIC)

Image icon of person with open book. Text reads I FREE.
From September 1 to October 31, 2012, Armacost Library is holding an Intellectual Freedom Blogathon featuring posts on topics concerning censorship, the freedom to read, view, and express, and the connection these various freedoms have to individual life experiences and the state of society. The following essay is part of the Armacost Library Intellectual Freedom (ALIF) Blogathon.

By now there have been many blog posts on intellectual freedom and I will not need to reiterate the definitions that have been said. For me intellectual freedom is not in essence about banning books or censorship; those are important aspects but not the essence. For me intellectual freedom is about intellectual diversity and the fitness of a society. A society that has a diverse set of intellects is a more fit society. This society can grow and produce progeny for many years. It can do this because the society contains a plethora of intellects which are able to fill future niches and address many different issues. Thus a society that has intellectual diversity is a society that is most capable to survive and adapt when there is a drastic change in the environment.  

Image of Star Trek IDIC symbol
image from WikiMedia Commons
It is here that I would like to bring in my favorite show, Star Trek. In the show the Vulcans have a saying, “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations” (IDIC). This saying is one of the key aspects of Vulcan philosophy and acknowledges the many variables in the universe. IDIC recognizes that the sheer complexity of the universe is something unquantifiable, yet it can be conceptualized. The universe is so vast with so many ‘things’ in it, it has reached the point of infinite.

IDIC can be broken down quite easily into its two parts and related to intellectual freedom. The first part, Infinite Diversity, relates to the source material. This material can be: books, movies, games, technology, paintings, papers, or any other ‘thing’ made. To reach infinite diversity we must have a vast array of diverse materials uncensored and produced free of intrusive meddling. The true artist’s intended material must be produced. Every edit performed to fit a rating system or to conform to societal morals reduces the diversity of material. Taking away the restraints of editing censorship will increase the amount of source material to the infinite.

Infinite Combinations is related to the distribution and availability of the material. To have these combinations the material must be available to reach other minds. In this manner the distribution cannot be censored or hindered. A store refusing to sell a book because of its subject matter is an equal hindrance to a publisher editing out the same questionable content. One cannot know how a work created will affect a person or a population. One person could see the material and combine it with their personal history or other materials they have read in a synergetic manner to create something new and world changing. When distribution is censored the possibilities of these infinite combinations reduce. 

When materials are both free of editing and distribution censorship we reach the possibility of IDIC. A society that embraces IDIC will then reach a point where the intellectual diversity of the society reaches infinite. As this diversity reaches infinite the society’s fitness will also reach infinite.

Refresher information on IDIC was retrieved from Memory Alpha, one of the leading Star Trek wikis.

Iyan Sandri, Class of 2008
Computer Lab Coordinator
Information Technology Services, University of Redlands
Author of To the Victors, (c) 2010

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