"[T]hus it is, by slow steps of casual increase, that our knowledge physical, metaphysical, physiological, polemical, nautical, mathematical, enigmatical, technical, biographical, romantical, chemical, and obstetrical, with fifty other branches of it, (most of 'em ending as these do, in ical) have for these two centuries and more, gradually been creeping upwards towards that Ἀκμή of their perfections, from which, if we may form a conjecture from the advances of these last seven years, we cannot possibly be far off."
"When that happens, it is to be hoped, it will put an end to all kind of writings whatsoever;—the want of all kind of writing will put an end to all kind of reading;—and that in time, As war begets poverty; poverty peace,—must, in course, put an end to all kind of knowledge,—and then—we shall have all to begin over again; or, in other words, be exactly where we started."
I'm 150 years late to this party, but let me say "AM radio is awesome," (and I mean that in the fullest sense of the word). Tonight I tuned in to the AM band, and found a continuous swath of conservative talk radio shows. You can scan between them and not lose any information: the content is homogenous and redundant. I'm sitting in a room of televisions, monitoring every political opponent, and they are all saying the exact same thing, it's a chorus.
Why has "shameless self-promotion" become such a long-winded mindlessly ironic cliché? I'm ashamed of my self-promotion, but I'm doing it anyway. It's like alcoholism, or something.
So I'm not sure what percentage of this blog's readership cares, but I've started a blog all my own. Its goal is more to be a blog than to impart any sort of information. Its aesthetic is more fuzzy than shiny.
"I am guided by a signal in the heavens.
I am guided by this birthmark on my skin.
I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.
Leonard Cohen is always a delight, and First We Take Manhattan is one of my favorite songs. It's a song that rewards repeated listening, full of paranoia depths and megalomaniac fantasies. The song was used to great effect in Stross's Glasshouse as the hymn of a psuedo-Christan church.
So what's the point? Consider "We are guided by the beauty of our weapons." Conventionally, choices about technology are made on the basis of economic pragmatism. This system is more efficient than that one, this gives us more power, this one is easier to maintain. I propose that instead, we raise elegance as a criterion for evaluating technologies. Elegance is in the interaction between the artifact and the wider world, well-designed features, and old-fashioned "cool." Detractors to this schema would point out that elegance is subjective, however, all judgement is subjective. Economic calculus involves subjective decisions about what externalities to include. Americans should define technological elegance, through expert opinion, citizen panels, democratic deliberation, and the free market.
And now if you'll excuse me, I have an army to organize in Hoboken.