January 13th, 2003

Building 'n Me


Yes, I meant that as a possesive, not a plural.

A week or so ago, I added beyondbounds to my friends page. Her journal reads like porn, and I admit a lurid fascination with that aspect of it. The real reason I read her though, is because of her honesty and passion.

Recently, I've been feeling a void of passion. Perhaps of honesty too, honesty about what I'm doing, where I'm going, and why.

Not to say it isn't getting better, I've started making myself think and it's helped greatly. Starting up things like Wonderland's Ashes, and playing in textrp have helped.

Today I read my first story by Bruce Sterling. He's been reccomended to me as the "grown man's" cyberpunk, the mature cyberpunk author, and I can see what they meant. "Green Hills of Brunei" is possibly one of the most striking things I've read. Perhaps it's because of my relationship with technology...

Technology has lost its focus. Technology is supposed to be about people; it exists to improve the lives of people.
"People in the West talked about the 'technical elite'-- and Turner knew it was a damned lie. Technology roared on, running full-throttle on the world's last dregs of oil, but no one was at the wheel, not really. Massive institutions, both governments and corporations, fumbled for control, but couldn't understand. They had no hands-on feel for tech and what it meant, for the solid feeling in a good design.
"The 'technical elite' were errand boys. They didn't decide how to study, what to work on, where they could be useful. Money decided that. Technicians were owned by the abstract ones and zeros in bankers' microchips, paid out by silk-suit hustlers who'd never touched a wrench. Knowledge wasn't power, not really... there were too many abstractions in the way."

And I'm hearing a commercial that is an ode to Mountain Dew set to Bohemian Rhapsody. "Bismilah! Will he get the Dew? He will not get the Dew!"

But anyway, where does something like that put me? I'm plying my mind and my skills to keep food on the table, but that's not enough. What I do doesn't make any difference. Most of these people I teach, they could care less. They come here to be better workers. The knowledge I impart to them is empty! I teach them how to get by in an artificial world that people like me created.

Our entire society is built up on layer after layer of unstable kludging. Like money. A great idea in some ways, a universal barter tool, but now, what is money? It's this abstraction with no correlation to reality! It gets its value by fiat. Our economy is performing without a net, because if the convention were to say money had no value, there would be nothing to stop the crash.

And is there any other abstraction in the world that drives our behavior more than money? What other artificial construct drives us more? Money is the swiss army knife of the world, it's food, it's water and clothing and shelther and entertainment and a tool to get more money.

First, there needs to be an honest competition of currency. We can almost seize it now, despite the American laws to the contrary, things like food stamps and coupons are a form of currency, and the fact of the matter is, these are superior currency- they have a direct correspondance to real goods.

We need to concentrate technology on helping people, not making money. Technology has conquered our world, and only in a few strongholds does another way of life flourish, and even that will be destroyed.

That's why I like the Laos project I read about. This is human centered technology. These villagers view technology as a tool, and that's it. It doesn't require our slaving at its altar.

::sigh:: One shouldn't solve the world's problems before lunch... but that story really resonated with me. It's... just wow.
  • Current Mood
run the fuck away

(no subject)

From Mark Twain's "War Prayer"

O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst.