Links: trapped in a world I never made

January 13, 2014

I’m old enough to remember a time before computers. We didn’t have one in my house when I was growing up.

We did have a copy of the Whole Earth catalogue mentioned in this article by Eugeny Morozov about the history and ideology of “makers” and crafts:

Although the Arts and Crafts movement was dead by the First World War, the sentiment behind it lingered. It resurfaced in the counterculture of the nineteen-sixties, with its celebration of simplicity, its back-to-the-land sloganeering, and, especially, its endorsement of savvy consumerism as a form of political activism.

Molly Crabapple has some intelligent things to say on both Google Glass and the “male gaze”:

When you wear Glass, you and Google are a team… But explorers are not neutral. They are the shock troops of empire. The lands explorers traverse are later conquered by armies, their sacred objects melted down for gold. Glass Explorers continue the corporation’s conquest of reality.”

There’s so much in The Well’s “Topic 473: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014″ (thanks to Han-Earl Park) that it deserves to be read several times:

“…before Apple showed up, in the 1950s and 1960s, the US population was terrified of “computers.” Computers were considered inhuman, Orwellian instruments of folding, spindling, and mutilation.  Computers have always had a dark side of spying and encryption, ever since Alan Turing.  Geeks kind of like spooks, actually, since they’re both keen on obscure forms of technical power…”

So what’s the state of my world? Issac Asimov may have predicted some of the things that have happened in the past fifty years but his ideology comes from 1950s and 60s America: an idea that a technocratic elite through the wizardry of science and the tools that go with it can order a better, more rational world.

These ideas, driven by the power of computing, now dominate the world. But they are more than fifty years old.

So I’m trapped in an old fashioned Ray Bradburyesque vision of the future. The future looks like the past.

Time for a new idea? Or maybe just a different way of looking at it…

Conservative MP Rory Stewart has been part of this project in Afganistan and even been to Bilderberg. In this illuminating Guardian profile he says:

“I can tell you, there is nothing there. It’s like the wizard of Oz. This is the age of the wizard of Oz, you know. In the end you get behind the curtain and you finally meet the wizard – and there’s this tiny, frightened figure. I think every prime minister has sort of said this since Blair. You get there and you pull the lever, and nothing happens.”

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