Sunday, March 20, 2011

More or Less in Line.


Throughout Human history, across all aspects of our many cultures, innovation continues to either its terminal evolution or highest development along the line laid out in its initial state or conception, a path dependency. This trend can be seen in everything as diverse as religion and mythology to rocketry and space flight.

Right now, today, we can see this pattern manifest in another tech realm as Japan endeavors to stitch its electrical grid back together after it was brought to its knees by the triple whammy of earthquake, tsunami, and a nuclear disaster brought about by Human muddling and over-optimism. Their problem today is the product of decision made one-hundred and five years ago when the big issue to solve was electrically powering newfangled, durable Edison light bulbs and textile shops automated by central electric motors that drove thick, wide bands of leather to power looms and sometimes shredded and  killed workers. Nuclear power was then more than half a century in the future, and nuclear radiation had yet to be discovered. The country was so busy in 1895, industrializing and modernizing, that they hadn't even gotten the knack of numbering new buildings by orderly street addresses, and thus had to invent the fax machine to send maps to each other over the recently installed telephone lines.

So, what's the point? I guess it's just that if you've got a bright idea, take a look to the Long Now. Your notion might have the legs to change and form the future in unanticipated ways.