I have been searching the WWWobbly for a nice place to have a nice convo with nice pipples about interesting things. You know what I mean; you and your mates sitting round both talking and listening. Where when you put something out there, maybe it’s a little clumsy, a half-idea half-formed and half-stated, but since you are looking at each other you can really try to understand what the other person is working to say. Early in the day, back when it was nothing more than bulletin boards, this was known as ‘reading for understanding’. Very out of style.
Now everything is ‘reading for opportunity’ whether the chance for someone’s mad uncle to vent, Yahoo to sell you a rooster weather vane by reading your email saying you saw one, or for Google to become an unassailable monolith by following your every step and selling a Virtual You to anyone with funds and a desire to manipulate. And lo! I find not this pleasant place. The anonymity we each must cling to to avoid the avalanche of snooping and pigeon-holing and spam is too dangerous, and then we treat texts as if we are speaking, which means we are unconsciously depending on ‘voice’ to carry meaning so that what we say makes sense to us as we hear it in the voice we’d say it in; but the lack of both sound and visual cues that accompany speech dooms us to misunderstanding, and then what we do say is treated as simply an opportunity to bloviate on some minutia, hijack the conv or vent the overworked spleen.
I don’t suppose the actual number of trolls among participants in online commentary is more than a few percent, a small single digit. But these few can foul the field very quickly; and I think it’s more than we might imagine. I have to say for myself that long ago, before wwworld, I gave it up as much in disappointment at snits I threw as those thrown at me. Who needs it? If that’s what I do when anonymous, do I want to become that person? Not so much.
Now I feel the need for speach. I’m old, and a lifelong condition is taking my mind. Not that I was using it or anything, really, or that its product has ever been anything special. But I find there are a lot of ideas I’d like to get down on paper. Failing that, this perma-temporary medium-well will have to be well done, which is rare. Probably.
So I come here just to write. I have little hope anyone will read herein, and since I am not open to feedback, I won’t know if it is. This is going to be one-way communication. Here it will sit, for a time, ignored by all, effecting nothing, said just for the need to say it. I’m not using ‘Comments’ because I don’t want to know what you think. Not that I don’t care; just that I can’t. My disability is an extreme of insomnia; I can’t take the stress. I feel very silly about that, embarrassed more than somewhat. But there’s nothing I can do about it, so there will be no comment section. (On the other hand, and largely for the same reason, you may feel absolutely free to use and reprint any of this, in part or whole, for any purpose, even to pretending it’s your own. I can’t care about that either.)
Not a very promising beginning, is it?
Still, you never know. Something might leak out. That’s the curious thing. Probably, there are not enough humans with enough weird-enough ideas. We’re out of simple, one-dimensional problems where you start at A, move on to B, go step by logical step to Solution Z. We are so close to solving cold fusion, full-color photovoltaics, the list is literally endless.
Every time you hear someone say, about some great human advancement, that we are X number of years away from development Y, this should be seen as a sign that those working on the problem are standing comfortably at Step O and are looking for P – and it isn’t P that’s the next step that brings it all together; it’s Step ZZZ179.36/Q*i. They are looking in the wrong place, so a statement like “We’re just three years away from Free Energy!” actually means, “We’re hopelessly lost and don’t even know it.” (If you play the market, look for those firms saying they’re X months from a breakthrough – and bet against them.)
The point of all this is simple. I don’t think it’s likely I’m right about any of these ideas. They are so different – in some cases, extremely so – from the mainstream. How likely is it that any of them are worth anything to anyone? Extremely slight.
But you really never know. We keep moving forward, solving problems with solutions that then make their own problems, which is how we know they work. (For an enlightening view of human development, see Thornton Wilder’s “By the Skin of Their Teeth”.)
I’m an old man living in poverty a half mile from the beach in Oregon, which means everything around me is temporary, self included. If I’m sitting here in my tiny one-room apartment when the Big One hits, this building and its contents will probably kill me; if not, all the land around me will have suffered massive liquefaction, so all the pavement will be churned and impassable, and the bridge I need to cross will be down; and even if I can get the three-quarters-of-a-mile to the nearest high land, which during the earthquake will be itself moving towards the sea, it is doubtful the steep road up it will be there. And I’d have about 20 minutes to do so before everything lower than 100 feet elevation becomes excessively damp. That ain’t happenin’. I look forward to becoming one with the crabs who will inherit this town.
So these are just things I think about, sitting in comfortable but severely limited conditions in a place of surpassing beauty, like the Peri who sit at the gates of Paradise singing about the joys beyond and weeping because they can’t get in. I’m waiting for the Earth to start a belly-laugh. It, too, is amused by Homo Sapiens Sapientis; Man, who thinks he thinks.