[ExI] it's better than it used to be

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Sat Apr 30 05:01:50 UTC 2011

On Fri, Apr 29, 2011 at 6:12 AM, Stefano Vaj <stefano.vaj at gmail.com> wrote:
> 2011/4/27 spike <spike66 at att.net>:
> This sounds quite complacent. The *invention of writing* is a paradigm
> shift. Less so the invention of printing. Even less so the fact of
> having a rather trivial database of dubious "encyclopedic"
> information. And, btw, the importance of Wikipedia is already
> increasingly reduced by the improvement of search engines.

Wikipedia is important primarily as a prime example of a new economic
model that is, IMHO quite important. The encyclopedia itself is a huge
accomplishment, but the open source economic model is the paradigm
shift, and I believe that actually does rank up there with the
invention of the printing press, double entry book-keeping, money,
writing, poetry, musical notation, the English patent system,
discovery of evolution, the invention of intellectual property, sliced
bread and the scientific method as one of the great memes of all time.
It will take a couple more decades, I think, to fully appreciate the
model for what it will become, but I have no doubt that it will take
its place among these other great memes.

> If we get excited about Wikipedia, what should we say about the
> development or discovery of evolution, human flight, quantum
> mechanics, internal combustion engines, micro-organisms, nuclear
> reactions, DNA, mendelian laws, computing, microscopes, vaccins,
> mutations, antibiotics, cable and air electromagnetic transmissions,
> the power grid, the rocket, the submarine, the relativity, etc.?

The discovery of evolution, relativity, quantum mechanics
(particularly the uncertainty principle) and man's trip to the moon
all changed the zeitgeist philosophy. Open source, or more generally,
the recognition economy, is beginning to change the zeitgeist
philosophy. Look how many young people today expect EVERYTHING digital
to be free (as in beer). That is a huge shift in the populist
zeitgeist philosophy.

Faster transportation in general probably also meets this criteria
looking at the American love affair with the car. I don't know if
personal computers meets this criteria, but if you include things like
the iPod, iPad, etc, then perhaps it does.

Good virtual reality will probably also have this kind of effect. We
already see shifts in people who are heavily into World of Warcraft.
It will only get more pronounced as VR gets more realistic.

> Take "velocity", of which Italian futurism made a big issue as the
> very symbol of the "new world" Marinetti and the other wanted to come.
> During my grand-mother's life the speed record on wheel, on water, on
> the sea, in space, increased tenfold, and so the *average* speed one
> could move from place A to place B. Since the seventies, not only did
> nothing like that happened, but if the records remain the same the
> speed in average has been probably even *reduced* (traffic jams in
> cities, road speed limits, no more supersonic airlines flights, no
> more hypersonic military jets, etc.).

Well, we do have flight under human power (gossamer albatross), Solar
powered flight, around the world ballooning, solo sledding to the
north and south poles, the personal computer, digitization of many
domains including the human genome project and various AI landmarks.
So we haven't made a faster airplane of car for a while... we can't
afford the energy output required by such devices, so it's good that
we haven't built them IMHO. Why do the measurements of past progress
have to be used to measure current progress?

> Of course, one can find rationales behind that. So what? A rationale
> is a post-factum justification of trends which are in place, based on
> the dominant values and perceptions. Exactly what I do not like in the
> first place.

I see the trends as being fairly continuous. I don't see things as
having stopped or even slowed in 1970. What progress looked like
changed because we had reached acceptable plateaus in transportation.


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