[ExI] Then and still Now (was Re: bees again)

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Wed Feb 8 12:31:33 UTC 2012

On Tue, Feb 07, 2012 at 08:59:39PM -0500, Mike Dougherty wrote:
> 2012/2/7 spike <spike66 at att.net>
> >  As with most of us.  We achieved a fraction of our potential, because so
> > much of our time growing up was spent being babysat by the television.  The

I didn't. Monochrome CRT and useless state propaganda programming will
help you with that. Dead tree was the only thing. Assuming you could
get it, which was hard enough. Stuff like library.nu or libgen were 
inconceivable by most but perhaps time-share operators who entered
books by hand during idle hours, and spread it on punched cards, tape
and magnetic tape.

Providing a stimulating yet constructive environment of a kid is 
actually harder today for most people, due to absentee parenting.
Most people now need two bread winners (and likely both pulling significant
overtime if not multiple jobs) in the house to even break even. 
Multigenerational families under one roof are the exception, or 
even wages allowing one parent to say home to raise the kids.

> > content had approximately zero socially redeeming qualities back in those
> > days.
> >
> And it has more now?!?  Honestly, I don't feel that for all of our
> exponential increase in the rate of change that things are all that much

There's no exponential increase, outside of a few usual suspect
areas. Internet traffic is one of these, and here is a definite
example where quantity doesn't translate into quality. Moar
furry porn? Ack, ptui.

> different.  I will admit that my own apathy may be accelerating at a rate

Apathetic? I'm just chronically angry at how we're pissing away 
resources decade after decade, while the window of opportunity is
closing. With more experience you see more vanishing opportunities.
Meanwhile, I could strangle the cheerfully chirruping linear semilog
plot polyannas, telling us all is dandy, things are improving, and
that your chocolate rations have increased from 100 to 80 grams.
Gag me with a plunger.

> equal to our rate of change.  It seems we should be much closer to all the
> wondrous things promised to me during my childhood.  Computers were
> supposed to delivering immersive VR by now.  To hell with the flying cars

Computers were supposed to deliver immersive VR by 1990. We've had
people actually running around in Google glasses they're promising
us Really! Soon!! NOW!!! at around the same time.

> cliche, we should be flying at the speed of thought (minus lightspeed
> latencies) through a multiverse of our own creation(s).  What do we
> actually have?  Another bloated OS release to support the next bloated
> software release that drives the next hardware purchase to keep our
> productivity constant. I could type 90 words a minute in 1986.  I might be

You will be able to type less, because few people have mechanical
keyboards these day. Rubber dome or -- heavensforbid -- short action
chiclets will frustrate the best touch-typist. Try talking to 
normal people about the differences between Cherry MX blue, black
red or brown, they're looking at you like you're a martian.

> able to type 90 words a minute now, but now I can do it while streaming
> video of a talking dog.  (that's progress)  In 1988 we made fun of
> christmas modemers partly because we were jealous of their 9600 baud rate,
> partly because the n00bs didn't understand the hard-won nerd culture.  That
> nerd culture has been supplanted by the mainstream.  Yeah sure, there's

Twatr or Fecesbook posters think they're geeks! My irony meter has
just melted down. 

> probably several variations of nerd subculture still out there - perhaps
> I've just moved on from being part of those groups.   The technology has
> made it possible to be more of the same as we've always been.  The details
> may be 30+ years different, but people's "trending" feels the same.

I don't know where you are, but we used to have real industry 30 years
ago. People were not software 'engineers' (snort!) but actual engineers building
stuff than matters. Now aerospace is going going gone, so has chemistry,
pharma just implodes, and don't get me started on the other stuff.
Sure, computers are fast. But they'll no longer will be making them
in Dresden.
> Sorry Spike, this rant really is out of nowhere (at least I changed the
> subject line).  I considered discarding rather than sending, but I wondered
> if anyone else shares this nagging sense...

Very little nagging about that sense. It's more of a deafening roar of incoming
100 tons of shredded titanium, about to impact.

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