Tag Archives: future

Time for the Paradigm Shift

This guy is fascinating. And thought provoking. I am ready for the revolution. What do I bring to it?

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Filed under Cultural Sustainability, Politics

The Culture of Impermanence

Books, records, photos. Tangible things. They are disappearing. Kids growing up now don’t even know what a negative looks like. What will happen to our libraries when everything is digital?

As I write this blog post, I am aware that it is only going out in bits and bytes and could with a single key stroke disappear in an instant. Back in the day, 20 years ago, if you wrote something, it was permanent for at least the amount of time it took to disintegrate or be destroyed by you on your own time line. A book could be passed on to your friend, or checked out from a library to read and return. With Kindles and their clones, the book could simply disappear. Will they still be referred to as books? Digilit? Will the library survive? Will the poor be shut out of the reading world? Will all books have to be downloaded to a digital tool? Will it take some sort of energy just to read a book?

As more and more newspapers and magazines go digital, will it become cost prohibitive to publish and the magazine disappear, too? Will the differences between high end publications on a really nice stock and the tabloid printed on newsprint be erased? What of tearing out photos and those perfume inserts? Will Mom and Dad read their morning news on a tablet at the breakfast table?

On the one hand, the computer age did promise a paperless society. In futuristic sci-fi movies there were always computer screens everywhere, and it all seemed very clean and tidy. But now that we are living that future, already there have been some significant losses. I loved album art. The cover of a CD is about 14% of the size of a record album and the art you can see on your iPod is even smaller. Yes, I know that artists always find places to display their talents, but the album art was and the book covers are extensions of the art they wrap. And while they will still be made, viewing them on a tiny screen is an entirely different experience.

And there is the sharing part. When you had an album, a CD, a book, a magazine and you wanted to share it with your friends, no one told you that you couldn’t. Not any more. The new paradigm is you pay more and you can’t share. And should you have a problem with your computer, tablet, iPod, etc. and lose your digital copy, you can just pay again.

For photographs it is a whole other set of issues. We have so many ways to take a photo and so more and more digital images are floating around, but fewer and fewer are getting printed. We upload them to Facebook, show them to our friends on our cell phones’ tiny screens, post one or two from time to time to our families, but mostly they live and die on our computers or phones. I have several friends who have no idea how to get them off the phone and onto their computers, so when the phone is full, they get trashed.

And the most serious problem to me is that we do not have any permanent way to save our digital information. Every few years a new medium comes along and we copy everything over, but there is always the chance that some of it won’t be there, will be lost in translation. I have a box full of floppy disks with information that I might want, but no way to access it. I also have a few other disk formats that only lasted a moment. And I have tons of photo CDs and DVDs and know that some of them may not be playable. I bought an external disk to copy things on and have an off site backup of some of my documents, but I miss having negatives. My old photography is preserved in a dozen or so binders full of proof sheets with negatives and several boxes full of old family prints. I can look at them any time I want without having to boot up a computer and search through a file structure or a binder of CDs. They are different sizes, different kinds of paper and different color qualities and touching them really does make a difference.

I know it sounds like I am a total Luddite, but I’m not. I like my computer and my digital camera and I am happy that we are saving trees by putting literature on a tablet, but I am lamenting the death of permanence. And I worry that by having everything brought to the same weight by virtue of impermanence, the concept of importance will disappear.

Maybe the digital age is the great equalizer. All things made of bits and bytes are equal and the people can decide. Of course, even online right now, there are sites that get it right and those who don’t. The best rise to the top. But qualities that differentiated the best are being tossed aside. And formats are disappearing. There is a difference between reading something in Vogue and in Teen Beat. And the layout of a page in one of the artier magazines was a thing to behold. But now everything is the same computer screen size with a scroll bar. Or even smaller for the cell phone screen. The beauty of the whole page is lost. I have no doubt that since we are still in the early years of the digital age, the art that is lost from the printed page has not had time to migrate into cyberspace. It feels like certain kinds of tangible beauty are slipping away and I guess I am more than just a little impatient for the digital renaissance.

But the Buddha’s last words were: All conditioned things are impermanent. Strive on with diligence.

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Filed under Art, Musings

Happy 2010! Now what?

The world is at such a volatile place right now that nothing that may happen could really surprise me. In my mail box since the turn of the decade are a slew of newsletters predicting one thing or another, various wishes for a better future and a lot of craziness. Here are just a few tidbits:

From my newest newsletter writers over at Guns & Patriots comes the following, penned by Susan Dale whose expertise seems to come from being a “former George Washington historic interpreter” :

One would think that dignity is an easily understood concept, an equally easily understood word, and to retain one’s dignity an easy thing to do, as it is a self-determined activity.

Will someone please explain this to our fearless, Ivy League over-educated, leader?

She goes on to list the many instances where she sees Obama being less than dignified, including trying to get the Olympics for Chicago, giving the Queen of England an iPod, and ignoring an invitation to dinner with the president of France. (Yes, the very same people who were pushing Freedom Fries and pouring out French wine are now dissing the President because he bowed out on dinner with the French.) She goes on to say:

Since there are more of us than there are of them, every once in a while they have to pay lip service to the fact of America’s greatness.

Okay, the us and them. The us is patriots and the them is Obama and all of us on the left. She seems unaware that the majority voted for him for president. She goes on to list all the other things he has done like the “czars”, that bogeyman that the right has invented of late to scare the B-Jesus out of their flock complete with the talking points given out by Rush or Glenn or whoever.

This group consists, of: let’s see, we have the charming Chavez admiring FCC czar, Mark Lloyd; the lovely self-proclaimed activist pederast, Kevin Jennings, as our ‘safe schools’ czar; John Holdren, our brilliant science czar, who is an able advocate of forced abortions and sterilization of women (as the great Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up), and so many more of the like that it stuns the 21st Century mind, much less that of George Washington.

Full text is here, but suffice it to say, she can find nothing in the present administration but treasonous villainy and most of the comments are right there with her with their guns and ammo at the ready.

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Then from the ridiculous to the even more ridiculous I read in The Guardian this headline:

According to the article:

Writing in the New York Press, Armond White claimed Avatar “misrepresents the facts of militarism, capitalism and imperialism” and described it as “a guilt-ridden 9/11 death wish”. This view is echoed by John Nolte on his Big Hollywood blog, who dubbed it “a Death Wish for leftists; a simplistic, revisionist revenge fantasy”.

I am not a fan of the movie. I saw it in 3D even and I think it has a very weak script, but this makes me want to see it again just because I can. 😉 My review is here.

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Then finally coming from The Omega Institute, a new age clearinghouse for all things groovy came this:

In 2010, the energy of the planets will accelerate, with some of the most energetically packed planets aligning with the cardinal points Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn. The last time we experienced anything vaguely resembling this was the summer of 1969: Woodstock, the moon landing, and much else changing not just the world, but our cosmology. The coming year will make the 1960s look like a walk in the park. Our survival is at stake, and we need a creative approach to facing our personal challenges and those of humanity in order to make the world a better place.

So 2010 will be like the end of the sixties? I do think we’re in for a lot of upheaval. The right is on the war path and the left may just get some gumption at last, so anything could happen. Stay tuned. (And have that exit visa ready.)

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Filed under Musings, Politics, Strangeness