The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

Two Visions Of Our Asian Future

Looking to the east for clues to the future (or the past) of the west isn’t the least bit new, but these two recent takes (both in the NYT, as it happens) offer some interesting contrasts.

First, Paul Krugman looks at Hong Kong:

Hong Kong, with its incredible cluster of tall buildings stacked up the slope of a mountain, is the way the future was supposed to look. The future


NB: the skyscraper actually IS a network, based on physical proximity, vertical hierarchy, the elevator, and the pneumatic tube.

Yeah, I love that: the skyscraper’s various tubes, once high-tech and a huge competitive advantage, were made obsolete by the more-sophisticated tubes of the internet.

For what it’s worth, SK is entirely vertical, too. More than that: So many of the tall residential buildings look literally stamped out of the same mold. They sit side-by-side, rows of identical buildings differentiated only by the big number — ‘4’, ‘5’, ‘6’ — on the side. It looks like SimCity come to life. I’ve never seen anything like it. “We need a dozen new living pods in the north-eastern-most sector!” “Coming right up.”

My personal dream of the city of the future has shifted, though. I want a city that’s invisible from the air: a city of underground parking lots & skinny tram lines, where every building has a lush green roof.

Yes — nice little hobbit holes, with broadband. 🙂

It reminds me a little bit of this Huber and Mills article, “The End of the M.E.”:

One might say that the age of mechanical engineering was launched by James Watt’s steam engine in 1763, and propelled through its second century by Nikolaus Otto’s 1876 invention of the spark-ignited petroleum engine. We are now at the dawn of the age of electrical engineering, not because we recently learned how to generate light-speed electrical power, but because we have now finally learned how to control it.

The basic conceit is that all of the problems we expected mechanical engineering to solve are now being addressed by advances in electrical engineering. Which of course means that our visions of an all electrical, networked Technium future will instead be replaced by, I don’t know, nanoorganibots or something.

“Hobbit holes with broadband”… wow. My brain just went off like a tuning fork. I did not consciously realize that yes. Yes. That is exactly what I want! 🙂

I don’t mean to be too self-congratulatory (me? never!) but your description of a mental tuning fork reminded me of this passage in The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas:

“I may say that only three times in my life I have met a genius and each time a bell within me rang and I was not mistaken, and I may say in each case it was before there was any general recognition of the quality of genius in them. The three geniuses of whom I wish to speak are Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso and Alfred Whitehead.”

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