spacer image
spacer image

Welcome! You're looking at an archived Snarkmarket entry. We've got a fresh look—and more new ideas every day—on the front page.

March 29, 2009

<< Mo' Betta' Maps | Wikipediopolis >>

Civ, Counterfactual Progress, and the Rolling Katamari Ball of Science

This post is hard to sum up because it’s sort of about everything.

Why did science and history unfold the way they did?

Why didn’t somebody in China invent the electric light bulb? In an alternate reality with no Edison and, let’s say, no America, does anybody invent an electric light bulb?

Is the video game Civilization’s “technology tree” a good model for technology and history — or just a dorky game mechanic? Rob MacDougall had his students think about alternative models. One of his favorites invoked the imagery of Katamari Damacy:

The student’s idea was a rolling tech wheel. The spokes of the wheel represented paths of technological development you could pursue — navigation, metalworking, what have you — but you also had to adapt to technological contingencies in the form of the various things you rolled over. I’m not sure how this would actually work as a game, but as a crazy Katamari bricolage view of human history, it’s fun to wrap your head around.

It all springs forth from a class called Science, Technology, and Global History. There is nothing not to like here. (Thanks for the link, Dan!)

Robin-sig.gif
Posted March 29, 2009 at 3:32 | Comments (1) | Permasnark
File under: Snarkonomics, Society/Culture, Technosnark, Video Games, Worldsnark

Comments

Speaking of delayed significance -- Joseph Needham's been getting mad ink lately.

I wonder why we're thinking so much about this PARTICULAR technological/social question now -- or if we have for a long time, and some of us are only now becoming aware of how much.

spacer image
spacer image