I've been listening to people talk about how they will change the world for most of my life. Incidently today there is this piece by Eric Raymond, and this piece by Bill Benzon. I do not doubt for a moment that the world has changed and continues to change. In fact, it has been enlightening to run through KOA, The Reconing to help me understand two little tidbits. Let me riff off the tidbits.
In Kingdoms of Amalur, The Reconing, we are playing the role of a fateshifter. You see, we are in the land of elves, gnomes, fae, sprites, boggarts, brownies, jottun and various other creatures. Some of these, the fae, without going too deeply into their taxonomy, are immortal. As immortals they express a great disdain for mortals, because you see, the fae are inextricably bound to the Earth. They represent birth, growth, decay and death, all of which are eternal, and so they are fated in their immortality. This is rather like the fate of neutrinos to be massless and thus travel at the speed of light. As the fateless mortal character, we exist at the opposite end of the spectrum. We are massive and thus bend fate around us and can assume any form, it is a condition of our mortality. I suppose that means I must die at the end of the game, but who knows, I'm only at level 29 and have yet to enter the kingdom of Alabastra, home of the Winter Court of Fae.
The Fae resent change, but must adapt to it, and find uses for it, or exist forever in a state in conflict with their previously eternal fate. For example, the Fae of Sorrows administer the Midden where the dead are separated from their souls. Change has made the Midden to smell to the Fae as it does to humans. Now suddenly their exalted position stinks.
So humans, as being mortals, must in the relatively short time allotted to them must find meaning amongst that which is eternal and transcendent and then force change. We must move swiftly and imbue ourselves with something permanent, or change something that seems permanent. This is what we do when we are confronted with the knowledge that we will die. For the vast majority of us, having children satisfies that condition. We smack up somebody else's life and produce one of the single most life changing changes that we can - creating life where there was none. And of course murder is the counterpart. There it is. End of riff.
In Raymond, the question of tribal prophets is answered rather matter of factly by the first commenter who serves rhetoric to the effect that all the titans of industry were prophets. Why not Ken Olsen, the CEO of DEC? And I have to agree with that point and take it to its proper conclusion which suggests that all such thinking about startup companies and tribes and such purposeful evasions of the public are a species of small-mindedness. This is, of course, the last thing that attendees of a TED seminar want to hear, but I cannot help but be reminded of the sort of eclexia implicit in these endless junkets.
I do not doubt that there is boundless creativity to be found in these tribes. And I find it telling that the speaker to whom Raymond refers begins with a micro history of Superbowl Parties and all such manner of things likely to be captured by the incessant narcissism of social media. But nobody knows what Obama does, they just like the idea that the Presidency is up for grabs and your vote, like your code, and your glib intellectual obiter dicta can be connected into a clever narrative of empowerment.
I am reminded of how many tons of rubber are produced in the world on an annual basis. We all take rubber for granted of course, and we imagine, we being those in the digiterati enthralled by the eclexia of TED, that there must be little of creative interest in the production of rubber and the management of a rubber empire. But I doubt quite seriously that we are correct in such assumptions, rather, we are determined to discount the qualities of such physical artifacts that don't flow over TCP/IP yeilding their secrets to those tools that we can appropriate freely in our open source worlds.
And how are we to change the world?
Well, we don't actually. What we do is we constantly change the way we see the world, and thus in a class of chatters, we frame and re-frame the fashionable intelligence, as has always been the wont and role of the Slice. We who work in close proximity to the Ruling Class. But TED and Google Plus and various streams of Twitter twaddle (and certainly some large unfathomable number of IRC channels) are the new channels that aggregate people into virtual neighborhoods. At long last however, the virtual remains virtual. So now we are witnessing what seem to be like sleepwalkers staring into the virtual multiverse as the stumble through actual streets and wreck their automobiles. Digital consciousness is now a 21st century virus unleashed in the 20th century world. Can it evolve?
I mean to do more than merely suggest but to state that this remote consciousness has devastating consequences for people who must of necessity put their bodies into alien spaces. And depending upon the quality of one's cybermind, every place is alien. There is no such thing as a company town, and this is the community that we are actually looking to build. The tribes fall short. And yet that is the new level of civic engagement, ever smaller, so that ever closer 'friends' feel autonomy in the societies we have built up over history. But these cities will not go away, nor will the distribution networks in place that put rubber on the wheels of all of the millions of automobiles that are also not going away. The virtual people have yet to build a town, and so the question ultimately becomes, at whose mercy are all these changes going to take place?
What is a labor union and what kind of city do they control? Now put them and their expertise in conflict with the TED crowd and what do you get? You get the election of Obama using the Leviathan power of the existing 20th century infrasturucture and physical world to force the labor union to provide the goods and services demanded by the Digerati and their tweeting children.
Do you see the problem as I do?
Silicon Valley is not sustainable. It is not a real, livable place and its vision for living is not real. The changes it makes in the world are to make the common man susceptible to the fashionable intelligence of its Digiterati with no regard or respect for the actual physical networks and infrastructure that it takes for granted. The mega corporations its princelings seek to re-think and remove are the proven successes of the 20th century, and they do not know how to scale their vision of community.