2020-02-13 The Past

I just had a good discussion with @dredmorbius who started with a quote from a Wired story on Facebook and Privacy or the lack thereof:

...The notebooks have now mostly disappeared, destroyed by Zuckerberg himself. He says he did it for privacy reasons. This is in keeping with sentiments he expressed to me about the pain of having many of his early IMs and emails exposed in the aftermath of legal proceedings. “Would you want every joke that you made to someone being printed and taken out of context later?”...

Inside Mark Zuckerberg's Lost Notebook

Data is a liability, even our own‽ Soon we’re running out of plots for dystopias to write. Didn’t Charles Stross complain about something like that? The impossibility to finish near future science fiction in time?

My recipe for fiction set ten years in the future used to be 90% already-here, 9% not-here-yet but predictable, and 1% who-ordered-that. But unfortunately the ratios have changed. I think we’re now down to maybe 80% already-here—climate change takes a huge toll on infrastructure—then 15% not-here-yet but predictable, and a whopping 5% of utterly unpredictable deep craziness.

Dude, you broke the future!

@dredmorbius started wondering: “What happens to individual and social capacity to keep up?”

I don’t know. People have been talking about this for decades but the young ones don’t seem to be having mental breakdowns. It’s the older generations that can no longer cope. We tune out, don’t get on Tik Tok, or micro blogging, depending on where we draw the line. I’m more worried about people being unable to imagine the past. How did we live without mobile phones? Without phones‽ Without cars…

@dredmorbius linked me to The Past is a Foreign Country, from The White Review. That was a good article. The thought of a police vs. striking miners reenactment sends shivers down my spine. And that bully psycho drama... argh!

But the past being a foreign country is exactly my point. Previously, the foreign country past was the Second World War. My grandpa was weird, he had fought in it! He was a prisoner of war of the Americans. But now I find that my teenage years are weird. I had no mobile phone. The foreign past is creeping up on us. A bit like the Nothingness in the Neverending Story. We end up unable to relate to our own past selves.

We are become strangers from a strange land, says @dredmorbius. Indeed.




It’s a deep point. Sometimes my father’s thought processes seemed incomprehensible and I suppose that my son doesn’t really understand some of what I do. We’re products of our environment and it is quite hard to appreciate other cultures from other times.

The past is foreign because you have to have lived through it to appreciate it. It shapes the bits of us that we like to call unique. It is not all bad, the distance help discern the parts of the past worth preserving.

Alok 2020-02-24 17:18 UTC

Good point, thanks.

– Alex Schroeder 2020-02-24 18:10 UTC

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