Thursday, 19 November 2009

The Speed of Life


What is it with cities?

There seems to be a rush to get anywhere. And what are people rushing to? Do they enjoy their job that much? If they’re late, they should leave earlier. Everyone can’t be late every day – can they?

Maybe they’re running from crazy people? If we don’t interact with people, we won’t need to learn about their problems (which we know, aren’t even close to the problems of those kids we see on the news, but they can’t see us through the TV, so it’s ok). Maybe people are worried that if they just stopped to talk with someone, they might actually find the answer.

All around us, things are happening. Interesting things. Yet our headphones and free newspapers protect us from it, keeping us in our self obsessed bubbles.

Are people chasing their dreams, or running from themselves?

Either way, there’ll be another train along any minute.


Image courtest Egan Snow.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Technology: It Might Not Destroy Us


As a (very casual) fiction writer, specifically science fiction, I have had to learn the fundamentals of creating an interesting story. In doing this, I’ve become subject to analytical observation, the kind that tends to dilute the beauty of life by trying to understand it too much.

However, one thing it has taught me is that there can be no story without conflict. I once read a book about a couple who had beaten the trials and tribulations of 80s Northern Ireland (in the previous book) and were now building a home together in the country. Everything went wonderfully for them, as the book documented their “happily ever after”. It was the worst story I had ever read.

Hollywood is a mega-conglomerate story making factory, so it stands to reason that everything they create must contain conflict in one way or another. It’s no surprise then, that we have yet to see a story of man and machine living in harmony. (Even in Short Circuit, the American military did what they do best, and created conflict..)

So it stands to reason that the average member of the general public (which of course, does not include your typical transhumanist) is afraid of our technologically dominated future. Their technophobia is justified – especially for those Californians ruled by their very own terminator.

Yet in the end, technology is happening all around us, and it’s not trying to kill us. Doors open when we approach them. Buses tell us when they’re coming and which stop is next. It might not be glamorous, but it makes our lives easier.

We’re afraid that when there’s too much reliance on technology everything will break down, leaving us with chaos. This is just the product of our Hollywood conditioning and too much exposure to certain operating systems. While of course this is a possibility, it shouldn’t limit us.

Generally, with the exception of certain operating systems, technology doesn’t go wrong. We don’t notice when things run smoothly, only when they break down. Even when things do go wrong, this is usually a symptom of planned obsolescence.

In reality, things are always more complicated than the black and white of Hollywood. Our future is destined to be improved and enlightened by technology, as well as being changed in ways we haven’t even thought of.

It might be mundane, but it could just be a happy ending.