Tuesday, February 8, 2011

So Lame

It has been a couple of months since I have made a post, and so I thought I should make one, lest the blog become an abandoned cigarette butt on the side of the information superhighway. Wow. How long has it been since you heard the term "information superhighway"? It sounds so nineties, does it not?

I think that term fell by the wayside because it seems like such a political buzzword kind of phrase. The kind of thing a person says when they want to seem switched on when they have no idea what they are talking about, or when someone is being almost condescending in trying to get the concept across to the hicks. "Series of Tubes" anyone?

When the Internet was a new thing, and we tech types used our jargon do describe a thing or an action or a situation, the vocabulary was criticised as incomprehensible technobabble. I find it interesting that despite the ubiquity of the Internet and commoditization of the services on it, the language has not fundamentally changed, yet the vast majority of people still have no idea what we are talking about. And this is because the vast majority of people have no idea how the Internet works. You may as well use "Series of Tubes" as a descriptor.

I suppose this is part of the inevitable widening divide between the technology and the users. The increasing specificity of expertise and experience. Fifty years ago, you could probably find at least someone on your block who could pull apart a contemporary internal combustion engine and put it back together. And most people could understand the concept and probably tinker a bit with it. But as systems have become more and more complex, integrated with electronics and stamped with large warnings to not open unless you know what you are doing, the average person is becoming more and more divorced from the devices they find essential for everyday existence.

I think the era of the tinkerer is well past. The world is becoming more and more divided between the experts and the pure consumer, and the area of competence of the expert is becoming ever narrower. The computer expert is a pure consumer of the expertise of the engine mechanic. An vice versa. But not just in areas of technology, but in all areas, especially those moderated by technology. To this day, I still don't really grasp derivative trading, and the fact that financial regulators can't grasp it either, is it any wonder that the economy periodically falls over?

Are we headed forwards to a medieval life, where the secrets of the masons and the secrets of the blacksmith were jealously guarded, to the point of mysticism and magic? Will the Internet engineer and the stockbroker form the new guilds and take apprentices to initiate into their dark arts? And are we consumers going to be the serfs, set to starve when finally nobody remembers the secrets, only the magic?

Well, that post was a journey. Hopefully it was worth it.


  1. "Idiocracy" is on it's way. Not an Oscar winner as far as movies go but you can certainly see it coming. Especially in the land of the "free?" and home of the not so brave.

  2. And another thing...while there are plenty of trades I can add to your list, one that can also be at the top is farming.