Another collection of things… I can’t keep up any more, so bigger and bigger chunks of stuff are being bunged into loosely containing concepts… and today, it’s about technology not ever dieing.
Last week I went on about some people who managed to get a Messerschmitt 262 going again… and I quite often harp out about how anything that turns up in a sci-fi movie will one day be made real by someone. And then it will be made out of lego. I’m pretty sure that the drivers for recreating a 262 are exactly the same as those for sci-fi.
1) An article that looks at different approaches taken by different musicians preventing their promos hitting the web before their release dates. It starts out with some Christian musician informing listeners that “Anyone illegally selling, copying, uploading or downloading this material is condemned to eternal hellfire.”
Well fuck me, let’s party like it’s 1499. Who’d a thunk it? Christians once more press-ganging their poor, beleaguered God into acting as an enforcer of defunct business models! But that’s not what is interesting. What’s interesting is Jack White only releasing his as vinyl… partly because it’s funny (and kindof true) that “Jack White’s belief that any journalist who didn’t have a record player didn’t deserve to hear the album anyway.”… but mainly because he kindof gets it.
Faced with this intractable problem, instead of reducing the value of what he’s putting out he’s increased it. He’s created more value. He hasn’t made a low-quality version. He hasn’t threatened or nagged, he hasn’t cut 30 seconds off the end of everything. He’s made something (admittedly for a niche) that’s more valuable.
(Jack White, yesterday)
And it’s an old technology… a bit like…
2) A book printing machine. The Guttenborg. Which spans two worlds… the previous 500 years, and the next. It’s a backward-compatibility device, for people that lack the fluidity of neurons to read things on screens rather than paper (don’t look at me, I don’t have the attention-span to read either). This is the literary equivalent of Jack White’s vinyl, though delivered in a completely different way.
And really, there’s no reason why there should be only one physical format any more than there should be one digital format. This idea that everything should be either CD or Vinyl or that betamax and VHS are mutually-exclusive is kind of bollocks… if the cult-of-artifact is centered around these clanking machines… why not?
This machine (that I’ve gone on about before) does a similar demi-millenial spanning… from 500 years back to a couple of thousand before that.
This isn’t a response to any particular need. It’s just a cool thing to be able to do… and if you type “writing robot” into youtube search, there are dozens of others… mostly terrible, but… a lot of people do seem to want to teach robots antiquated skills. Personally I write less than 100 words a year these days. So little that my hand-writing is deteriorating. I can type about 70 wpm though.
(and as an aside, when I was at school, typing was considered to be a type of second-class skill. The A-stream kids didn’t do it. Now look at us. If you can’t type, you don’t get to participate.)
3) about 11.00 into this talk by Kevin Kelly on the evolution of technology…
… he talks about a magazine from 1895… where he takes a page of things where things that look like they should have gone out of production… and none of them were. Maybe the big looming cockup that worries Clay Shirky among others… that we’re storing digital data in formats that will quickly become impossible to read, might not actually be a problem.
4) and then there are polaroids:
Apparently Polaroids are coming back to life (no really)… and I mentioned recently that someone had gotten in touch with their 70s-style create-a-polaroid-from-your-own-photos application. And to be honest, I could think of anything to say about it for a week… I’d even composed in my mind an email saying “sorry, I can’t think of an angle”… but then I did. Apparently one of the Ponoko creations that’s been picked up by one of the big retailers is a polaroid-frame… where you can make your own photos look like polaroids.
Maybe this is the killer-app of fully-automated rapid-fabrication. Not to create new and wonderful things, but to recreate old and terrible things that no longer have the economies of scale that would make them economically viable for… well, Walmart say.
It’s a gen-x thing. Culture about culture. Firebox.com… a site about gadgets (which are totally to do with the future) has a whole section on retro stuff… which is really cool, because I have a load of discs for one of these
from the 1950s… 1950s Sci-Fi like 2000 Leagues under the Sea. I thought they’d gone forever.