1.22.2002

LUDD JOBS: LIVING HISTORY INTERPRETER

When dedicated luddites fail to send their kids to computer camp they have to wonder what
jobs will be available to them when they grow up...

We recommend...living history interpreter

There is an article by Joshua Shenk in the February 2002 Atlantic Monthly titled "Being Abe
Lincoln" that describes a recent convention of Abe Lincoln "presenters."

   Last April the Association of Abe Lincoln Presenters held its seventh
   annual convention, in Beckley [West Virginia]. I had heard there would be
   forty-four Lincolns there, and fifteen Marys. So I flew to Charleston,
   drove south sixty miles to Beckley, and stood in the lobby of the Country
   Inn & Suites, gaping at the sight: Black- and gray- and fake-bearded
   Lincolns, short and tall Lincolns, and a Lincoln in a wheelchair, with an
   oxygen tank...


There are web sites for Living History resources, including
job listings such as Ox Cart Driver/Interpreter (Williamsburg, VA).

Just think about it: every day someone is paid to be Thomas Jefferson at
Colonial Williamsburg...


1.11.2002

TREK/DRECK

We have seen the future and it doesn't work.

Of Trek and TiVo
Digital Renaissance by Henry Jenkins

   It’s hard to take seriously the original Star Trek’s technological utopian premise when
   contemporary device--some inspired by the series itself, some even used to watch it--are
   totally unreliable. Improvements in communications technologies, indeed! There are at
   least three problems. First, the new machines are still buggy when they reach our hands.
   How many of us have to shout into our cell phones, which often look suspiciously like
   Star Trek’s flip-open communicators, but with a much more limited calling area? Second,
   the companies that send us these gadgets never quite seem to know how to set up a
   customer service department equipped to deal with the bugs as they emerge. And then
   there are the design errors that make you wonder if the machines’ engineers had a
   Vulcan or Klingon customer in mind rather than a human being. Why are the media devices
   that we mostly use in darkened rooms always black? Why do they put all the useful
   information--the model number, serial number, even the phone number for customer
   service--on the bottom of the VCR?


From MIT Technology Review.
HELP, SELF

Starting a rumor that the Sierra Club is about to publish a self help text
for environmental activists who are worried about their lack of success.
The small, handy, uplifting text will be called "Who Moved My Trees?"

Pass it on.

1.04.2002

OUR CYBERNATURE

Worldlessness, Virtual Reality, and the Limits of Technology
by Burt Kimmelman
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
New Jersey Institute of Technology

   Driven by a technological imperative, today we seek to change nature, to change reality, in
   order to accommodate design. As the technological critic Andrew Kimbrell has pointed out, we
   have come a long way since the 1939 World's Fair and its motto: "Science Explores, Technology
   Executes, Man Conforms." That is to say, we may not consider an option other than conformity,
   other than technological self-reflexivity, that causes new design to be created under the
   mandate of preserving, first and foremost, the effects and goals of previous design.
   Perhaps the exercise of another option becomes possible when we perceive a fully articulated
   relationship between ourselves and the world, one that doesn't require a technological
   response to it. Then the mandate for new design might owe nothing to the past; then the
   fundamental alteration of nature need not be seen to be inexorable since it bears the
   responsibility of perpetuating older technologies that have created physical, psychological,
   intellectual and spiritual dangers.


From Wood_s_lot.