Krag Peak Watershed—July snow to water (VI.30.2009) [ click photo for next . . . ]
Eagle Cap Wilderness . . .
On the road in the American Northwest.
[ double-click to play text ]
NIGHT THOUGHTS ON A FUTURE
As I see it, one of the primary opportunities presented by the universal
ascendancy of digital technologies is the potential elimination of
waste. With all types of hardware, for example, whether cameras, or
laptops or other associated electronics, the answer is resoundingly
clear: closed-loop recycling and / or cyclical leasing. You lease a new
camera from Canon or Nikon, use it till it breaks or is not right for
your work, and then trade it in at a price for a new one, knowing that
Canon and Nikon are committed by law to responsible recycling. The
same kind of cyclical leasing would work for a laptop from Apple or
Dell. And in terms of distribution, there is now the possibility of a shift
in our thinking away from cars and hydrocarbons to networks of flowing
bits and electrons powered by ever-more efficient renewables.
As I see it, the bottom line of all this is the movement of energy. By
this I mean both the physical energy, but also energy in the much more
subtle sense of meaning. The key thing to watch in this general movement
of energy, the key limiting factor, is again waste. Waste in terms
of what I’ve called complicatedness, or poor design, and waste in
terms of squandered intellectual energy or meaninglessness.
If you think about this a little, the free, efficient flow of both physical
and cultural energy fit together quite well. Perhaps necessarily so.
Why? Because we need a free flow of information and meaning to
grow a superior quality of learning and education, one soundly rooted
in an exuberant yet ethical scientific spirit, in order to create the neces247
sary new technologies. And, of course, we also need the new technologies
to establish such new networks of learning.
So, we can see an exciting energy revolution unfolding right before us.
Keep an eye to the more subtle sides of cultural change. Watch shifts of
meaning. For example, the meaning of rooftops is bound to change as
you see your neighbors turn the old wasted space of waterproof, insulating
surfaces into rooftop gardens and pv-powerhouses. Watch the
meaning shift as you come to see they are not only attractive, but also
charging the cars for free and spinning their meters backwards. Watch
the meaning of that fowl and repugnant relic of empire—the suburban
lawn—implode as you find traces of an indeterminately long and
synergistic list of unwanted substances in your well water, and then see
others happily harvesting a cornucopia of veggies from their victory
gardens, and herbs from the butterfly patch.
All else will look like, as the turn of phrase has it,