Good Question

“How much of what we readily identify as ‘progress’ in urban-industrial society is really the undoing of evils inherited from the last round of technological innovation?” Quoted from: “Where the Wasteland Ends“, Theodore Roszak, 1972. (Amazon link).

Why Paper Is Eternal

“There are modes of learning and thinking that at the moment are only available from actual books. There is a kind of deep-dive, meditative reading that’s almost impossible to do on a screen. Without books, students are more likely to do the grazing or quick reading that screens enable, rather than be by themselves with the author’s ideas.” Read: Welcome to the library. Say goodbye to the books (via). See (and print…) also this 75-page essay: “Hamlet’s Blackberry: why paper is eternal“.

How Far Back?

On the appeal of steampunk:

“Compared with an earlier and more thoroughly handcrafted era, a return to the late 1800s or early 1900s does not mean having to give up all the most basic modern conveniences. Most of these, including indoor plumbing, electric lighting and even air conditioning, had been invented and put into use by this time—in the main by the privileged, but then it is their lives (and not those of common men and women) that are the stuff of historical fantasy. Travel no longer meant riding in cramped stagecoaches over dirt roads or wind-and wave-tossed sailing vessels, but in luxurious automobiles
and handsomely appointed cabins aboard trains and steamships.”

Via Clockworker.

Antivirus Software Sucks

And:

“It’s not just AV software. The entire software industry operates this way.

1. Shovel feature-rich bug-ware onto unsuspecting schlubs to build “brand”
(especially in the enterprise/IT market where the person purchasing the
software is often not the person who has to use it, so they make
decisions based on feature list and brand name rather than quality)
2. Wait for hobbyists, researchers, or smaller companies to figure out how to do it right
3. Buy their companies
4. Repeat”

Quoted from the discussion at Slashdot.

The immutable verities of grand physical laws

Galvanometer

“The design and manufacture of scientific instruments has undergone a radical transformation in the last 30 years, achieving what might be described as the democratization of accuracy. Levers, pinions, wheels, and linkages have given way to microprocessors that read data at exquisite levels of sensitivity and reveal it instantly on digital displays. This transformation has affected our lives far beyond the laboratory, but to my eye the gains have been accompanied by losses.”

Read: The engineer’s art, why a contemporary-art expert also collects old machines.
Picture: Einthoven’s string galvanometer.

Temporocentrism

“A popular misconception exists that the builders of the pyramids or the cave painters of prehistory were somehow less intelligent than we are. This simply isn’t true – there is no evidence that the human brain has evolved at all in the last fifty thousand years at least. Modern people are merely benefiting from thousands of years of accumulated knowledge and experimentation, not from increased intellect. (…). This idea is part of a mistaken view of history best described as temporocentrism – the belief that our own time is the most important and represents a “pinnacle” of achievement. The temporocentric view is a hangover from nineteenth-century ideas of progress. (…). It is a kind of racism, in which our ancestors are looked down on simply because they lived in the past.”

Quoted from: Ancient Inventions, Peter James and Nick Thorpe (Amazon link).