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Notes and Reflections on Books and Media

by Hannah Leitheiser

Progress

Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters with Reality and Virtual Reality

Jaron Lanier

2017

Link

2018-01-21

Reading a biography of Lanier's life during the magical period of the 1980's in Silicon Valley. Seems just being there meant you were swept in the momentum. They were going to change the world, they knew it, they did, and it was going to be great.

Reminds one of the previous century's industrial revolution. Reading books from that time you can imagine the song from The Lego Movie "Everything is Awesome." And it was. I think, for example, it is not quite a coincidence that slavery -- a practice dating back millennia -- happened to mostly disappear from the world the time the industrial revolution took hold. And while I respect the human systems of class, I think I might be able to say, were you a human steam engine, your lot improved. But then the newness wore off, as it always will, the condition of factory workers became not-great, and cities became polluted with smoke (although granted, it would have been horse dung before that). A romantic period where those with means wanted to leave the city to return to nature started.

In a similar way, the information age may be credited with reducing severe poverty. (Someone who's looked at more data can challenge me on that, if you like.) But the honeymoon is over, even though I can't help dreaming of somehow going back.