Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Innovation in the Wild West

Travel on the back roads. Image Source: pinterest.

In this post, I intended to expand on my Wild West Theory of Innovation, continued from my 19 November 2016 post, Enter the Frontier. My idea was not based on the current American television series, which echoes the same notion that techno-societies have entered a Westworld. The piece became too long, and I have decided to submit it elsewhere.

Rather than fully elaborate on my understanding of a positive path through the frontier, this post will describe the initial inspiration I had for the piece. I started with the idea that when a society innovates radically and rapidly, the innovators will encounter marginalized people and ideas as they push into the outer reaches.

There is a paradox here. Although innovation is depicted in our culture as progressive, futuristic and positive, innovation starts from a point of social, political or economic alienation. The journey into innovation is an epic trek into the frontier, a 'wild west.' I suggest that the narrative of innovation does not automatically line up with the narrative of positive progress. The innovator, in inventing, transforming and changing the status quo, will confront society's fears and uncertainties, as much as he or she confronts its hopes and dreams. As a result, the innovative society will become increasingly polarized.

The film clip below shows the starting point of that trek, when the innovator metaphorically chooses one day to walk out the back door rather than the front. This choice inverts the normal way of viewing reality, the regular processes of thought and action. What the innovator discovers is a second reality, an alternate civil state beyond the conventional pathways, an Underground. The first figures the hopeful and inspired innovator will encounter on his or her journey are the people who were already marginalized and lurking about the back ways - the criminals, the psychopaths.

Back alleyways scene from Guy Maddin's docufantasia of a Canadian city, My Winnipeg (2007) © Buffalo Gal/Documentary Channel/Everyday Pictures. Winnipeg is Canada's western gateway city. Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.

Undergrounds were always repositories for strange behaviour and ideas, and normally contained them. Initially, cyberspace was that Underground, and was not taken seriously as part of the public space. It was considered a computer playland, filled with alienated losers and fringe actors, or mainstream citizens engaging in forbidden, anonymous play.

What is happening now is twofold and contradictory. As technological and socio-economic changes took hold, the usual polarization between mainstream and Underground occurred. At the same time, the Underground and mainstream are fully exposed to one another and merging together. This nasty alt-mainstream synthesis is incorporating polarities without dissolving them.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Enter the Frontier

Earlier this year, I developed an idea about 21st century change which I call the 'Wild West Theory of Innovation.'

The theory is about the real dynamics of change. It states that radical change produces actual, hard change and expected stabilities will not remain; moreover, the ideas and people that initiated the change do not and cannot contain outcomes. Those outcomes take change agents to the fringes, to the 'wild west.' Change can suddenly become a negative threat, because old ideas stop working, produce bad results, or can be co-opted by one's opponents. To find the positive aspect of change again, one must adapt to the new environment.

I developed the idea in relation to Bitcoin, not politics, Brexit, or the American election. But it applies to 20th century political animals and 21st century technological innovators alike, who have aligned themselves morally and politically with what they regard as positive change. They should not be surprised when they innovate themselves into a frontier territory, dominated by marginalized characters and alien concepts.

This is a non-political blog, so the point here is not to criticize any groups or counter-groups, but to consider why socio-economic reform and technological innovation are double-edged swords; to depict how we arrived at the outer edges; and to find a positive path through the frontier.