Life, Technology and Meaning


Rather a grander title than this post. I’ve been so busy the last three weeks that time to ruminate has suffered. So today I integrate some of the exterior into the interior – sort of like what sleep ostensibly does to our daily experiences each evening.

Writing aside, my Twitter connections have fed so much material around the themes that I follow that the tide has pretty much swept the beach clean. Some reading, a lot of “archive and get to later” and even more “wow, that was interesting and maybe I can follow up.” The whole area of so-called “emerging technologies” across the broad human spectrum has been simultaneously wondering and haunting.

Biotech has been of hot interest of late – so many drugs and technologies evolving at a such a rapid pace. “Kill switches” in GMO’s actualize at least one movie plot whose name now escapes me. The whole nascent realm of synthetic biology is fascinating as is the related areas around genomics. Two films I’ve seen recently, “One Sense” and “The Last Days,” both European rather than American, artfully touch on related ideas in differing styles. “One Sense” in particular, with its storyline of gradual sensory loss until only the afflicted’s sense of touch remains, strikes a nerve around the whole idea of feeling my collective humanity.

“Wearables” – whether bracelets, watches, Google Glass-style eyewear, or VR goggles continue the technological march into our “quantified selves” and our layering of increasing virtual realities and data across our physical sensory worlds. More data, but not yet so useful until contextualized, or analyzed, or tied through social media or some form of internet-of-things into a larger collective framework. Whatever I may think about it, it has to be absorbed (or disavowed if so inclined).

I find the swiftly evolving technological expertise in China and other Asian nation markets astonishing as technology once developed and exported primarily for western consumption is increasingly funneled into its own home markets. Xiaomi, Alibaba, Malaysian startups – not to mention Japan’s cultural technology integration – seem but glimpses of the future, an Asian singularity racing to an unrealized future all its own.

Futurists, disruptive insights and technologies, innovations, clean energy technologies are just a few others recently streaming across my internal monitor.

Tying it all together, for me, is the other half of the equation – how to use new technologies in ethical  and people-affirming ways. Our much-stained history isn’t particularly encouraging, and yet some things seem more encouraging now than at any time in the past.

I’ve seen reiterated recently that our technological advances serve our philosophies/worldviews. (And vice versa, these same mental model constructs determine what technologies we develop in an often closed loop.) And so the intense competition among philosophies, ideologies, theologies and so forth is at least of equal, if not of more, import than our technologies.

Quick, and off-the-cuff, but oh so interesting these days…wonder, both positive and negative, at this world around.

Thoughts on Blogging

At this start of the new year, I find myself again reflecting on writing and the year to come. This blog principally remains a place to share the random bits that I find interesting. As such, it serves somewhat as an ad hoc journal. Now I’ve read enough about blogging to have a sense that I’m not following the general “rules,” I suppose. I didn’t identify a target audience. I don’t have a particular message that I’m trying to promote. I’m not looking at this point for numbers, i.e. great numbers of followers (though I like an audience as well as anyone). So for now, I’m not sure where this current blogging platform figures in my larger writing world.

I have been much more active on Twitter (with a hiatus here and there). Early on, I spent some time developing it as an information source. In the beginning, my core group was a carefully selected range of interesting people in a variety of fields who exhibited either knowledge or wit or good writing. It skewed somewhat towards the sciences just as I do. Most recently my Twitter efforts have begun to move from small online salon to something else that I have yet to see what it will become. Nevertheless, Twitter has remained one of my favorite and most useful online information activities.

Until recently, I was quite busy writing a coffee table history book and developing a museum for my company at the time. I didn’t have a lot of time or creative energy left for my own projects or creative work. Nor did I have time to do much in the way of online presence. Now that I have transitioned to this new phase, I have much more free creative time for myself, but I’m still identifying where and how and to what degree to apply that time.

I have a current book project to finish, so I obviously spend time with that. Afterwards, there are other writing projects that I want to pursue that will be from my own creative well rather than “work for hire.” So I suspect at some future point blogging will fit in with some of that work and assume a different place, and perhaps a different feel, in my writing life.

So today, these off-the-cuff ramblings represent a moment in time as I stare at this blog and think about the year to come. No revelations. No great thoughts. But a good place, for a few minutes today, to jot what’s on my mind.