I’ve had a blog post percolating in my head for a while. It hasn’t quite taken form yet, but meanwhile it’s been gathering related ideas like iron filings to a magnet. So here’s a companion piece to the post I haven’t written.
Agent Nathan Bransford wrote a humorous take this week on the maxim that “writing is rewriting,” which reminded me of a story that anyone who reads my writing should hear at least once:
In math class, my sophomore year of high school, we sometimes did proofs. Putting axioms in the hands of adolescents can be a dangerous thing. Give them a few equations and the transitive property, and there’s no telling where they’ll end up. Whenever a student was called to the board to share his solution to a problem, and reached Q.E.D. but kept going anyway, our teacher would interrupt and say, “Stop right there. You’re fingerpainting.”
He wasn’t ridiculing anyone but himself.
One of the really great things about the WWW, as opposed to the Internet in general, is that the Web separates the concept of naming from everything else. A URL is bit of text that names a resource. You can type it. Except for some long URLs used by banks and in ecommerce, you can often even remember it. But most importantly, you can include the text in some other technology such as an email, an instant message, a calendar invite, a Web page, or even in a book or piece of paper. It can be sent and stored. The URL can be transmitted through this separate non-WWW media, and it still works on the other end.
When you name something, you have power over it. Like the dreidel mnemonic of the title, names help you to remember stuff. You can speak clearly about places and objects instead of just using misunderstood pronouns and long descriptions. And best of all, if you know something’s name, you can use it in casting a spell. (We call them programs.)
So a big part being able to work with virtual worlds, talk about them with other people, and use them in programs is to have a name – a URL that corresponds to each interesting thing about a virtual world.
. . . but curiously unable to do so.”
That was the caption on a greeting card I purchased years ago to send to a friend whom I had cruelly neglected, who had written me several unanswered letters over a period of months. (Who here remembers when there was no internet? Raise your hands!) The illustration on this card was a black and white drawing in a style reminiscent of Edvard Munch that showed a piece of paper and a pen on a table, and, cowering in a corner, a person crouched into a fetal ball.
Sometimes Wetmachine seems to me like that paper on the table. That would make you, Dear Reader, the neglected friend. (Which is odd, since I don’t know who you are and you have not been writing to me –but let that go.)
Nevertheless I have been meaning to write, for these times are a dystopian technoparanoaic’s utopia, it would seem, providing as they do a surfeit of disturbing portents and technophillic delusions as to make finding a Wetmachine daily theme about as difficult as finding sand on a beach.
I guess I’ll make this into a reoccurring feature, since everyone seemed to like the last one I did, and it seems we have no end of stupidity from media companies and their hired hands.
So, let’s see what the media companies have been shopping for in Washington. I bet there’s a lot of post-Holidays sales of legislation going on…