Friday, May 8, 2009

Technology, Perceptions of Magic, and the Human Condition

"Steven Levy on How Gadgets Lose Their Magic"
Tech Biz: People, Wired Magazine (April 20, 2009)

"When Arthur C. Clarke went to the great geosynchronous orbit in the sky last year, he left behind a huge legacy, not least of which was a quote oft cited by Silicon Valley visionaries and wannabes. 'Any sufficiently advanced technology,' the sci-fi master wrote in 1962, 'is indistinguishable from magic.'

"I thought of Clarke's observation recently while I was playing with a Flip MinoHD camcorder. It's a stripped-down device with a footprint smaller than an Altoids tin, yet it holds an hour of video (in high definition!) and even has 2X zoom....

"...When I was growing up, television production was confined to studios, and video cameras were giant cyclopsian beasts that included chairs for their operators...."

I'm old enough to remember the television technology the author describes. I've seen the transistor change from a technological wonder the size of an obese pencil eraser to a routine - and microscopic - component known chiefly by technogeeks and development engineers.

This article shows what's happened, now that 'magic' is commonplace.

The author illustrates his point by disclosing how he reacted to the Flip MinoHD camcorder's limitations: "...the handheld image was a bit shaky ... maybe too vérité. As a result, my first thought was not so much 'What hath God wrought?' as 'What? No image stabilization? Where's the built-in steadicam?'..."

The author's on to something here. We live in 'the future' - not quite as described when I was growing up, but 'the future' nonetheless. There's a degree of thoughtfulness here that wasn't in the glowing (and sometimes goofy) articles about "the future" of generations passed: and isn't in the determinedly pessimistic discussions of "the future" that have been in fashion more recently.

The author closes with a thought: Maybe a way to recapture the magic is to turn all the stuff off for a little while.

Vaguely related posts:

No comments:

Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle online store

Pinterest: From the Man Behind the Lemming

Top 10 Most-Viewed Posts

Today's News! Some of it, anyway

Actually, some of yesterday's news may be here. Or maybe last week's.
The software and science stuff might still be interesting, though. Or not.
The Lemming thinks it's interesting: Your experience may vary.
("Following" list moved here, after Blogger changed formats)

Who Follows the Lemming?


Family Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory