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Subject:Barbed Wire Phone Lines - Badass!
Time:07:10 pm
https://www.inc.com/magazine/19970615/1416.html - farmers' barbed wire fencing pulling double-duty as telephone wire in the 1920s. Frontier ingenuity at its finest. Makes me think of that Warren Ellis quote from Crécy, his woefully under-read comic/history text/treatise-on-the-word-"cunt"-as-punctuation:

These things may look primitive to you, but you have to remember that we're not stupid. We have the same intelligence as you, we simply don't have the same cumulative knowledge you do. So we apply our intelligence to what we have.


I think this might be my 2017 yearlust: old means to new ends in the old days, technologically speaking: Ken Macleod's "... the crystal radio that receives and the spark gap that transmits";, African talking drum networks, Vikings using cliff-face acoustics for public speaking, the Antikythera mechanism and so on and so on and so on.

One can easily imagine a scifi genre that transcends mere Steampunk and uses ALL the technological improvisations of history in a single milieu to craft something not entirely unlike the modern world.

crossposted from Steemit
comments: Piss or get off the pot! Previous Entry Share


__marcelo
Link:(Link)
Time:2017-09-17 07:21 pm (UTC)
I very much like the idea for the genre. Panpunk? Omnipunk? Hackstory? No, not that last one. Kill that one with fire.

A relatively recent example would be the organized banks of (female) computers doing standardized large-scale calculations for the Manhattan Project (which is very much contemporaneous with the first computers in the contemporary sense).Heck, what we now call AI would be an example of that in a couple of decades.

Others for the list: Navajo as cryptography, Renaissance Florence was weirdly modern from some points of view — widespread accounting skills (even artisans kept double-entry books) meant something not unlike a decentralized P2P lending market (from one of my book micro-reviews/notes-to-myself), organized scribal book copying shops, the way there used to be streets of artisans specializing in different parts of mechanical watches, than master watchmakers would then assemble, classical mnemonics, and the proto-newspapers in Venice.

Edited at 2017-09-17 07:21 pm (UTC)
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(Anonymous)
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Time:2017-09-18 09:03 am (UTC)
hackstory

HahahahahahhaNO - that sounds more like something where Jason Vorhees or Michael Myers kills really bad (and really hot) journalists or something.

And yes, the Renaissance Italy stuff is pretty crazy. Exactly the sort of thing I had in mind. Basically our predecessors had the same problems we do (how do I spread my message to the entire town? How do I send my message to just *one* guy? How do I kill a guy while staying out of his reach?)

Since they had the same ingenuity we do and only the resource constraints differed, the shapes of the solutions look the same (hut vs house, Navajo windtalkers vs elaborate NSA codes or what have you) whilethe substance differs under the hood (so to speak. Chariot vs car, ahem)

See also Elias' use of pneumatic tubes as an anti-ELINT countermeasure in Person of Interest (that entire show was like a masterclass on this topic) Remember my old post about how technologies past a certain point obsolescence become useful again *because* of that obsolescence? (Yet another related topic wow)

It's like, do you want to sit next to a fire or do you want to be warm? Do you want to get a job or do you want to make money? (i think this might be a different but related topic)

Then there's Venkatesh Rao's concept intelligence versus refinement, in the sense that the amount of intelligence that went into making a tool or weapon is different from the amount of *work* that went into making it. Refinement equating to work, obviously. Thus the ugliest gun had more intelligence externalized into it than the most elegant sword (even if that sword was folded 50 thousand times in the fires of Mount Doom)

------------------

Funny you should mention the Human Computers. I just helped someone do research on writing about exactly that; although he was looking at astronomy at Harvard rather than the Manhattan Project. It was one such female human computer that came up with the method for accurately measuring stellar distances.

It was her work that made it possible for Edwin Hubble to make his big discovery. Heck, she was recommended for a Nobel prize -- only for the recommender to find out she'd been dead for three years :(


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Wow, that got really rambling and long. Probably because I've been so pent up with nobody to discourse with at length on shit like this. And now you're here! God I've missed you. God I miss 2007-era Livejournal :(
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razorsmile
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Time:2017-09-18 09:06 am (UTC)
Sorry that was me. Forgot I wasn't logged in
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__marcelo
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Time:2017-09-19 01:39 am (UTC)
(that entire show was like a masterclass on this topic)

Indeed. Beyond cutting-edge and long-obsolete. Mandatory first paragraph of Johnny Mnemonic:


I put the shotgun in an Adidas bag and padded it out with four pairs of tennis socks, not my style at all, but that was what I was aiming for: If they think you're crude, go technical; if they think you're technical, go crude. I'm a very technical boy. So I decided to get as crude as possible. These days, thought, you have to be pretty technical before you can even aspire to crudeness. I'd had to turn both those twelve-gauge shells from brass stock, on the lathe, and then load then myself; I'd had to dig up an old microfiche with instructions for hand- loading cartidges; I'd had to build a lever-action press to seat the primers -all very tricky. But I knew they'd work.


Miss the old LJ too. Hopefully it won't take long to become obsolete enough to bloom again.
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