25 March 2008

Something in the Air

For those readers (assuming I still have any) who wonder why I witter on about topics that seem distant from that exciting free software stuff, here's someone else doing it. Andy Updegrove is the best writer about standards, bar none. He's particularly sharp on the subtleties of the ODF vs OOXML ding-dong. But here he's on about something else:

Our modern shelters, it seems, are becoming more seductive than ever. Not only are on-line and other electronic entertainments negatively impacting television and print journalism, but use of public parks in the US is falling off as well, even as population continues to rise. Apparently, our affinity for the out of doors is fighting a losing battle against the delights of our electronically-enabled cocoons.

It strikes me that this is an especially inauspicious time for mankind to become less connected to the natural world. That world is increasingly under attack – by us. The more insulated we are from it, the more abstract that impact will seem. Already we know that the opportunity to brake global warming before it has catastrophic effects is rapidly slipping away. And yet we know that we are doing too little to avoid such consequences.

What we do to the earth will certainly have profound effects on humanity. But the earth is ancient and patient, and able to recover in the fullness of time – without us - from the worst that we can inflict upon it. What would be at most a slight fever for Gaia would be at best disastrous, and at worst fatal for modern civilization. There is no doubt who the winner and loser in this conflict will be.

It’s easy to think such thoughts, gazing at the stars on a windy night in the high desert. Perhaps the earth does us a favor when it holds us in the unseen grip of the wind, reminding us of our proper place in the natural order of things.

What's interesting about this for me - aside from the fact that it's beatifully written - is that it is cognate to my tangential stuff. Coincidence? I don't think so.


Anonymous said...

Due to the Gods of geography, I have no choice but to enjoy the public parks of the US from the comfort of my UK-based 'electronically-enabled cocoon'. Perhaps if we all fought the individualising effect of glittering electronica we could band together and make some changes to the way the world is heading i.e. away from the abyss!

Glyn Moody said...

Well, I'm rather a fan of glittering electronica, but I don't see it as necessarily hostile to the natural world - on the contrary, I think it's a powerful tool for saving it....