Thursday, October 14, 2004

A five dollar paperback book will dance on the grave of a five thousand dollar computer

Global Algorithm 1.9: Unstable Networks
by Bruce Sterling, 1996

"There's nothing more grotesquely temporary than a computer ...

I moved house recently. This caused me to make a trip to the Austin city landfill. Austin has a very nice landfill actually, it's manned by well-meaning Green enthusiasts who are working hard to recycle anything usable. When I went there last month I discovered a heap of junked computers that was two stories high. Dead monitors, dead keyboards, dead CPUs, dead modems. The junk people in my home town get a stack that size once a week.

I had to pay some close attention to that mighty heap of dead computers. It had all the sinister lure of the elephants' graveyard. Most of those computers looked like they were in perfect working order. The really ominous part of the stack was the really quite large percentage of discarded junk that was still in the shrinkwrap. Never been used, and already extinct ...

Even paperback books have a far longer lifespan than computers. It's a humble thing, a book, but the interface doesn't change and they don't need software upgrades and new operating systems. A five dollar paperback book will dance on the grave of a five thousand dollar computer."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, nice entry there. I was just browsing the web at work and this entry was quite inspiring. It is sad to think about the fleeting lifespan of technology these days. Seems to me that right when a new technology is produced it is already on its way to being replaced. I guess it's good and bad. Makes me think of "Farenheit 451".


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