Friday, October 26, 2018
From Digging to Digitizing
The history of mankind has consisted of humans pulling stuff out of the ground and reworking it to suit our own survival purposes.
As people became more and civilized, and organized, the underlying survival instinct took a back seat to other motivations—gathering surplus, tribal organizing, development of skills and trades, cooperation and competition. . . eventually industry, government, education, business, recreation, sports, entertainment.
The progressive developments of all these human activities required something that was necessary and common to all of them:
Stuff from the earth itself. Raw material. Basic stuff:
Water, dirt, plants, rocks, ores, animals, hides.
As civilization moved forward, these basics were refined by us— reconstructed, manufactured to fulfill the requirements of human development.
The list of basic stuff (above) was revised to include:
Drinks, processed foods, fertilizer, livestock, leather, pets, tools, machines, lumber, metals, trains, cars, planes, appliances, telephones, radios, televisions, computers.
Computers--aha! With these, human development embarked upon a new phase.
Information itself becomes as useful (or at least we think it is as useful. . .) as all the other stuff that we’re using to make the world a more convenient place since the beginnings. Knowledge itself has became a resource. Yeah, though I dare say it—a commodity.
So we notice that over the course of human progress we did move steadily from pulling stuff out of the ground, and reworking it so that we could improve our life, to—
Pulling information out of our data machines.
Like it or not, this is the outcome of human history. We have come to this. Now development is largely about retrieving and using data files to improve life or capitalize upon its developments.
In the same manner as we traditionally removed natural resources from the ground and turned it into our good stuff.
And bad stuff. Let’s not forget that part. Our progressive high-tech life now generates bad stuff. Pollutants, toxins, noxious substances and, of course, shit itself, which still happens every day on a very large scale.
A consequence of our globally massive improvement project is that more and more persons are being driven into knowledge jobs.
Instead of all that plowing, digging, mining, constructing that we did all through history—more and more of us are typing, cataloging, programming, sitting at desks and watching computers do our so-called work for us. Such activity (relatively, it is inactivity) becomes the order of the day for us as far into the future as many of us can see.
This digitized transformation of human development will bring us to some huge changes. I read an article about it this morning:
Seeing as how we now have entered the age of information retrieval slowly overtaking natural resources recovery. . . seeing as how we gaze collectively at what seems to be the setting sun of human physical toil, I offer a tribute to the noble enterprise of Human Labor.
This tribute I offer in the form of a song. Gordon Lightfoot wrote it years ago.
It is one of the best songs ever written about the glory of human labor. You may listen to the songwriter’s rendition here:
I also offer my own rendition of Gordon’s “Canadian Railroad Trilogy”, a song that I dearly love to sing.
Gordon's Railroad Trilogy
As you listen to both versions, imagine you are watching a sunset—the disappearing brightness of human labor accomplishment, being supplanted by a foggy dawn of. . . whatever is ahead for our collective endeavor.
King of Soul