Sunday, June 07, 2015

Nicholas Carr's 'The Shallows' (2011): Take II

Nicholas Carr's The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2011 paperback edition).

Next cycle: space and time. In "the modern era," if time is money, what is dimension and distance?

Carr considers how human conceptions of geography and time have gone from one mind-blowing worldview to another. 

By the way, what time is it?  Do you know the time of day or night? Where are you situated?

"The technology of the map gave to man a new and more comprehending mind, better able to understand the unseen forces that shape his surroundings and his existence. . . What the map did for space -- translate a natural phenomenon into an artificial and intellectual conception of that phenomenon -- another technology, the mechanical clock, did for time."  (Carr, page 41). 

One may use a map to get from point A to point B, and calculate time of passage with a little math. Time/space -> actual elapsed time & ever-shifting estimated time of arrival.

In order to work in the contemporary electrified world, most workers need to become tethered to a factory-like space/time rhythm -- even though such a tether never feels quite "natural."  If abstracted time and mapped geography came naturally to us, we wouldn't need watches or clocks, maps or GPS.  

So, in the last x thousand years, we as humans have proceeded from operating through the scrim of hunter/gatherer and agricultural concepts of time according to season, moon, sun, and changed -- by say what we call "the 19th century" -- to more regimented railroad/military mobilization/factory production schedules. Electricity makes the industrialized way easy to maintain -- even if we must keep one eye on the clock to keep ourselves aligned with the greater electric beehive.

With such changes in time/space worldviews, we have gained in "efficiency" and possibility, but have also lost a good deal of connection with season, moon, sun and nature in general. Win some, lose some.

Do you have any preference between time and space? Are you happy living in "the present?"  Or is there some other "era" that tickles your fancy, where and when you'd rather be? 

Today's Rune: Fertility.  


jodi said...

Erik-I love where I am now, but I would get a kick out of doing the 80's over-knowing what I know now!

Charles Gramlich said...

I always feel a bit out of time. a bit behind mostly.