Saturday, January 2, 2016

We Are Now Forever (Sort Of)

The Internet allows Mankind to archive and preserve our words and deeds as no other technology ever has. Combined with nigh-exponential increases in the power and availability of devices to record sights and sounds, texts and pictures, and mix them together into collages heretofore improbable or impossible and we have an issue of abundance that our forefathers would not even conceive as possible.

As I once heard at RPGnet, some years ago, we are now at a point where it is impossible to run out of entertainment. Some born after the turn of the 21st century cannot ever truly run out entertainment media created and produced by someone else, or even professionally-produced fare, because the Internet means that everyone has global reach. Boredom comes now only due to individuals being unwilling to engage, and never from actually running out of entertainment to consume.

Aside from the issue this abundance has for the global cultivation of creativity, as the prospects for being a creative that actually earns a living from their craft will become even worse than it was previously (and thus accelerate the return of patronage as a norm), there is another issue that this abundance demonstrates- but only now is becoming obvious enough for many to notice.

"You can't lie to the Internet."

Archiving articles, blog posts, Tweets, Facebook threads, and so on to preserve something posted as it was initially before it could be edited or deleted significantly inhibits those who would wage Narrative Warfare via throwing things down the Memory Hole.

We already see this in effect in the social and cultural conflicts waged online now, and we shall see this explode into mainstream usage over this election cycle; one campaign (and I expect Trump's to do it) will begin archiving everything and posting links publicly for all to see- and thereby deny deniability to the others. (This will become standard practice in subsequent cycles.)

Far more than omnipresent surveilence, and sousveilence, this persistent external memory is something I think deserves more attention. In fantasy, few outside of gamers ever bothered to think through the consequences of being immortal (or long-lived, in the realm of many centuries or millenia), but I think we're soon to find out the hard way- and I don't think adjustment will go well if we cannot bring wisdom to the process.

But it will solve the greatest problem: that Men forget. The only question is "But who will remember, or why?"

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