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Roger Berkowitz on Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt loved it when unex­pect­ed things hap­pened in pol­i­tics. She thinks and thought that spon­tane­ity, new­ness… She used the word natal­i­ty,” which is often mis­used and abused in her work by oth­ers, but it means birth, birth­li­ness. And she thought that what made human beings dif­fer­ent from oth­er ani­mals is not that we were ratio­nal, but that we could start things new.

The Conversation #30 — Henry Louis Taylor Jr.

We don’t have a con­cept of bal­ance. Not only do we not have a con­cept of bal­ance, but we have a very dis­tort­ed sense of social jus­tice that has been reframed to jus­ti­fy a soci­ety that is fun­da­men­tal­ly anchored around the con­cept of imbal­ance. The resources of the world clus­ter toward a hand­ful of very very pow­er­ful coun­tries, one coun­try hav­ing an even greater share. In order to jus­ti­fy this greater share, it’s made them believe that this high­er con­cen­tra­tion of pow­er is nor­mal, and that any­body in all coun­tries can have it, and that all coun­tries should aspire for it.

The Conversation #19 — Joseph Tainter

I see a set of con­straints fac­ing us in the future, and they’re all going to be very expen­sive. First is fund­ing retire­ments for the Baby Boom gen­er­a­tion. Second is con­tin­u­ing increas­es in the costs of health­care. The third is replac­ing decay­ing infra­struc­ture. The fourth is adapt­ing to cli­mate change and repair­ing envi­ron­men­tal dam­age. The fifth is devel­op­ing new sources of ener­gy. The six­th is what I see as in all like­li­hood con­tin­u­ing high mil­i­tary costs. The sev­en­th is the costs of inno­va­tion.

The Conversation #20 — David Miller

I enjoy clean air and clean water as much as the most rabid envi­ron­men­tal per­son. I just think we can have the prod­ucts of soci­ety, as well as hav­ing the­se things. Progress is a good thing. I’m just sim­ply a real­ist. And I’m just try­ing to enjoy life, enjoy fam­i­ly, enjoy friends, and con­tribute to soci­ety as best I can. And I think pro­vid­ing ener­gy, I think pro­vid­ing the met­als that soci­ety con­sumes, that peo­ple have in their their iPads, in their iPods, in their iPhones… I think that’s an hon­or­able thing to do. What else would you do? You know, why fight that?

A Brief History of Industrial Revolutions: Patrick McCray

One of the ways that indus­tri­al rev­o­lu­tions are inter­est­ing to think about is that they look dif­fer­ent­ly depend­ing on how and where you see them from. They look dif­fer­ent whether you see them from Europe or Asia or Africa. But regard­less of time or place, econ­o­mists and his­to­ri­ans gen­er­al­ly tend to look at indus­tri­al rev­o­lu­tions through the lens of inno­va­tion. And in my short talk today I want to encour­age a dif­fer­ent way of think­ing about this.

The Conversation #7 — Alexander Rose

If the point of mak­ing a 10,000-year clock is to get peo­ple to think longer term how do you design that expe­ri­ence so that it real­ly does that? And one of the things that we we real­ized is that peo­ple real­ly need to be able to inter­act with it. That they need to be able to make the moment they vis­it it their own. So while the clock does keep time all by itself with the tem­per­a­ture dif­fer­ence from day to night, it doesn’t actu­al­ly update any of the dials, none of the chimes chime, unless someone’s there to wind it.

The Conversation #5 — Andrew Keen

We’ve got two para­dox­i­cal trends hap­pen­ing at the same time. The first is what I call in my book the cult of the social,” the idea that on the net­work, every­thing has to be social and that the more you reveal about your­self the bet­ter off you are. So if your friends could know what your musi­cal taste is, where you live, what you’re wear­ing, what you’re think­ing, that’s a good thing, this cult of shar­ing. So that’s one thing that’s going on. And the oth­er thing is an increas­ing­ly rad­i­cal­ized indi­vid­u­al­ism of con­tem­po­rary, par­tic­u­lar­ly dig­i­tal, life. And the­se things seem to sort of coex­ist, which is para­dox­i­cal and it’s some­thing that I try to make sense of in my book.

Working on ENIAC: The Lost Labors of the Information Age

The largest part of the ENIAC team by far were the peo­ple that were actu­ally build­ing the thing. And it’s inter­est­ing they’ve been for­got­ten by his­tory, because although their job titles were wire­men, tech­ni­cians, and assem­blers, being a busi­ness his­to­rian I looked up the account­ing records, and some­times they spell out the pay­roll. You sud­denly see all the­se women’s names like Ruth, Jane, Alice, Dorothy, Caroline, Eleanor show­ing up.

Esoteric Content

So the kind of tech­nolo­gies that get made are not nec­es­sar­i­ly very excit­ing. It’s some­thing that [Alexis] Madrigal of The Atlantic said, the­se tech­nolo­gies that are com­ing out of the­se star­tups, they’re nice, they’re cheap, they’re fun. And they’re about as world-changing as anoth­er vari­a­tion of beer pong. This is not big, rad­i­cal change.

Imaginary London

What I’d like to to look at is alter­na­tive ver­sions of London, unbuilt build­ings, dif­fer­ent struc­tures from fan­tas­ti­cal lit­er­a­ture (sci­ence fic­tion, that sort of thing), and just see how that reframes the city that we inhab­it every day. How it makes us see it with per­haps new eyes.

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