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.
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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.
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.
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.
Geek culture and hacker culture used to be relatively apolitical, but now every action that you take and every piece of code that you write has political effects. You may may intend some of these effects, you may not intend most of these effects, but they’re there and we need to start thinking about and understanding these changes.
It’s this infrastructure that is unseen, because it is infra-structure, it is under the structure. And when you start thinking about this massive web of technologies that keep you alive, the only interfaces we have on a day-to-day basis are tap, turn, flush. Everything else is hidden and unseen.