Authors Note: I am sick today, and rather bored, so I am trying to keep myself busy with tea, lemonade, and frequent urination. This article is an effort to do something minimally useful while my fat old body fights off the nasties.Anyone who has spent time reading my ravings knows about my love-hate relationship with Mr. Kuntsler and my unseemly adoration of the Archdruid.
I realize that I have to get a grip on these, but right now the tension between these two and their worldviews provides me with an excellent set of ideological lenses with which to view the world. As usual, I cannot thank them enough for their hard works and their insights.
When you spend a bit of time thinking about their writings, you start to fill in the gaps between the time frames that they write their readings of the crystal balls and their distaste for the way that the present is structured. They both agree that the present structure of American life is an unsuccessful attempt, but they focus on different timelines for the collapse. Mr Kunstler, in his writings and fiction focuses relatively short -term (around 5-20 years), while Mr. Greer brackets Mr Kunstler by going very near term (in his prescriptions for the present) and distant future (post-industrial America circa 2400 in his fiction)
Both of them appear to believe that electronics is gone for good. But even Mr Greer has radio in the distant future. Both of them seem to be enamored with the mystique of hand tools and the primitive nature of technology in the pre-mass market oil extravaganza. I think that this is somewhat a healthy attitude, but it kind of reeks of overshoot.
I think that there will be a place in the future for fairly serious electronics. They are just too good at being controllers and communicators to think that they will slip away to nothingness. What will slip away will be the fatuous and self-indulgent uses of electronics. The constant upgrades of technology will go away, probably to be replaced by a serious consolidation and rationalization of function to fit decreased access to resources.
I really don't see this kind of thing as a huge problem. Being able to write something like this attempt at rational thought is just as easily done using WordPerfect 4.2. Rather than the instant gratification of writing online using blogger's front-end, it would be just as easy to batch send things around using a fidonet interface with a once a day pickup. Rather than using dual-core, high end high energy consumption processors, perhaps a 80386 equivalent with low power draw and low-bandwidth access could provide enough communication for almost anyone.
Cell phones could be easily made smaller and cheaper, take away the "streaming" functions and the apps and you have a system easily capable of handling all the voice traffic that one could hope for for very low cost. Take out the intrusive monitoring of GPS systems, the pathetic desire to watch movies, and the truly sad need of young women to text incessantly and you have a global communication system for pennies on the dollar compared to current systems.
But where I see electronics having a long term impact is in localized manufacturing. Arduino makes a great little board that is currently limited only by imagination and too-big desires. These things are very simple and can be made to do some pretty amazing things. What they will never do is to make people obsolete. They can extend human capabilities, not replace them.
I guess what I think is that some maturity will be coming our way soon in the way that we look at things. Constant increases in complexity are the problem. Going back to semi-primitive systems will not be the answer. Part of maturity is knowing when something is good enough.