Facebook as AOL

I remember AOL circa 01-02. Surfing to discussion boards, IM-ing friends, reading news stories on the homepage, being stuck inside the terrible AOL browser. Facebook is starting to feel like an updated version of AOL: pages are discussion boards, chat is IM, and now terrible news stories appearing in my feed all the time. An alternate web is surfed from within the terrible Facebook UI. It all seems depressingly familiar.

Could Facebook collapse like AOL did?

Our Future

It is hard to imagine what the future of the USA will look like, and forecasts are useless anyway, because none of us actually KNOWS the future. That said, we face such tidal waves of debt in this nation and globally that a reckoning day will come. [I will make my own useless forecast] Since we are unlikely to cut spending much or raise taxes much, my guess is that the reckoning will be in the form of hyperinflation. Inflation makes debts small at the cost of destroying the currency and punishing savers. What all this means for me and my children is worrisome.

I am post-millennial, which means that I think the future is ultimately bright for Christ and His Church. I think things have gotten better since the Resurrection. You only think things are the worst now if you don’t know history very well. While I expect a form of “collapse” for the USA I don’t think it will be “end of the world” collapse, just something like the collapse of the British Empire. We won’t be able to police the world, tell everyone what to do, and so on. Rod Dreher talks about where to live and whether or not to move on his blog. Will there be social unrest? I would think so. I don’t think living in cities will be pleasant at times. On the other hand, living in extremely rural areas doesn’t seem great either due to driving distances, lack of supplies, and so on. If oil prices go up, driving distances may become untenable and low income / fixed income folk aren’t going to be able to commute. All of this seems to point to suburbs and smaller cities becoming more livable, walkable and pleasant, so that is an upside.

I would imagine that our standard of living will stagnate, but on the other hand it seems possible that there will continue to be an uber-class of vastly wealthy elites and an underclass of the proletariat who cannot protect their savings with gold, overseas banks and the like. Stress will come on the institutions of governance and perhaps they will fall apart. And yet technology affords the government with unprecedented means of spying, control and punishment.

Perhaps a public burned by experiences with debt and disabused of the notion that the Messianic State can take care of everything will mature in wisdom. Perhaps fragments of our society can begin to return to taking care of local things instead of always worrying about national issues that we can do nothing about. Or perhaps we are in for several centuries of darkness, where fragility and uncertainty reign and the political landscape shifts all the time. Either way, there are great opportunities for the Church in the coming century, due to technology, upheaval and the failure of institutions that are given over to evil.

Bing Maps is better than Google Maps

At least for the moment. I watched this video which led me over to Bing Maps which I have been using with more frequency over the past six months. You may have to click “Try it now” for the new Bing Maps once you get there. There are several icons on there that let you zoom to city, region, state etc.

The really cool thing is the 3D view from above and the WAY cool thing is the street-side view for areas with it enabled. I used the location of our old church in D.C. to look around and it was fun to use. Add to this the nearby Photosynths and I think Microsoft is on to something. It almost makes me wish I had a Windows machine for some things! In our day, innovation is rapid but catch up is also rapid; I expect Google to have something similar in the near future, that’s just how it works. But it is good to see some life out of M-soft, and overall I think that by 2020 we are going to have roll out, thin, scroll-like computers that provide imagery, text and video on an almost mind-boggling scale of beauty and ease of use. Of course, it will be so ubiquitous that we won’t even think about it anymore.

Going Paperless

I bought a new scanner – I really haven’t had a workable one for years and years – so I am now setting out to scan every bit of paper in the house that I can and upload it to the cloud. I want to throw away as many papers, documents and magazines as I can and keep it all electronically. This is a laborious process but I expect it to pay dividends in the end. I hope to eliminate a lot of clutter and searching for things this way.

Future Digital Conundrums

Watching the unveiling of the iPad today spurred me to reflect on some possible problems that may occur in future years of our digital age. For example, movies, books and software that I have purchased do not reside with me physically, but are located in the cloud (on a server somewhere in the ether). Assuming that Apple still exists when I die, can my descendants continue to use my Apple ID and password to access all of the accumulated music, books and software I have purchased? Will the government charge an inheritance tax on all the music I pass down via my Apple account? Can someone keep my Gmail account active so that my lifetime of correspondence can be accessed by a future family historian?

And think of the intense amounts of work that will be required by future historians. We think of the Civil War as the most documented conflict due to thousands of diaries and letters that historians must consult in addition to official accounts and government documents. But can you imagine what a future writer on anything will have to wade through in terms of e-communication to get a complete account of something? Millions of web pages, blog posts, e-mails, documents and videos. It staggers the mind to contemplate it. Perhaps they will simply give up and selectively cull the information to try and stay sane. Or perhaps our records now are less permanent unless they are printed. Take away electricity and all of it vanishes, whereas scrolls and books lasted a few centuries in the past. So maybe the staggering amounts of data generated right now will all be gone. But just think of the future historian trying to write a history of the 2008 Presidential election. How did the people see it? How did the media see it? What did the candidates think? Imagine poring through millions of e-mail with some sort of search algorithm or index. Reading texts from Barrack Obama’s Blackberry, posts from millions of common-man blogs, news articles from sites all over the world and on and on.The task seems daunting.