January 2011 Archives

January 27, 2011

Expectation

A few years ago, I was sitting on a low stool in my (possibly favorite) apartment when Fru called from the kitchen, “Would you like some cereal?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“You want Chex?”

“Sure.”

“Do you want me to add raisins?” And it was with this question that I attained enlightenment.

Continue reading Expectation.

January 23, 2011

Information of a Movable Type

Writing a letter or official document has always needed special attention and care. When proclamations needed to be sent out across dynastic-era China, however, the sheer volume of reproduction necessary required a system less time consuming. Woodblock printing became a norm for this kind of task, and was appropriate for the job as Chinese writing has a pictogram (based on drawing) and ideogram (representing a concept) character basis.

Even so, in the 11th century, Chinese commoner Bi Sheng developed a movable type printing technology using clay blocks. This was improved on by Wang Zhen who is credited with inventing in 1298 the first wooden movable type printing in the world. Metal blocks were developed in Korea in 1234 and the oldest surviving metal print book was printed in 1377, approximately 78 years before Johannes Gutenberg’s 42-Line Bibles were printed.

What’s special about movable type printing is its flexibility. Before, a printed page required a monolithic mirrored carving; that carving would only be useful for that one process and nothing more. Movable type was a carving of each character, and the arrangement of these characters could be reformulated—making the blocks reusable. Clearly this would have a greater impact in languages that use an alphabetic script, and Gutenberg’s press changed printing forever.

Continue reading Information of a Movable Type.

January 17, 2011

Revisiting Supply and Demand

Man first produced for survival: necessary tools to build, food to eat, clothing for protection. It is only natural, then, that when products end up traded, purchased or sold we automatically think of the economic model of “supply and demand.” Why would someone sell something that they needed, and why would anyone purchase or trade for something of no personal use? Because of surplus and because of need this model has almost become synonymous with the marketplace. Consider, however, its shortcomings for a digital marketplace.

Continue reading Revisiting Supply and Demand.

January 13, 2011

The Curse of Adam and Eve

Lately I’ve been finding myself completely baffled by the sincere innocence of others. It is as if, despite their age, they have not seen the world for what it is; their actions and opinions carry hope in humanity that just seems downright unreasonable to me.

Perhaps I look with jaded eyes. It could be that what I have seen enough of to consider normal is actually closer to the basest of man than I perceive. But even if it is, how could I go back to living a life where these depths don’t even exist?

Perhaps this is the blight of sin Adam and Eve experienced. The Bible says that upon eating the fruit, their eyes were opened. Once eyes are opened, they have seen—even if they are shut again. I didn’t understand that when I was a kid; I understand now.

What I have seen means my eyes will never ever really be closed.

January 10, 2011

Responses to "Good Enough"

Thanks to longtime twitter pal @stuyparker * , who introduced me (via twitter) to @afg85 * , who I met in person last week and promptly started debating with. :)

In response to the bit of postulating * I posted last week, he kindly responded with an entry on his own blog *. He contends two things which conflict with what I wrote.

Continue reading Responses to "Good Enough".

January 7, 2011

Learning from Icarus

Perhaps all dreams have an end—not just the ones we experience in our sleep but also the ones that we achieve in our waking hours. Perhaps the destination is truly just the end of a journey. If so, what next? Keep beating a dead horse? On to bigger, brighter things?

What propels us forward, and what are the limits/constraints that propulsion adheres to? It is fantasy to imagine that every person in the world is capable of every possible dream; thus it must mean that there are boundaries to where we should wander as we seek our fortune.

Like Icarus *, perhaps we find that striving too high (or for too long) leaves us depleted of the resources necessary to complete the journey. Perhaps by insisting upon doing/living/being more, we are setting ourselves up for a catastrophic fall from grace.

Ambition is a gilded misery, a secret poison, a hidden plague, the engineer of deceit, the mother of hypocrisy, the parent of envy, the original of vices, the moth of holiness, the blinder of hearts, turning medicines into maladies, and remedies into diseases. —Thomas Brooks

Embrace your dreams, but know your self.

January 2, 2011

The Enemy of Good (Enough)

For most of human civilization, the quality of a product was equivalent to its usefulness. As a hunter, the inferior bow or arrow meant less accuracy; a dull or brittle spearhead was not effective and thus would not be worth purchasing. As a gatherer, good fruit taken meant mouths fed while those rotten or unripe would have no purpose and could instead bring sickness. In all cases from the earliest of man forward, quality meant satisfaction.

That is, until industrialization hit us. Once production left the hands of the artisan and was placed in the steely arms of machinery, the quality of a product became less about the satisfaction it provided and more about production’s consistent output. In essence, it became a marker of the minimum effort and skill necessary for consumers to find a product useful; a whole science of quality control has been since developed *, ensuring the highest quality product at the lowest cost point—very useful to the manufacturer but only marginally to the user. When quality became a price point—by which people chose to accept products of mediocre build or spend the extra money for hand-crafted artisan work—it created the breeding ground for two strange phenomena: the idea of disposability and the sense of “good enough.”

Continue reading The Enemy of Good (Enough).