Sparse updates from Brendan Berg
When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.
Here’s a map of the Lower Manhattan Plan, an unrealized vision for downtown New York from 1966.
What’s great about the Internet is that it started the tradition where the richest consumers use essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see the internet, and you know that the President uses the Internet, Beyoncé uses the Internet, and just think, you can use the Internet, too. The Internet is the Internet and no amount of money can get you a better Internet than the one the bum on the corner is using. All the Internets are the same and all the Internets are good. Beyoncé knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.pieratt
John Carl Warnecke & Associates. AT&T Long Lines Building, New York, 1966–1972
One of my all-time favorite buildings.
I caught a glimpse of the future this afternoon, while staring absent-mindedly over my laptop screen at the passers-by outside a Manhattan coffee shop. In a way, sitting here with an open aluminum clamshell and staring at glowing pixels makes me part of an older future—the future we saw in those isn’t-networked-life-going-to-be-wonderful videos from the computer revolution’s old guard giants—the IBMs, the Microsofts, the AT&Ts of the world.
(Yes, even AT&T tried to get their corporate mitts on the PC revolution. Not only did that particular foray go badly for them, but it turns out they couldn’t even build us the network.)
A few decades later, we finally live in that future. And a new crop of companies are making that same kind of video. We’ve all seen them—they feature impossibly beautiful people in slick, modern interiors and perfectly manicured city plazas, dripping with condensation from the highly conditioned airs of bland, corporate cool.
Do we actually think these visions are real? I never really thought much about that question until I saw a character from Google’s future walking down the street today—a yuppie with hollow gargoyle eyes wearing a self-satisfied smirk under his Google Glass. For a moment, it didn’t register. Then I remembered those old concept videos and something dawned on me.
When the old guard failed to deliver, I became attuned to a nagging doubt—first in skeptics, then my own—that grew into a cynical disbelief that we would ever see the glowing utopias we were shown in those old videos. But now, with Google minting armies of Glassholes, proving to us that they can indeed manufacture their vision, I’m beginning to realize something new: I hate the future.
Everyone should buy a copy of George Orwell’s 1984 and mail it to President Obama. Sounds like he may not have read it.
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500