Sunday, December 12, 2010

Alternate Histories and Fine Craftsmanship

Isn't the primary appeal of Steampunk to have all of the technological comforts of today, but with objects finely crafted out of brass and leather instead of factory-molded in vinyl and aluminum? Yearning for realities with alternate histories betrays the areas of discontent within our own reality. One of our chief complaints seems to involve a loss of quality craftsmanship.

The ancient Greeks built an eclipse-predicting computer out of finely chiseled bronze and marble, and our modern impulse is to recreate it in LEGOs.

Our current thinking is so entwined with disposability that we have created a computer whose polymers will become brittle and crumble before it's next prediction will come to pass.

In half-assed defiance of our disposable aesthetic, Mobiado is now offering a cell phone made out of marble.

The failure in this particular design is that while the marble facade is built to last millenia, the technology within is outdated by the time it is installed. The permanence of this phone is an sad illusion.

But recognize for a moment that the inner workings of this cell phone can be chiseled in simple perfection from marble and bronze like the original Antikythera Mechanism. You can carry in your pocket a solid, lasting work of functional mathematical art that will last all your days until you pass it on to your son and his son after him. After hundreds of years this phone's call history will tell tales of your genealogy.

There is no good reason all of our tools can't be like this.

A fantastic world waits for us post-planned-obsolescence.

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