It has been a week. A week since I was bowled over by the thought of ebooks embedded in DNA. I meant to blog more about that, but life got in the way immediately after I’d posted that little bit.
I had put my head down on my desk, kind of overwhelmed with trying to figure out the possibilities – and gathered myself up to go home. Driving from New Jersey to Staten Island (a reverse commute) is relatively peaceful; I put on my music and think. I certainly had a lot to think about.
Those thoughts were interrupted by my muffler falling halfway out of my car, midway between Exits 51 and 52 on Route 78 westbound. I pulled over and called Bernardo, who jumped into his car with his daughter, a piece of rope, and a toolkit, and sped out to meet me. While I waited, for lack of anything better to do, I read and scribbled in Weaving the Web (which is not available as an ebook), and had many frantic thoughts, none of which I currently remember.
A cop arrived. He came up to my window. I can’t even imagine what he thought – he was all of about 25 – when he asked me what the problem was. A wild-and-silver-haired woman in a flowery dress in an ancient Corolla, reading a science book and making notes on the side of the road. I explained about the muffler. He didn’t know how to fix it, but he called NJ DOT for a truck with an arrow on it to keep traffic swerving safely around me. The NJ DOT guy didn’t know how to fix it either, as the cop informed me over his loudspeaker. “So I hope your boyfriend knows what he’s doing.”
Bernardo arrived in due course and rigged up the muffler on the suspension with his rope while I played classical music on his car radio for his daughter, who was kind of going out of her mind at BEING ON THE HIGHWAY AND NOT DRIVING. Then I drove the trussed-up car behind him all the way back to Staten Island (the cop kindly backing out onto the highway and allowing us to flow into traffic without incident).
After a dinner of steak and red wine and much gratitude expressed to Bernardo, it was apparent that I was getting a new car. So I spent the next day fielding work emails while at the car dealership, and arrived back home with the 2012 version of the same Corolla. With a muffler that won’t fall out. (And nifty bluetooth.)
And in the meantime, the thoughts about embedding texts into DNA have receded, but taken hold; the notion that This Could Be A Thing has become a commonplace in my mind. Of course we will embed texts in DNA, or something equally shocking. Write once, replicate many. Meanwhile, reading about the connections between nodes in @timberners_lee‘s book – he talks about a federated system of organization, where the meaning of individual documents is contextualized by what is linked to them and where they link out. I like this because it appeals to my thinking about how the relationships between things can be as important (and sometimes more important) than the things themselves.
Develop action, thought, and desires by proliferation, juxtaposition, and disjunction, and not by subdivision and pyramidal hierarchization…Prefer what is positive and multiple, difference over uniformity, flows over unities, mobile arrangements over systems. Believe that what is productive is not sedentary but nomadic…What is needed is to ‘de-individualize’ by means of multiplication and displacement, diverse combinations. The group must not be the organic bond uniting hierarchized individuals, but a constant generator of de-individuation.
The web is nothing if not proliferate, juxtaposed, and disjointed. There are ways to create flows, mobile arrangements. Not necessarily to organize the web hierarchically, or impose a structure, but for one thread to lead to another. If your standards are small and flexible and interoperable, instead of top-down, dictated, enforced…they’ll probably work better. Yes, standards will proliferate – that is our nature now – but if they can talk to one another rather than be direct representations of things….