Thursday, October 04, 2012

Postliterate Red Queen's Race

A postliterate society is a hypothetical society in which multimedia technology has advanced to the point where literacy, the ability to read or write, is no longer necessary or common.

If one finds oneself in an actual postliterate society one is in big, big, trouble.

We are working our way into it one well-intentioned step at a time. 

A push at work is for work instruction software that produces lego-like diagrams for getting stuff done.  You've seen them - pictures take you step-by-step through an assembly process.  This is a great idea for a place like ours: our assembly guys can speak any of seven languages [1].  Lego instructions make a lot of sense.  That kind of thing is getting everywhere, into everything.

Lego instructions for assembling complicated electronics, glyph-button cash registers at BurgerMcDonaldsKing, wizards for installing software .. what can you do?  If you don't do this stuff you'll get run over by your competitors who do.  Then you're out of business and working a cash register and forgetting how to make change because the machine tells you what to hand back to the customer  ...

In your post-literate society there must be a corps of people who are literate.  Someone writes the lego software, the install wizards, knows how to program the cash registers.  Morlocks. 

Morlocks get stuff done.  They know how to fix things.  They're happy people, busy and productive and well-compensated. 

It's good to be a Morlock.

Except for having to live in an society that is in a Red Queen's Race to cater to Eloi.  Ever had to wait in line while the kid behind the counter drives his register into a ditch, gets a puzzled look, has to have a manager come over and un-f*ck things?

Like that times a thousand.

 Six if you count Scot as English.  Which, listening to them, is real hard.

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