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12/12/2000

Did you ever read Ray

Filed under:General — eric @ 3:45 am

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Did you ever read Ray Bradbury’s story, There Will Come Soft Rains? I read it when young, and it had a profound effect on me. I was obsessed with nuclear obliteration (although it was probably good for my psyche, I was rather upset I wasn’t allowed to watch The Day After), and this story is set shortly after a nuclear catastrophe. The main character is a robotic house, something else that fascinated me. So, this story took a technological utopia and set it in a terrible, terrible time, and it grabbed a hold of me.

I’ve taken the first step toward my own technological utopia, a robotic home, today. My first order from X-10 arrived today. If you read through the marketing gloss, past the webcam, surveillance, and MP3 talk, you’ll see that what they’re offering is a way to program your house. Everything electric, from appliances to light bulbs, can be programmed or remotely controlled. I’m starting simple, merely beaming the audio and video from my most excellent TiVO to two separate TVs without wires. But thanks to the oddly discounted pricing scheme, I also received a couple remote controls and a few appliance and lighting modules. Mere baby steps toward what I see pictured in my head.

You see, I want to be an ecopoet. That’s a term coined by Kim Stanley Robinson in his Mars books, and it’s a broad word, but it means what you think it might. Technically, ecopoesis is the act of introducing a biosphere into an arid, unhabitable environment with the intent of transforming the environment into a more hospitable one. Putting plants on Mars to change the carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen, for example. But Robinson stresses the poet aspect of things to mean living harmoniously with the ecosystem, creating beauty. And not just pretty floral arrangements, either. This is what I mean by broad… beautiful meals, beautiful animals, beautiful vegetables. (See this previous post for more examples) And in my mind, it doesn’t mean being a Luddite, either. I want to live in a farmhouse (well, I do now, but I mean my own farmhouse, on my own farm), grow plants and animals organically, use my own muscles for labor, but I also want to be as intertwined with technology as I can. A nearly-invisible, behind the scenes technology. Some examples: sensors in the garden that can tell when specific plants need water and water them; a voice activated digital cookbook in the kitchen; a fireplace that comes to life when I sit in my reading chair.

I’ve longed dreamed of a fusion of “the old ways” and new technology. Today, I start my journey.