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Zeroes and Ones

Ah, the early nineties! Zeros and Ones, along with the video below it defined the early nineties for me (sorry aggregators you have to come to the site to see these :)). I’m 36 years old tomorrow (8th Feb) and the world has changed so much in the last 19 years. The time of these songs was right at the start of the internet, the early nineties.

At the time I was barely even aware of the changes happening all around us. I remember using gopher and seeing the very first browser NCSA Mosaic at University .Though I had my first email account in 1990 I was never part of the BBS scene. Suddenly everything in the world was changing, the subject of the second song really reflected the times. The Berlin Wall was coming down, there was a new optimism starting to spread and it was the start of the amazing ride which was the nineties.

Personally I was just moving out of my parent’s house, discovering life outside a tiny little village in the South of Scotland for the first time (and girls, drink and other umm…substances; I was a late starter). I started down the road of becoming a physicist, a path which ultimately I left. I was overwhelmed by the rate of change I encountered and just couldn’t keep up, this was also the year we discovered that my mother had Hodgkin’s disease, something which changed my live to a really drastic degree (and came close to destroying me and my family). 

So, I dropped out of University and my life almost came to a shuddering stop; I worked as a trolley boy in a local supermarket for the next few months…

Eventually, thanks to the UK funding system at the time which gave you a 1 year ‘false start’ for University grants and the most supportive parents who I could ever have had,  I went to another University (The University of Stirling). This was a remarkable place which let me figure out who and what I wanted to be. Part of this was the isolation, it’s a campus University completely separate from anything else and singularly remarkable for it.  I started out studying Japanese, Psychology and Computing (not exactly focused!), I had great friends (very unusual for me, I’m a loner), even lived abroad for a year . I studied in Holland, a country to which I owe a lot of how I came to think of life, and even convinced me that much later on I could live in the states. I had some American friends at the student house of the University of Groningen where I studied Clinical Psychology (really, more by default than anything else…). My friends who I haven’t seen in years were amazing, intelligent people who’d experienced so much of life (particular shout out to Bryce Bedford, one of the smartest people I’ve *still* ever met). Anyway, that was the most remarkable 5 years of my life, from 1990-1995, and one which shaped me from a 17 year old country bumpkin to someone who loved learning and yearned to experience everything life had to offer.

Now, I’m closer to 40 than 30 and realizing that I dropped out of life once again a few years ago. To borrow a line or two from an old pop song:

“Right here, right now, there is no other place I want to be
Right here, right now, watching the world wake up from history”

We’re in the middle of an historic economic depression, the world is changing radically once more and oddly, I think it’s an exciting time!  The last 19 years were an amazing time when the rate of change around the world accelerated, the internet came into being and the world became connected in a way it never has before.
Right now, it feels like the world is waking up from the last couple of decades and deciding where we should all go next.   We’re all being forced to think about what the next 20 years will be like, and, in part realizing that we can’t really know.

I believe in the Technological Singularity, it’s as close to religion for me as I’m ever likely to come and I’ve come to realize that this belief will shape my life for the next few years. I think we’re already seeing the rise of the next phase of civilization. With the dawn social networking, the rise of ‘viral’ thinking in entities like Twitter, massive knowledge repositories like Wikipedia and the remarkable interconnectedness mapped by Google, I really believe that we’re on a road to something amazing.
This ‘reset’ gives us the chance to decide where we want the world to go, our children are the smartest they have ever been and we’re finally veering away from the nightmare prophesied by Idiocracy.  

It’s an exciting time, and at the same time scary…but then revolution always is.


Print | posted on Saturday, February 07, 2009 3:57 PM | Filed Under [ Long & Rambling Music Random YouTube Videos ]



# re: Zeroes and Ones

Happy Birthday!

Think at 36 you've seen a lot of change, try 52. :-)
2/7/2009 5:37 PM | mike

# re: Zeroes and Ones

Happy Birthday,-)

2/7/2009 5:47 PM | JungchanHsieh

# re: Zeroes and Ones

Happy Birthday mate. Have a whiskey or 2 on me :)
2/8/2009 12:04 AM | Si Philp

# re: Zeroes and Ones

Happy Birthday Scott! The Aphex twin's remix of zero's & ones paints a bleaker picture tho i tells ye! ;)
2/24/2009 2:35 PM | Dave Malins

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