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Modern can mean many things in different contexts and to different people. Obviously it itself is not a new idea. I'm limiting myself to the thought that what makes something 'modern' is that, unlike the last time, you really can control it this time. It is perceived control. This can be a machine, an environment, an economy or even an ecosystem. Something where you have no perception of control is then not modern. For lack of a better term, I'm calling this pre-modern rather than primitive because in this context I can see primitive being referred to something simple and therefore easily controlled. If you know a more appropriate term, I'll be happy to use it going forward.

Of course history shows that our attempts at control almost end differently than expected. As an engineer, I see this time and time again: the failure of something modern, something that should do it all; Deepwater Horizon being but a recent example. Naturally, after something like this happens, the issue of the hows and whys of the failure always come into question. What's not addressed, and ultimately what I'd like to do here, albeit perhaps somewhat simplistically, is look a little into the issue of control.

by Jace on Sat Jan 1st, 2011 at 06:09:44 PM EST
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