"So you survived the apocalypse. Here's what would it take to rebuild the world."

Bootstrapping Civilization


Fri, May 24th, 2013 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

Lengthy but excellent read by Kevin Kelly on what it would take to rebuild the world from scratch -- in other words, in order to get back to where we are, we'd need to build everything that came before it in order to get there in the first place. Kevin uses Dave Gingery as an example: "The late Dave Gingery was a midnight machinist in Springfield, Missouri who enjoyed the challenge of making something from nothing, or perhaps it is more accurate to say, making very much by leveraging the power of very little. Over years of tinkering, Gingery was able to bootstrap a full-bore machine shop from alley scraps. He made rough tools that made better tools, which then made tools good enough to make real stuff."

Let’s take a very sophisticated item: one web page. A web page relies on perhaps a hundred thousand other inventions, all needed for its birth and continued existence. There is no web page anywhere without the inventions of HTML code, without computer programming, without LEDs or cathode ray tubes, without solid state computer chips, without telephone lines, without long-distance signal repeaters, without electrical generators, without high-speed turbines, without stainless steel, iron smelters, and control of fire. None of these concrete inventions would exist without the elemental inventions of writing, of an alphabet, of hypertext links, of indexes, catalogs, archives, libraries and the scientific method itself. To recapitulate a web page you have to recreate all these other functions. You might as well remake modern society.



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