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INTERSTELLAR: Do Not Go Humble Into That Good Night

The Science of InterstellarThe Science of Interstellar by Kip S. Thorne

My Rating★★★★☆


DO NOT GO HUMBLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT

The book discusses the movie, so it is only fair that I use most of the space to discuss the movie as well. I will discuss the book itself in one of the sections below. To get a better understanding, we can break our discussion it up into three overlapping sections —
The Three aspects of the movie that has to be examined to get at its core Premise:

1. The Future

2. The Science

3. The Dreams

Book Rating: 4/5 (Goodreads); Movie Rating: 9/10 (IMDB)


Caution: Spoilers Ahead; Spoilers Abound

“The overriding question, ‘What might we build tomorrow?’
blinds us to questions of our ongoing responsibilities
for what we built yesterday.”
~ Paul Dourish


THE FUTURE


Scenario

Interstellar is about mankind’s future and about the options we face. It challenges us to think about how we should react to that future.

It starts from the premise that the Earth has been wrecked.

We have become a largely agrarian society, struggling to feed and shelter ourselves. But ours is not a dystopia. Life is still tolerable and in some ways pleasant, with little amenities such as baseball continuing. However, we no longer think big. We no longer aspire to great things. We aspire to little more than just keeping life going.

Humans have coped with their sudden tragedy by shutting down technology, engineering, research and all the marvels of science. This was the only option left to them.

But why this extreme reaction by a species that was not frightened even by Frankenstein’s monster? Presumably science/progress had something to do with unleashing the blight? My guess would be too much monoculture.

Most of them seem to think that the catastrophes are finished, that we humans are securing ourselves in this new world and things may start improving. But in reality the blight is so lethal, and leaps so quickly from crop to crop (there is also a bit of unscientific nonsense about Nitrogen versus Oxygen, but let us not be too critical), that the human race is doomed within the lifetime of Cooper’s grandchildren. The only hope is to start dreaming again. To get back on the Science Bandwagon.

And (thankfully?) there are dreamers, who refuse to give up to this sub-par, non-imaginative existence.

We are explorers, we are adventurers. Humanity is not meant to give up like this, Nolan tells us. And uses Dylan to drive the point home (too many times!).

The prevailing attitude of stopping progress and just focussing on ‘surviving’ is seen to be a regressive step by our intrepid explorers.

Instead our heroes decide to risk it all on a cross-galaxy exploration. To find a new home for humanity, out among the stars.

In the process Nolan also attempts to reverse the message of Kubrick’s Space Odyssey and portray technology as a friend to humanity (TARS), instead of an unknown and volatile threat (as embodied by HAL).


Commentary

This is an eminently plausible future. It is also an eminent plausible reaction to such a future. In face it is very close to what Naomi Oreskes  imagines in her own Near-future scenario: Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future. A dictatorial regime, community-based (communist, in fact), strictly controlled, paranoid. We have seen these things before in history, during the dark ages. It is one of our worst nightmares.

A totalitarian govt is pretty much what would be in store in such a future. Freedom comes with trade-offs — the more we can indulge now, the more we restrict humanity later.

The only problem is that by the time we have had time to degrade so much, to feel the hopelessness, to tighten control over a society so much with so less technology, it would probably be too late to be even thinking of interstellar travel.

And that is where the Future that is shown to us breaks down. It shows us an agrarian world that is still capable of inter-planetary travel. That would require a very fast breakdown of things. Fast enough to not let the technology or the knowledge wither away. One bad generation would enough to lose the skills that were required for the Exodus. The plot had to assume an almost impossible fast degeneration and a lot of coincidental happenings in that very small window allowed even in such a world. That is not very realistic.

Lucky we had a miracle to bail us out. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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So who is pining for Pinterest Invites?

Heard of the latest sensation?

Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and share their favorite recipes. It’s highly addictive, and you could spend hours a day on it if you’re not careful.

Take a look at my Pinboard & make sure to follow me on Pinterest. If you are curious about the browser layout, it is Rockmelt magic.

 

 

If you’d like an invite you can leave your email in the comments section and I will try to send you one. If you really really want the invite, you may: Follow me on twitter @RenegadeTramP OR Add this blog to your RSS reader OR Follow my blog @ Networked Blogs OR Like my facebook Page. Do any two of these and you have a 100% chance of getting an invite sent to you.

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Posted by on March 3, 2012 in facebook, Social, Social Networking, Twitter

 

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The Future of Reading: The Coming of the Inevitable

Meet Nelson, Coupland, and Alice — the faces of tomorrow’s book. I recently came across this wonderful concept video and was captivated by the possibilities. Each of the three projects is a compartmentalization of three core functionalities that books can provide:


Nelson reinforces books as critical thinking tools, providing multiple perspectives, references, and current conversations on a single subject. The layers of information beyond the book itself provide greater context and encourages a deeper dive into the book throughout history and into the future.”


Coupland addresses the challenge to stay on top of the thinking and writing in our world and professional field that so many of us feel. Readers can easily keep up with “must-reads” by following what colleagues are reading and interact with them through “book clubs” and other social layers (discussions, suggestions, lists, purchases) to help each other share and learn.”


Alice explores new ways for users to interact and affect written narratives by introducing non-linear and game mechanics to reading. By introducing the reader’s active participation, this concept “blurs the lines between reality and fiction.” Certain interactions allow the reader to transcend traditional media by utilizing geographic location, communication with characters, and user contribution to storyline and plot.”


Watch global design and innovation consultancy IDEO’s vision for the future of the book. What new experiences might be created by linking diverse discussions, what additional value could be created by connected readers to one another, and what innovative ways we might use to tell our favorite stories and build community around books?

The Future of the Book from IDEO on Vimeo.

Now where does this lead us?

The above video is surely an exciting way of imagining how we might read our books a few years into the future.

But is it all good? Is it the end of immersive reading and the beginning of a multimedia culture in reading? What if authors could put pictures and sound effects and videos in a book to help you along? What if you could hear the tone of Mr.Scrooge as he grumbled over his money or Queequeg’s extraordinary prayers?

The beauty of immersive reading for me was that I could create the world I was reading and populate it with characters that were as larger than life as I wanted. The majesty of the world and the characters resides in my imagination.

This is the prime reason why movies can hardly ever be better than the books from which they are made. Peter Jackson’s Aragorn does not match with the “The King Of Men” I had in my imagination, nor can New Zealand ever hope to hold a candle to Middle Earth.

I have no complaints against this of course. What I have qualms about is that as authors are able to put more ways  of communicating what is in their mind to the readers with the advance of technology, the most intimate aspect of immersive reading, the fact that every reader reads a book and imagines a world that is different form each other and different from that of the author.

That to me is the real joy and magic of reading, I am as much a part of the creative process as the author who wrote the book. It is a participative project in which the author suggests and I construct. Movies are the exact opposite, where I am presented with the finished product to be absorbed.


I welcome the fact that e-books and technology increases the convenience and accessibility of books. Now you can carry a thousand books on your mobile and read them anywhere you like. I myself am a notorious e-book reader and have read 800+ page books solely on my mobile.

My only anxiety is due to the fact that sooner or later, every medium starts to influence the message. I am afraid that just as 3D tech is morphing the way movies are made today, the availability of new ways to communicate with the audience will have to be embraced by new authors and those who don’t will get left behind. It seems inevitable to me.

The question I leave you with is this: As with everything else, technology will force us to evolve our reading habits, should we allow books to move in this direction? Or is there a way to merge the convenience that is provided by technology and the mystique that is sought by the imagination?

You can discuss the idea further here or head over to IDEO’s Facebook page.


By the way, I must admit that at the top of my Amazon Wishlist is of course a Kindle!

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2011 in Books, Creative, Movies, Videos, Worth Watching

 

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