Dark data: fall of civilizations

The rise of civilizations is from rapid adaptation of first-hand observations. The fall of civilizations occurs when theories override contrary observations. Government by data and urgency can restore the original vitality that created this civilization, and can prevent the inevitable decline resulting from theory-driven decision making.

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Appreciating biblical stories as proto-journalism

Oral story telling was the original big data. The various oral stories were saved in persistent memory and captured a large volume and variety. The invention and adoption of written works displaced the oral tradition and that brought and end to that earlier big data. In this sense, our current excitement about big data may be a rediscovery of a capability available our ancient ancestors. Big data and oral story telling tradition both offer inexpensive and durable means to manage a large number of distinct and very individualized stories. In the modern era, we are rediscovering the need to collect individual stories and thus granting them ability to circulate like what happened in the preliterate society of oral story tellers.

Modernity will become known in history as the age that wiped out history

We are experiencing an end of history. Unlike the essay of that title from the 1990s that proposed that the development of democracy has finally reached the ultimate good in terms of social/political development, I am referring to a period where we methodically erase all evidence of the past. Perhaps by the end of the century there will be no evidence there was any history that existed before this century (that last remaining evidence may be the junk we left behind on the moon). Even if the remainder of the century is generally peaceful, the evidence of the past will be destroyed or replaced with modern replicates that lose the connection with the actual past.

Counterfactual History: evaluating the missed opportunity

In my work experience, I was involved in assisting decision makers or at least participating in a broader decision making process.   These were large decisions with long term consequences.   Individual decisions were resolved over long periods of time with multiple sessions to evaluate different considerations about the decision. There are many types of…

Treating people like people

Recently I have been enjoying many videos on the LindyBeige YouTube channel.   In particular, I enjoy watching his presentations of his theories of various historical weapons or warfare tactics and how they were used.   I do not know much about him outside of these videos but I’ll grant that he is an archaeologist, a…

Interpreting Crime and Punishment

In earlier posts, I described two approaches to living with respect to the historical record we leave behind.   One approach I described as being like an employee of history who strives to identifying the acts with the most beneficial outcome to add to the historical record instead of the bucket of missed opportunities.  …

Laughing at Taking History Seriously

My last post was risible.    There is more to the present than concern about what it will look like in the historical record. There is certainly more to intelligence than having that concern.    We are as likely to laugh at history and with good reason. YouTube includes abundant examples of historical misfortunes uploaded…