virus: Play and efficiency

Reed Konsler (
Mon, 22 Apr 1996 14:02:52 -0400

Stephen said: Mon. Apr. 22, 3:20am
"Any ideas on Play? Its purpose? (do we want another thread?)"

I think this is a cool topic. I'm just going to throw out some vague ideas to
start off.

First, I think the concept of efficiency is becoming outmoded. Although there
is a finite supply of energy in the universe we are pretty rapidly creating
technology which is going to free us from the energy cycle. Fusion, infinte
bandwidth, renewable resources, bioengineering...all these things point to more
productivity, more power to manipulate the environment. This will become the
trend to the extent that, for at least a portion of the population, every
concievable need (and some as yet unconcieved) will be met and exceeded.
Survival will no longer be an issue.

So what is left? If you have created a machine (humans) that so dominates it's
environment what keeps us from stagnation?

Play, maybe?

The comments about culture were pretty astute, I think...more so beacuse it
seems obvious in retrospect. Maybe "play", "art", "culture" etc. are what is
essential about humanity.

Maybe our purpose is to "goof off" doing so we create what might be
described as "vision", as in:

"Hey, I wonder if we can build a really big stone mountian, huh?"
"Ok, but how are we going to do that?"

Was building the pyramids really so efficient? No, but it was cool. It was a
message, like the feathers of a this day it says "Look at us, man!
We kick ass!" And we are awed still. How did they do that?

How significant is any "target" currently pursued? I know in the field of
chemistry many of the things that are done aren't really practical. It's
academic, to use the connotation of that word. But it kicks ass. It's cool,
it's inspiring. It makes you say

"Wow, how did they do that...I wonder if we could do this, too?"

And in the end these things add up to power. The power to manipulate, to act,
to express. The power to effect, and therefore to "mean" more and more. Today
you can "express" a belief in book form and the ripples of force are
amazing..and who khows where even more efficient communication will lead?