The first time I truly used a networked computer I saw it as the way out. Instead of being enslaved to big corporations—as employees and consumers—we’d be able to work on our own time, create value directly for other networked people, and get out of the obligatory, expansionist race against the debt clock that was destroying our planet.
But once WIRED and the other technology business folks got wind of the coming digital age, they framed it quite differently. No, digital technology wouldn’t liberate us from the values of the Industrial Age; it would amplify them! Instead of letting NASDAQ deflate and die its natural death, we could use the promise of the dotcom era and the “long boom” of infinite expansion to pump some more steroids in there.
Most people don’t know this, but there are a lot more languages spoken in the world than the ones we hear every day. In fact, there are around 7,000 different languages, and each one tells a part of the story of our human experience on Planet Earth.
Growing up in Boston in the 1980s, the holiday season ushered in wool crewneck sweaters and baggy corduroys in shades inspired by autumn vegetables. Winters were rain-slicked and cold, and when it snowed, snow quickly gave way to slush. L.L. Bean duck boots were in flourishing abundance, worn by everyone, like they’d been air-dropped over Beacon Hill during some humanitarian footwear aid mission. On Newbury Street—an affluent but hip stretch of downtown with a Virgin Megastore at one end and the Ritz-Carlton at the other—a preppy procession of college students in navy peacoats and fleece pullovers hoisted backpacks over their shoulders and gripped shopping bags from Benetton and the Gap. In the window of Betsey Johnson—this was back when I wore black lace tights in sub-zero temperatures—there was a frosted white Christmas tree, mounds of faux snowflakes and mannequins with side ponytails and neon bows. But the Public Garden had the grandest display of holiday wattage, with garlands of twinkling lights strung up on stately elms and magical weeping willows. Green, blue, red, white—for two straight months the town turned into one giant electricity suck.