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"At Last, The Story Begins"
The Modern Hypomnemata
Each new age of information technology has caused disruption.- Xiao Dreamweaver, lifebook transcript of a class presentation, 2:12pm, October 6, 2054.
We've all been lectured on how good vivitanks are for learning
and how bad immersion caps are for family dinnertime --- well,
thanks for the tip, chuckles, but we midmillenials don't care.
We love all the wonderful worlds the tanks can show us
and yes, even this world - I for one relish seeing my parents again
since I'll never have family dinnertime again outside a vivitank.
Perhaps that's too heavy for you. Let me dial it back.
We all grew up with talking stuffed animals. You remember the first simulacra.
You all grew up with universal messaging. Your parents remember the first cellphones.
Your parents grew up with laptops. Your grandparents remember the first personal computers.
The chain continues backwards.
Go back far enough, and you see the same things:
The new generation embraces the telegraph, while the older generation fears it.
The new generation embraces the printing press, while the older generation fears it.
The new generation embraces the hypomnemata, while the older generation fears it.
Not heard of that one?
We all take notebooks - paper notebooks - for granted.
But back in the day of Plato, they were new: and started their own revolution.
What once was in the hands of philosophers, now was in the hands of tradesmen.
Everyone could now record the events of their own lives;
Everyone could now reflect on them, not just men of leisure.
A dangerous and disruptive technology it was;
Perhaps it is no coincidence that so many of our modern philosophical systems
took root in this, the very first time that the populace began to reflect,
the very first time that paper, in a sense, began to think.
Which brings us to living paper.
Digital paper and cloth has been around for decades
we've all seen newspapers, after all
and who doesn't have a reprintable shirt?
But living paper is something different.
It no longer needs a processor, a controller, a framework.
Each page is a laptop more powerful than our grandparents could have dreamed of
and the hundred or so in the lifebook in my hands form a supercomputer
that puts anything on this world older than a decade to shame.
Who knows what Plato could have wrought with this kind of power in his hands?
All we do know is that power he could never have dreamed of
is now in the hands of a fifteen year old girl...
and I assure you all, I can dream a lot.