May 2013

“In a full world, making anything at all is a responsibility”

This is an ambivalent post.

This is beautiful:

When I say beauty, I don’t mean aesthetically. It’s a functional beauty, born of lightness and efficiency. The America’s Cup boats are cracking forty knots (or 75 kilometres per hour in sensible units), using nothing more than wind and carbon fibre. As an engineer, I’m proud to point to what we can do.

(Aesthetically, it’s hard to make anything that efficient which isn’t sleekly desirable. For me, that’s a side-effect, but you may disagree.)

At the same time, it’s a pretty hideous thing, an expensive, pointless, rich man’s toy. It’s exploring a parameter space that’s defined by legalese rather than any sane utility. And one just killed a member of its crew.

That dichotomy exemplifies our interactions with material objects, the same thing can be an object of desire and a component of an morally-vacuous consumer lifestyle. So how do we get out of this trap?Read More »“In a full world, making anything at all is a responsibility”