Monday, May 2, 2011

Rainbow "Connections"

First I should say, I'm in chapter 15 of Verner Vinge's Rainbows End, a scifi novel set in the future and full of almost magical technologies that set the framework for how we're going to be thinking about writing in the digital domain for ENGL 295 this semester. I recommend the book so far as it offers a lot of food for thought about the ways technology is shaping our culture and world. It even offers the balancing viewpoint of an old man who has been cured of alzheimer's and is suddenly cured and thrust into this world of technology though his values greatly differ from those of the hightech world he's been thrown into.

Today in class I was thinking about the digital theme of "connect" for our class as seen in Verner Vinge's Rainbows End. For those not in the class, the theme connect in our class is about connecting digitally with others: collaborating on projects, the effectiveness of working in groups or sharing as a community. One of the ideas behind a research blog is that it allows you to connect with an audience beyond the classroom and get their feedback on your ideas as they are in progress.

In Rainbow's End, the main character, Robert Gu (not sure about spelling since I'm listening to the audiobook), the old guy suddenly thrust into technoworld, critiques the younger generation as knowing nothing. He is frustrated that they are just constantly able to google and look up things they don't understand and seemingly know nothing for themselves.
In a sense this itself is a "connection" to the wider body of knowledge that the world produces (online for lack of a better word since that is how I'd think of it if the setting were in our time). Also the young people Gu associates with all collaborate and mix with other people on a variety of projects. It's a sharing of a lot of little bits of knowledge that individuals possess instead of trying to come up with the whole by yourself.

This falls very much under the trend we see emerging in the "digital world" of today with people crowdsourcing projects like the Tshirt business Threadless that has their consumers design Teeshirts in contests and then creates the most popular one and sells it. It's interesting to see this theme developed even further to where it is more the norm than an outlier.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this substantial response to the novel. The connections to crowdsourcing was particularly apt.