Kage Baker fought, as all of us do, the vagaries and personality quirks of her electronic media. She was pretty firmly convinced that her home network in specific, and the aether in general, possessed growing intelligences, and she wasn’t sanguine about their benign intentions.
After all, even long-term domestics like toasters, tooth brushes and blenders can turn on the unwary. Kage was always suspicious of that – she held a deep, semi-conscious belief in a kind of animism. Humanity, she felt, rather rubbed off on things. Give them the ability to think a little, and who knows what could happen? Especially if we welcomed them into our homes and expected them to cooperate with us.
People don’t think much, either, she would argue, and look at the trouble they cause. And I like my stereo better than most people. I just think it hates my Gilbert and Sullivan records.
It’s a way to come to terms with technological progress, I guess. Treat modern tools as you did your plough-horses, your cranky bees and finicky corn crops and the millennia of iron tools that always seemed to be a little too thirsty for a sip of the user’s blood …. how many of you feel at least a little worry that the new software eats a file or two as a sacrifice? Are you paying Dane geld to the fresh CD packing via the paper cut you got off the plastic wrap? Do you wait for every new appliance to make that one, first, stomach-lurching error, to make sure the household gods have been paid off?
I bet you do, Dear Readers.
Anyway, Kage was always a bit expectant that her tools and toys were going to just take a little, proprietary bite out of her. Especially the electronic ones. She used to look for patches on new computer games before she even played them, on the certainty that something was waiting to get her. I’d have laughed, except there was almost always a patch waiting …
Last night, I finally finished the download and installation of the latest upgrades for Windows 10 – a 2-night affair, as our Internet keeps fading in and out. High winds and torrential rain may be affecting it; or maybe it’s earthworms convulsing as they drown in the sudden quick-mud of the flooded LA Basin. Today, the aether has been even less cooperative than usual; which I cannot help but think is a result of that download.
If I were a conspiracy theory enthusiast, I’d think it was because I’ve joined the ACLU, or signed a few petitions, or have been sending emails to my Congress-critters … but I am broadcasting at much too low a volume for the Gummint to be noticing yet. No, I suspect it’s just the general crankiness of all electronics, exacerbated by the tendency of the Universe to speed its way to entropy. All the atoms in the lines are getting farther and farther apart at the Universe expands on its way to the Big Squeeze, you know.
So – another missive thrown into the great darkness, wrapped hopefully around a rock with the rubber band from the fresh celery! We use whatever we can to communicate, Dear Readers; dealing with our tools as best we can, shouting above the waves and the wind, burning a little incense and spilling a little wine for our particular lares and penates.
And I fold my hands humbly, and do sincerely trust that someone out there hears me.