August 10, 2010, 11:54 am
The Dugout Canoe Description of My Job
By Henry Woodbury
How is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?
Is it? That’s up to you. Editor and Publisher John Brockman anticipates the point:
We spent a lot of time going back on forth on “YOU” vs. “WE” and came to the conclusion to go with “YOU”, the reason being that Edge is a conversation. “WE” responses tend to come across like expert papers, public pronouncements, or talks delivered from stage.
In the North Pacific ocean, there were two approaches to boatbuilding. The Aleuts (and their kayak-building relatives) lived on barren, treeless islands and built their vessels by piecing together skeletal frameworks from fragments of beach-combed wood. The Tlingit (and their dugout canoe-building relatives) built their vessels by selecting entire trees out of the rainforest and removing wood until there was nothing left but a canoe.
The Aleut and the Tlingit achieved similar results — maximum boat / minimum material — by opposite means. The flood of information unleashed by the Internet has produced a similar cultural split. We used to be kayak builders, collecting all available fragments of information to assemble the framework that kept us afloat. Now, we have to learn to become dugout-canoe builders, discarding unneccessary information to reveal the shape of knowledge hidden within.
Give us a tree and we’ll carve your canoe. That is what Tim Roy is talking about.
(via Andrew Gilmartin who linked to Dyson’s quote on Facebook. Andrew blogs here.)
Update: I rewrote my lede, up to the Dyson quote, to add context and incorporate Brockman’s “you” vs. “we” statement.
Perhaps the kayak builders who fail to discard the unnecessary fragments are destined for Jamestown, Rhode Island’s Fools Rules Regatta?
Posted by Kirsten on August 11, 2010 at 7:18 am