we should not confuse a clear view of the future with a short distance
May 18, 2013 8:38 AM   Subscribe

Bootstrapping the Industrial Age So you survived the apocalypse. Here’s what would it take to rebuild the world.
posted by blue_beetle (21 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
 
Thanks, this is amazingly interesting.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:58 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gingery's books are available for purchase. I've got them in my bookshelf, mostly as entertainment.
posted by Harald74 at 9:14 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


An example from fiction is Leo Frankowski's Cross-Time Engineer series, which I found enjoyable, their Mary Sue-ness and troublesome view of women notwithstanding.
posted by Harald74 at 9:17 AM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Machines making more complex machines, you say? I think John Connor may have something to say about this. Interesting read, thanks.
posted by arcticseal at 9:25 AM on May 18, 2013


I think John Connor may have something to say about this.

Or Ray Kurtzweil, since this is basically a discussion of the slow end of the road to singularity. As he put it in a discussion of accelerating technical progress, when the Chinese man asked for double the amount of rice on each chess board square the interesting things start happening on the second half of the chessboard.

Happily, we're living on that side rather than on the side that has an upgrade in knapping technology that makes hunting a few percent easier.
posted by jaduncan at 9:40 AM on May 18, 2013


This is great. It reminds me of a science fiction apocalyptic novel I read when I was young. Unfortunately I cannot remember the title or the author. I do recall that society was scattered and broken. One man travelling around the United States carried a wealth of knowledge on his shoulders, books. Books on agriculture, engineering, carpentry, etc. How-to books of immense value. My pre-teen mind appreciated that it was not the gun that made him the most sought after person in the post-world, it was his knowledge. A simple enough idea but still eye-opening to a teenager with the world ahead of him.
posted by Fizz at 9:58 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


See also The Toaster Project.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:59 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


this really isn't about technology; it's a people problem. there are plenty of places on the globe that are pre-industrial and the issues are social and political. no one is going to build a lathe if they are starving or afraid of the gang with the machetes, or don't have access to basic supplies.

it took over a thousand of years to replicate the technologies of the golden age of hellenic culture, in part because alexander and then the romans performed a root canal on the culture and politics that it was based on. it's just a hard point to make over and over again, but technology is as political as anything else. in order to have a guy bootstrapping a lathe, you need the right society to support that effort.
posted by ennui.bz at 10:06 AM on May 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


jaduncan: "Happily, we're living on that side rather than on the side that has an upgrade in knapping technology that makes hunting a few percent easier."

The corollary, or flip-side or two-edged sword of this is that we are using resources at an exponential rate and at some point we are half way done - then it doubles again and things collapse. The Most Important Video You'll Ever See.
posted by stbalbach at 10:19 AM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


See also the Manual for Civilization over at the Long Now blog.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:47 AM on May 18, 2013


...from a previous Metafilter discussion on the topic.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:55 AM on May 18, 2013


Pshhhh. I do this every day in Minecraft!
posted by hot_monster at 8:20 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, a person builds a telegraph using only primitive materials.


Immaculate Telegraphy was an experiment to build electronic communication from scratch in the wilderness. In summer of 2009, I set out in the mountains of western Montana without any modern tools or materials except information, and constructed a working electric telegraph from materials found on the ground. The experiment showed that electronic communication could have been constructed at any point in history given the right information.
posted by hot_monster at 8:26 PM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


The corollary, or flip-side or two-edged sword of this is that we are using resources at an exponential rate and at some point we are half way done - then it doubles again and things collapse.

Just like the chessboard would have contained more rice than all of the rice in China.
posted by jaduncan at 10:53 AM on May 19, 2013


Fizz, are you thinking of Lucifer's Hammer?

I read that one in my youth, and it had a profound effect on me for a similar reason, but the store of books was well hidden and protected (in a recently installed but empty septic tank, IIRC) just before the apocalyptic event, and had to be retrieved by the proponents of civilization.
posted by MoTLD at 12:43 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting this, blue_beetle.

This post was first published on The Technium on March 7, 2007.

Huh, maybe that's why it seems familiar. The Technium is great.
posted by homunculus at 12:49 AM on May 20, 2013


Agreed, thanks.

It reminds me of a science fiction apocalyptic novel I read when I was young.

Sounds like something I'd like. Sort of like Book of Eli or A Canticle for Lebiowitz perhaps.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:16 AM on May 20, 2013


Reminds me of the Time-Traveler's Essentials from Dinosaur Comics.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:57 AM on May 20, 2013


Fizz, are you thinking of Lucifer's Hammer?

BOOM!! YOU JUST MADE MY DAY. ORDERING THE BOOK AS WE SPEAK!!!
posted by Fizz at 5:57 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder if my school library still has a copy. That book was a formative experience in and of itself!

Eerily, now that I think about it, that book might not have survived the Mineral earthquake. The school didn't!
posted by MoTLD at 9:50 PM on May 20, 2013


Gingery's books are available for purchase. I've got them in my bookshelf, mostly as entertainment.

I got all the way through the first one (furnace) and made some patterns from the second (lathe). Then events occurred and I eventually bought a lathe.

Another great book for rebuilding civilization is Caveman Chemistry. Starts with fire ends with plastics.
posted by DU at 5:37 AM on May 21, 2013


« Older Rubber Ducky, you're my very best friend, it's...   |   The Cartography of Bullshit Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments