The Last Katibs Of Delhi
July 17, 2015 2:34 PM   Subscribe

 
Sigh. All these fascinating expressions of the human spirit, these interesting little jobs, all vanishing, like frogs and glaciers, to be replaced by nothing.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:14 PM on July 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Damnit, Donald Knuth!
posted by symbioid at 5:21 PM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have complicated feelings about this. It's one of those things where, like, it's sad, and yet, also inevitable and no one's fault? Perhaps in the future Urdu calligraphy will live on, like its European counterpart, mainly practiced as a hobby rather than as a profession.

On the brighter note, there is some interesting new typography coming from young designers in India. And another project is trying to preserve the typography of Indian street painters in digital form.
posted by a car full of lions at 6:40 PM on July 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


I don't understand how it has damaged their livelihoods. Wouldn't the printing press technically have damaged their livelihoods? Or just digital books in general? One of the photo captions reads:

"Ghalib used to write books earlier but the demand for books has gone down."

The computerization of books is hurting them but that's what happens. Carriage drivers lost their jobs when cars became prevalent.
posted by I-baLL at 8:07 PM on July 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


All these fascinating expressions of the human spirit, these interesting little jobs, all vanishing, like frogs and glaciers, to be replaced by nothing.

I don't know that this is actually true. Even if they do completely vanish (not a foregone conclusion; the number of battleaxe makers in existence is very small but likely not zero) other things rise up. We don't have any elevator operators anymore, but we do have 3d printer designers and electric car makers and astronauts. Things change, it's a steady fact of human existence. It's not all bad, and certainly not something we can stop.
posted by axiom at 9:08 PM on July 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


So we complain when there are no calligraphic fonts, then we complain when there are calligraphic fonts.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:18 PM on July 17, 2015


I found some nice work from Tunisia
posted by hortense at 10:53 PM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I guess it's back into the font mines for the lot of them!
posted by blue_beetle at 10:54 PM on July 17, 2015


Previously
posted by BinGregory at 2:38 AM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Definitely watch the short documentary about the Musalman, the only handwritten daily newspaper in the world, done in Urdu calligraphy. (Props to houshuang for posting the link in the previous thread.)
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:16 AM on July 18, 2015


We don't have any elevator operators anymore
In your country maybe but not others. Not everywhere is America.
Here they even have a Sindicato
posted by adamvasco at 9:16 AM on July 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I guess I should've said "we ought not to have any elevator operators anymore" to avoid being called Americentric. My point was just that there are obsolete jobs.
posted by axiom at 12:50 PM on July 18, 2015


> Carriage drivers lost their jobs when cars became prevalent.

No, they became car drivers - there are millions of professional drivers in the United States.

But when the self-driving car starts to mature, in twenty years or so, these people will be replaced by nothing at all.

> My point was just that there are obsolete jobs.

No one questions that. The work market changes - but now jobs aren't changing, they're just being destroyed.

The revolution we're engaged in is qualitatively unlike any other we've ever see because the jobs that go obsolete are being replaced by nothing. What exactly is that calligrapher going to do? Data entry? But we don't even do that anymore, it's all done with sensors.

Seriously - what is this guy going to do, and more important, what are his kids going to do?

It's hard to see what mass employment jobs aren't going to be lost to automation in the next twenty to forty years. Car mechanic? Fast food? Delivery? Warehouse? Retail? Newspaper photographer? Translator? Interpreter? Electronics assembly? Chip manufacture? Orchestrator? Miner?

I tried to come up with some profession that wasn't highly intellectual (which doesn't mean "good") that wouldn't get automated out of existence. Fishing! Too intense an environment for robots!

But then I realize that the way we fish is stupid - boats are incredibly expensive, lost to disaster far more frequently than e.g. a combine harvester, huge nets pulling all sorts of shit out of the water, dumping back the parts we don't want, scraping the bottom of the ocean clean, etc. The correct way is small cheap underwater fishing drones, each of which selects a specific fish, captures it and puts it where it's needed - near perfect efficiency, you could probably keep the fish alive all the way to the plate for a little extra money. No bycatch, in the future there will be laws about exactly what species, size, age, etc you can and cannot catch programmed into the machine, and if you lose a few drones to bad weather, it isn't a million bucks each time - and no one dies.

So almost all jobs are "obsolete". And what are these obsolete jobs going to be replaced with. Blogging? Facebook promotions? Bitcoin miner? Metafilter moderator? 419 scammer?

Unfortunately, 99% of these jobs will be replaced by nothing at all. Only a tiny number of jobs can better be done by humans than a robot worker, and, if we don't overthrow the 0.01% oligarchy, competition will be so fierce that even those jobs won't pay except at the very top end (in the same way that e.g. the money in the fields of music or fine art has accreted to the 1% and even the 0.01% at very much the same time it did in the rest of society).

:-/

What makes me conflicted is that I rationally expect to keep working as long as I choose to - so I'm sort of saying, "You lot are going to get it, sorry."

This is no accident - I've been thinking about what the world was going to be like "now in 2015" for almost fifty years and planned my life to this end - not regarding money and investments and boring things but a certainty that automation would transform the world and an innate ability in the field - that part's just good luck, because many smarter and wiser people than myself are unable to get beyond a certain level in programming because they find it essentially sterile, hard to argue with that and sadly, many people have the interest and not the knack.

So please believe me when I tell you that a fairly small number of people like me are going to take away almost all the jobs of all of the people reading this - and if not you, of your next generations, your children or cousins or neighbors or grandchildren's jobs.

Like all technological changes, it's going to happen slower than you think, right now, and then faster than you think, on a longer term.

And you need to prepare for this, and that means you need to start electing leaders who are going to be strong enough and radical enough to claw back a huge amount of the capital seized by the 0.01% - because if it's all done by machines, labor doesn't exist at all and capital is king.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:14 PM on July 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


« Older Today, I broke your solar system. Oops.   |   "Only those who have strayed follow the poets" Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments