Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash

I got into the tech field right around the same time that the World Wide Web was a nascent technology and its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, probably didn’t foresee how broadly the Web would impact the modern world and change the course of human history.

Berners-Lee’s invention was built on the work of the early pioneers of the Internet whose initial goals were to simply connect several computers into a network of computers. And their work in turn was built upon the efforts of their predecessors who built the first computers. …

There’s a 50/50 chance that you and I are part of a computer simulation.

Now before you allow the prospect of being an entity inside a computer simulation to unleash an existential crisis that leaves you reeling (albeit simulated “reeling”) let me assure you that it does not matter whether you are the real deal or a simulated peel clinging to the inner fruit of reality. You exist and your existence is important regardless of whether or not you exist in “base reality” or within a simulation running upon reality’s substrate.

The concept that we do not exist in base…

I’m staring at a split image. Both sides of the image have alternating pictures of celebrities: George Clooney, Tom Cruise, David Duchovney, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Cindy Crawford, Gwenyth Paltrow, etc.

The images are swapping out quickly at about 3 per second.

I’ve been instructed to stare at a small crosshair smack-dab in the middle of the split image. As the pictures fly past, these otherwise beautiful celebrities morph into monsters with misshapen heads, enormous eyes, and elongated lips.

Go ahead, try it for yourself:

We are daily bombarded with sensory input. Our eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and…

“There are only two industries that refer to their customers as ‘users’ —illegal drugs and software.” –Edward Tufte

I RECENTLY WATCHED the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma. It was disturbing. I’d always known that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter were tracking everything we do on their platforms. I understood the Internet adage: “If the service is free, you’re the product.”

I also knew how the underlying machine-learning algorithms, the code running in the background, was learning more and more about each of us as you and I and billions of other users voluntarily fed it more and more…

Approach of the Simoom at Giza” by David Roberts (1796–1864)

Before time began, before this creation of light
and from a slab of darkness hewn the day and the night,
there was direction, we’re told, with the Spirit of God
hovering not below nor to the left or right, but directly above
the formless and empty darkness of the deep.

Before land and sea, before fish and feather;
before stars erupted from black firmament to watch over the night,
before Man arose from dust there was only one direction
with the eyes of darkness staring not down nor to the left or right
but upward at the silent and golden mouth of God, waiting…

Google Maps: Westfjords Region, Iceland

66.414722, -22.697222

These are the precise GPS coordinates
where this island ends and becomes
an iron-colored sea chipping away at mythology,
the shore littered with meager treasures
harvested from aging shipwrecks
groping their way toward icy reprieve:
a red bucket, an orange buoy, some yellow rope
hidden beneath ashen driftwood
bleached by brine, sun, and time.

We drop our packs and make camp
but not a fire because it is forbidden. …

THE FUTURE POSSIBILITIES for our species, as well as the millions of other species we selfishly share the planet with, were significantly changed on Monday, July 16th 1945 at precisely 5:30 a.m.

At that moment, the landscape of New Mexico’s Jornada del Muerto desert was engulfed by a flash of beautiful light brighter than a dozen suns.

That beautiful light was caused by a very ugly explosion 10,000 times hotter than the surface of the sun.

So hot in fact that every living creature within a one-mile radius of ground-zero was annihilated and the very ground itself, the sand, was…

Visualization from the Opte Project of various connected routes through the Internet (2005).

ONE OF MY FAVORITE scenes from the sci-fi movie The Matrix Reloaded, is when the protagonist, Neo, accompanies Councillor Hamann down into the engineering level of Zion, the underground city where members of the last remaining human society are hiding out from the machines seeking to destroy them.

“I like it down here,” Councillor Hamann exclaims as they look out over the cavernous room filled with humming machines providing potable water, breathable air, and consistent power to the inhabitants of Zion. “I like to be reminded that this city survives because of these machines. These machines are keeping us alive…

The stationmaster’s whistle calls our train
back out into the night, leaving behind
this moment of brief brightness and people
dressed in black under fluorescent lights,
silent chess pieces in this game of life:
somewhere a funeral, elsewhere a bride
and groom celebrate their union,
a child is born, a dog dies,
priests perform communion
while kings & paupers alike squabble
over the spoils of the day.
It’s 2 a.m. at Katowice railway station
and this night train to Prague clanks away
down these tracks haunted by a history
that carried its cargo to unspeakable ends:
ovens and labor camps, fresh troops
to the barbed trenches of the front
filled with the stench of rotting flesh,
sacrifices to…

IT’S EASY TO FORGET that we live within sight of the galaxy’s largest nuclear reactor: the sun. The sun’s photosphere, the part we can see during the day from 93 million miles away when it isn’t overcast, is made up of mostly hydrogen. All of that hydrogen fuels the sun’s reactive core where temperatures reach such unfathomable levels — 25 million degrees Fº — that the word “hot” fails to describe such extreme heat.

At the sun’s core, spent hydrogen is converted into helium, which the sun will desperately burn later in its life cycle before collapsing, cooling, and fading…

Scott Dewing

Scott Dewing is a technologist, teacher, and writer. He was born the same year the Internet was invented. This does not make him special— just old.

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