The late Douglas Adams on technology

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Ellieb
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The late Douglas Adams on technology

Postby Ellieb » 4 Sep 2019, 8:26pm

I was mulling over his wise words the other day:

1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.


Seems rather appropriate for this section of the forum.

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Sweep
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Re: The late Douglas Adams on technology

Postby Sweep » 5 Sep 2019, 5:47am

But i didn't get back into cycling (or into cycling proper at all) until I was over 35.

Does this mean that I was miraculously reborn/restarted the clock?

Or when asked my age should quote cycling years?
Sweep

pwa
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Re: The late Douglas Adams on technology

Postby pwa » 5 Sep 2019, 8:09am

Sweep wrote:But i didn't get back into cycling (or into cycling proper at all) until I was over 35.

Does this mean that I was miraculously reborn/restarted the clock?

Or when asked my age should quote cycling years?

The bicycle was around in more or less its most common current from in the late 19th Century, so even if you weren't using it as a kid (why not?????) it was around. It was "normal".

My childhood was dominated by playing in and beside a river, and by bikes, scooters and pedal cars. Being on a bike for me is as normal as sitting in an armchair.

slowster
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Re: The late Douglas Adams on technology

Postby slowster » 5 Sep 2019, 8:24am

If some new cycling technology works, is reliable, and is good value for money (or even better, significantly cheaper than what was previously available) then I think most of us will happily pile in regardless of age. Moreover, as you get older physical fitness will inevitably decline, and so again most of us are interested in any technological improvement that will help to offset that, e.g. lighter bikes and equipment and tyres that provably deliver a faster ride for a given amount of energy input. Similarly elderly riders are the obvious target market for high end e-bikes which can enable them to keep riding and keep up with their mates when otherwise they might have to stop cycling.

Cyling history is littered with inventions and new ideas, and probably more than 80% were rubbish or outright snake oil. There were plenty of such technological developments and novelties that were around when I was between 15 and 35, and the vast majority of us quickly concluded then they were rubbish, and they rapidly disappeared from the market. It was only the good ideas which were also well executed that became mainstream. And that really is the flaw in Douglas Adam's rules: people usually forget the rubbish and dross that account for a lot of new developments but which soon fail and disappear.

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Sweep
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Re: The late Douglas Adams on technology

Postby Sweep » 5 Sep 2019, 9:03am

pwa wrote:so even if you weren't using it as a kid (why not?????) it was around. It was "normal".

My childhood was dominated by playing in and beside a river, and by bikes, scooters and pedal cars. Being on a bike for me is as normal as sitting in an armchair.


Note I said back into cycling and into "cycling proper" until after 35.

Of course I had bikes as a kid but no way was I a cyclist, let alone with any views on cycle tech - I just messed around on some pretty poor bikes my dad got secondhand from the back of the local rag. None had front or rear mechs.
Sweep

pwa
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Re: The late Douglas Adams on technology

Postby pwa » 5 Sep 2019, 9:22am

Sweep wrote:
pwa wrote:so even if you weren't using it as a kid (why not?????) it was around. It was "normal".

My childhood was dominated by playing in and beside a river, and by bikes, scooters and pedal cars. Being on a bike for me is as normal as sitting in an armchair.


Note I said back into cycling and into "cycling proper" until after 35.

Of course I had bikes as a kid but no way was I a cyclist, let alone with any views on cycle tech - I just messed around on some pretty poor bikes my dad got secondhand from the back of the local rag. None had front or rear mechs.

My first bike with a mech was a Christmas present around 1970ish, before which I had spent about five years on single speed kids bikes. And scooters and pedal cars. My bike with a mech probably came about because my parents could see that any bike they bought me was going to get a lot of use. I think around the age of twenty I may have had a year when I didn't have a bike. My own kids, now in their twenties, have had bikes since they were old enough. The stabilisers came off very quickly for both of them. Neither are cycling a lot at the moment, but they both feel at home on a bike.

reohn2
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Re: The late Douglas Adams on technology

Postby reohn2 » 5 Sep 2019, 9:22am

Technology is like the little girl with the little curl,when it's good it can be very,very good,but when it's bad it's horrid.
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mattheus
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Re: The late Douglas Adams on technology

Postby mattheus » 5 Sep 2019, 9:32am

Ellieb wrote:I was mulling over his wise words the other day:

1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.


Seems rather appropriate for this section of the forum.

The marvellous D.N.A. wrote a lot of wise things while he focused on wroting funny things. In this case he has stuck to the stylish/comedic structure of THREE. So it was inevitable that other classes of stuff got left out.

One class that is significant in our discussions; good stuff that became obsolete before we were born (or before we "discovered" bikes!).
So down-tube levers have snuck past many cyclists - they work brilliantly, but a more popular technology replaced them.
Likewise b/w tellies, cars without electronics, blackboards, etc.

Some people look down on this stuff - others realise that they have their place
e.g. when you have no mains power, or need reliabilty on a trip across the Sahara, have some disability that prevents use of the new stuffs, or you have something old which doesn't *need* replacing at extra cost, etc ...

pwa
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Re: The late Douglas Adams on technology

Postby pwa » 5 Sep 2019, 9:35am

I think Adams was at least partly wrong, in that there are things that came out after was 35 and I have embraced. This laptop for example. Or cars that don't require me to mess about with a choke (and a few prayers) to get them started on cold mornings. Or the MRI scanner that saved my wife's life a few months back. Or the more reliable and powerful bike lights that I can now choose from.

mattheus
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Re: The late Douglas Adams on technology

Postby mattheus » 5 Sep 2019, 9:45am

pwa wrote:I think Adams was at least partly wrong, in that there are things that came out after was 35 and I have embraced. This laptop for example. Or cars that don't require me to mess about with a choke (and a few prayers) to get them started on cold mornings. Or the MRI scanner that saved my wife's life a few months back. Or the more reliable and powerful bike lights that I can now choose from.


Yebbut none of these required you to understand anything new, or adopt a new way of using things.

(and obvs the "35" thing was just an arbitrary choice - there will of course be intelligent open-minded exceptions such as yourself who push that age much higher : -x )

pwa
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Re: The late Douglas Adams on technology

Postby pwa » 5 Sep 2019, 9:56am

mattheus wrote:
pwa wrote:I think Adams was at least partly wrong, in that there are things that came out after was 35 and I have embraced. This laptop for example. Or cars that don't require me to mess about with a choke (and a few prayers) to get them started on cold mornings. Or the MRI scanner that saved my wife's life a few months back. Or the more reliable and powerful bike lights that I can now choose from.


Yebbut none of these required you to understand anything new, or adopt a new way of using things.

(and obvs the "35" thing was just an arbitrary choice - there will of course be intelligent open-minded exceptions such as yourself who push that age much higher : -x )

It is true that apart from learning to use a computer (not available for home use in any useful form until I was about 30) these things required no real effort from me. In fact they made things easier. Even when I was using them I knew the bike lights of the 1980s were basically rubbish, even the dynamo ones. I was waiting for something better. The same with cars reluctant to start on cold mornings.

Rather amusingly, when we have a problem with computer software we sometimes pop round to a neighbour in his late 80s who knows about that stuff.

Psamathe
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Re: The late Douglas Adams on technology

Postby Psamathe » 5 Sep 2019, 10:21am

mattheus wrote:
pwa wrote:I think Adams was at least partly wrong, in that there are things that came out after was 35 and I have embraced. This laptop for example. Or cars that don't require me to mess about with a choke (and a few prayers) to get them started on cold mornings. Or the MRI scanner that saved my wife's life a few months back. Or the more reliable and powerful bike lights that I can now choose from.


Yebbut none of these required you to understand anything new, or adopt a new way of using things.

(and obvs the "35" thing was just an arbitrary choice - there will of course be intelligent open-minded exceptions such as yourself who push that age much higher : -x )

Smartphones, internet (e-mail, SMS), streaming services, etc.

But I agree it's not an absolute and is subject to individual variability, but also, I'm frequently surprised at how well many in their 90's manage to cope with computers, e-mail, etc.

Ian

simonhill
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Re: The late Douglas Adams on technology

Postby simonhill » 5 Sep 2019, 3:48pm

I would say that this is more an aphorism, rather than a law. I'm sure most can see that it is often true and can be quoted in innumerable instances, but obviously doesn't stand full scrutiny.

Maybe the inability of the forum to take it as such, but rather analyse it down to the nth degree is more revealing. (Tee hee*)

Samuel D
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Re: The late Douglas Adams on technology

Postby Samuel D » 5 Sep 2019, 3:59pm

I like mattheus’s additional class of stuff and often seek that out.

It’s getting harder to find, though. When everyone is perpetually distracted by the full-time job of being a consumer, there isn’t much time to acquire discernment about technology or anything else. The result is consumerism of an especially meaningless sort where things are passionately desired for irrelevant or grossly disproportionate reasons. You see this in cycling with the ten-grand bicycles that are not rationally better than ones at a tenth of the price. Fat riders (or any riders) preoccupied with 50-gram weight differences, aero this and that at whatever dollar or practical cost, incrementally more gears long after that ceased improving human performance, the fashion cycles, etc. And in this profitable maelstrom there is little room for good but obsolete products.

Two-time Booker Prize winner Peter Carey wrote a novel called Parrot and Olivier in America, published in 2010. It was inspired by Tocqueville’s trip to America and has a French aristocrat and his English servant visiting the US around 1830 notionally to study its prisons and democracy but actually to escape unrest in France. The aristocrat finds that democracy is a truly lovely flower but predicts it won’t ripen well because there will be no-one, i.e. no aristocratic class, with the leisure to acquire discernment and taste in the arts. With that lacking, art will be made for the lowest common denominator of the market and those who sell to the general public will be continuously corrupting whatever taste emerges. In this way the culture would consume itself until the people, fed by a perfidious press, elect an imbecile as their leader.

I see parallels with bicycle technology today. The tastemakers have poor taste, being ignorant of the mechanical arts. Their skills are to sell themselves and novelty, corrupting market discernment. Manufacturers are not benevolent sages designing functional and economic products for observed uses but cynics throwing differentiation at the wall. And with every passing year the wall gets stickier, the customer less discerning of relevant quality, the aristocrats pushed out by YouTube influencers.

Technological progress applied to objective need remains a great and necessary thing but is less prevalent than fashion and prestige masquerading as useful tech.

Brucey
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Re: The late Douglas Adams on technology

Postby Brucey » 5 Sep 2019, 5:18pm

Samuel D wrote:……. With that lacking, art will be made for the lowest common denominator of the market and those who sell to the general public will be continuously corrupting whatever taste emerges. In this way the culture would consume itself until the people, fed by a perfidious press, elect an imbecile as their leader....



Technological progress applied to objective need remains a great and necessary thing but is less prevalent than fashion and prestige masquerading as useful tech.


yes, not just art of course and in several countries we do seem to have elected /are just about to elect leaders that fit that description....

cheers
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