This is the week, it seems, of people reading my posts and making them better. First, Ken Hite revealed the infomantic significance of the Ford’s Theatre index card disaster. Then, Barista‘s David Hiley expanded my link to Jess Nevins’ post on Japanese automata with a fuller biography of Gakutensoku, the golden calligraphy-writing robot.* David also pointed out the secret through-line between the automata and index card stories:
Here he [ie, me] combines two wonderful and pathetic factoids in the one zany flow. Handy, dandy, it has the logical flow of the management of information which leads to proto-robots which takes us ultimately to these machines, which we all share as we prowl the world from our keyboards.
The way I see it, I didn’t combine the Ford’s Theatre and Gakutensoku stories, he did. I just put them next to each other. But I appreciate his kind words and the phrase, “wonderful and pathetic factoids.” That goes on my ever-growing list of alternate taglines for this blog.
This is what I love love love about the 21st century: Barista posted about Gakutensoku three days after Jess Nevin’s original post, two days after my own. Granted, I’m impressed by anyone who writes a post in two days. (I have on my hard drive a half-written response to Seth Shulman’s Telephone Gambit that I started writing when I saw Shulman give a talk at MIT… in 2005.) But the real infomancy is the way these not-necessarily-pathetic factoids carom around the internet. A librarian in Texas (who knows everything, by the way) writes a short piece about a 1920s Japanese robot. It bounces off a Canadian history professor, and is read by an Australian film writer. Who then researches the history of that robot, using an amazing online encyclopedia of more than 2 million user-generated articles, not one of which existed eight years ago. It’s easy to take it all for granted, my friends, but we are living in the future. Where’s my flying car, you ask? You’re driving it right now.