William Faulkner, America, Charlottesville discussed on Soonish



I'm wade and this is soon. It's start of a new season for the show and to kick things off we've got a new motto. The future is shaped by technology but technology is shaped by us So what do i mean by that. Well when people find out. I'm at technology journalists. They always ask me. What's up with drones or self driving cars or ai. Or augmented reality. They've read the news and they know that these new technologies could really change the way. The world looks in the near future but they feel powerless. Mike happening outside their control. And i don't believe that's true. Technological change isn't something that just happens to us. It's like every other kind of historical change. When you look closely you see that it often starts with a disruptive idea from a scientist or an inventor where company but then it's shaped by thousands of big and small choices made by individuals. Like you and me. So it's important to understand where technology ideas really come from and how we decide to start using them or stop using them. Once we grasp that we can see each choice in the matter and then we can be a little more intentional about the kind of future rebuilding together. That's what the show is about most of the time anyway. That's the sound of a crowd in illinois watching the total solar eclipse that swept across the us on august twenty first. I was in that crowd and for me. Witnessing my first total eclipse shook me to my very core. I thought i knew what to expect. I mean i'd studied the strana me. And i'd seen videos in maps and simulations of eclipses but it turned out. I had no freaking idea how stunning the actual eclipse would be. I've never seen anything so alien and so beautiful so unsettling but also in a way so unifying Obviously it's been a europe disasters here in america not just natural disasters like hurricane but also moral and political disasters like the conflict in charlottesville and the trump administration's ongoing campaign to purge the republic of all decency truth compassion but the eclipse was a respite from all that. If only for a couple of minutes and for me it was the emotional highpoint of a week. Long road trip across america. I kept the kind of audio diary of the trip and today i wanna play tape that i gathered at three very different stops on that journey. I'm going to tell these stories in reverse order. That's partly because they just make more sense that way. But i'm also taking inspiration from assign that i saw at the patterson bill service plaza on the new york state. Thruway one of the restrooms at the patterson ville stop was closed and somebody had put up a handmade sign that said temporarily out of order. I had to laugh because the signs sounded like a title. That philip k dick would give to a science fiction story about a time travel experiment gone haywire anyway. Today's episode is going to be temporarily out of order seeing the eclipse in illinois was actually the first big event trip. But i'm going to tell that story last and before we get there. I'm going to take you to the spot that has more confederate monuments than any other place in america. A hint for you. It's not in the south. And i'm going to visit a town whose very name stands for hope and the future. But it's a place. That's now so depopulated that it has its own entry on a site called the encyclopedia of forlorn places. I said before that it's important for us to think more intentionally about the future right now. We're having a lot of trouble coming together to do that. And as i drove across the country hitting ken states altogether. I can see one of the reasons. We haven't even settled big questions about how we should represent the past or who should have a chance to prosper. In the present. William faulkner's famous line was that the past isn't dead. It isn't even past and sometimes it feels like we have so much unfinished business that will never be able to move onto the future but then along comes something like a hurricane or an eclipse a rare natural event that reminds us that despite our divisions we're passengers on this planet together and we're all part of something.

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