How Do You Run Away from Home?

For complicated reasons, I'm interested by this kind of thinking :

The utilitarian home is digital rather than physical in its dynamics. Home becomes a design pattern in your head (RAM) that can be “saved to disk” anywhere in the world where the substrate of civil society is sufficiently evolved. This is not the same as living out of a suitcase. This is not minimalism. This is virtualization. My design pattern for example, includes bike paths, a gym nearby, at least 2-3 coffee shops (preferably Starbucks) within walking/biking distance, a Chinese restaurant, and an Indian grocery store. I could probably write down the full specification in a couple of pages. It is very easy to instantiate this pattern in any American city above a certain size.

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A slightly more complex metaphor is that home is now a program that can be recompiled, with a few changes, in any new environment. The physical pieces of the pattern are simply those that must be physical, and are too expensive to rent or sell/rebuy as you move. You cart these physical elements around in a U-Haul. Only a few pieces are in there due to their emotional significance. Most could be virtualized if cost structures changed.

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Since individual ideas of home constitute such a large proportion of what we call civilization, this has big consequences. The planet is turning into a hardware platform for a fluid idea of civilization that exists as a collection of design patterns for “home.”

It is less clear what the psychological idea of home has turned into. For some people, psychological home has clearly moved online. I recall an op-ed somewhere several years ago, comparing cellphones to pacifiers. Appropriate, if they represent a connection to psychological ‘home.’ Putting your phone away is like suddenly being teleported away from home to a strange new place.

Venkatesh Rao in How Do You Run Away from Home?

1 commentaire:

R J Keefe a dit…

This would never work for me now, but if I were still in my twenties I might be able to build a way of life on and out of information, instead of with and out of stuff.