RIAA, 1700

This mode of travelling, which by Englishmen of the present day would be regarded as insufferably slow, seemed to our ancestors wonderfully and indeed alarmingly rapid. In a work published a few months before the death of Charles the Second, the flying coaches are extolled as far superior to any similar vehicles ever known in the world. Their velocity is the subject of special commendation, and is triumphantly contrasted with the sluggish pace of the continental posts. But with boasts like these was mingled the sound of complaint and invective. The interests of large classes had been unfavourably affected by the establishment of the new diligences; and, as usual, many persons were, from mere stupidity and obstinacy, disposed to clamour against the innovation, simply because it was an innovation. It was vehemently argued that this mode of conveyance would be fatal to the breed of horses and to the noble art of horsemanship; that the Thames, which had long been an important nursery of seamen, would cease to be the chief thoroughfare from London up to Windsor and down to Gravesend; that saddlers and spurriers would be ruined by hundreds; that numerous inns, at which mounted travellers had been in the habit of stopping, would be deserted, and would no longer pay any rent; that the new carriages were too hot in summer and too cold in winter; that the passengers were grievously annoyed by invalids and crying children; that the coach sometimes reached the inn so late that it was impossible to get supper, and sometimes started so early that it was impossible to get breakfast. On these grounds it was gravely recommended that no public coach should be permitted to have more than four horses, to start oftener than once a week, or to go more than thirty miles a day. It was hoped that, if this regulation were adopted, all except the sick and the lame would return to the old mode of travelling. Petitions embodying such opinions as these were presented to the King in council from several companies of the City of London, from several provincial towns, and from the justices of several counties. We Smile at these things. It is not impossible that our descendants, when they read the history of the opposition offered by cupidity and prejudice to the improvements of the nineteenth century, may smile in their turn.The History of England from the Accession of James II

A thing I fear.

Podcasting is bad. I’ve bitched about it already. Mouth-breathing geeks droning about technology. Even the ones who are good writers (0.1%) are unlistenable like bad college professors. Fire it into the sun.

But something worse looms. The video iPod and its cousins, and the ease of making small downloadable portable video magazines, offers a future of what I’m sure they’re calling vodcasting. This unfortunately does not provide vodka, but may require it. The thought of tapping on my handheld video device and seeing Dave Winer or some person who has the best blog about Babylon 5 talk at me is, frankly, emetic.

My opinion is that mumbling, whiny, unsightly geeks who insist on being media personalities should restrict themselves to text like the other mumbling, whiny, unsightly geeks over the last 10,000 years and stay out of the public eye and ear. The reason we’re not all on the radio and the TV is not just that access to media is limited. It’s also that very few people have either the skills or the charisma to do either of those things without making others dizzy with loathing.

But I can deal with that just by not watching any of it. The second part of this is worse. Right now, blogging is a text medium, and I love it. I have maybe 200 RSS subscriptions to personal and institutional weblogs and weblog-like things and I get a lot out of it. I make fun of the bozosphere, but mostly it’s great.

Video may not kill it, but it’ll be a huge kick in the stomach. Video is seductive. It’s immediate and TV-like. It’s visual. It makes people feel like stars to be in videos. It’s dumbed down and easy. And it’s made for ad insertion. Video podcasting, when it gets to a certain point, will be adopted by just about all the commercially-run weblogs and a huge portion of the homebrew ones. And I see it as having an unpleasantly TV-like effect on the web. You might not think a three-paragraph blog update on one of the Weblogs Inc. or Gawker sites is a heavy chunk of ideas, but it’ll get smaller and dumber in a video. Instead of a galaxy of smart little snide magazine article squibs, we’ll have huge numbers of local news quality “segments” with stock footage and maybe 200 words of idea in them. Inevitably the commercial blogs will be done by prettier and prettier faces. And because there’s less money in blogging than in actual TV, the use of stock provided footage from commercial sources will be universal.

With luck, we’ll keep a core of text-based weblogging that has actual ideas in it, the way we kept an intelligent chunk of the Web after the flashmonsters and marketing droids ate most of it. But it’s not a good thing, not at all.

I hate video.

A strong America needs dirigibles!

As much as I loathe the military-industrial establishment…

…I inherited from my father a great love of airships.

walrus walrus walrus

Defense Tech reports the latest developments in the Walrus project to build a bigass blimp that will carry troops, spy on us from above, and host elegant piano bar soirées other military crap.

I’m holding out for a real dirigible though, and not just a big blimp. If I ever become as rich as a supervillain my preferred transport will be my private airship. Quiet, luxurious cruising, 500 feet in the air, looking down at the little people from my flying hotel and sipping champagne.



The elderly Japanese people of the future will be so desperately lonely for companionship that they’ll purchase slightly creepy android replicas of the drug-addled but brilliant sci-fi author Phillip K. Dick. Why the Japanese, and why Phillip K. Dick? It’s a long story, and I’m not sure I fully understood it all when the android’s makers explained it to me. I think I probably read the wrong books growing up as a kid, or maybe I now watch the wrong TV shows.

Via Blog of a Bookslut.