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Even in the Perfect Matrix Future, there's Bad Typography

Date: 2-Dec-2006/11:35+3:00

Tags: , , ,

Characters: me, professor, girl

I was standing in front of two yellow computers, which were about the size of an ATM or cash machine. They were the A1 and B1, and I was hearing a marketing speech about how the company which made them would upgrade your system for to the new version for free. The A1 could be upgraded without being shut down, while the B1 required that you back it up to a data tape before rebooting. The term "Exabyte" was mentioned in the context of the backup tapes.
Note I'd heard of the company Exabyte (now Tandberg Data), but they're a very obscure company. It turns out, however, that it's also a unit of information storage: "It is claimed that 5 exabytes of data approximately equals "all words ever spoken by human beings."
I was receiving this presentation in some kind of academic environment, and I'd received a very bad report card on my performance. Somehow I knew that my last two school quarters had not gone well after being a star student previously. I flagged down the professor, knowing that he was a very smart guy who could be confided in, despite the fact that he was about to address an audience in a lecture hall.
Note As lame and prideful as this may sound...I partially wanted to make it clear that it was not I--the inhabiting dreamer holding the report--who had gotten these bad grades.
me: "Please, I have to talk to you, can you delay the lecture?"
professor: (to audience) "Pardon me folks, but I'm going to go for a two minute walk and I'll be right back."
As we walked out of the room and down hallways I began an information dump, and told him what my real name was and began rambling about being from somewhere around the year 2000.
professor: "Hmmm. You likely don't have your information stored in him at all, I think you're completely separate. Perhaps you're just bored with your life, and so you're showing up here?"
me: "Well that's exactly the problem. I mean, I'm fairly confident that if I weren't trying pretty hard to stay here talking to you, I'd wake up in my bed the same as normal. But I'm unhappy with the world and I'm not happy with my life."
We started walking around buildings and structures that had tons of people in it. It was a freaky hospital or something for the homeless, but everything was very clean. People seemed happy in very close quarters with each other...there was a pseudo-military regimentation to it, and plenty of color coding.
me: "I don't have a good framework to understand what's going on. Part of me feels comfortable with this, but another part of me finds it scary. I guess anything could seem scary if weren't used to the context...but people here seem happy."
Suddenly I turned bitter.
me: "Do you know what it feels like to spend moments glimpsing the solutions to problems and then be thrust back into the dark ages? Like you've seen progress, but then are put in a place where you can't make any?"
professor: "I can see where you are coming from."
me: "You have all this technology to solve problems with. In the meantime, I'm thrust into a circumstance where AIDS and other diseases have been intentionally designed to kill off populations the powers-that-be did not like."
professor: "Who are you to know such things?"
Note I took this to mean "That's true, how did you know?" Though I suppose it might have also been interpreted as "What factual basis do you have for such drastic accusations?" Well, I'm a bit of a conspiracy theorist, I don't know why I brought this up though--it's not something I have evidence for.
He took me in a box car-like device that was packed with lots of other people. A girl came and sat in my lap. All the cars were made out of pristine plastic and covered with complex constructions of safety-oriented bumpers. The buildings outside were amazing in size and scope.
me: "Everything here looks clean and new...so vast. It's so much more beautiful than where I come from."
The girl in my lap disagreed, and pointed at some of the signs for one of the businesses in a building.
girl: "Oh, come on now. Look at that font! That's not beautiful!!"
Examining it closer, I had to agree that the store had chosen a bad font.
me: "Well, I guess even in the future there's bad typography. But your materials science is amazing, I mean, look at all this stuff! Giant marble buildings with crazy molded textures, all this pristine-looking plastic, there's so much of it!"
I paused my wonderment as I considered another possibility.
me: "Amazing, I suppose, unless it isn't materials at all and you've bootstrapped into a fully virtual environment. Then I guess this would be pretty easy. Is that what's happened?"
The professor took me to a room and started playing a movie. It was a promotional video from Toyota talking about a world of infinite resources, where you never ran out of space and could have as big a house and as many cars as you wanted. He began dimming the lights so I could see it.
me: "Please, stop dimming the lights. I'd really like to see this video, but when you make the room dark it makes me feel like I'm going to wake up. Maybe my host body likes watching TV, so now you're getting his attention and he's pushing me out."
He looked puzzled at me, but raised the lights.
me: (jokingly) "Hey, how about you send me a copy of the video on, like, DVD. Or VHS! Those are formats for movies, very primitive, you probably haven't heard of them. We don't even use VHS any more."
professor: "Can you give me your date of birth?"
I said I could, and began scribbling on the piece of paper he gave me. But my numbers kept melting. So I wrote it in as many ways as I'd be able to imagine...full words with no numbers, I spoke it out loud to him as he was looking in a database. I kept repeating it over and over.
professor: "A-ha! That's it!"
me: "Do you want anything else? Social security number, or..."
I was interrupted by waking up.
Note Curiously, there was a car alarm twittering a metronome of beeps outside my window, right when I woke up. It kept doing that all while typing this post, and then it started doing a strange intervalic alarms. Stopped a minute or two before completing the writeup.
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copy write %C:/0304-1020 {Met^(00C6)ducation}

The accounts written here are as true as I can manage. While the words are my own, they are not independent creative works of fiction —in any intentional way. Thus I do not consider the material to be protected by anything, other than that you'd have to be crazy to want to try and use it for genuine purposes (much less disingenuous ones!) But who's to say?