I find it completely appropriate that they are the same day. I will explain why, in a moment, but first, some housekeeping. What is Future Day? What is National Day of Unplugging?
Future Day – Conversation with Ben Goertzel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyHEzWQrx04
Ben: “The idea of Future Day is simple. It’s to celebrate the future.”
Future Day – John Smart Interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fngnICG__yM
John: “My focus is accelerating change, so I like to understand where things are going, and which things are going faster every year.” “We start to see the transformative solutions that are at hand for all of our problems.” “Future Day helps us to foresee both our personal potentials, and to acknowledge that we have the power to pull together and really push forward the whole global system to a whole new level.”
National Day of Unplugging
From Connected (the film).
Yelp: With Apologies to Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UowVsL3dXjM
For Future Day, people are having parties, events, speakers, lobbying and more, to get folk together THINKING about the future, what it might be, what that might mean for us as individuals and as a society. For National Day of Unplugging, people are trying to get folk to put away connected devices and focus on each other as human beings and communities, to get outside or cook or make crafts, focusing also on personal health and calm that comes in a way impossible while searching the Internet. The background of NDP is from the Sabbath Manifesto, which gives you a richer context. And YES, I am going to do it!
So why does it seem so appropriate to me to have these two together? To explain that, I need to use a parable of sorts, and go back in history.
When I was a child, I was fascinated by the old Greco-Roman myths and stories, and especially fascinated that the Eleusinian Mysteries were indeed mysteries that no one knew anything about. A religious order that lasted for around two thousand years as the dominant religion, and we knew NOTHING about it other than a few statues and myths that cloaked as much as they revealed. Then, when I was a young woman, important discoveries were made. It turned out that someone at the very end of the religion had actually written down information about the rites.
Super briefly, the idea of the Eleusinian Mysteries was this. Life had changed from hunter-gatherer to agrarian. This was a HUGE shift, and made all later technologies possible, probably also including ideas like, oh, I don’t know, writing? Cities? All these new blessings were credited in part to the Goddess Demeter who had taught the Greeks how to farm. The core celebration of the Mysteries were designed to help people remember and appreciate what life had been like before they had agriculture. They would go out for a week on the plains and the grasslands, live in tents in groups, slaughter a pig, roast it, throw the carcass into an abyss to keep the predators away, and tell the stories (more and more ritualized) about life before agriculture.
I’ve lost track of how many science fiction books I’ve read in which there is a future where all of us have implants that connect our brains directly to the Internet, and we filter the perceptions of our bodily senses through sophisticated tools that enrich and enhance and expand our own capabilities. The way things are going, I put that maybe 20 years away? Crude prototypes already exist.
Then, in those stories, there is some crisis that shuts down the net. People have never used their minds, never perceived the world, without the filter of the Net and its associated tools. What happens? All of them feel crippled. Most of them go catatonic. Very few minds have the strength and training to even understand how to THINK without the tools that extend thought. Of course, the Amish are just fine. It’s not a crisis for them. And there is some special survivalist scouting group that has, once a year, gone for a week without, just to practice and prepare for exactly this sort of situation.
Now do you see why it makes sense to me to combine unplugging and thinking about the tech future in a single day?
I’m doing BOTH. I’m going to try to make it to an event for makers to learn more about soldering wires on circuit boards. Conversations will, I am sure, abound. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll do some crafts and try to engage folk around me in conversations about the future. I’m going to watch movies with the kids, go to the Farmer’s Market, and go see an opera. I will put away my personal internet devices for 24 hours, and write about it later. I’ll take notes on paper. I’m not planning any pictures, for obvious reasons. And with that, I’m going “dark” for 24 hours, folks. Headed offline.
Future Day: http://futureday.org/
National Day of Unplugging: http://nationaldayofunplugging.com/
Sabbath Manifesto: http://www.sabbathmanifesto.org/unplug/