Monday, November 17, 2008

Project Proposal: Narrative Creates Technology.

The idea came to me largely due to the fact that many people have said this, though there have not been as many examinations of this concept. Narrative, and the act of writing itself, is directly or indirectly responsible for the genesis of much of the world we actually live in. I intend to look into this phenomenon, which has spread like wild fire in our post-modernistic society, but can be traced back much farther if one looks hard enough. Science and innovation is born first of an idea. The reasons may vary, as well the context, but the patterns are the same. Take, for instance, flight. The desire to fly is one thing, just one idea, that has been written about in myth, but first…imagined. The idea meets the paper, and it is mere fiction, still considered completely impossible. But then somebody makes an attempt with some sort of device, as do others. Many failures follow, but a few winners take shape. The technique of flying is born.

This much can explain an approach to normal innovation – which was abnormal back then, still – with little fuss, but it does not represent the central focus of the paper, which is science fiction. That narrative is the one which is shaping the future. Going back as far as scientific romance, how many theories or ideas currently being studied (or have been recently) are based upon a sci-fi book or movie? To name a few that are already around: Anti-matter, nanotechnology, particle lasers, and cloning. All of them are based off of a book, or some show, or a movie that they saw. You can’t make a robot without tipping your hat to Isaac Asimov, and you can’t think time travel without its pioneer, H.G. Wells. I’ll be analyzing a number of examples of where science fiction has become a reality as is, and in places where we hope to be capable of in the near-future. Using words to develop the way the world may advance may be like placing the cart before the horse, but this is the society we’ve evolved into. The map has become the territory.

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

Why do you say that science is born of an idea, rather than out of observation or praxis? I'm not saying that your claim is indefensible, but it sure isn't obvious, either. As far as the example of flight, it seems like you're talking about *desire*, rather than the *idea* or the concept. Maybe I'm splitting hairs. But I'm splitting hairs because I'm not entirely clear about what you mean, and when I start to define terms myself, I rapidly run into trouble.

Anyway, your proposal becomes more specific at the end, and I'd suggest you stay in that spirit. Avoid making general claims, at least to start with -- I would need convincing that "Anti-matter, nanotechnology, particle lasers and cloning" are *based* in narratives. Maybe they are *anticipated* in narratives - but that's not quite the same thing.

Rather than making lots of big claims and planning on using lots of examples, I'd start out by making one focused claim well. What, for instance, do you have to say (that's interesting and in some degree novel) about, e.g., the fictional roots of cloning? Start focused and, possibly, build up from there.