On the Hierarchy of Needs and Needless Things

Yesterday The Curtain Raiser has reminded that a well-versed blogger should celebrate the first blogging anniversary.

I hit the Publish button first on March 2012, 24, so I should consider writing something pivotal in three days.

But I am not there yet, rather the opposite. Having just announced on Twitter and Google+ that my posts might gravitate around cybersecurity and hacking infrastructure … I need to digress before I even get started(*), that is: I need to post something that deserves being tagged with the label ‘weird’.

(*)Meta-digression: This is semi-conscious plagiarism or an homage to the intro paragraph of Mark Sackler’s post – accidentally that post was about the pleasures of analyzing searches. Yet, this post of mine is NOT about search term poetry.

It is about the meaning of life – in order to provide you with more spiritual content after some of my brave readers have waded through two previous posts on gyroscopes, Coriolis force and toilet flushes. Today elkement.wordpress.com was already hit by the search term:

to flush the toilet

Before my official bloggiversary, I should seriously ponder about why I am blogging at all. My brain is stuffed with hacked smart meters and forces acting on kitchen sinks, so I cannot come up with an insightful explanation of my own.

Thus I am really happy that somebody else has put the answer into a drawing already – note the nice icon at the top of the pyramid:

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, & the Social Media that Fulfill ‘Em. Shared on Flickr by Erica Glasier (Licensed under CC)

Adding some more serious comment: The hierarchy of icons depicted resembles my personal ranking of social media sites, with the notable exception of Google+ missing.

Browsing and skimming websites and social media has re-wired my brain that is now subject to all kinds of strange associations and connections, similar to random hyperlinks. Search terms do inspire me, too. The second best search term of today was

patent perpetuum mobile

Musing about the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything – and about impossible machines –  I cannot help but remember a particular, fascinating machine that has no purpose whatsoever. A story that needs to be shared with my global audience.

I had seen this machine live a few years ago.  The Austrian creator / artist – Franz Gsellmann was a farmer who had been fascinated by machinery ever since. Having read a report on the Atomium presented at the World Exhibition 1958 he started crafting a machine that has no purpose whatsoever. But it’s amazing what kind of stuff has been employed in building the machine – basically anything you can find in a typical home and that can be made moving, sparkling or tinkling when connected to electrical power.

Here is the machine in action – Gsellmann called it the “Weltmaschine”, World’s Machine (?). I am not not sure if there really is a translation that has the same connotations.

There is no version with English subtitles so you miss the explanations on the origins of all the parts integrated into this machine. But I think images speak for themselves. The creator tinkered with the machine for 23 years.

Of course the title was an allusion to Needless Things by Stephen King.

Less Irony

One of my earlier posts was called More Irony – accidentally, as per reblog.

I am asking myself: Am I in need of Less Irony? Or does the ironic tone of my most recent posts resemble My Real Voice more than the solemnity of the posts I published this spring and summer?

This is an open question, and writing this blog and related websites is an open project to explore this.

However, irony is like a magnificent uniform, an adamantine shell, and a fluffy coat.

Probably like a Steampunk costume.

Utos124

Steampunk Costume (Wikimedia). Should I worry about the similarities to Borg implants?

Retro-Geek: On the Fascination of Machinery

I have no clue about art or design. I learned recently from The Time Traveler that stuff like the following has its own genre and sub-culture: It is called Steampunk.

Steampunk-Computer

Steampunk Computer (Wikimedia)

I am intrigued – as I was by the illustrations in Stephen Hawking’s book Illustrated Brief History of Time long before I knew this was Steampunk at its best. Why does Steampunk ‘work’ so well?

I believe it does for the same reasons as: The Flintstones, Max Raabe, even Star Wars, and the British Sherlock Holmes TV show. Though the latter should maybe be tagged Steampunk anyway. It is the 1 one 1 correspondence of modern gadgets and their ancient counter-parts that have never existed – done meticulously at a ridiculous, nearly microscopic level.

I am sure there are tons of articles by artists, designers or psychologists (which I did not research) that explain the phenomenon. Is it about our nostalgic feeling about an ancient era? Plus the spirit of innovation and the probably naive believe in technological progress (at ‘that time’)? Is it our subconscious longing for really understanding how stuff works – locating the tooth wheels and levers, instead of being put off by the enigmatic – but dull – integrated circuit boards in our iPhones and notebooks?

Or is it just the combination of metal and wood? Of silver, gold, black and a bit of rust & dust?

Steampunk transformer helmet

Steampunk transformer helmet (Wikimedia, http://www.steampunker.de)

Every scientist or engineer starts out as a tinkerer in his parents’ garage or the like (the cliché says, but this is backed by bios of famous physicists, such as Richard Feynman or Isaac Newton). So as for geeks in particular, Steampunk seems to allude to a part of our common DNA. We remember the clocks and cameras we had dismantled.

But probably you should not or cannot dissect a cultural phenomenon by writing about it. You can rather tell a story or create artwork that follows the unwritten rules of the sub-culture, and like-minded people will get it – or not.

It seems I have established the tradition of The Light Geeky Friday Post since last week. So I add a new category to my blog:
Geek Collection (and I might re-categorize old stuff, very retro).