Move Over Perpetual Motion Machines, There's Now a Perpetual Data Machine – Big Data!

It's comfortably accepted by many that what we in the first-world countries currently live in is a post-industrial era, an era in which a transition has been made from manufacturing-based economies to service sector-based economies. But to put truth to the lie, "post-industrialism" is polite speak for "a gutted manufacturing sector whose jobs were offshored to countries where wages were lower, enacted so that deep pockets could be deepened and so that those whose employment existed in higher echelons than the offshored could gain access to cheaper products." *

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Apologies for the delay in getting this post up. I’ve been consumed with some other FF2F-related work/writing for the past month, and probably will be for some time yet, so posting will be very light for a while – one or two posts a month.

Data is like money.

Both have value only in a narrow space.

No limit. Grow money by adding (thanks to my ancestors) zeros. For data include 1s.

They are thought to exist without physical support. When a Facebook stock created at a fraction of a penny is sold for $40, somewhere, someone has lost $40 worth of real material. The pictures of cute babies on Facebook are anchored in data centers run by mega kWhs of electricity.

Maybe more.

For data include 1s.

Haha! I never thought about it that way! I’m going to remember that one and credit you if I use it.

I second Venkataraman’s point. Both money and data are abstractions representing physical processes in the physical economy. They are important only as a way of organizing that physical economy, but in that regard they are very important.

Our systems of communication are what allow money and data to exist and is just one more example of the increasing complexity, and brittleness, of the global market economy. Most people’s lives depend on the continued functioning of the internet. Lose internet communication and the whole economy shuts down. If the whole economy shuts down, famine begins in a few days. Quite a consequence for an assembly of 0s and 1s. You can’t eat them, but you can’t eat without them.

You can’t eat them, but you can’t eat without them.

Hehe, yeah, another good way of putting it. Although one which reminds me of something Wendell Berry once wrote, in that we’ve become so superstitious that we actually think money [or in this case digibits] brings forth food.

How much energy will Big Data consume? How much for the Transportation as a Service networks? How much for the complete Internet of things? All these new ideas and services are ultimately energy/resource questions, as I think you are suggesting here. Yes, the economists, and everybody else, assume that energy will just be there. Maybe that is because there really is no alternative anymore, we are in the last seconds of the game, the Hail Mary Pass (U.S. Football Analogy) to the future of unlimited energy has been thrown, the only choice is to hope and pray that the football (technology?) will be caught for the touchdown and save the day.

And more questions. Why do we need big data to move commerce forward? Really? Why? Forward to where? All rhetorical questions Allan. The world seems increasingly silly to those of us who no longer believe in the perpetual growth machine and growth with no consequences.

And to be blunt, it’s because of all this TaaS, the Internet of things, etc. etc., that I’ve got a really hard time taking climate change all that seriously anymore. Te me, what’s essentially being shown is that we’re not all that willing to make any sacrifices in our lives. It’s seeming to me that climate change is something that’s going to have to be mitigated after the fact, not so much avoided. I do hope I’m wrong though.

I thought you may be interested in this, if you have not read it already:

What is Eco-Socialism, Who is an Eco-Socialist


Thanks very much for that! I was kind of debating whether or not I wanted to include in the post the footnote seen above, and then more recently was debating whether or not I should delete it (with a note of its deletion). I rather reluctantly decided to leave it, but now you’ve given me the opportunity to clarify myself – thanks!

If you look at one of my posts from back in November you’ll see that I pictured Obama, Clinton, Sanders and Trump with tractors (or in Trump’s case, his pseudo tractor). Sanders is riding a John Deere from the 1960s or something, which is all folksy and stuff, but still industrialism. Like Sarkar described Chavez as being “a good man” in a “petro-socialist” system, Sanders tends to make me think of somebody who’s fighting for equality on the Titanic while it’s sinking. It’s a nice gesture, but a bit daft.

So many thanks for about allowing me to clear that up!

Furthermore, I think Sarkar is absolutely spot-on when he states that “To be a good socialist one only needs to rejects capitalism”. But to prefix “socialism” with “eco”? I don’t know. Perhaps. But since socialism is very much equated with industrialism, it kind of seems to me like an attempt to attach a nice veneer to the latter. On the other hand, and as Wendell Berry stated, industrialism is a way of thinking based on money, agrarianism is a way of thinking based on the land. But then again, it’s not as if agrarianism/agrarians from the past have all been angels – far from it. So maybe… eco-agrarians? Or is that just an attempt to pull off the same thing as eco-socialist?

Anyhow, with much delay I’m about to start on the next post and might very well end up doing a review of Klein’s latest book (which I haven’t read yet). We’ll see.

By the way, I don’t know if you were reading FF2F back then, but back in September of last year I put up the first part of a 4 part series on Naomi Klein. Besides my posts on honeybees it’s by far the thing that has garnered the most attention on this blog. You might find them an interesting read.

Excellent exchanges going on here, at least the Internet allows great distances to shrink so great minds communicate. Now back to the garden

Yeah. Gotta get a garden.