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Thursday, November 04, 2004

 

Broadcasting ideas

I've more or less settled into a routine of activity that I need to expand.
A significant part of my day has involved going to the University library to do study and writing related to my knowledge base. I can't possibly put up everything here, but I'm going to start including some of the ideas that I generate during my studies. A lot of them are bad, a lot of them duplicate things that others have, but I hope some of them are original enough to start a conversation. Then, I go to the town library to check my e-mail and, sometimes, this blog. I need to reserve more time to go out and make visits to places and people.

A number of years ago, I encountered a play-by-mail game called Lords of the Earth, which was something of a simulation of history. I was fascinated by it for a good while, but due to financial and other obstacles, dropped out. I wanted to do something based on it, with other elements of historical realism involved. Computer games such as Civilization II are also interesting to me. Something like this could have some educational value. For practical purposes, however, I need to start connecting my studies of history to current events.
For historical studies and research, I tend to work backward, from the known to the unknown, but the passage of time adds events going the other direction. There is often a gap of some time before current events are assimilated into histories, and newspapers and the like aren't in the business of providing histories as background to their daily chronicles of events. More coherent stories have to be written, and rewritten, as events unfold. I've tried organizing the content of newspapers, but it has to be reorganized and connected to other areas, some of which aren't yet well developed according to my ideas of organization.

Similarly to the organization of history, I'm also working on analyses of society, and again trying to make a connection between the large-scale elements of world society to the small-scale part of town I live in. I can quickly mentally bridge the gap, but there are a lot of details to fill in, and connections to other areas can be a challenge.

Another major topic of my outline of knowledge is the institutions of society. This is connected to history and to particular peoples, so once again, trying to coordinate these with independent investigations into history and peoples is a formidable challenge. I'm particularly interested in the connection of religion with other elements of society. Since I classify secularism as a religion, elements of the cultural conflict between secular political liberals and Christian conservatives in the United States are in part religious. Similarly, the current war in Iraq has elements of a conflict between Islam and the mingled secular-Christian culture of the United States.
The just-concluded elections resolves a great deal of uncertainty about the direction of the country, though certainly not all of it, and I haven't fully bridged the gap between national and local perspectives.
Economics are also very important: I'm trying to work out another large-scale to local bridge, but my analysis of large corporations keeps waiting in the wings.

I have had a tendency to work my knowledge base from the history or the scientific ends, but most of the work that I need to do to connect it more directly to my life has to come in the middle, in the areas of culture that I have comparatively neglected. I've recently decided to reverse the order I usually take these in, which seems to make it easier to make progress in thinking about the connections.

As the number of subjects I am interested in goes up, the number of connections between them goes up much faster. I like to try to be comprehensive and consider as much as possible, but it's mathematically impossible to do it in a finite amount of time. I have to pick and choose what I am going to work in, which means some tough decisions about what to set aside. So far, my choices haven't been the best. But I'm working on it.




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