Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

In Cyberspace Nobody Can See You Go Extinct

Edie Freedman, Origin of Species: A History of O'Reilly Animals:
On a more somber note, working with the animal engravings [that characteristically grace the covers of so many O'Reilly volumes] has made me much more aware of what is happening to our environment. Many of the animals that appear on our covers are endangered -- the tarsier from Learning the vi Editor, the lorises from sed & awk, the Victoria Crowned Pigeons from lex & yacc, and the Florida panther from Java Foundation Classes in a Nutshell, just to name a few. At the time most of the engravings were created, in the last century, these animals were plentiful. Perhaps our use of animal images on our covers will encourage people to work harder to save the species that are still sharing the planet with us.
Needless to say, the decorative, de-contextualized appearance of these images on book-covers in the absence of any actual mention of the endangered status of the animal so depicted or exhortation to support that species or explain the problem and stakes of the problem of rapidly vanishing species will rarely "encourage [many] people [at all] to work harder to save the species that are still sharing the planet with us" and it is hard to see why anybody would ever think otherwise. Thank heavens when our "info-selves" get uploaded as cyberangels in Holodeck Heaven forever (which is the dumb-dumb promissory end-point of this whole digi-utopian con, you know) all these picturesque beasties can be companionably revived as pictures like us! Thanks for caring, Tim O'Reilly, hey, let's give the guy some more love and TEDulation here! --h/t JimF

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