The Importance of Being Important

For my father,  being important was everything – and I have to say, he was a success at it, as far as he was concerned. As far as I was concerned – he didn’t exist at all.

The most important fact of his life was his church – the RLDS church, which for him was everything. This, however, also ceased to exist not long after his death, in 1970, when he was 60. The passing of the church was such a shock to his children, they have never gotten over it.

If they had any sense of history, they could see their church originated in the 1860s, attracted converts later in that century, and then ended in second half of the 20th Century. It didn’t last very long – about 100 years – and preoccupied their grandparents and their parents. But for their children, it is past history – something they are not interested in at all.

Why was the church so important? Because it made its believers important. And it absorbed this importance directly from the America of its time – the boom economy right after WWII. When that economy ended, the church ended.

Let me summarize – anyone’s importance is derived from their culture – when that fades, their importance fades. And when that happens, people go crazy – and will do almost anything, to get it back.

We are now going through a transition from an Industrial culture to a Computer culture. A very painful transition that involves our self-importance. The people who have been left out of this – the majority of the population – have gone crazy. And are demanding a return to the past – something that cannot be done.

I am doing my best to understand our new culture – the social impact of the Computer – and would like to explain this to everyone else. But this is impossible! They were shaped by another culture, and they cannot change.

I even have trouble talking to computer people – and explaining to them how they are affecting everyone else. But they are living in their own world, and are not much interested in anything else. The people who do not understand them can drop dead – as far as they are concerned.This split goes back a long way – to Plato, in fact, and his belief in the ideal world and the real world. The ideal world of mathematics and the real world of physical matter.

Data Science (the latest fashion in Software) involves both of them. And that is why it is so important.

Read that last sentence again – it ends with one word: important. The Computer has redefined what is important! Its people are only interested in what really is. This isn’t hard, you take a stick, and poke it – and if it is real, it will let you know, easily enough.

However, the inherent dualism still exists – the stick you are using is expressed in mathematics (and some fairly exotic mathematics, at that) and algorithms (which do the same thing). The ideal world is judging the real world!


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