Life spheres

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Lalo — who taught me, with passion, Mexican history and economical development in high school — used to talk somewhat mockingly of some of his scientist friends who lived isolated from the world and, particularly, from politics; they thought themselves beyond it and preferred to live their lifes pondering deep thoughts back in their ebony towers; “they wouldn’t realize a political revolution had arrived until they were shot,” or something along those lines.

I agreed with it then and promptly forgot it with gusto when it was my turn to think deep thoughts in the ebony towers of CIMAT, where I studied Mathematics for some years. These days of alleged post-electoral unrest in Mexico, when most anyone in the country is fed up with politics, and politicians are having a hard time leaving their six-yearly limelight, I remember those words.

A few months ago, coming back to my old high-school and chancing on Lalo, it was interesting to discover his complete isolation from technology, and, particularly, from the web. He used his computer exclusively for email, never searched, had no idea what a blog was, didn’t know about Wikipedia, and in general didn’t think much of digital contraptions of any sort (!).

That may have had a lot to do with age but my point is that he was missing on one most important sphere (my preferred one, of course). “He wouldn’t know the ”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity">singularity had arrived until he were absorbed into computronium" — or something alone those lines.

Of course I’m exaggerating, but I neither want to mock Lalo nor defend single-minded obsesiveness. It’s just that the preponderance argument could be made on many, many other spheres of life — economy, finance, culture, ecology, art, design, animal trainers… The world is far vaster and far more complex than we like to acknowledge, and we all suffer from interest myopia (the farther from our interests something is, the fainter and blurrier it is in our picture). Arguing for the preponderance of one sphere is usually self-interest lobbying.

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