Tuesday, April 29
The other problem with Whuffie, of course, (and Doctorow does touch on this in the book and in the interview) is that it is controlled by positive feedback.
And we all know how well that works.
For those who don't, consider your favourite economic boom-and-bust - from the tulip craze to the Great Depression to the dot.com bubble. Or lynx and hare populations in the Arctic. Or consider a nuclear explosion, which is a great example of positive feedback. If you're lucky, positive feedback will give rise to boom-and-bust cycles. If you're unlucky, you'll get a boom-and-splat.
Not a good way to run, well, anything, really. Unless you want to make a very large bang.
Monday, April 28
To be fair to Mr. Doctorow, he does point out in this interview that his society would not function as described; and that it would need:
some kind of antitrust law or garbage collector that periodically comes along and randomizes Whuffie
Whuffie is the measure of respect in the society of Down and Out; more than that, it's that society's equivalent of cash - as much as it has any equivalent.
Of course, unless you've brainwashed 100% of the population, the anti-trust laws or garbage collectors will need to be backed up by the men with the you-know-whats.
As always, by the light of day it's neither as original nor as interesting as it was at 4 A.M. But here goes:
When you are designing your Utopia, remember this: People will be people, and to make things work, somewhere there will have to be men with guns. And it does not necessarily make things better for them to be hidden from view.
But the society described in the book simply wouldn't work - unless there are, somewhere behind the scenes, men with guns.
Read it anyway.
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