Thinking Outside of the Box

What struck me the most throughout the readings was this urge to go against the grain, to think outside the box, or whatever other idiom which ultimately equates to an uncommon approach. In both the Marketplace Tech Report about ice walls being built in Japan and the pieces we read  from Vannevar Bush and Ted Nelson especially shows how this has brought about the filing and search engine system that we have taken for granted in our current day and age. In addition, this innovative line of thinking seems to be reached only through a thorough understanding of the process at large ins and outs of what is necessary for each circumstance from ice walls to filing systems.  Nelson says that we constantly face three obstacles in the implementation of a new methodological process: cost, need, and system design. We see these factors play out in the building of the ice wall and the eventual creation of the filing system that Bush and Nelson discuss.

Upon hearing of the proposed plan to build an ice wall  in Japan as a response to the Fukushima radioactive fallout, I was curious why such an option would even assuage the situation in the region. It turns out the idea of building an ice wall is actually very common in the mining industry and works much like how your everyday refrigerator keeps your milk and veggies from spoiling

Your standard greens...not radioactive fallout

Your standard greens…not radioactive fallout

Coolant tubes drilled into the ground would freeze the groundwater and waste that had turned radioactive because of their exposure to radiation from the plant. A Daily Beast article states that the benefits of the ice wall is that it is self repairing in the sense that any cracks or fissures that occur in the wall wil in itself be frozen by the coolant pumped into the soil . An understanding of the situation in Fukushima was necessary to know what type of methodology to use in dealing with radioactive waste. The plant especially faces an issue of groundwater from nearby villages and from remaining water trapped from the tsunami that would flow under and through the soil of the power plant continually becoming contaminated. An understanding of the situation allowed engineers to come up with a a systematic design for the ice wall. The solution is more cost effective then the current solution to pump out water and is a necessity to quarantine infected materials. This innovation speaks to how we may deal with future issues regarding public safety in the face of ecological disasters.

Similarly, Bush and Nelson aim to predict a filing system and database with an integrated search function much like what exists today at the core of the internet and as a primary function of many computers. Nelson describes how we have misconstrued the writing process. Typically we see the writing process as a linear task from which we work of an outline and a set of bullet points. However, Nelson pushes back and believes that writing is fragmented and ever changing. Hence, there s this inherent need to develop a system that not only can organized the varied and jumbled tidbits of information but to do it in quick and efficient manner. Bush further speaks to this necessity for instant information. Bush believes that we can reach higher levels of thought and creativity if we can develop technology that keeps pace with our mental processes.  Ultimately that we are thinking can be translated into writing.


Much like this but less painful

The far reaching implications of this technology is what interested both authors. Both authors foresaw what would later become the barebones to “document handling” and “information retrieval” way before the technology had even been invented (Nelson 135). As an epilogue to both authors’ vision of an improved documentation process we find that the filing system that has been created has reduced the cost of document retrieval and paved the way for a more efficient manner of information exchange via the internet. Additionally we have reached a point in our society where we cannot function without the search engine which ultimately organizes and documents information in a manner similar to one that Bush and Nelson describe.

Interestingly in the same podcast, the hosts describe how PayPal has introduced a new system to encourage mobile phone purchases. The app developed by the company is systematically designed to make sending money to friends and ordering food through your phone much easier. Hence PayPal aims to push for increased usage which would get at a sense of need which has often alluded purchases made through mobile phones. Hence, we see this ever growing need to push innovative system designs which would lead to lower costs and increased sense of need overtime.

Evan Lin

~ by evnlin on September 11, 2013.