As an engineer (identifying with the engineering attitude moreso than the artistic one) I think there’s something to be said for the iterative coevolution of our myths & our selves, toward proximate ends.

The feedback mechanism between narrative & behavior is not perfect, if only because it is so easy for people to spectacularly miss the point of anything in stunningly creative ways. This gives us enough wiggle room to perform a bit of stimulated annealing: conscious detournment, culture jamming. We’ve done this in mostly a reactive way, and that reaction-based pattern is easily manipulated by greater narratives that are harder to see, but we could do it in a directed way.

Collective myth is a vast machinery of nudges, weak impulses and incentives, and good-enough heuristics. Nobody polices it. Like an economy, or a large codebase, we can find vulnerable surfaces, inject our own gear assemblies, and reverse or block certain control flows. All countermeasures to mythic engineering are automatic and incapable of cunning.

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Resident hypertext crank. Author of Big and Small Computing: Trajectories for the Future of Software.

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