Daniel Miller

The Metrics of Backpacks

The Metrics of Backpacks

This is possibly the best piece of writing I’ve read in a long time. The author puts her finger on a number of important topics in a visceral way. There’s too much to quote. I need it to survive on the internet forever but will refrain from copying the entire thing onto my site for this purpose.

What dismays me about technology is this: not the machine itself but the way its architecture echoes outward, imposing a grid of quantification on everything it touches. The sadness of numbers interferes with our thoughts, begs us to apply logic to warm, messy things

It’s made me think about what I’ve coined “meaningfulness tropes” (I used to call them “personal bullshit narratives”…have I matured or just lost my edge?), like business, money, or power. It’s made me think about how the organizations I admire the most have transcended (at least to some degree) these tropes. Companies like Kimray, Wildbit, or Egghead, or many organizations when they’re in service of their better angels. These are very different companies when measured on other vectors, but there’s something less tangible that they all somehow get at their core.

I quipped to the coworker who sent me this article:

In a zero sum game, others’ basic human rights take away from your chance of owning a yacht, though.

Or, I’m reminded of what a new Internet friend from France wrote to me recently:

…we are wired to believe that we do matter, as we stand at the center of the stage of our life. And we also need to see the rest of the world aligned with this perspective, to some extent.

I sense that our need for meaning is tightly related to that. Our life is fulfilling when there is some sort of consistency between our subjectivity and the actual interactions that we conduct in the world.

…a slight shift…can change this perspective, and bond us again with the world, and let us embrace it. And we call this meaningful.

…previously: Freedom, Depth Year. We’re getting close to something here, I’m just not sure what yet. It may be something that can’t be captured in words.

I say these words pretty loosely
There’s so much more to life than words

(Over the Rhine)

403 words