We’re here in Japan (Nippon?). It’s the first place I’ve ever been that’s so pervasively different; everywhere I look I’m reminded this is not home. It’s like an artist’s stylized rendering of New York: the place functions fundamentally the same, but everything’s more curvy and colorful.

And people are far more sensitive to aesthetics. Perhaps this is why the Japanese are on the cutting edge of technology? This might seem counterintuitive: new technology doesn’t have all the rough edges smoothed off, wouldn’t it not fit with their aesthetic sense or slow them down while they make it pretty? Maybe, but as Gelernter argues in Machine Beauty, beauty helps you make decisions that will improve things in the long run.

Example: The aesthetic sense dictates that things are made into small interchangable parts. This costs in the short run (making things simple can be hard) but promotes progress in the long run (because programs can be combined in new ways to do things the authors didn’t intend).

I love having everything suffused with such beauty; it inspires me to bring everything else up to such high standards.

I hope to spend more time looking around, but right now my eyes itch and I can’t keep them open outside for more than a couple seconds because it feels like small particles of dust keep hitting them out there and making them hurt more.

Here in our (beautiful) hotel room we’re staying in, they have Internet wired to all the rooms. We plugged in our base station. We appear to have a 750Kbps connection from tokyo.ocn.ne.jp, only 200ms from home.

posted March 26, 2003 03:17 AM (Personal) #


How to Do Stuff
letters from a rogue state
where are the warmongers?
We’re Going to Japan
Flight Report
Live From Japan
Japanese Oddities
Real News
Illinois’s state “super-DMCA”
Locked in the Trunk
Escaping the Trunk

Aaron Swartz (me@aaronsw.com)