Free Flash Fiction Friday: Technology Cycles

Why bother with that? Technology’s always moving, but like cyclical. They started out, way back, with big specialized machines, truck units, right? You’d have to connect to them with these little consoles, they couldn’t do anything, it was all the big machine. Rent time on the box to do your work. Then they got smaller boxes that could do everything, so they didn’t need to rent time on the big machines anymore. Get enough small boxes together, scale them up, you didn’t need the big stuff. It’s power from the corps to the people.

Boxes got smaller and smaller, until what used to be a truck is on your wrist, like a bracelet. Then you get goggles, more specialized, powerful, but you can’t do all the stuff you want on it. You still need a bracelet. Then little ear pods, still linked to the bracelet. The big corps said “Yeah, rent time on our big machines again, you connect your bracelet and your goggles can use it too!” So people rented time again, power back to the corps.

It’s the same cycles all the time, it just changes where they line up. Generalized single box vs specialized bracelets. Little doodads working together or little doodads tethered to a big doodad. Do it yourself or off the shelf. Cheap and disposable or large and Ragnarok proofed.

I mean, sure there’s guys with grease pencil and slide rule doing their orbits, whatever. Puddle jumpers. That’s not nothing. Sure, it’s all small fry jobs but they’re off the grid completely.  You can’t do a jump calc by hand or stick. You gotta buy one of the big machines again, shielded for jump, blackboxed and impenetrable, handshakes everywhere and enforced civility.

No one worries about pirates, anymore, they worry about those puddlejumpers, and how maybe they get lucky, figure a jump out. Then that breaks the cycle, right? It’s not big box or little box or connected box. It’s safety versus well shit man I already got a brain so I don’t need any box. And then it’s over. Enforced civility collapses and goddamn we got a revolution again.

Eli Jones avatar
Eli Jones
Eli Jones is a spectulative fiction writer and database administrator from the Pacific Northwest.