The biggest gift we seem to have lost is the ability to appreciate silence. The wolrd around is so full of noise silence is sometimes painful.
Getting back to my special topic, after a long lay off, let me start off with a question. How long does a civilization last, in all its glory. As pointed out earlier, none of the ancient civilizations ever died out entirely. The guys who lived in Mohan Jo Daro and Harappa quit long ago, leaving only the ruins. Most of us think we know what happened to the Mayans. Mesopotamia exists no more. But the people who created these ancient glories, are probably still around in some gene pool.
But that is not the question. The question concerns the peak and slow decline of these cultures. With my limited knowledge of history, it seems to me that the duration of the peak and the speed of decline, as wel as the speed of the ascend, have all accelerated.
Which, once more, brings me to my favourite topic: Do civilizations have something like half live for radioisotopes?. Funny question. But I suspect there is something in that.
Recently a friend asked me:I quote "Do you believe in life after death".
Of course this has been discussed by so many phiosophers, great and not so great, it doesn't really matter what I think about it. However the question having been asked, and she being rather anxious about the answer, I told her, I don't believe in that an alarming predicament. Hanging around eternally doesn't quite fit in with my idea of fun.
But honestly, I don't have a clue just what death is all about. It cannnot be merely physical. So what exactly happens at death. Is it like a computer shutting down, with the CPU gone bust. The physica corpse can't really be me, can it. Just what left that corpse anyway, when its "owner" died?
That absolute power corrupts absolutely has already been discovered. That was in relation to individuals. Is it possible to extrapolate that point of view to communities, countries and maybe even whole civilizations?
Recently a blog friend remarked to me " It is pity you are not living in the States". That is true as physical domiciles go. But then what is the net for. I mean. I lead a life at one basic physical level in my hometown and another surreal one on the net. My second enitiy has no physical meaning. No physical boundraies. No cultural stumbling blocks. I am human. That is all. So are the people you talk to. Net, the great leveller. Maybe that is one of most the underestimated achievments of the net. After its birth as an arm of the miliatary the net is now a global glue, helping people understand each other in a manner unimaginable without the medium of the net.
Is it possible to determine and designate the time frames of childhood, adolescence, adulthood and senility of civilizations?
The search engine behemoth is searching for new pastures. Ever since gmail came on the scene, it was clearly just a matter of time before Google decided to go for the jugular. In this case, that of Microsoft Corp. The Google Pack is the latest release from Google. It consists of nine freeware apps which you can download from the net anyway (except Norton Antivirus). Now Google does the packing for you. I still haven’t quite understood why products like Adobe Acrobat Reader and Ad-Aware need such a retailer. It is not as if these are totally unknown products. The best explanation is that they are banking on the brand appeal of Google. Not that I am sure this is such a bright idea. But then I have never been particularly good at business.
So when is Google going to come out with a G-PC running on a G-OS and a G-Office too. Guys at Google refuse to reveal anything about this. May be some G-games will be needed for the big bang. I would say that the G-OS if it comes out would be a distributed net-based os with only the barebone OS provided for accessing the net. Further OS installation will be net based. Similarly G-Office.
What would be Microsoft’s answer to this. Actually I don’t think the Redmond guys need to respond at all. (Hey, here I am advising B.Gates on business !). Windows has too many supporters and close on the heels is Linux (Would G-OS be a version of Linux). MS Office is the best in town when it comes to bundled apps. OpenOffice, the closest second is far behind MS Office as any honest assessment of the two has to concede. Maybe OpenOffice will improve. But then so will MS Office.
So I am inclined to think that, even if Google does come up with a specialzed PC, a specialized, OS and a specialized Office Suite, most Windows users will stick with that. And Google has raised too many security concerns too, thanks to Gmail and the Google desktop search tool.
The basic hypothesis upon which the internet was founded was military. It had nothing to do with free information, free resources, or anything starting with free. Somewhere along the way, the prefix free got tagged on to some of the online resources. Now while most of the stuff out there is online junk, ther are some truly awesome achievements for the online freedom lovers.
Blogs for one. This is one tool that has done an amazing job of opening up people’s minds. I mean, how else could an ordinary person, one among the silent multitude, make himslef heard. Of course nobody really listens to a mere blogger with his personal views. But it all adds up.
In the pre-blog days, one had to set up a website. This was far from simple, even on prefabricated templates. Updating the website was even more tough. Now all you have to do is get onto some blog host, like wordpress, and let go.
Which brings me to the question of “free” again. The famous saying about free beer vs free speech needs no mention. However the fact remains that the vast majority of net users cannot afford to pay for a paid blog. Thankfully many sites continue to host free webites and blogs.
How long can such free services remain alive. The world is definitely not getting cheaper. The idea of providing free service of anykind is labelled as idealistic. Actually it is idealistic. But, tags notwithstanding, how long can such services as the Wikipedia survive, inspite all the multitudes contributing the material as well as the finance. And it is so easy to defeat the aim of such a monumental resource by just inserting some false stories deliberately. It has been done and no matter what precautions are taken it will be done again
I got a comment on the post on Indus Valley Civilization from cyavhn. The comment was: “Indus valley civilization didn`t die…it evolved into classical Indian culture…”
Thanks for the comment on Indus Civilization. Actually I didn’t mean that Indus Valley Civilization ‘died’. None of the great civilizations ever really die. They just go into a prolonged old age. Some recuperate from this senility and bounce back with all the old vigor that made them great in their best days. Others drag on. But all the civilizations I have mentioned are still alive.
The point or rather the points, I was trying to get across is that
1. Civilizations appear to have a sort of exponential decay
2. The rapid development of modern age has shortened the half life of the civilizations.
I have taken the approximate period from which recognizable, centralized governments evolved in these cradles of ancient human society. Going further back into the pre-agrarian age doesn’t figure here. Starting from the centralized age, so to say, there is a upward peak lasting some centuries, followed by a crest of glory, and then a slow decay. This is rather like a skewed distributionb curve with the skewness to the left.
So is there some way in which we can develop a formula for predicting how long a culture will last. Why is this important? The answer should be obvious. More of this in subsequent posts.
I am sorry about deleting your comment. But it appeared just as I had deleted the entry in order to combine the three posts. I will post this reply in my blog.
(PS: I did warn you. I can get quite ponderous at times)
Here is a brief resume of three great ancient civilizations, the barebone stuff on just about how long they lasted. The actual dates mentioned are open to question- but is ther much to argue about if I state that they lasted about three millenia ?
1. Nile: The Nile valley civilization of ancient Egypt is usually regarded as dating from 3100 BC and ending in 31 BC with the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra by Octavian (Caesar Augustus). That is about 3000 years.
2. Mesopotamia: Almost from 9000 BC when the first agricultural societies were formed to 500 BC when Cyrus, the Persian warrior conquered Babylon. However if Sumerian occupation of the Euphrated basin is taken as the starting point, this comes to about 3000 years again, because the Sumerian period began around 3500 BC.
3. Indus: Probably the shortest of the three, Indus Valley civilization is believed to have lasted from 3500 BC to 1750 BC. That is about 2000 years.