I was listening to a long interview on C-SPAN, on Youtube, with an author writing about the Johnson Era (as in US president Lyndon Johnson, but with a long career before that). Robert Caro is the name of the historian, and no, I haven’t read his books on Johnson yet, though I may have read his book on Robert Moses, who has interested me as soon as I tuned him in.
One aspect of Johnson’s career that Caro brings to light takes us back to the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration and the government’s program to expand electrification to rural areas. Private enterprise had little incentive to undertake such a project. Johnson had grown up in an exceedingly isolated and lonely area of Texas. Caro lived there for a time, to get the flavor. The Johnson museum contains lots of letters from grateful Texans, because Johnson helped bring them “the lights”.
One of the least read histories, I’m guessing, because it’s so quirky, is one by a poet of our industrial age. I’m speaking of Critical Path by R. Buckminster Fuller. Rural electrification is a big part of Fuller’s story. He’s concerned with the spread of electrification, and the corollary collection of global data more generally. His writing somewhat anticipates our ability to access satellite based services, such as Google Earth, and study patterns over time. What’s going on with the energy picture?
Pumping reliable global data into data warehouses, and mining this data, visualizing trends, anticipating future developments, perhaps countering them or reshaping them, is what World Game is all about. In my own early writings I decided to feature a Global Data Corporation that was all about supporting World Game. This was pre Google Earth. I wanted GDC out there as a meme and resorted to science fiction. My global company would not be incorporated in terms understood by “whiteman” business law. I was envisioning native peoples pushing back against Anglo imperialism, with a global corporation of their own devising. I didn’t get as far as designing a logo, but I did sketch some ads. The meme was launched, at least in the orbit of my own writing.