The LIEF Erikson

Monday, October 18, 2004

From Anarchy to Utopia

At some point, we have all asked, as The captain of the USS Magellan did in an interview in the June issue of Tricorder
Do you believe that what we saw on Star Trek in every series about a society with no money, no war, no racial discrimination, etc., that this is truly a possible future for we who are alive today?
This was - and still is - the "Roddenberry Dream", evident right from the start of the Original Series. An optimistic view of the future, where appropriate technology and a philosophy that valued life above property. Where the people in charge used diplomacy and compromise in a desire to help, yet had the strength of character to leave primitive societies alone.

The details were always kept suitably vague so as not to get the program boxed into ideological corners. When you try to work out the specifics of Federation society you are faced with all sorts of philosophical and ethical possibilities. Is it a benign socialism or a gnostic democracy? With the introduction of Star Treks' current incarnation, "Star Trek Enterprise" we could be forgiven for expecting some answers as to how they achieved it, but, true to form, they have consistently dodged all the hard questions. Questions, as mon capitaine so rightly points out, that we should be addressing.

Much has been said about how Star Trek has always included social commentary in its' plotlines. It might not be Shakespeare but it has been a popular forum for ethical and moral questions. I'd like to build on that tradition and take Star Trek to the next level - how would you create a world government, the first step towards Federation?

To this end I have decided to create a personal Fanzine centred on the period of Star Trek history when mankind gets from anarchy - the Post-Atomic Horror of 2079 - to Utopia - The incorporation of the United Federation of Planets after the Earth-Romulan War in 2161. This is a mere 82 years, a single lifetime!

In fact, the critical period is even shorter, for in "First Contact" we are told that "poverty, disease and famine" are gone from Earth within fifty years, ie. 2113. This makes it less than 34 years after our only firm date for the Post-Atomic Horror! How could society change so drastically in just over a generation?

[originally published in Tricorder No9, Dec 2004 as part of "Star Trek - From Barbarism to Utopia"]

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Initial Design

First let me reasure you - I'm no IT whizz-kid! What I know about html and the Net has been picked up in dribs and drabs as I've been wanting to do more and more. I'm a middle-aged male with only High School education: if I can master it, virtually anyone can with perseverence.

- I'm already registered with Blogger and have a few Blogs already on-line so it was just a matter of going to the Dashboard and hitting create a new Blog. The creation is just so easy it isn't worth going over, except to point out that I chose TicTacBlue as my template. I'm a sucker for blues and I liked the elegent dot point style, the font and the graphics.

- Next to get some ideas. Where better than to study the best? Well, at least Blogs that have been recognised as of great value - just browse through the Bloggies.

- I like the idea of boxed side bars and a graphic header so they will be my next projects to upgrade the site.

Turning the first Sod

Every project starts somewhere and this is mine. I have been writing a fair amount over the last couple of years and have had a few ideas percolating through the old gray matter as regards to a quite ambitious project to focus all that work into an Ezine.

Why an Ezine? Why not? I've been publishing stuff in downloadable pdf and although it has been well received, I'm coming the impression that pdf is not a good "Grab" medium. Like it or not the Internet is a very fast paced medium and, just like they say about writing a best-seller - "ya gotta grab them in the first couple of lines otherwise you've lost them"

So if it's not going to be pdf, what's left? Html is an even more widely accepted platform, quicker to load ... but a pain to encode. So the spark of genius hits me and after I put out the fire I realised that what I needed was a series of linked Blogs. Not wanting to sound too much like a Blogger salesman but they're easy to post to, you've got a range of templates to choose from and customisation is not impossible for an amateur. Modular construction means I'll be building this Blog up a piece at a time, hopefully always leaving it in a legible state.

For those interested in the technicalities of how I am doing it read on and I'll try to keep it at the "Little Golden Book of Programming" level.