A Return to Physicality


Physicality is defined by Merriam-Webster as  "intensely physical orientation :  predominance of the physical usually at the expense of the mental, spiritual, or social." The above photograph is from a post within a list of physical visualizations. The list begins with the corporeal concept of number in the form of Mesopotamian clay tokens from 5500BC. Included are many fascinating realizations such as a "sculpture" from the Tohoku Japanese earthquake data. The photo from 1985 of Rick Becker of AT&T Bell Labs is particularly striking because on the left, we have a tangible representation, and on the right,  something flat on a green screen. To be sure, the screen representation had the advantage of being dynamic and more efficiently constructed. At the same time, something was lost in the evolutionary process-- the physicality disappeared. We may need to revisit the past to see what can be reconstructed, but with a new flair guided by technologies such as 3D printing and embedded micro controller-based systems. We may also need to evolve our culture because we have lived in flatland for so long. [Related post The Disappearing Trick of HiTech]