Ch 7 ~ “How many words do you see a day?” asked and answered by the Utne Reader and a few others (links embedded within the link to the Utne Reader)
Miles Thomas Brown was something of a genuis by far and away more than his employer Forge Myers. And the redheaded young fellow with the laptop was every bit as charismatic. By far and away. Actually, many times over and on an altogether different plane. The difference was that Miles Thomas Brown didn’t have to work at being charismatic, and he never worked it either. Becuase the truth of the matter was he never had to, but the more essential fact was that “working it” was just not any part of who Miles Thomas was.
On top of being a genuis, Miles Thomas Brown genuinely knew who he was (good, bad, and borderline), and he genuinely liked himself enough to be who he was and to keep improving himself. He could admit to himself when that might be needed. Admitting a need for self improvement (not business, but self) was not something that came so easily to Forge. Trace elements of insecurity drove Forge, although he would never admit that not even to himself. But deep down, Forge always felt a need to prove something. Did success propel this? Maybe. And maybe Forge had forgotten that a deeper learning often comes about from failure. But the fates had been kind to Forge, at least during this general timeframe. Because it didn’t hurt any that with every effort to prove something (and he usually made it a point to be certain that he did), he also made a killing financially. Nice side effect, that. Forge wanted to believe it was innate talent…but somewhere deep inside even he had a hard time saying that while looking in the mirror.
As for Miles, he felt genuinely comfortable, well, anywhere as far as anyone who knew Miles could tell. Even in the Glenwood Cafe where chaos had long since erupted and where he sat alone in a booth until he was beckoned over — as silly as Miles thought this whole “caper,” as Forge had put it, was. Miles’s ability to go with the flow was truly a thing of beauty, particularly at a time when no one could see the stream for the tsunami. That didn’t bother him. Instead, he leaned back in his chair, slightly angled his shoulder blade into the wall and multitasked between scanning his laptop and absorbing what looked to be an animated discussion between, well, at least, Forge who was clearly hell bent on a mission with the girl that Forge had mentioned to Miles only a few days ago. Miles wasn’t entirely sure why. Something about her in the future, Forge had said, and left it at that for the time being.
Pretty girl. Quiet. Seems nice, Miles Thomas decided. He sat in thought, twirling the ends of a pen with his fingertips. He liked pens, Miles did. He liked what they did. They made words and pictures. They were a means to communicate, to voice. He also liked that the girl from the future with the mousy brown hair had noticed him earlier. He especially liked how she had unwittingly “voiced” what he considered to be wonderful aspects of her personality to him. When they first caught a glimpse of each other, he liked that she had returned a smile to him — in a very unconscious impromptu way, he could tell. There was something quaint about that. And something wonderfully simple and authentic…slowing down enough in life, holding the onslaught of information and noise at bay for just a few seconds even to notice these things. To notice. A stream of calm in the mounting tsunami.
Somewhere, not far away…not far at all…a flock of ducks manuveured the air in perfect unison.
Miles smiled and took his own silent advice. He paused from his RSS feeds to reflect on the world around him, which increasingly continued to converge with the digital world. He absorbed the physical world with the digital world not only because that was one of many areas of genuis for Miles Thomas, but also because the idea of the “bleeding edge” was being decimated (Miles would say “has been decimated already and quite soundly”) by the relentless effects of hyper-exponential progress. No human being possessed the capacity to be able to see precisely where the advances in one world held separate and distinct from and didn’t nearly instantaneously spill over into the living of life in another world. The two were increasingly inseparable, the rate of change such that in anyone who used the phrase “bleeding edge” sound dated and completely out of it. The “blurring edge” was more descriptive.
At least this week.
A latest article in his RSS feed used probably 400 words to introduce a discussion about the volume and velocity of information on the internet. The conversation on this topic suggests that , measured in words, a person could easily and quite routinely see more than 490,000 words online each day. To provide a sense of context the article shares that “War and Peace” contains 460,000 words. Not that anyone would want to count the words (except for maybe a mascochistic proofreader) to verify this, but as one who had read the classic, Miles Thomas didn’t doubt the claim.
The slight woman shook her head in astonishment as she continued to draw circles on her napkin while she sat at the table on the other side of the half-wall divide that separated the major sections of the cafe. (Was it a cafe, a diner, a restuarant, an establishment? Did it really matter? At some moments the place felt grandiose like a fine restaurant. Other moments found the place in a very inviting mood, relaxed and open like a diner. The furniture in the place seemed to suggest a quaint outdoor cafe somewhere in Europe, but somehow none of the patrons seemed to be lulled into the belief that they had been transported to Venice. And the idea of “establishment” really had a ring of “old media.”) In her eavesdropping of Miles Thomas Brown, the slight woman hazard a guess and a crass generalization: she had not read War and Peace and she guessed that most people (probably the vast majority) in a 140-character culture hadn’t either. Imagine National Novel Writing Month as a series of tweets. Intrigued, she carefully placed her napkin with concentric circles safely to the end of the table that butted up against the half wall divide and grabbed a new napkin from the napkin holder. With a constraint of 140 characters, the average word count on a tweet is in the 15-word ballpark, according to this webblog. (The slight woman nodded her head in thanks to Miles for the url, which he found by googling “average word count for a tweet.” Miles grinned in a subtle way and acknowledged her with a quiet wave of his pen before he found both its ends with both hands again and felt the weight of the instrument as it twirled between his fingertips.) The 50,000 word count over 30 days that is National Novel Writing Month translates into 3333.33 tweets over 30 days, or 111.11 tweets a day for 30 days. She doubted that even the most prolific twitterer could make that tweet level. War and Peace deconstructs into 30,666 tweets or more than 1,000 tweets a day for 30 days. If War and Peace were written in 30 days. But the point is every day we see more words than all the words in War and Peace, or in tweet-speak more than 1,000 tweets a day.
And that somehow seems a significant point. One way out of a myriad of ways to illustrate the blurring edge. But yes, she admitted to herself, yes still a tangent that for some reason the slight woman hunched over the napkin-as-calculator felt the worthy enough to piggyback onto Miles’s overarching point about the melding of the physical and digital worlds. As fascinating as that was for her, the slight woman still wasn’t entirely sure why she ventured down this path or what it all meant. But she had the sneaking suspicion that if nothing else, it might mean that it was time for her to hit the “save” button.
And that’s exactly what Miles Thomas did.
NaNoWriMos total word count this chapter: 1,400; total word count todate (not including this notation) this chapter: 8,900.