Monday, November 7, 2011

In Retrospect

Hindsight is a terrible thing sometimes.
I suppose it’s the same thing for foresight. I have a degree in Studies of the Future, and it’s a Foresight thing. My fellow (more accurate, involved and committed) Futurists work on Foresight. There are countless possible futures, with some that are probable and some that are more likely. What we do now influences which category a possible future shifts into. If we abandon nuclear power at this juncture in history, then a future where nuclear power is the primary power provider becomes much less likely, even unlikely.
That’s what drew me to Studies of the Future, I suppose: the allure of studying the various possible future outcomes. There is an entire society in Asimov’s Foundation trilogy which uses psychohistory to forecast the future. The idea was that you analyze all the past data of society and this analysis will help predict the future. True futurists shudder when you say "predict" instead of "forecast" since only the latter is based on data analysis. I suspect many other Futurists were impacted by Asimov, whether they admit it or not. (If this blog was more universally read, I guess I’d expect some flame posts for that one.)
Foresight and Hindsight are the driving forces for many computer gamers. After decades hiding in dark rooms in front of a glowing screen (“You were eaten by a grue.”) I am now free to admit my passion for gaming. I focus on role-playing games, though. These give me the freedom to influence my character’s outcome, at least within the parameters of the game. For me, the ability to play the game again, using different character attributes and a different game style is what brings me back, time and again, to some of the best publishers. For instance, I liked Might and Magic and Heroes of Might and Magic, but had little desire to play them twice. I had a problem with the Civ and Sim series of games because they were too much micro-manage, and I never really had my personality invested in an avatar.
As an aside, I’m not really able to play an evil character, even if the game lets you do it. In some games it is actually promoted as an attractive option; for instance, in the fantastic game Knights of the Old Republic you can choose to play the Dark Side of the Force. I tried, really, but I just couldn’t play the Dark Side. In other games you can play an evil character, roaming the world and destroying the inhabitants instead of interacting with them. I can’t do that either.
So with many role playing games you use Foresight to determine how you want to craft your character as he or she progresses. You’ll even go out and read how others did their characters, gathering information to make good foresight decisions. Once you play through the game, if it is attractive enough, you’ll evaluate how you did with your character “build,” make changes and play again. Your foresight is improved the second time through the game.
We don’t get do-overs in real life, sadly. We rarely get second chances, so when we get them we should evaluate them carefully and make better choices, choices that will improve our own happiness and, by extension, the happiness of those around us. Note the order of that statement. I know too many people who put the happiness of other people first, and they’re miserable. The trick is this: be happy with your life and that happiness infects others. When you try to create happiness for others you might display symptoms of happiness, but there is no true happiness.
Hindsight is a terrible thing.

I originally had an entirely different post here, admittedly a cheating post with a list of Linux commands, but my daughter cried foul. She was right. In hindsight I can see that.

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