HP Lovecraft on Big Data

"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents."

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

I'm no expert on Lovecraft, but I'm guessing that a science fiction writer who died in 1937 did not have the precise formulation "Big Data" in mind when he opened his famous story "The Call of the Cthulhu" with these lines. 

But detached from their native context and pasted as the epigraph of a 1987 role-playing game adventure book I found in a vintage book store, Cthulhu Now, it kind of makes sense doesn't it? 

Because data is merciless. It will correlate all its contents. And then what?

Alexis Madrigal

 

Presented by

The Blacksmith: A Short Film About Art Forged From Metal

"I'm exploiting the maximum of what you can ask a piece of metal to do."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

Video

The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

How a Brooklyn tattoo artist popularized the "cattoo"

More in Technology

Just In