Alternate realities

Kanarra Creek Canyon

Every generation has a world view. It’s not a consensus but an aggregation: the epistemic closure of all extant ideas of the world, plus dusty notions found in books and charts or obtained by parental contagion.

World views provide meaning. An impossibly complex reality that probably actually exists is sampled through our senses, experience by experience, made simple and limited by our own limitations. This data stream is transformed and made intelligible us as it filters through the preconceptions and optimizations that comprise our world view. The final product is raw metaphor, disconnected from its origins but representing them in ways that hopefully are conducive to our survival.

The final form of a metaphor is often based on a generation’s favorite technologies and tools. When we build something, it shapes our understanding of everything.

An example: this process, executed collaboratively by all of us together, is really just the universe’s ways of executing a massively parallel computation, rendering an unknowable world into discrete shared polygons of artificial reality. We live in our own simulation. (And now you know what our favorite tool is.)

In the nineteenth century, medicine conceived of the body as an industrial machine, built from pneumatic tubes shuttling various types of humors and vapors from one place to another. The twentieth century brought us cars and airplanes, and doctors went from being magicians to being mechanics, making house calls to tune up our bodies. Turing and von Neumann brought us computation, code and data, at which point our minds transformed into computers. We developed drugs to poke our memory banks, and psychotherapy to reboot our subconscious systems or flash our firmware.

This generation? Its metaphors are software.

Our minds became tangles of layered, conflicting subroutines, our bodies generic algorithms executed from gestation onwards. While dating remains a linear search that resists optimization, everything else is now indexed by user reviews and delivered to us on the next business day. Life itself is blockchain: the only part of our constructed reality that resists our newfound ability to undo, to CTRL-Z and forget it ever happened.

In many ways, this is a profound evolution. Like software, this generation is more flexible than any before it. It can operate on parallel tracks, focus on multiple goals simultaneously, and change itself while effecting change. This generation demands personalization and settings. With freedom to act, it will re-skin our reality.

And so for the humble trip planning software behind this blog, the mechanistic thinking of the past is no longer sufficient. Travel plans can change along the way, and our users now expect the ability to rectify and undo. And while we can’t actually reverse the blockchain of your life, we can at least help you find alternatives, allowing some sort of compensatory forward motion towards a better place. The past may have progressed linearly, but your future should offer you multiple choices.

Without further ado, we present a new Backroads feature: alternative days. They’re like real days, only alternative. You can have as many schedules as you want for a given day, planned separately based on some pivot. It might rain. You might be tired from yesterday’s hike. Road conditions to your preferred destination might not be conducive to survival. And so parallel universes must be available to you.

Now they are. As of version 1.0.22.

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