On QC discussing the personal experience of technology

My favorite webcomic, Questionable Content, is in the middle of a story arc that I am absolutely loving.


Here's a quick summary of the dramatic situation, which you may feel free to skip if you read the comic.

Questionable Content takes place in an alternate reality (or alternate technology) present day.  It generally fades into the background -- so much so that it's hard to notice, when reading the comic, how weirdly different the world they live in actually is.  (I think it fits into a genre common to webcomics of sci fi realism that I'd love to talk about later, but don't want to get into now.)  But in this arc, they're pretty directly talking about the weird tech in their world.

The arc starts here: Hello, Clinton


It features 4 characters: 3 humans and an AnthroPC, which is an AI computer-friend.  From left to right on the first panel of the arc, the characters are:

Clinton, an over-eager student;

Hannelore, who grew up on a space station with her super-revolutionary father;

Momo, an AnthroPC who recently upgraded to a person-sized body from a very small one (probably about a foot high);

and Marigold, a socially awkward gamer and anime nerd who's only recently started hanging out with people outside World of Warcraft.



The arc is exploring the relationship between people in a society and the advancing technology around that society.  My favorite thing to come out of it so far is the phrase "Innovation Fatigue," which Hannelore attributes to her father.  As she puts it,

Technology is advancing so fast these days, and changing so much, that the average person has to treat it as perfectly normal or they'll be overwhelmed.

At that point in the comic, Hannelore is beginning to get overwhelmed being caught between Clinton's animated optimism and sense of urgency, and Marigold's sense of apathy towards it all.

While they're focusing on the fairly extreme technology in the QC universe, the observations they're making about human experience is notably totally applicable to the real world.  It might not be the same phenomenon, and the events of the changes might not be quite so obviously visible as little, troublemaking robots, but technology in the QC universe is advancing at pretty much the same rate and in pretty much the same way as technology in the real world.

I don't know where Jeph is going with this, but so far he's setting the stage for a really interesting discussion of the difficulty in finding a balance between modernistic utopian excitement and absolute apathy -- a balance which may once have been easy but is now very difficult to find.

It's one of the many examples of ways that, as a species, in the developed world, we're in culturally uncharted territory, and I'm excited to see where this discussion goes.