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Posted: 4/17/2010 6:58:15 PM EDT
Episode 1 - "The Trigger Effect" - Part 1 of 5

Connections explores an "Alternative View of Change" (the subtitle of the series) that rejects the conventional linear and teleological view of historical progress. Burke contends that one cannot consider the development of any particular piece of the modern world in isolation. Rather, the entire gestalt of the modern world is the result of a web of interconnected events, each one consisting of a person or group acting for reasons of their own (e.g., profit, curiosity, religious) motivations with no concept of the final, modern result of what either their or their contemporaries' actions finally led to. The interplay of the results of these isolated events is what drives history and innovation, and is also the main focus of the series and its sequels.

To demonstrate this view, Burke begins each episode with a particular event or innovation in the past (usually Ancient or Medieval times) and traces the path from that event through a series of seemingly unrelated connections to a fundamental and essential aspect of the modern world. For example, the "The Long Chain" episode traces the invention of plastics from the development of the fluyt, a type of Dutch cargo ship.

Burke also explores three corollaries to his initial thesis. The first is that, if history is driven by individuals who act only on what they know at the time and not because of any idea as to where their actions will eventually lead, then predicting the future course of technological progress is merely conjecture. Therefore if we are astonished by the connections Burke is able to weave among past events, then we will be equally surprised by what the events of today eventually lead to, especially events we weren't even aware of at the time.

The second and third corollaries are explored most in the introductory and concluding episodes, and they represent the downside of an interconnected history. If history progresses because of the synergistic interaction of past events and innovations, then as history does progress, the number of these events and innovations increases. This increase in possible connections causes the process of innovation to not only continue, but to accelerate. Burke poses the question of what happens when this rate of innovation, or more importantly change itself, becomes too much for the average person to handle and what this means for individual power, liberty, and privacy.

Lastly, if the entire modern world is built from these interconnected innovations, all increasingly maintained and improved by specialists who required years of training to gain their expertise, what chance does the average citizen without this extensive training have in making an informed decision on practical technological issues, such as the building of nuclear power plants or the funding of controversial projects such as stem cell research? Furthermore, if the modern world is increasingly interconnected, what happens when one of those nodes collapses? Does the entire system follow suit?
Link Posted: 4/17/2010 6:59:57 PM EDT
Great series, all of them.
Link Posted: 4/19/2010 6:02:49 PM EDT
Bump just in case there are one or two more who enjoy awesome shit like this.

Link Posted: 4/19/2010 6:13:18 PM EDT
If you search, you can find torrents of all the Connection series.
Link Posted: 4/19/2010 6:18:57 PM EDT
Used to watch the show all the time. Glad they're out there to see again. Now that my kids are older, will definitely have to point them in this direction!
Link Posted: 4/19/2010 6:42:39 PM EDT
The Connections shows are great, but holy shit, Burke is a fugly dresser.
Link Posted: 4/19/2010 6:43:27 PM EDT

The books are great, too.

Link Posted: 4/19/2010 6:44:03 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Ohio_Bill:
The Connections shows are great, but holy shit, Burke is a fugly dresser.

A Brit, in the 70's. He was STYLIN'!

Link Posted: 4/19/2010 6:44:18 PM EDT
Burke is outstanding. Both Connections and 'The Day the Universe Changed' should be required viewing fer the kiddoes.
Link Posted: 4/19/2010 6:47:33 PM EDT
Excellent series. I have the 1st series on ... wait for it... VHS.
Link Posted: 4/19/2010 6:51:36 PM EDT
you know, that first episode is haunting.

Watch the first few minutes, and listen to the sound. and where it was filmed.

Episode One

Link Posted: 4/19/2010 6:54:48 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/19/2010 6:55:55 PM EDT by nightstalker]
Yes, this is the issue of various Priesthoods.

It may mean the next level below the experts must try harder to gain an understanding of the fuller effect of a certain technology, enough to ask meaningful questions that "experts" may know the answer to but aren't spending time talking about.

Nixon could have used a little advice here and there.

I suppose the idea of the Invisible Hand comes in here somewhere too.
Link Posted: 4/19/2010 7:02:49 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Silence:
Great series, all of them.

Overall, yes.

But sometimes his "connections" are tenuous, at best.
Link Posted: 4/19/2010 7:14:31 PM EDT
I've only met a few people that, at least it seemed to me, understood fully the technology he talks about - my honors physics prof at William and Mary, another friend from college who entered the graduate program at Princeton and now teaches there in the history department, and an esteemed member who posts here. Such an understanding must require an IQ of at least 160.

I can't stand being in these "technology traps" he talks about. I avoid public transportation at all costs and hate to fly. At least I know how to fix my car and bicycle.
Link Posted: 4/19/2010 7:57:14 PM EDT
Used to watch these in elementary school. Thanks for the link.
Link Posted: 4/19/2010 7:59:54 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/19/2010 8:10:09 PM EDT by wingnutx]
Connections is a great series, as is Burke's similar series The Day The Universe Changed.

ETA: Both series are on bit torrent, btw.
Link Posted: 4/19/2010 8:18:16 PM EDT
Big fan of Connections here...
Link Posted: 4/19/2010 8:27:05 PM EDT
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