Here’s the problem: the world isn’t an abstracted world of objects. We can’t just swap one object out and replace it with another. It works for planets, sure, but it doesn’t work for anything else.

Like, what’s the effect with roads and trucks and gravity? It’s fine, step-2-gravity works really well. What about when we abstract the road and replace it with a bridge? Well, the abstraction holds up really well for a while, then the bridge breaks because the truck is too heavy and we realise that objects aren’t interchangable.

Or when things go really fast: they get more massive. The equations break down.

There are two twists we have to make to the Newtonian model:

In physics, this is relativity. [In society too, where we resist it, which indicates that a simple form of relativity isn’t any good at all. There are many kinds of space, many kinds of locality. We should derive “distance” from “meaning,” rather than the other way round, but then we’re stuck with defining what “meaning” is. I’d say, if things move together they go together. Deduce distance from behaviour.]

Matt Webb, posted 2005-09-02 (talk on 2005-06-11)