Today I was at an NYU facilities meeting at which somebody pointed out that in addition to a recycling bin, it would be useful for a new lab to have a place to throw technotrash.

It took about five seconds for my mind to register completely that he was referring to the detritus of our cyber world — old monitors, discarded motherboards, burnt out disk drives and the like. It makes perfect sense to refer to such stuff as “technotrash”. In fact, I can’t really think of a better word for it.

But during those first five seconds my mind flashed on Jeremy Irons as Claus von B├╝low in “Reversal of Fortune”. And, by extension, as Scar in “The Lion King”, which is essentially the same role, only with more neck hair.

In other words, the first thing that came to mind was the transmutation from “Technotrash” to “Eurotrash”.

During those five seconds, I found myself doing a mental inventory of all sorts of interesting ways that a thing can be the “trash” version of something else: Robotrash, infotrash, machismotrash, flamencotrash, politicotrash, even espressotrash. The list goes on.

But “technotrash” just seemed so specific and evocative, and one image in particular came crisply into focus: Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker in “The Social Network”.

2 Responses to “Technotrash”

  1. J. Peterson says:

    A bright side of Moore’s law slowly running out of gas is not having to update hardware all the time. My home laptop is pushing six years old, still works fine. There’s no reason for me to replace the five year old Mac Pro I’m typing this on. My three year old app phone is a bit sluggish, but it’ll go at least another year.

    OK, maybe a university research lab has to be on the cutting edge. But is a dedicated trash bin still necessary?

  2. A Japanese folklore, elderlytrash, just came to me. (as a random idea.)

    A small village has a local law that anyone older than 60 years old will be abandoned to a mountain called ‘Ubasute yama”. A man put his mother to this mountain, but he cannot abandon his mother, so he secretly took care of his mother. One day, the village had a problem that their harvesting was dying. Nobody knew why. The man told his mother what happened. The mother remembered that a similar thing happened when she was very young, and her grandfather solved the problem. She taught the method to her son, he tried the method, it worked. There were two more incidents, and every time his mother solved the problem because she had experiences. After he saved his village three times, he challenged the local law. The village agreed to stop this custom — elderlytrash–, and only the name of mountain, “Ubasute-yama” remains until now in Japan.

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