Author Topic: Selecting technologies for your culture  (Read 481 times)

Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Selecting technologies for your culture
« on: October 01, 2019, 03:59:43 pm »
I was reading about running (!) and embedded in the piece was this Youtube clip of David Attenborough narrating a hunt by the San People of Namibia, described as the last people on earth to live by persistence hunting – where they basically chase an animal until it is exhausted. Obviously the film is highly edited (a whole day down to 7 minutes) and might not be that representative of San People life, but assuming it is, I was struck by the bits of technology they've taken and even more the things they've not taken while apparently not altering their way of life.

Shoes and socks. Obviously useful when spending all day on your feet, and prevent injuries from standing on thorns, scorpions, etc. (But they might have had shoes for thousands of years, made of animal skin or plant materials; so what they've taken is readymade shoes of modern synthetic materials.)

Shorts and belts. Not just clothing but useful for attaching things to. And again presumably easier to swap for some meat than make your own.

Metal for spears and knives. Presuming that "stone age hunting" means they didn't have post-stone age materials anyway, which isn't necessarily true.

Plastic bottles. Presumably lighter and longer-lasting than making them out of animal skins or leaves.

And perhaps more interestingly what they haven't taken:

Guns. Surely a rifle would be the single biggest tool to make hunting for food easier? But they prefer to run. Bullets could easily be obtained by swapping for meat etc, like shoes.

A few half-decent mountain bikes would make the initial tracking, isolating and tiring easier. Probably not so good for the final chase.

A pickup jeep would be useful for taking the dead animal back to the rest of the tribe who don't take part in the hunt. (I wonder if they send a messenger back to wherever they were in the morning to tell everyone where the meat is, or do they cut it up – or drag it whole – back to the camp? After a day's hunt they could be a long way from wherever they started off.) But obviously, even if they could get hold of one, keeping it running would be a huge problem.

Horses might serve the same purpose and be easier to "keep running". Dogs might also help with the hunt. Perhaps they'd eat too much to be worth it? Or be too thirsty in the hot dry climate?

We don't see their homes, or any other aspects of their lives apart from this hunt, but there seem to be quite a lot of things they must have come into contact with that they could use but have decided not to. 

https://youtu.be/826HMLoiE_o
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Re: Selecting technologies for your culture
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2019, 06:42:16 pm »
Horses might be unsuitable for this purpose. As I understand it, San hunters pursue animals to exhaustion. I think that this would also apply to horses. It was said that Apache warriors could outrun  the US Cavalry, because human endurance is far greater than equine. Horses are surprisingly delicate and fragile.

They might not have "decided" not to use certain technologies; they may well have had no access to them. I think that San people are politically and economically disadvantaged, even by African standards.


Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Selecting technologies for your culture
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2019, 07:44:57 pm »
Most of those technologies listed above would appear to take the form of discrete items that work until it doesn't.  More advanced technologies like vehicles and guns require maintenance and supply infrastructure.
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ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: Selecting technologies for your culture
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2019, 08:03:35 pm »
See is you can dig out any Ray Mears footage, he's spent a lot of time with them, including taking part in the hunts.  They still use a lot of stone-age tech in their bows, and use posioned arrows.
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: Selecting technologies for your culture
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2019, 08:06:44 pm »
Yeah, hunting animals till exhaustion would exhaust horses too, I guess I was thinking they could use horses to hunt in a quicker style. Of course it might be that kudu and so on are faster than horses in a sprint, but I guess a larger factor is they have no desire to alter their style of hunting. But a horse could still be used to drag the carcass back to camp. Might be unsuitable terrain though – too dry, maybe.

Motor vehicles are clearly impractical from economic and mechanical reasons. I don't know about guns. They need ammunition, but you if you can buy shoes and spear tips, you can buy bullets. Do they need much maintenance? I don't know.

There's also a question of what you would do if you could suddenly get all the kudu you need in an hour, say, instead of a day. What are you going to do with the rest of the day? Better to keep busy, perhaps!
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Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: Selecting technologies for your culture
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2019, 08:15:11 pm »
See is you can dig out any Ray Mears footage, he's spent a lot of time with them, including taking part in the hunts.  They still use a lot of stone-age tech in their bows, and use posioned arrows.
Beyond the San, I'm wondering about – or wondering about how to go about thinking about – how we are or aren't selective in taking some technologies but leaving others which could accomplish the same ends, in our own cultures. I think one difference might be that we have many technologies which have introduced new purposes since their adoption, so it's a question of technology driving culture.
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ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: Selecting technologies for your culture
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2019, 08:22:09 pm »
Also look up the Man vs Horse race in Wales. In the hot years, the horses are at a disadvantage as they can't lose heat as well as people, and eventually need to stop and walk while people can keep jogging. In that climate, horses are probably at a disadvantage in the hunt. As for carrying the kill back home, cut into pieces and carry it between you. It's not a solitary hunt remember.

“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Selecting technologies for your culture
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2019, 08:23:33 pm »
Or just mention that you've got some spare food, and sooner or later teethgrinder will turn up on a bicycle to help take care of it...
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: Selecting technologies for your culture
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2019, 08:39:12 pm »
Humans are one of the few animals that can sweat. In a hot climate the antelope you are chasing eventually overheats. Dogs and 4wds too.


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Re: Selecting technologies for your culture
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2019, 09:25:59 am »
I don't know about guns. They need ammunition, but you if you can buy shoes and spear tips, you can buy bullets. Do they need much maintenance? I don't know.

No they don't need much maintenance. Not a single shot hunting rifle any way. Pull through with an oily rag to clean out the barrel every so often and the trigger mechanism and bolt action lubricating and the wood given some oil occasionally. Simple rifles go on for ever even in really remote parts of the world.
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: Selecting technologies for your culture
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2019, 09:45:43 am »
Let's rephrase this. The San have adopted a few items such as plastic bottles and shoes which make their life easier without changing its fundamental pattern. They are still nomadic hunter-gatherers, as archaeologists reckon we once all were. For thousands of years they've been surrounded by people who have started growing plants, domesticating animals, building settlements, industrialising, trading, building societies on abstract concepts, etc, but they've had nothing to do with that and have only adopted from it what can be put to use in their life as it is. So with guns for instance they would still be hunters but of a different sort.

Whereas most societies have adopted technologies in order to ease a particular task and then developed new tasks for it, which previously no one had dreamed of. Starting with agriculture, from food production to an end in itself, and urbanization, similarly. You build a boat to catch fish on the lake and within a few hundred years you're discovering new continents. The steam engine was a more powerful way to do the work of a waterwheel or horse and we then made a whole new economy. People have always dreamed of flying so it was natural that once we had the technological ability, we'd fly, but where was the demand for television before it was invented? In our own lives, the internet, computing and telecommunications seem to have morphed in ways beyond what might have been envisioned.

Probably the picture of the life of the San is wildly inaccurate but it's more about us than them, and why they haven't become us.
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Mr Larrington

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Re: Selecting technologies for your culture
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2019, 09:50:52 am »
Nine o'clock, day 1.  Lasers.
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Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: Selecting technologies for your culture
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2019, 07:13:05 pm »
Hmm. Someone just made a fairly long post here and then deleted it. Shame, as I thought it was quite interesting particularly at the end where it said something like (quoting me):
"'...why they haven't become us.'
Because they're clever and can see what a pig's ear we've made of things."

Which to me seems quite optimistic. There's probably an element of that but more, I think, that they just don't like the look of our life.
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ian

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Re: Selecting technologies for your culture
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2019, 09:46:33 pm »
Nine o'clock, day 1.  Lasers.

Day 2. Frikkin' Lasers.
Day 3. Frikkin' Lasers mounted on sharks.
Day 4. It's a tad windy.
Day 5. Sharknado 8: The One That Makes ian Rich.
!nataS pihsroW

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Selecting technologies for your culture
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2019, 10:09:01 pm »
Day 5. Sharknado 8: The One That Makes ian Rich.

I might even watch that one...
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Selecting technologies for your culture
« Reply #15 on: October 02, 2019, 10:22:05 pm »
I really want to do Sharknado: The Musical.
!nataS pihsroW

Pingu

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Re: Selecting technologies for your culture
« Reply #16 on: October 02, 2019, 10:26:01 pm »
I really want to do Sharknado: The Musical.

On Ice.

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Selecting technologies for your culture
« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2019, 10:32:02 pm »
Honestly, that would be so fucking awesome. I'm not going to sleep tonight.
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