A concept by Neal Stephenson which asserts that society is a two tiered system -- you have Morlocks which are the educated, bright, highly motivated elite which run everything and like good coffee and food, and then you have the Eloi who like spectacle and love to be dazzled and are willing to pay to be presented with an Interface Culture which is essentially a lie, the purpose of which is to gloss over the horrible and uncomfortably complex truth.

Morlocks are the intelligentsia and the Eloi are the bourgeoisie, of course. The proletariat is pretty well fucked.

There is far more detail and potential in this concept that was gone into in the essay, IMNSHO.

Stephenson casually deflects much of the potential criticism implicit in this division by saying that people are malleble and can cross divisions between the categories -- making reference to people who aren't interested until something specifically tweaks their interest (like being sued will make you more interested in law, for example).

There's also a very nice point that most people are Morlocks about something in particular, and Eloi about everything else. I code -- I try to know everything about computers, but quite frankly I don't really want to know anything about cars or video cameras. Stephenson makes the point that Linux forces you to be an expert in the system in order to use it effectively. This is jwz's quote: "Linux is free only if your time has no value". Palm was a success where Go and General Magic failed because it did not force users to be experts -- sometimes features and power are to be avoided where they get in the way of accomplishing a specific goal. Sometimes, I want to be an Eloi.

Why? Because we live in an attention economy. There is no time to become an expert in everything. Despite Heinlein's assertion that specialization is for insects, it's the only way our economy can go. I mean it: it's a firm economic rule that two people specializing will always be more productive than if they do everything themselves. No matter how smart you think you are, you are a target market, a consumer. And the best way to present data without massive cognitive interpretation is through a visual interface (i.e. no words).

Acknowledging the power of visual interface design (as opposed to command line options) provides Eloi with an easy way to make their decisions. I've seen video's of a one year old starting a Mac and drawiing a circle with MacPaint. This girl couldn't even talk and she could point and click.

The Morlocks and the Eloi originally came from H. G. Wells' book The Time Machine. In it, the narrator travels into a future in which the human race has diverged into a cave-dwelling, machine-operating servant race and a carefree, happy, and rather stupid race of dainty surface-dwellers called the Eloi.

Only, the narrator had arrived not too long after the Morlocks started killing the Eloi.
Go read the node, Orange Julius has put the entire book in everything.

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