Embedded agency is an organizing theme behind most, if not all, of our big curiosities. It seems like a central mystery underlying many concrete difficulties.
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Z still had an hour to wait. She scanned the cavernous lobby. The surrounding walls were like molten rivers standing still. Thick sheets of aloof concrete, protecting Z from the climate outside. In the corner Z spotted the now familiar B Code, its shape—with its curves and simple lines—trying too hard to be considered art deco. The lobby-based B Code was substantial yet submissive, stationed quietly in the corner. Z remembered when they were a novelty a decade ago. Had it been that long?
The day they embedded the B Code into the concrete, everything changed.
A descendant of the bar code, and then the QR code, the B Code communicated a localized story. Narratives of the first pour. Specks of maintenance. Opportunities for renewal.
Once smartphones achieved enlightenment-- about a decade ago-- it was hard to dispute their usefulness. Quickly the sensors of disparate “phones” worked to prove themselves. They recorded imperfections in the below and sideways concrete, and they told stories of the quality of systems embedded within… much to the chagrin of the ultrasonic plumbing industry. Smartphones were the early storytellers of the B Code. But the B Code contained the story.
The day they embedded the B Code, the government changed its approach. Some said it was geriatric. That switch from “I care too much about what people think of me” to “I don’t care at all! Let me throw scarves in the air and sing reflective songs at the top of my lungs!” A joke! of course. But Z knew that.
The real reason the government embedded the B Code was quite obvious. Doing so made THEIR jobs easier. It was much easier to procure and manage with the B Code in place than without it. So what was the harm in that? Her heartbeat continued to pound. Thud. Thud. Thud. She still couldn’t believe why she was there.