I had a job once working on a database. I probably shouldn’t say too much about it because it was a third-party, confidential thing for a big company and involved a lot of proprietary information, but it was stuff that I didn’t really understand anyway. I just moved it around.
We called it the product tree. The stem was “these are our products”, and then it branched off into this kind of product and that kind of product and what did they do and what were they made for etc. etc.
But the owners of the information had changed their minds about what they wanted. I can’t remember what it was, something about whether they wanted to group products by what they were, what they did, or how they were marketing it and who it was for. My job was to move the information from the one tree, the one where all the products had been, to the next one, which was already set up when I got there, it was just a matter of moving things from one tree to the other.
Now, I don’t know much about computers as far as software or anything. I learned a lot on the job about ways of thinking about moving things around within a database, but without knowing how to program the databases themselves, I learned just enough to be terribly frustrated any time I use any database where I can’t, for example, copy documents in such a way that changes are made to them in every place that they’re copied to. Now, maybe there is a way to program any database to do that, but I’ve never been able to figure it out.
I don’t know why—maybe just because of the way that my brain works—but I always had a tendency to try to turn everything into Fantasy. In this case, what I came up with was what if there was a central database of every object in existence. It’s essentially Plato’s Cave, but using a Tree instead, a universal product tree that has the specs for creating any kind of object, and then branches down into infinite fractals that get more and more specific, down to the information on every individual copy of specific genetic information.
What if you could go onto that product tree and make changes? I had probably been able to make changes to products. Granted, when I did it, I was doing it under orders and purely for marketing purposes—I didn’t know what I was doing. But what if someone who did know what they were doing was able to access the Universal Product Tree—The Tree of Life, if you will—and make changes that could actually affect the objects themselves?
What if that was how magic worked?
These are the things that I thought about as I wielded my keyboard and (to be honest) my mouse as twin axes, chopping down that old product tree in the client company’s back yard: that a whole world was being broken down into its constituent rules and processes, piece by piece, perhaps not even realizing that changes were being made, that there was less matter in their little universe, or at least fewer things that could be done with it, until each individual possibility sucked through the binding Void reawoke in a brave new world that wasn’t different, quite, but just maybe presented in a different way, to different people.
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