Data Leaves No Ruins

The best part of any video game is not the beginning, or the middle. The best part is the end. After you have had all the fun, collected all the loot, and defeated all the enemies, you get to examine the statistics of your game. How much did I earn? What was my kill to death ratio? When the game is done, the player gets to see how well he did.

The end of the game statistics might not be as much traditional fun as the game itself, but they are fascinating. And they will last a lot longer. The enjoyment of a game is a fleeting thing, stuck in a single moment in time. But the statistics of that game can last forever, and help you to remember the fun you had. The moment was real, and now it is gone forever. The record of the game, the statistics, are basically imaginary. But they are still with us.


“Just 201 more points and I would have beaten ASS !

Statistics, records, and history are all essentially the same thing. They are great tools for telling stories about the past. And they are very useful for predicting the future. But they are not real. At least not in the way objects and people and places are real. Real things exist in the universe, and everything in the universe is subject to decay. A record, or a memory, is timeless. Sure, records can disappear, but they don’t leave ruins. They don’t erode away. They are not part of the universe. They don’t actually exist.

Existence is temporary. Data is forever.

The thing that doesn’t exist, the data, is much more useful than anything that actually does exist. I can drop a ball from a high tower. After a few seconds it hits the ground. I can gather all the relevant data about what just happened and create an equation that describes the event. But the equation is not the event itself. That is gone, never to return.

I can use that equation to better understand the event that happened. I can use the same equation to predict what might happen. But the equation is not real. I can’t hold it in my hands, or drop it from a tower. But I can always count on it. It will never change.

I can gather all the relevant data about a person’s life and create an equation to describe that person.


This equation is called a biography. I can do the same thing for a place or time period, and that equation is called history.

Biographies and histories. Equations and statistics. None of these things are real. They are more like echoes of things that happened. Or shadows on a cave wall. They’re not real, but they’re really all we’ve got.

Allegory of the Cave

This puppet show sucks.

So go out. Learn histories. Create equations. Test your hypothesis. Time on earth is temporary, that is how you know it’s real. All real things have endings. But maybe you can use that time to make a timeless record. Maybe somewhere, in the Universal Server, there is a record of how many breaths you took. How far you walked, or how many people laughed at your jokes. These statistics aren’t real, but if they do exist, then they will exist a lot longer than your actual self.

And who knows. Maybe there is another game after this one. Maybe you can even import your old save file.

game over

Or maybe not.