inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #76 of 104: Vlidi from Belgrade (bumbaugh) Tue 9 Jan 07 09:40
    

Vlidi writes, saying:



Dear people of well.com ,
I would like to post some questions to the "State of the World 2007" thread,
to my
fellow Belgradian Bruce Sterling :-), and I am not a well.com member (even
if I could
afford the membership, which I can not, most of the credit cards we are
being issued
here are some "funny cards" and do not work online, or anywhere, for that
matter).
I hope it is not too much of a hastle.
Thanks in advance!
And, thanks for this great piece of work, well.com...
Best,
Vlidi.

the questions:

Dear Bruce,

I am writing this first as your new Belgradian neighbor –and as with
everybody else, there is a constant flow of substantial and unexpected
changes in my life happening for quite some time - a year ago, reading
"State of the World 2006"  I couldn't have dreamt of having you addressing
the issues from Belgrade, Serbia. So anything IS possible.

Not that it matters that much - but ofcourse it does matter up to a certain
extent - from which geopolitical aspect one's ones and zeros are pouring
into Net, so while you are here, there are a few things I would like to peak
your crystal ball at, for some hints on possible futures...

The first being (and coming from this perspective) about what we agreed to
call "a digital divide". Now, from pretty much un-wired and offline
environment as Serbia (today) is, how the tomorrow looks like to you for (on
ICT map) a "third world" societies? What do you expect from
OneLaptopPerChild project and similar future initiatives, with millions of
kids from the cultures and historical and cultural backgrounds most of us
don't have a clue about joining the Net for the first time? Will that mean a
gradual death of proprietary software (I think they agreed that OLPC laptops
will initially run Fedora/Red Hat customized distros)? And will it mean the
absolute death of existing traditional copyright legislation, the one being
still predominant in the West, at least in the official discourse (I don't
think those kids will care much for copyright notices, and I am sure the
first thing they will search for and share once online will be media files,
any media files)? While there, will this kind of computer education
development mean that we will have a generations of new open source
programmers worldwide who grew up in open/free environment, awake and on
IM/forums/wikis 24/7, so the solution for any problem or need anybody may
have with software, firmware and related issues will be minutes away? Will
it lead to producing modular hardware "bricks", business surrendering
developing, support or even initial purpose of the devices to users and big
and small derivative open source ventures?

Additionally, what shifts and changes, from the perspective of culture and
communication, we can expect as a consequence of transition of India, and
especially China, from the biggest manufacturers to the biggest markets
(middle class in China is rising at the speed of light)? Capital won't
resist the temptation to win the biggest market ever, so how the design and
marketing campaigns adjusted to far East markets will backfire and affect
the West? Should we better all start to learn our Mandarin (I am slowly
considering it already :-)? English is now represented at just around 30%
among the languages used on the Net (and I guess India is what's holding
English that high), and is gradually shrinking... But, even more important
then the language is the culture, high theories, historical influences and
everyday practices, that are just not compatible or even recognizable from
the background of Western cultural heritage...

As the author who made more or less a total switch to e-production (BTW, can
you tell more about reasons for leaving the Wired column? I guess that there
is more then ecology involved... and does that mean that you will publish
just e-books in the future?) can you give us an opinion on issues of
"content ownership" and consequently the possible revenue models for authors
who, unlike you, still think that they should dedicate 100% of their time to
the particular work they are engaged with at the moment, the people who
usually call themselves "artists" or "theorists" or "experts/professionals",
not really multitasking-inclined? Voluntarism, enthusiasm, activism and
other models exploited by cognitive capitalism and "creative industries"
approach have the feel of "temporary" and "transitional". What you see
trough your crystal ball as the more sustainable solution (fully aware of
the constant evolving, shape-shifting and "unstable" attributes of the "new
media")? Being involved with emerging local CC and other similar processes
and being an author of a kind myself, I am very curious about your views...

Complementary question is: if all the archives will be open and all the
content produced will be free to use (both as a speech and as a beer), how
do you see the possibility of reaching the "tipping point", will there be a
day from which no "original" content will be produced, and from that moment
on all of the "cultural output" will be a remix, a mash-up, a "derivate
work", however distant in the future that day may be? "Adjusting" the
existing approaches and ideas to specific imagery or fashion of tomorrow not
considered as "art", in this example... Is that scenario even theoretically
possible, do you think that there may be a critical mass of "cultural
modules" from which all the possible further articulations may be derived
upon (additionally complicated with "expected" development of
humans&technology in the meantime, except for not-yet-very-likely
incidentally pushing some "singularity-authorized access only" button)? Is
this a "numbers game", at all? Or you believe that what we call "creativity"
and "originality" is so inherent to humanity that it will never be replaced
by another "tool" (making this probably the most stupid question you were
ever asked)?

Another related: why is Net still such a detached, incomprehensible and
almost scary place for a lot of people who could accept it, generation and
infrastructure-wise? Why people still mostly use the Net as a supplement for
what is known already, instead of unleashing all the new possibilities
inherent to it?

So sorry if all this is not formulated in a more accurate way and with less
words, I hope you "feel" what I want to ask :-) And sorry for all the
references to your top-level precog powers – I just couldn't resist :-)

I would have a million questions more, but wouldn't like to create a
congestion or to take too much of your time... It still feels great to hear
"reports" about your occasional visits to places like local activist's
offices and festivals of SF - I hope you enjoy your time here...

All the best,
Vlidi, Belgrade.

P.S. I just couldn't resist this one, as well – and it would be at least
polite to join the predominantly environmental course of this thread – so
it is inevitably happening tomorrow or the day after, so we may do something
about it or not, but – what comes "after the heating"? Will there be a
sudden shift in the very concept of politics, nations, religions,
competition, "markets" and alike, as a consequence of that ultimate
experience? What society/societies may emerge? Or will "social virus"
survive along with it's exhausted host, hibernating until triggered by
another possibility to act?
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #77 of 104: Christian De Leon-Horton (echodog) Tue 9 Jan 07 10:26
    
I don't think open source represents a new medium of exchange, as
such. I think it actually represents a massive shift in the way
business is conducted. It's not especially new--old coders would
consider this history. But I think it's growing, and likely to undercut
a number of our traditional hierarchal systems pretty soon.

Hey, I think I'll get me one of those DNA kits...
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #78 of 104: Jasmina Tesanovic (jasminate) Tue 9 Jan 07 13:01
    
hi all, from ruritania serbia, from Buce's apartment in Belgrade
the globalization of balkanization is underway
the transition to nowhere 
reading all the issues you talk about here
having in mind the digital divide, the gender divide inside the
digital divide
and the importance of being a citizen in the world, even if you are
faking it as we do all these years in ruritania serbia
i wonder
why all these internet games such as warcraft or second life
are not used for constructive purposes other than escapism
fun virtual virtuosity
why can't we use that kind of interface for controlling the elections
for example 
for  trials on line
for monitoring social issues
sex drugs and rock and roll are my biggest joy
but there is no better drug than truth and justice

jasmina's blog http://blog.b92.net/blog/22
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #79 of 104: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 9 Jan 07 13:38
    
Now, from pretty much un-wired and offline
environment as Serbia (today) is, how the tomorrow looks like to you
for (on ICT map) a "third world" societies? What do you expect from
OneLaptopPerChild project and similar future initiatives, with
millions of kids from the cultures and historical and cultural
backgrounds most of us don't have a clue about joining the Net for the
first time? Will that mean a gradual death of proprietary software (I
think they agreed that OLPC laptops will initially run Fedora/Red Hat
customized distros)? 

*I don't think Serbia has to worry much about its unwired status when
the locals are asking such intensely knowledgeable questions about
Fedora/Red Hat customized distros.  As I sit here in Belgrade typing
this I've got broadband and six different wi-fi signals.  Mine's the
only wi-fi offering open access, for obvious ideologically-correct
cyberpunk reasons, but hey, they're all there and none were here a year
ago.

I don't believe in the "Third World."  Where's the Second One?
We've got globalization and balkanization, or the Core and the
Non-Integrating Gap.

http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/Map_index.htm

The problem with Barnett's analysis is that it conflates socialist
states with areas in state collapse.  Venezuela is of great interest to
Barnett obviously, because he's Pentagon, but the only way Venezuela
will collapse will be if the US Army kicks it over.  In my opinion the
areas in collapse are a lot scarier than the leftist states.  Changing
a regime is a picnic.  Restoring civil order is enough to cripple a
superpower.

These boundaries aren't rigid, either.  There are patches of order in
the Gap and patches of gap in the Order.  The Gap is also the planet's
nursery.  Eighty-five percent of the planet's young people live there.

Serbia is Gap.  In fact, Serbia is a kind of world capital of Gap. 
It's a great place for a futurist, there are a lot of trends set here.
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #80 of 104: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 9 Jan 07 15:10
    <scribbled by jonl Tue 9 Jan 07 20:59>
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #81 of 104: Gail Williams (gail) Tue 9 Jan 07 15:39
    
Good to see you, Jasmina. And Vlidi -- originality can't die when you
have such novel questions.
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #82 of 104: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 9 Jan 07 20:59
    
echodog: I said 'different' medium of exchange, not 'new.' Nothing
new about it - people have been bartering or donating their skills and
work products forever. And it's one thing for Open Source to function
alongside a system that creates fabulous wealth for some, quite
another for it to supplant that system entirely. I think it's more of a
'both-and' than an 'either-or.' 

Jamais: in all of our worldchanging work, maybe we should focus most
on creating more scenes like Sustainability 2050. We should take that
process on the road.

Jasmina - a big Texas hello! Why is it that sex, drugs and rock and
roll are not used for constructive purposes other than escapism?
(Actually, Second Life people will tell you that it's used
constructively every day... that it's not a game but an alternate
reality. 
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #83 of 104: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 10 Jan 07 03:36
    


"Another related: why is Net still such a detached, incomprehensible
and almost scary place for a lot of people who could accept it,
generation and infrastructure-wise? Why people still mostly use the Net
as a supplement for what is known already, instead of unleashing all
the new possibilities inherent to it?"

*Those are really good questions.  In thinking it over, I have to
blame the people.   Really: it's people who are detached,
incomprehensible and almost scary. Not the machines.  In the pre-Web
days, the Internet had line commands.  You had to grasp UNIX to do most
anything useful, but the *content* of the web wasn't scary; it was
mostly dry stuff like mailing lists.  They were mailing lists about
subjects like trying to program in ADA for the Defense Department. 
They were densely technical, geeky and dull documents full of acronyms
and with maybe some pseudo-code, but they weren't, like, *insane.* 
Medical texts sounded weirder.

*Then the barriers to entry crashed, and now you can read bizarre
stuff like mash-up filter-dodging spam, which is really a torrent of
absolute verbal nonsense.  Partisan bloggers live in their own little
headspaces.  Political activists used to go mix it up with the commons
in the street, they wanted to know what "the people" felt about things.
 The pajamahideen really ARE detached and scary, their blogs are like
goldfish bowls where the filter broke.  Way too many of 'em are scarily
detached, remote-control wonk-geeks and pundit-geeks: they don't care
any more about objective political reality than somebody playing
WARCRAFT.  

*People blatantly try to deceive you and rob you in your email, with
all kinds of theft, fraud and pr0n pitches...  The porn and voyeur
scene on the Internet is like nothing in human history.  The Internet
doesn't just publicize deviant sex behavior; it's got some kind of
amazing long-tail generator that spews unheard-of mini-demographic
micro-perversions.  Kinks that are shared by a group of, I dunno, maybe
six people.  

If you'd never seen the net before and you blundered into that, it
would have to be really scary and alienating.  The Internet really IS
unleashing new possibilities inherent to itself, and sometimes, it
truly makes you wonder.  Who is the human race?  Who did we think we
were?  
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #84 of 104: pardon my amygdala (murffy) Wed 10 Jan 07 06:10
    
>Who did we think we were?  

Great question. Much easier to answer than "Who do we think we are?"
By "easier", I mean exceedingly difficult.
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #85 of 104: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 10 Jan 07 09:12
    
Imagine Teihard de Chardin, back from the grave, discovering with
initial wonder the noosphere did in fact form around the planet.
Looking closely, he finds that it's 80% bondage porn and ranting
narcissism. I guess that's the real heart of darkness.

In Zen Buddhist meditation, there's a phenomenon called makyo, a kind
of mental noise that masquerades as signal; a nightmare that will
sometimes pretend to be kensho (enlightenment), and derail the
practitioner.
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #86 of 104: Jef Poskanzer (jef) Wed 10 Jan 07 10:04
    
80% crap would be 10% lower than expectation.
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #87 of 104: "The Best for Your Health!" (rik) Wed 10 Jan 07 10:16
    
I think you're being kind, jef.
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #88 of 104: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 10 Jan 07 10:36
    
(I was trying to be kind.)
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #89 of 104: Jef Poskanzer (jef) Wed 10 Jan 07 12:17
    
I was just quoting the law.
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #90 of 104: 'Yanni S.' (bumbaugh) Wed 10 Jan 07 13:02
    
Yanni writes:


Here's a depressing prediction that I just read in Wired, which sort of
moves in the opposite direction from "rule by open-source":

The net will become distributed among a limited number of proprietary
devices (PDA's, media-file players), out of the sheer necessity of not
being spammed or infected with a virus; the PC (and, one assumes by
extension, open-source) will follow along the slow, sad decline of
Citizen's-Band radio.

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/15.01/start.html?pg=15
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #91 of 104: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 11 Jan 07 07:27
    
The Core and the Non-Integrating Gap also applies to the Internet.
Proprietary Devices would be commercial corporate Core, and the
viruses would be state-failure and terror.  Open-source is commons. 
Commons is persistent and beloved, but it's not doing all that great.

That may be a "depressing prediction," but it's not a given that
we pull through this.  It's good to confront such possibilities
squarely, instead of just turning up the megaphones and bellowing that
we'll cakewalk through Baghdad.  The Internet scene is menacing and
unhealthy in many obvious ways.  Ninety percent of email is spam. 

We're gonna get the Internet we deserve.   If that's depressing, it's
because we are depressing.  If we are depressing, then we ought to
shape up.

It's an embarrassment when you see a golden idol reveal its feet of
clay.  It can be disillusioning.  But if you're not illusioned in the
first place, the spectacle's not so bad.  If you look where the
Internet came from, it wasn't that golden a situation.  In 1960, the
ARPANET was like a cross between Licklider's daffy comp-sci dream of
computer-human symbiosis and a Pentagon drill for a post-nuclear
holocaust. 

 We don't have a word for an idol of clay that has feet of gold.  But
you know, they often do.  

If we can't see a way forward, that doesn't prove there isn't one. 
Optimism is often blinkered, but pessimism can be a kind of arrogance. 
We don't know every important factor that determines the shape of
tomorrow.  We ought to show a little healthy humility before we indulge
ourselves in the luxury of utter despair.
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #92 of 104: Jamais Cascio (cascio) Thu 11 Jan 07 08:38
    
"Pessimism is a luxury of good times. In difficult times, pessimism is a
self-fulfilling, self-inflicted death sentence."

--Norwegian social scientist Evelin Lindner
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #93 of 104: Cupido, Ergo Denego (robertflink) Thu 11 Jan 07 15:10
    
>But if you're not illusioned in the first place, the spectacle's not
so bad.<

But where is the room for idealism?  Without illusions, the human race
would be satisfied with mediocrity. ("To dream the impossible dream,
to fight the unbeatable foe,..........."). 

How about "optimistic pessimism" or "pessimistic optimism"?

Great quote from Lindner, BTW.
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #94 of 104: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 11 Jan 07 20:40
    
But against the palpably sophistical proofs of Leibniz that this is
the best of all possible worlds, we may even oppose seriously and
honestly the proof that it is the worst of all possible worlds. For
possible means not what we may picture in our imagination, but what can
actually exist and last. Now this world is arranged as it had to be if
it were to be capable of continuing with great difficulty to exist; if
it were a little worse, it would be no longer capable of continuing to
exist. Consequently, since a worse world could not continue to exist,
it is absolutely impossible; and so this world itself is the worst of
all possible worlds.

~ Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, Vol. II, Ch. 46.
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #95 of 104: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 12 Jan 07 01:31
    
I'm totally into dreaming impossible dreams.  Got no problem with
that.  It's a business model, even.  The problem comes with dreaming
impossible dreams, discovering  that they don't match the objective
state of the actual world, and declaring that the world is therefor
mediocre. 

 If the world had been created to match up to our ideals, there would
never have been such a thing as, say, quantum physics. That just
flat-out wasn't dreamt of in our philosophy.  Quarks.  What is all THAT
about?  Is THAT supposed to make this the best of all possible worlds?
  Strangeness, charm, up, down.  As far as we can figure, that's how
the world actually *works.*  Are we supposed to be optimistic or
pessimistic about it?  

"Wow, man, quarks.  I'm so upbeat and affirmative about those!"

"No, no, this sorry world has far too many random quantum
fluctuations.  Schrodinger's cat was doomed from the beginning!"  

Are quarks mediocre?  Should we fight them as an unbeatable foe? 
Should we hold our breath until they go away? Or celebrate them in the
streets?  It seems to me that the proper attitude toward phenomena like
quarks isn't pragmatism or idealism or pessimism or optimism or any
-ism at all, really.  It ought to be a sense of engagement.  Of
wonderment.  That's a pretty tepid attitude compared to declaring a
bold crusade against quarks, but you learn more that way.  

As a futurist, I've come to feel that optimism and pessimism are
serious intellectual vices.  They truly cripple your ability to come to
grips with likely courses of development.  You can't properly
entertain just-upside scenarios or just-downside scenarios.   That's
like wearing a blinder over one eye.  

I myself tend to be a rather acerbic, dismissive, Mencken-like figure,
but that's just a matter of my personal temperament.  That's not the
way the world actually functions.  Politics doesn't exist in order to
give me sardonic chuckles; I mean, yeah, I get a hell of a lot of them,
but that's not what politics is actually trying to do.

To do serious futurism you need to think historically.  The future is
a kind of history that hasn't happened yet.  If someone asked if you
were optimistic or pessimistic about the 19th century, that question
would have no meaning.  If you wrote a book about the 19th century and
you said it was the worst of all possible centuries and that only glum,
terrible, and degrading things happened then, you'd be clearly
fraudulent.  You wouldn't be considered a great historian; it'd be
obvious to everybody that you had some kind of bee in your bonnet.

When it comes to future events rather than past ones, we should try
for an even-tempered historical judgment.  It's more important to seek
an understanding of the determining factors than it is to hasten to
praise or blame. 

 Many of those factors, the driving forces that shape tomorrow, are
very, very old.  Like, say, the spread of the English language. 
English was spreading long before we were born and will continue to
spread long after we're dead.  Even though we're users of English here
and obviously moral actors in that process, we can't take that entirely
to heart and declare that it's all our own fault or virtue.  The
spread of English has good aspects and it has bad aspects, but our
ability to do anything about that in our frail mortal lifetimes is
limited.  It's a vast historical process.  It doesn't exist to please
us or displease us.  It's not our friend or our enemy.  It was what is
was, it is what it is, and it will be whatever it will be.
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #96 of 104: Cupido, Ergo Denego (robertflink) Fri 12 Jan 07 06:52
    
>Even though we're users of English here and obviously moral actors in
that process, we can't take that entirely to heart and declare that
it's all our own fault or virtue.<

It may be that the praise and blame game is testimony to an underlying
belief that some form of agency makes the world happen. I think that
the question "why?" has such implications, suggestion a "will" behind
phenomena. "How?" is a more modest, neutral question that points us to
understanding the determining factors and to staying relatively free of
placing praise or blame. (We also miss the fun, of course.)

In this vein, praise and blame can be seen as evidence of belief in
miracles even when it they (praise and blame) are offered by a nominal
atheist.  
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #97 of 104: Gregory Naughton (bumbaugh) Fri 12 Jan 07 07:28
    
Grogry writes:


(Er, Gregory writes:)


To go along with the post from Shebar Windstone,

I had this idea sometime ago which strikes me as still a good one which
would be to in some measure introduce a federal program to produce, handle,
and recycle a standardized set of multi-purpose containers.  These would
accommodate a wide range of conceivable shapes and sizes -- especially for
soft-drinks, water bottles, glass jars, etc.

It seems that there is a good deal of overlap with most products in the
grocery store where the containers could be generalized, categorized and
manufactured according to strict specifications.  How this would work is
that say, you package your applesauce in a glass jar of type B13, so B13 has
a set lid and glass jar.  Ragu also uses B13 for Spaghetti sauce, etc..  Now
that we know everything about B13, its size, measurement, lid-fitting, etc,
then instead of having to melt the jars down and re-create them after each
usage, we merely need to collect them and powerwash them suckers and then
out the door they go, shipped off to whoever the next guy in line is who
needs a palette of B13 jars, back through the cycle again.  You do this for
as long as you can until they become too damaged.

It seems that federalizing of something so low-level and so simple, but so
essential to daily life would eliminate a good deal of energy waste and
reduce landfill size, etc..

How do you get companies to bother to use these jars?  A tax credit or
incentive probably.  They wouldn't be for everybody, but it would make your
company look cool if you used them.  I think it would work, I just never
knew who to tell it to.

This bottle deal seems to suggest a larger metaphor for instantiating
federal programs to take over some of the trivial aspects of every day
existence that aren't critical to expression or vanity but are entirely
necessary and do so with an eye to smart design, re-usability and clever
frugality.  The solution(s) to global warming no doubt consist of lots and
lots of small hacks that add up, smarter ways to do the same old thing.  the
trick is just recognizing what those are.

I suppose that this presupposes an intelligent enough electorate?

Sincerely,
Greg Naughton
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #98 of 104: Berliner (captward) Fri 12 Jan 07 08:30
    
Actually, the container thing is in limited use in Germany; when I
have empty bottles, I can go to a machine at my supermarket and feed
them through one by one and the readout says "Becks .5L" or "Volvic
PET" or whatever, not because that was what was in the actual bottles
I'm returning, but because that's the form factor, after which I press
a button and get a credit receipt out. But it not only does beer and
water bottles, but various sizes of yoghurt jars and so on. 
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #99 of 104: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 12 Jan 07 11:42
    
*Wa-ha-ha!  Best news I've had this year!  Some lamps of
mine have shown up here in Belgrade customs!  The lamps I designed are
actually physically existing and for sale!  People are buying them!

http://www.annalena.fr

*If I can get them out of the hands of the puzzled shippers,
I'll actually own some copies of my own designer lamp!

*This is a stereotypical story of design, ladies and gentlemen...
even though these lamps are made of the CHEAPEST AND
HUMBLEST INDUSTRIAL MATERIALS POSSIBLE, literal 
plastic cable clamps...

http://www.cableclamp.com/

...because they are hand-assembled in a tony Parisian
atelier and sold through galleries, they are pricy
art objets that will set you back a cool USD1,500!
I wouldn't dream of buying such a thing.  But, you
know, people do.

*I don't think they plan to make many.  It's too onerous.
If, for some strange reason, you really need one,
better move fast.

PS, yes, it is a fluorescent lamp with green credentials...

PPS.  They come with French, not US wiring...

PPPS there may be a little trouble at Customs...

This is a fine high-note in which to cruise out of this
State of The World discussion.  I gotta pack.  I'm heading
for San Francisco.
  
inkwell.vue.289 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2007
permalink #100 of 104: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 12 Jan 07 12:11
    
There's a very real economic issue here - reusability has impact on
churn that puts bread on somebody's table. Similar issue with fossil
fuels - if we could go 100% solar/electric tomorrow and eliminate our
need for gasoline, we would trash a whole economy built around
petroleum. A significant weakness within the environmental community is
its failure to acknowledge and address the economic impact of proposed
solutions.  On the other hand, we suspect that there are significant
business opportunities related to sustainability and energy efficiency.

So I would say that, if Greg was going to write a proposal to
"introduce a federal program to produce, handle, and recycle a
standardized set of multi-purpose containers," he would want to show
the impact on exisiting business and, to extent it's a negative impact,
how to mitigate the down side, no?  And perhaps demonstrate any
related opportunities for new business.

***
Slippage, as we say on the WELL (i.e. Bruce posted while I was writing
the abover response). Bruce, I recall fiddling with those clamps at
your house in Austin some time ago - I never could make 'em into
anything cohesive. Congratulations!

Hopefully one of our hosts can summarize this discussion and figure
out what we said about the state of the world. The news ain't great:
more war, in fact a military *surge* that might accidentally leak into
Iran,  while old-fashioned Marxists are attacking the U.S. in Greece
(!!!)... and bitter cold and ice are on the way, despite global
warming.

Martin Luther King's birthday is Monday, and I just heard a news story
about a scrap of paper he carried with him, where he'd written a quote
from Mahatma Gandhi, and this is probably a good quote to wrap things
up: 

"...in the midst of death life persists, in the midst of untruth,
truth persists, in the midst of darkness light persists."
  

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