Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 12 Jan 09 22:36
God works in mysterious ways.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 13 Jan 09 00:56
*If it comes to that, Jhane and the Japanese husband can come sleep on my floor. As Confucius say, the righteous will never lack for neighbors. *Meanwhile, on the clean-tech front... Okay, I know that this is an important meeting. Also, these are important people doing some of the direly necessary green-industrial heavy-lifting. If I wanted to be a serious journalist or activist-player in this world, I would go hang out at this thing. I would interview them. I would publicize them. I would help them network. *I don't want to do it. I don't want to talk to these people. I know somebody should, but my heart's not in it. Okay, maybe Janine Benyus, the one among the crowd whose efforts would most interest a science fiction writer. Other than that, I just can't go there; I'm too much the technosocial butterfly. I don't have what it takes to do a good job of it, and life is too short to go around reluctantly performing crap work. *Maybe someone within earshot of this will go do that. It needs doing. CLEAN EDGE ALERT Events and Announcements for the Clean-Tech Community (((Did you ever notice how every clique in the world has become a "community"? Somewhere there must be a "Massive Investor-Defrauding Ponzi Scheme Community."))) Register Now for the 5th Annual Clean-Tech Investor Summit Only 120 Spots Remaining Worldwatch President Christopher Flavin latest luminary to confirm attendance at the premier clean-tech event of the year! (((I love the word "luminary." There ought to be a special dress code for luminaries. Perhps it involves fractal paisleys.))) Coming on the heels of President-Elect Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony and the largest global financial crisis seen in decades, this year's Summit will provide a place for the leaders of clean-technology investing and deployment to discuss new strategies as well as emerging industries and cutting-edge ideas. Register Now And Save $400 There are only 120 spots left. Register now to save $400 by using the Clean Edge code "CED400" when registering online or by phone. Be sure to save your space today for the 5th Annual Clean-Tech Investor Summit in Palm Springs, scheduled for January 21-22, 2009. (((Lotta windmills near Palm Springs.))) Register online or contact IBF (Cathy Fenn) at (516) 765-9005, Ext. 210 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Confirmed speakers and panelists include: Britta Gross, Manager, Hydrogen & Electrical Infrastructure, GM (((General Motors Hydrogen Bailout))) Christopher Flavin, President of Worldwatch Institute (((They've watched it decline for decades))) Dana Flanders, President, Chevron Technology Ventures (((ate the little players ten years ago))) Janine Benyus, author of Biomimicry and Cofounder of the Biomimicry Guild, LLC (((a goddess))) Kevin Walsh, Managing Director Renewable Energy, GE Energy Financial Services (((General Electric founded by Thomas Edison personally))) Larry O'Donnell, President and COO, Waste Management (((someone's gotta clean the sky))) Marc Verbruggen, CEO, NatureWorks (((Nice company name))) Peter Darbee, CEO and President, PG&E (((We shut down switches, California governors fall like ninepins))) Peter Gleick, President and Cofounder, Pacific Institute Reyad Fezzani, CEO, BP Global Wind & Solar T. Boone Pickens, Founder and Chairman of BP Capital Management (((clouds of menacing dry ice fly from his cowboy boots))) Attention Venture-Backed Clean-Tech Startups! Venture-backed clean-tech companies click here for the opportunity to showcase your products/services to potential investors, partners and customers at The Clean-Tech Investor Summit. The Clean-Tech Investor Summit, co-produced by International Business Forum and Clean Edge, and chaired by Technology Partners' Ira Ehrenpreis, is the premier clean-tech investment and innovation event. Held each winter in Palm Springs, CA, the event brings together leading investors, Fortune 500 executives, entrepreneurs, and relevant service providers for two days of high-level presentations, conversations, and networking. The 5th Annual Clean-Tech Investor Summit is scheduled for January 21-22, 2009. For more information, visit www.cleantechsummit.com. This year's sponsors include: Deloitte, Morrison Foerster, Orrick, Stanford Group, Hobbs & Towne, Jefferies, Accsys Technologies, Comerica Bank, Cooley Godward Kronish LLP, Italian Trade Commission, (((Way to go Italia))) Mintz Levin, Page One, Sonnenschein Venture Technology Group, American Council on Renewable Energy; National Renewable Energy Laboratory; and UK Trade & Investment. Join the Clean-Tech Investor Summit LinkedIn Group. We look forward to seeing you there! The Clean Edge Team
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 13 Jan 09 00:59
*If actual industry-booster work is too much for your frail countercultural bones, maybe you can scribble a little. Wanna Write for GreenBiz.com? GreenBiz.com is looking for guest and regular columnists and feature writers. We're seeking contributions from business leaders as well as the journalists who write about them. If you're interested, send a brief query to managing editor Matthew Wheeland, at email@example.com. Read our editorial guidelines. (((That would be a good idea just on general principles.)))
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 13 Jan 09 01:16
*Meanwhile, on the dietary front, world peace breaks out because Americans are too fat to get off the couch and fight. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2009/01/12/national/a040610S5 0.DTL (...) Maj. Gen. Thomas Bostick, head of the Army Recruiting Command, said he wants to see a formal diet and fitness regimen running alongside a new school at Fort Jackson that helps aspiring troops earn their GEDs. Bostick told The Associated Press that obesity looms as "a bigger challenge for us in the years ahead" than any other problem that keeps young people from entering the military, including lack of a GED or high school diploma, misconduct or criminal behavior and other health issues such as eye or ear problems. According to Defense Department figures provided to the AP, over the past four years 47,447 potential recruits flunked induction physicals at the nation's 35 Military Entrance Processing Stations because they were overweight. (...) Obesity afflicts recruits for other physically demanding jobs, including firefighters. Deputy Chief Ed Nied, chair of the safety, health and survival section of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, said fire departments are also making a "major push" to encourage better fitness among young people who want to join. "We draw from the same exact population that they (the military) draw from," Nied said from his Tucson, Ariz., headquarters. "This comes from a lack of physical education in the high schools." (..) *No it doesn't. It's not just high school kids who are fat. Forty percent of the whole population is visibly afflicted. *When I return from Europe to the USA these days, I can see that fat Americans are not simply "fat," they look goiterous somehow, obscurely malnourished. The American media has been crammed with fat-cures, exercise programs, fad diets, for decades now. It's not a new problem. *American people in health-food stores are fat. Maybe a little less fat, but not a whole lot. You look at the obesity ratings and they track pretty well with Red States -- but it can't be political convictions making Americans fat. In America the *poor people* are fat. *I have to suspect there's an undiagnosed determinant here. Something very heavily present in the American diet that other national regions don't have. I'm not a nutritionist -- and I don't think American nutritionists know their jobs, or their clientele would not be dropping in droves -- but I suspect it must be some omnipresent industrially food substance. *My guess would be corn-syrups. *I'm wondering if the roots of this obesity epidemic started with the anti-Castro sugar embargoes. Americans seem to have corn-sweeteners in everything. Other countries didn't do that -- they rot their teeth with real sugars. *I know this sounds like off-the-wall food paranoia, but when you're out of the US and you return to it, the physical state of the population is shocking. Especially -- and I have to say this --the recruits for the Transportation Safety Agency. Obviously this is one American militia which has no problem recruiting people who can barely heave out of their chairs. *When you get off a European plane and you confront these bloated characters prying through your luggage, it's Kafka-esque. It's like 1970s bande-dessinee grotesquerie from back issues of METAL HURLANT.
Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Tue 13 Jan 09 01:38
Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Tue 13 Jan 09 01:39
<a special dress code for luminaries. Perhps it involves fractal paisleys> Like restoring a fixer-upper with good bones, countercultural kudos for the post (#152), Mr. Sterling. Even John D. Rockefeller did great work with his foundation, (((years after his frail, robber baron body was buried))). And if Goddess Jhane's fractal paisleys were luminous, they would be outrageously hip, as hippie as the Dead's upcoming spring run that's not playing anywhere near Italy, but is not much less expensive to attend than those digitally-designed sweaters you do such an outta sight job of amortizing.
Lisa Harris (lrph) Tue 13 Jan 09 04:25
From Thomas Sepe I would say that what is needed is leadership - social skills on the ground, in the flesh, in our neighborhoods, to organize people to work together. I think there is a failure of relying too heavily on technology to solve our problems, whether it is fuel cells or social networking sites. Television, computers, all of these things are de-socializing us... expensive technologies take energy and resources and complicated sometimes toxic materials and processes to manufacture.... Don't get me wrong, I love my laptop... but I don't even know my neighbor's names.... and I can guess that is true for a lot of renters in cities and suburbs all over the U.S..... we have virtual communities... but our actual communities what about that? Tom Sepe firstname.lastname@example.org Oakland, Ca
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 13 Jan 09 07:44
From Colin Ashe, via Twitter: Which vulnerable & venerable institutions *won't* collapse in 2009? What will thrive, Cassandras be damned?
all rush the king... (uburex) Tue 13 Jan 09 08:45
Question(s) for bruces and anyone else -- Any big breakthroughs on the way in personal fabrication technology? Will we reach a point soon (5-10 years?) where it might be feasible to set up community fabrication workshops? Or are we stuck with a situation where, as bslesins put it in post #35, "making high-margin fashionable stuff (including media and software) becomes increasingly do-it-yourself but the boring stuff like basic supplies and infrastructure get manufactured cheaply by international companies at scale" for the foreseeable future? I'm a MAKE dilettante, and the idea of personal fabrication tech is interesting to me...but intuitively, a world where everyone has their own "personal fab inkjet" doesn't seem much more sustainable than what we have now. I could see a more community-oriented approach yielding more sustainable results. I'm prepared to admit that this might just be a failure of my own imagination, however. Hence the questions.
Cogito, Ergo Credo (robertflink) Tue 13 Jan 09 20:57
The wonders of the present could well be infrastructures (aka "boring stuff") of the future. Of course, infrastructure requires some attention to be reliable as we have recently learned here in Minneapolis. We can't expect new generations to be thrilled by the same developments as those in the past. In fact, the more successful and reliable a technology is, the more we "rely" on it, relegating it to infrastructure. Little honor and recognition accrue to those who provide infrastructure and the young pick up on that fact very quickly.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 14 Jan 09 02:54
"Television, computers, all of these things are de-socializing us... expensive technologies take energy and resources and complicated sometimes toxic materials and processes to manufacture...." *Well, the net and cellphones definitely are de-socializing us -- in the sense that former social structures are visibly dissolving. Last night we had dinner for guests and we brought out some fine silverware from the 1930s. It was amazing how archaic it looked and felt compared to our mismatched plates, re-used jelly-glasses, constantly bleeping cellphones, a digital flatscreen at our elbows, and the other globalized bric-a-brac of our multinational existence. *It's beautiful social technology, silverware. Henry Petroski wrote some very nice design-studies things about silverware. Silverware is pretty. To eat with tools almost as heavy as lead makes you very conscious of proper table-manners. We have almost none. Except that we are kind to our friends. Everyone was comfortable; we are how we are. The silverware didn't feel much like sociality any more; it was a party trick, conversation pieces. *Being de-socialized doesn't mean falling into an asocial abyss. The 1930s were horrible times. If you try to return to the sociality of the 1930s you are heading straight for what they used to call "the Dark Valley." *I don't have 1930s catered dinner parties, but I do have stuff like this WELL conversation.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 14 Jan 09 03:02
Question(s) for bruces and anyone else -- Any big breakthroughs on the way in personal fabrication technology? *I recommend a look at www.fabbaloo.com for some remarkable coverage of this very intriguing topic. Will we reach a point soon (5-10 years?) where it might be feasible to set up community fabrication workshops? *Yes. Or are we stuck with a situation where, as bslesins put it in post #35, "making high-margin fashionable stuff (including media and software) becomes increasingly do-it-yourself but the boring stuff like basic supplies and infrastructure get manufactured cheaply by international companies at scale" for the foreseeable future? *All of the above. If you've got the gumption to put together a fabbing hacker-space, you're kinda by definition not "stuck." Besides, there's a very loose boundary between high-end fashionable stuff and boring everyday stuff. Cellphones were for rich jetsetters once and now they're boring everydayness. *Serious hobbies tend to bore other people; otherwise theyre not personally fulfilling activities but a form of public entertainment. I'm a MAKE dilettante, and the idea of personal fabrication tech is interesting to me...but intuitively, a world where everyone has their own "personal fab inkjet" doesn't seem much more sustainable than what we have now. I could see a more community-oriented approach yielding more sustainable results. *I hate to plug my own work here, but you need a look at my book SHAPING THINGS, especially the description of what it might be like to be a "wrangler" of "spimes." I'm prepared to admit that this might just be a failure of my own imagination, however. *There's a lot of imagination in the lazyweb.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 14 Jan 09 03:05
*We're gonna have to wind this up soon. Jhane might yet sneak in under the wire, but... *Okay, a word to the wise here. Don't like fractal paisleys? "5.11 Tactical." Known to Merlin Mann as "Internet pants." The shirts are even better. I wear Jhane Barnes when I'm acting luminous, but I live in 5.11 Tactical shirts. *I'm looking for the chic European equivalent of these garments. Haven't found any just yet. *But I'm patient.
all rush the king... (uburex) Wed 14 Jan 09 05:25
bruces, thanks for the response. fabbaloo does look like an interesting read, and I'm intrigued by the description of "Shaping Things" on Amazon.
all rush the king... (uburex) Wed 14 Jan 09 05:46
robertflink -- You wrote :"The wonders of the present could well be infrastructures (aka "boring stuff") of the future. Of course, infrastructure requires some attention to be reliable as we have recently learned here in Minneapolis." That's quite insightful. When I started college, we had a T1 connection in the computer labs, but the dorms were just beginning to be wired for access to that network. Instead, we used a sort of simulated modem pool through the digital phone system (ah, fond memories of using lynx to do online research when I couldn't be bothered to walk to the computer labs!), or, if you knew what you were doing, you could connect to the main network through a PPP connection, but it was definitely in "beta" when I was there, and very slow. Any one of those connection methods, however, compared to BBSes, AOL, and Compuserve (all I knew about online communication pre-college), was a huge improvement! By the time I moved off campus, all the dorms were wired for ethernet, and we were lucky enough to be in one of the first neighborhoods where broadband-over-cable was being tested... Now, I don't know what I'd do without some form of high speed internet connection. Of course, I think you're talking more about conventional physical infrastructure, but the same principles apply, I think. Someone has to lay the wires to connect homes to the net and maintain those connections; someone has to keep the bridges in repair to make sure they don't collapse. Which, I think, presents an interesting point: creating the infrastructure requires a separate skill set than installing it, which requires a separate (maybe?) skill set than maintaining it. I can change a light bulb, but installing a new light socket is a bit beyond me. I could learn, probably, but there's someone out there who already knows, can do it quicker and more cheaply, and has less of a chance of electrocuting himself. All of which just feeds back into the need for community... Sorry for the rambling. Haven't finished my coffee yet.
Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Wed 14 Jan 09 08:50
Thanks, Bruce, for taking the challenge to be constructive. From all of us old Well counterculturalists, here's a fine hata Merlin Mann ether-giftfor you to wear with your Jhane fractal lumi-threads: http://www.43folders.com/topics/monthly-pimp Seriously, have a great '09!!
pardon my amygdala (murffy) Wed 14 Jan 09 09:13
One last question: How many bruces does it take to change a lightbulb?
Every Acid Dealer Gets Busted Eventually (rik) Wed 14 Jan 09 09:47
That's easy. bruces has gone over to LEDs.
(jacob) Wed 14 Jan 09 11:58
The milling and deposition and laser-hardened-goo machines are very clever and very cool. but they can't make anything that you couldn't make in 1875 given a room full of machine tools and a small casting works. Putting that capability in your garage is a big step forward but it's maybe 0.01% of the way towards a universal object-building machine. I doubt I could find a single object in this entire office which could be made only from parts made in such a machine, and that's assuming that I'll do the assembly work by hand. That is not to detract from them. I'd love one myself. But we're at least as far from a small-scale self-replication-capable assembly machine as from human-level artificial intelligence.
Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Wed 14 Jan 09 13:35
The big rap on ethanol is how it drives the cost of food up. The big rap on American's these days is the epidemic of obesity. And...yes...corn syrup is the number one culprit. SO, to have more fuel to burn and burn more calories at the same timei.e., help solve the energy crisis and generate a quantum improvement in the physical health of the population, at the same time, all we need to do is... (((have the USDA ban high fructose corn syrup in all domestically consumed foods and drinks)))
Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 14 Jan 09 14:58
>but they can't make anything that you couldn't make in 1875 given a room full of machine tools and a small casting works. Jacob, this statement reminds me of the cartoon showing the scientists and the flow chart with the spot marked "And then a miracle occurs." The whole point is that room full of tools. When I went to see the Leonardo: 500 years in the future exhibit when it was in Florence, the thing that stood out, in my view, was that not only did he invent things (some of which were actually made during his lifetime) he also had to invent the technology to make them, like the casting works that he had to design to build the Sforza horse. It's the tools where the miracle occurs. What you make with them is the sub-miracles. On a slightly different note: here's an example of an early community fabrication workshop: http://www.bicyclekitchen.com/
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 14 Jan 09 16:20
Our hosts haven't mentioned it, but today a new Inkwell conversation is starting and our formal commitment to carry this one forward ends. Nobody's dousing the lights or locking the door, though... so carry on if you'd like. Here's the link for 5.11 Tactical: http://www.511tactical.com/ I can imagine a world where everything's DIY. That's where we came from, after all. Economies may crumble but people carry on... life persists. I was watching a bit of the Golden Globes and thinking how massive an enterprise filmmaking has become, and how expensive... and they're still churning them out, and crowds of filmgoers are still showing up, enough to drive ongoing production. We haven't abandoned the theatre experience completely in favor of our various devices, however sophisticated the display and sound. The experience of sitting in a crowded theatre with others sharing an experience is still compelling. And elsewhere, I see more people aggregating in more places, coordinating those physical experience through virtual channels. So as Bruce says, we're no way asocial, but sociality has been redefined and rechanneled, those energies are pouring into new infrastructures for experience. Derek Woodgate and I have created a think tank, called Plutopia, that produces events instead of white papers. Our next will be at SXSW Interactive, March 16. It's the kind of event I think we'll see more of... there'll be bands and DJs, and many convergent art installations, and speakers (including hopefully Bruce), and all kinds of interestingly weird, forward-looking experimental stuff. Robots, makers, etc. We might throw up some screens and do something with film or high res video. People just flock to events, and the event itself is an art form. (This isn't completely new... we learned a lot from Mark Petrakis, aka Spoonman, and his Anon Salons... actually the "Spoonfest Betatest" that I attended in 1993, which was a bunch of Bay Area geeks doing cyberactive vaudeville.) And it's social, people meet at events and hang out. Not long ago I watched an ad hoc intentional community form in front of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at Antone's in Austin... for a couple of hours a bunch of people who were unlikely to see each other again fell in love ... with the band and with each other... and I think this is not uncommon. When you jack into the noosphere, I guess you don't have to be explicitly social in some defined way. A fish doesn't need a bottle of Perrier.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 15 Jan 09 00:17
Well, as Huey Long used to say during the last Depression, "Every man a fish with a bottle of Perrier." I see that both my banks are crashing today, because they've lost all confidence in the loans they gave me. Gosh, if I'd known it was that easy to smash capitalism, I probably woulda done it when I was a college student. I live pretty modestly here in Turin, but compared to Friedrich Nietzsche (he lived in my neighborhood) I have every conceivable advantage. I'm better fed, I'm better educated, I have my health and even the critics are kinder. So I guess that 2009 is the year when I knuckle down and whip out a text to top THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA. Like reformatting industrial civilization, that oughta be easy. And fun. So long till next time. Be luminous!
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 15 Jan 09 05:43
Thanks to all who dropped by, vocal or lurking. See you all next year...!
Emily J. Gertz (emilyg) Thu 15 Jan 09 14:41
Nau might be the line that edges towards a chic version of 511 Tactical. I bought several items during the big fire sale, when it looked like Nau was going under during the spring. I would have really regretted paying full price for a couple things -- the "casual" pullover cotton blouse, say -- but the technical gear is almost miraculous. Crafty understated zippered pockets, wide range of movement in the sleeves and shoulders, beautifully cut and sewn, and the fabrics feel and look durable without saying "I'm a nature freak." And no logos ineradicably cut and sewn into or printed on the garments. And it's all supposedly extremely eco-virtuous material, to boot, but I really have nothing to compare that claim to. Thanks for hosting a great, thought-provoking conversation, jon and bruce!
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