inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #126 of 186: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 4 Jan 13 01:33
    

*I'm sure there's some gloomy reason why this latest news from
Belgrade is really terrible for everybody, but I'm too lazy to think
that up.

*Oh wait: it's about jets, so it's carbon-loading, it's
climate-crisis.  There, it really is a pretty morbid business after
all, so I hope the local doomsters are happy now.



"Serbia's Belgrade Airport records busiest year in history


"EX-YU Aviation News - 04.01.2013  (((There really ought to be "EX-YU"
tshirts, pennants and bumper stickers; the tourist trade is missing a
good bet here.)))

"Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport recorded its busiest year on record
since opening its doors back in 1962. Nikola Tesla Airport welcomed
3.363.919 passengers, a 7.7% improvement on 2011. 

"As a result, Belgrade surpassed its previous busiest year, 1987, when
it saw 3.311.951 passengers pass through its doors. Besides an
extensive domestic and European network at the time, the airport also
offered direct flights to Africa, Asia, Australia and North America.

"Furthermore, that same year, JAT Yugoslav Airlines  (((Why do they
still call it that?))) handled 4.531.000 passengers.

"Belgrade Airport recorded a busy December. It handled 224.869
passengers compared to 217.684 in 2011, an increase of 3.3%. This is
despite a significant drop in the number of operated flights. A total
of 3.202 arrivals and departures were recorded, down from 3.425 the
year before. Belgrade has retained its position as the busiest airport
in the former Yugoslavia...."
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #127 of 186: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 4 Jan 13 05:57
    
Bryan Alexander just posted this on Facebook: "Last night I dreamed
that Amazon.com was hiring nuclear engineers."

Meanwhile, from Global Voices:

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/01/01/irans-supreme-leader-behind-enemy-lin
es-with-new-facebook-page/

"Amid all the discussions about launching a halal or national Internet
in Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, took everybody by
surprise with a new Facebook page launched on December 13, 2012. We are
talking about the same Facebook, which for most Iranian citizens to
access requires special software or a Virtual Private Network to bypass
the country’s strict filtering! The news became official on December
15 when Mr. Khamenei’s Twitter account, believed to be run by his
office, promoted the page by posting a link to it. According to The
Guardian, Khamenei's official website has not yet confirmed the
existence of the page, but the conservative news site Baztab reported
that the account was run by his office."
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #128 of 186: Ed Ward (captward) Fri 4 Jan 13 06:02
    
Apropos of absolutely nothing said in the past half-dozen posts, I
wanted to note that as soon as I saw the link, I downloaded Bruce's new
book Love Is Strange (and not just because Mickey Baker died this
year), and started reading it last night. I'm now on Location 1517 of
6876, 22% of the way in, and, except for having to report those
numbers, which essentially tell me nothing, I'm enjoying it a lot.

Okay, carry on...
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #129 of 186: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 4 Jan 13 06:55
    

http://openthefuture.com/2012/05/the_pink_collar_future.html

*I'm a little unclear on how robot labor is supposed to create a new
pink-collar class of feminized empathy workers.  It seems to me about
as likely that a dissolving middle class would simply return to its
origins as the household servants of the privileged rich.  Scratch a
one-percenter, find an illegal nanny.  Being a live-in foster mom is an
empathy and emotional-awareness job for sure.
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #130 of 186: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 4 Jan 13 07:20
    

I really enjoy reading history -- especially HISTORICAL history,
histories that are themselves really old.

For instance, here's "Manners, Customs, and Dress During the Middle
Ages, and During the Renaissance Period," By Paul Lacroix (1806-1884.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Lacroix

Here Lacroix is describing why Dark Age feudalism cracked up around
1100 AD, as cities and urban politics began to spread out of Italy. 
Obviously something like that really happened, you can study surviving
buildings, material objects,  read surviving political and financial
records, you can see that a lot of people who used to be dirt-poor
serfs are becoming citizens, and so forth.   It happened, it's
historical truth.   But, as Jamais puts it, "Why?"  What's the reason,
where's the causality?  What were the trends?  What made that happen?

Lacroix says (in English translation):

"Two strong impulses, originating from two totally dissimilar centres
of action, irresistibly propelled this great social revolution, with
its various and endless aspects, affecting all central Europe, and
being more or less felt in the west, the north, and the south. On one
side, the Greek and Latin partiality for ancient corporations, modified
by a democratic element, and an innate feeling of opposition
characteristic of barbaric tribes; and on the other, the free spirit
and equality of the old Celtic tribes rising suddenly against the
military hierarchy, which was the offspring of conquest. Europe was
roused by the double current of ideas which simultaneously urged her on
to a new state of civilisation, and more particularly to a new
organization of city life."

*Sounds so great!  You're reading this description of a great social
ferment, you get all swept up in the majestic Hegelian scope of it... 
However....

"impulses" "centres of action" "irresistible propulsion" "great social
revolution" "aspects" "partiality"  "a democratic element" "innate
feeling" "barbarian characteristic" "free spirit" "double current of
ideas" "urge" "new state" "new organization"

*What ARE those?  Can any of these be measured?  Do they have any
objective existence as actual phenomena?  Would anything in this
reasoning change if you just switched them around at random, so that
the "characteristics" were the "elements,"  while the "aspects" were
the "partialities"? 

Are they falsifiable?  Are they in any way predictive?  "Greeks plus
Celts make a Renaissance."  Okay, how do you know that?  What's wrong
with, positing, "French plus Byzantines make a Renaissance?"

I don't want to be a big philistine about Lacroix's writing -- like I
say, I read heaps of history, and I even have a taste for art and
literary critique, not to mention postmodern theory -- but if you want
to be a big-picture "social futurist" instead of some squinty
trend-reading numbers guy, you're in a tarpit of this stuff.  

We may think we're doing better 'cause we're "cyborg anthropologists,"
but will the passage of a hundred years deal with that coinage kindly?
 I have to wonder.
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #131 of 186: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 4 Jan 13 10:23
    
My Reality Augmented colleague Tyger AC posted an summary of 2012
cyborg news and trends here:
http://spacecollective.org/Wildcat/8121/ReBeComing-Human-2012-an-Optimistic-Pe
rspective

He quotes CNN re our colleague Amber Case
(http://edition.cnn.com/2012/12/05/tech/cyborg-anthropology-amber-case/?hpt=hp_
c3):

“Cyborg anthropology is the study of the interaction between humans
and technology, and how technology affects culture. Mobile technology
allows one to stand almost anywhere in the world, whisper something,
and be heard elsewhere. These devices that live in our pockets need to
be fed every night require our frequent attention. In only a few years
these devices have become stitched into the fabric of our everyday
lives. Phones offer us respite from the boredom of waiting in lines,
but they also inhibit us when they run out of batteries. In traditional
anthropology, somebody goes to another country, says: "How fascinating
these people are! How interesting their tools and their culture are,"
and then they write a paper, and maybe a few other anthropologists read
it, and we think these cultures are very exotic. Cyborg
anthropologists step back from the modern world and look at the
everyday life and how the people around us are influenced by technology
in everyday life.”
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #132 of 186: Roger Weeks via E-mail (captward) Fri 4 Jan 13 10:50
    
<130> "We may think we're doing better 'cause we're "cyborg
anthropologists," but will the passage of a hundred years deal with
that coinage kindly? I have to wonder."

Cyborg, and indeed all the other words we've created that start with
cyber: cyberspace, cyberwar, cybernetics, cyberpunk - all of them sound
very dated to me. Very 20th century, as it were. The prefix is even
older than our modern usage of it, but I associate all of these words
with the cold war and the futurism that flourished then. Should we
really be using them to talk about the future?
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #133 of 186: Susan Sarandon, tractors, etc. (rocket) Fri 4 Jan 13 11:21
    
What Is HotWired?
HotWired is new thinking for a new medium. We call it a cyberstation, a
suite of vertical content streams about the Digital Revolution and the
Second Renaissance with an integrated community space.

-- HotWired FAQ, 1994
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #134 of 186: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 4 Jan 13 12:50
    
<captward>: I agree about overuse of "cyber" then and now, and I don't
use it very much, but I think "cyborg" is a good and useful term
that'll stay relevant. I first saw it used in a comic book, I think in
the early 60s; then and thereafter most uses I saw assumed that a
cyborg was a human implanted with enhanced technology, or perhaps
percolated (like the replicants in "Blade Runner") in labs, a
combination of organic and artificial parts. In a 1990s conversation
with my former FringeWare partner, genius coder Paco Nathan, talking
about Menstat (software he developed for tracking ovulation cycles) and
projecting the development of what we now call "quanitified self"), I
realized that anyone using digital technology could be considered a
cybernetic organism, or cyborg. The definition of the term could be
broader, an enhancement doesn't have to be implanted within (or built
with) the organism. From that point on, the term seemed to me more
relevant and substantial.
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #135 of 186: (Jeff Kramer) O o . o O (jeffk) Fri 4 Jan 13 20:25
    
I wonder if 2013 is the era when software bots finally become useful.  I've
been working on some technology related to them, and it seems like there's
some almost-ready-for-early-adopter level technology about to break through.
I've been playing with weavrs a bit, though they're more of a social gizmo,
I think they're giving people a sense that maybe the time is right.

<http://www.weavrs.com/find/>

I've got a SXSW talk this year about bots that present as human, and as
research I read a copy of Andrew Leonard's Bots (which I found in my garage
while cataloging a bunch of stuff to give away to my friends).  In it he
goes into the history of MU* bots and IRC bots, and quotes Negroponte and a
bunch of folks from the early 80's dreaming about having bots that would
control your house or whatnot.  It seems like the API economy and the
Internet of Things and the cloud means that all the pieces are in place to
actually make that happen.

As an aside on the sharing economy, put up over 300 items, and only managed
to give away a tenth of that.  My takeaway was that people don't really want
more stuff, they want the visceral and emotional experience related to
aquiring it, and reading through a huge web page of books just doesn't give
that thrill.  A book you find for $1 in the bargain bin of a used book store
is a lot more attractive than one of your friends cast-offs.
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #136 of 186: Audrey E via E-mail (captward) Sat 5 Jan 13 00:56
    
Something interesting to add to the discussion of pink collar work:
<http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/trickle-down-feminism>

"the conditions that have long defined domestic work and service
work—instability, lack of training, lack of career pathways, low
pay—are now increasingly the reality for all American workers, not just
women. When we focus on equal access at the top, we miss out the real
story, which historian Bethany Moreton points out, “is not ‘Oh wow,
women get to be lawyers,’ but that men get to be casualized clerks.”"
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #137 of 186: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 5 Jan 13 02:43
    
If you don't like "cyborg anthropologist," how 'bout "furniture
anthropologist"?

http://www.fastcompany.com/3004140/steelcases-anthropologist-remaking-offices-
create-happier-workers

I don't worry too much about the corny prefix "cyber," because I
figure that it will takes its just place among its many cousins: 
electro, automato, robo, jet-propelled, atomic, streamlined,
radio-controlled, tele-whatever...  They certainly lose their novelty,
but that doesn't mean that the phenomena they describe  go away.  When
everything is "cyber" then nothing can be "cyber," but "cyber" was and
is a big change in the world.

They do not evaporate, they just sink down within the great wheels of
planetary change-gradient; that which was fashion will become a
business, that which was business will buy into government, that which
was legalized will become infrastructural, that which was constructed
will become cultural, that which was cultural will decay into the Next
Nature adulterated compost from which tomorrow's fresh shoots will
emerge...  Entropy Requires No Maintenance.
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #138 of 186: Gary Gach (ggg) Sat 5 Jan 13 09:51
    
[ elsewhere on the interweb, this, by <bruces> to budding sci-fi
writers : http://zite.to/135BP4G  
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #139 of 186: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 6 Jan 13 01:23
    
Exciting new forms of labor under market-centric black globalization: 
Slavery.


http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/12/slaverys-global-comeb
ack/266354/
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #140 of 186: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 6 Jan 13 06:53
    
I sit surrounded by a backlog of mostly unread texts: almost done with
Steven Johnson's interesting but forgettable _Future Perfect_, behind
it Jon Ronson's _Lost at Sea_, an old still-undigested copy of
Adbusters on "American Autumn," _Faster Cheaper Better_ by Michael
Hammer, _The Fabric of Reality_ and _The Beginning of Infinity_ by
David Deutsch, _Virtual Worlds_ by Benjamin Woolley, _Simians, Cyborgs,
and Women_ by Donna Haraway, _The Pale King_ by David Foster Wallace,
and old issue of "Parabola" on the subject of Attention, _Proust and
the Squid_ by Maryanne Wolfe, several recent issues of the New Yorker,
a new issue of Tricycle, recent issues of Wired Magazine, various books
on web development, content strategy, specific platforms (Drupal and
Wordpress)... and more scattered elsewhere around the house. I have two
gigs that are both focused on website development, and spend much of
my day reading and writing online as these books and periodicals are
accumulating on the periphery of my time and energy. I blog irregularly
like so many of my colleagues, uncertain who's reading, whether the
time spent blogging is useful - would it be better spent writing for
pay? Or working on a long-deferred book (or books, I have more than one
idea). My original goal in life was to write professionally, and I've
done that but never as my primary source of income. I wonder now how
worthwhile the activity of writing is, when so much content is produced
and so little of it read, even less read mindfully. I consider the
predicament of new writers: it's unlikely that anyone not already
established can command attention today. There's no way to establish
the authority or quality of your writing, if you hadn't done so in the
era of mass publishing, when it publication suggested that you had been
vetted as worthwhile.

Speaking of "mindfully," I followed Gary's link to io9 and found a
marginal link to this article: http://io9.com/sherlock-holmes/ "How to
Think Like Sherlock Holmes - and Have a Better Life." A fan of the
Holmes persona, and contemporary versions (Robert Downey in the films,
Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller on television), and having a
Buddhist/mindfulness practice, I'd already made the same connection the
article makes. It doesn't mention Buddhism, but says "...in order to
break from that autopiloted mode, we have to be motivated to think in a
mindful, present fashion, to exert effort on what goes through our
heads instead of going with the flow." That's a core aspect of Buddhist
meditation practice; it's also been adopted as a concept/method/trend
within contemporary psychology:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindfulness_(psychology)

It's a challenge, practicing mindfulness while standing in the full
firehose flow of diverse content online, in books and periodicals,
through broadcast media and films. I'm a power consumer of media - I
used to write a column called "Media Man," as a journalism student over
40 years ago, already into the potential for media convergence,
setting myself up as a critic across media. It was exciting to follow
the evolution of the Internet as a platform for all media, opening the
means of production to all comers. But when everyone is talking, who's
listening?
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #141 of 186: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 6 Jan 13 09:36
    
That's one of the big problems right now. There is so much data, so
much connectedness, that now matter how well you tool and filter it
down to your own particulars, it's still too much!

So, how do we attack that problem? Is there an app for that? Would
that even change the 'too much' problem? I doubt it. It's only going to
increase exponentially. 

I think we're going to have to explore other options in how we deal
with data and networks going forward. I don't have an answer for that.
Personally, I'm dialing everything down and stepping back from it all;
trying to reassess and integrate this deluge into my own future(s).

How are other people dealing with this?
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #142 of 186: Nathan Stack via E-mail (captward) Sun 6 Jan 13 11:28
    
From what direction does research in media filtering seem most
promising? 
-Google's search bubble
-Applying tools for a group that has extreme issues with filtering
information from noise and applying to general population
-App store noodles on the wall approach by developers
-Digging through existing technology like spamblock and applying it
broadly

Did I miss any other approaches to the problem
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #143 of 186: Jon Lebkowsky: Errata (jonl) Sun 6 Jan 13 11:41
    
In my post <134>, I erroneously addressed began my response to <132>
with an assumption that it was <captward>'s, but it was his post of a
comment sent by Roger Weeks from off-WELL.
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #144 of 186: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 6 Jan 13 11:45
    
<tcn> asks, in <141>, how we attack the problem of so much data and
connectedness - the problem of overload. Earlier in the discussion I
referred to the concept of the "wicked problem":

"... a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of
incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often
difficult to recognize. The term ‘wicked’ is used, not in the sense of
evil but rather its resistance to resolution. Moreover, because of
complex interdependencies, the effort to solve one aspect of a wicked
problem may reveal or create other problems."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wicked_problem
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #145 of 186: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 6 Jan 13 11:57
    
(Slippage)

Nathan, I don't want to sidetrack this conversation, so I'll give a
brief response and be done with it. 

(jonl) and I are both fans of Howard Rheingold and have taken his
MindAmp classes, where he really gets into "tools" and what's
available. Much of that has been recapped in his book Netsmart:How to
Thrive Online
(http://tinyurl.com/co6ndxz).

Meanwhile I've been musing on Tim O'Reilly's current mantra:
Create more value than you capture. 

All that aside, the big issues remain: global warming, climate change,
economic disruption, on and on. Are we going to have a world where I
can continue to play on the Internet? What's it going to look like? How
can I help to change and shape it?

Back to Bruce and Jon.
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #146 of 186: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 6 Jan 13 11:59
    
(More slippage, waving at Ted...)

I think "wicked problem" also applies to Nathan Stack's question, in
<142>, about media filtering. Filtering technologies are problematic:
they're supposed to help us access the information we really want/need,
but they also potentially exclude information that we might also want
or need to see (because algorithms are imperfect), and as Eli Pariser
has pointed out, they'll tend to feed us information that we find
agreeable, excluding information that might (productively) challenge
our thinking. So I'd like to see research into fuzzier filtering
methodologies, and into the kind of digital literacy required to see in
and around filters. Some of us assumed that the Internet would provide
many perspectives, and that we could build a model of the world closer
to the truth by seeing it through many lenses. I'm not sure that
works, and I'm more sure that it doesn't work if your aggressively
filter...
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #147 of 186: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 6 Jan 13 12:11
    
Congrats Bruce and Jon, this conversation already made it to the
Atlantic...(http://tinyurl.com/bqxqq46)
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #148 of 186: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 6 Jan 13 12:14
    
(waving back)

<fuzzier filtering methodologies>

Love it. I can see a new app already, 'FuzzyFilters', the race is on
:)
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #149 of 186: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 6 Jan 13 13:44
    
Not to worry, our phones will save us!

Doc Searles has a lot to say about Android as a Life Management
Platform
(http://tinyurl.com/ac95zr2).

Tho I think he may want to revise that now that Samsung is moving away
from Android and teaming up with Intel (http://tinyurl.com/bharvqp)

All good for open source.
  
inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #150 of 186: Roland Legrand (roland) Sun 6 Jan 13 15:19
    
We discussed so many developments already, but I'd like to add another
one: education. Will we witness this year the breakthrough of the
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) both in their more institutional
format (Coursera, edX, Udacity...) as in the more distributed and
open-ended formats (Stephen Downes, George Siemens, ds106...)? What
does it mean for the conventional universities (a number of the most
important ones are involved in the MOOC-development) and their business
models? Will they go the way of print media formats, and what does it
mean for education & society? 
  

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