Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Ed Ward (captward) Fri 16 Jan 15 09:50
I was fascinated to see some real facts about 3-D printing because of the folks who set up a printer by the Texas Capitol the other day to print guns. As if, apparently.
J. Eric Townsend (jet) Fri 16 Jan 15 11:50
Stefan Jones (jonl) Fri 16 Jan 15 12:40
Via email from Stefan Jones: Someone mentioned "Black Mirror" uptopic. Sheeeesh. A show I dread watching, but watch it I must, out of sheer admiration. Each episode fills me with a sort of horrified giddiness, and a sort of affirmation. Someone writing SF for TV finally "gets it!" To steal a line from @bruces, "Black Mirror" is utterly lacking in comfortable bullshit. The brave and plucky hero won't win out by frying the computer's logic circuits with a riddle contest, or delivering an impassioned speech to open the eyes of the downtrodden. (In fact, the hero of the second episode does just that, and gets hired to sell shit.) I've heard "Black Mirror" compared to The Twilight Zone, but I think the former's writers are more deeply stewed in actual technology than Serling's stable of writers. As a result "Black Mirror" is far more pointed, but likely won't age as well. * * * Well, I'm going to look into a Roomba. But it might find a way to override its stair-avoidance mechanisms when it realizes it is up against this: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stefan_e_jones/4799299303/in/set-721576243845683 87
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 16 Jan 15 13:38
http://mashable.com/2015/01/16/drone-donetsk-airport/ *Nice semi-amateur drone video of the Donetsk airport, utterly riddled with the local plethora of mortar rounds, Grad batteries, artillery, etc etc. The airport was up for grabs in the first days of the civil war, and pretty much nothing has changed strategically, except that the locals dropped more and more high explosive on their own prize possession there. *One could say much the same about large areas of ISIS-held Iraq. Lots of expensive holes blasted in the ground, not a lot of advancement toward any kind of resolution. War in general seems to have taken on a lot of the characteristics of the War on Drugs. You blast the drugs, there's more drugs, you blast those drugs, there's other drugs. *2015 isn't pioneering in any of this, but it's showing a lot of continuity.
J. Eric Townsend (jet) Fri 16 Jan 15 19:50
I hid 177 as it's a rather long description of why one can't just go "3d print a gun" any more than they can go "3d print a household appliance".
Type A: The only type that counts! (doctorow) Fri 16 Jan 15 23:28
Here's a speech I gave this week in Budapest in which I tried to link wealth disparity, surveillance, corruption, and the Internet of Things: http://archive.org/download/2015.01.15.Mindenki.Joga.CoryDoctorow.CEU.Budapest /2015.01.15.Mindenki.Joga.Cory_Doctorow.CEU.Budapest.mp3 It's the first time I've tried to connect all these things, and I think it came out well. On Tuesday, I'm going to be making a big announcement about the project I'm about to embark upon for the next two years.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 17 Jan 15 00:49
*It's 2015, and the Saudis are building a giant Israeli-style high-tech border wall to repel ISIS... or Iraqis, or Shiites, or whomever. Well, so much for free-range Islamic Globalization when everybody just whips over to Mecca whenever they please. http://www.businessinsider.com/saudi-arabia-is-building-a-600-mile-great-wall- to-shield-from-isis-2015-1
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 17 Jan 15 00:56
*The 3DPrinted gun thing is a political stunt, pure and simple, but when it comes to ultra-libertarian provocations, Cody Wilson is superb at that. He's basically the Yes-Men of the Texan gun-crowd. *Another Austinite I'll be watching with interest in early 2015 is Ross Ulbricht, who's currently undergoing a show trial because of this little matter of his gigantic, free-spirited Bitcoin narcotics market. *And of course there's Texan underground journalist Barrett Brown. People keep pretending they've never heard of him. He never gets the Google Juice of Assange or Snowden. Somehow, Barrett crossed into the spooky shadowlands one time too many. *I'm feeling the distinct absence of a sinister female Texan mastermind in this list. The gals in Texas need to step up their game this year.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 17 Jan 15 01:00
*I gotta quit typing and clean house now, because I'm switching countries. Looks like my participation in the SOTY 2015 will reach a predestined end here. *Looking forward to Cory's big announcement. Guys who ought to be writing weird novels actually doing real stuff like blowing up Donetsk, this is like a big trend for scifi in 2015. The genre's maturing, it's finding its role in normal, mundane life! Pretty soon we can all start radio-parts catalogues!
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 17 Jan 15 09:02
We're theoretically on through Monday, and with <bruces> bowing out, we can take some time to move the furniture back in place, vacuum the floors, and do the dishes. Foreign Policy has a top-ten list of "wars to watch in 2015": http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/01/02/10-wars-to-watch-in-2015/ tl;dr, but you should at least check out the intro. They offer some ideas about mitigation, which include more strategic policy, more dialogue, more inclusion and more prevention - all at international scale. I suspect the U.S. has less weight in the world, given our profound internal dysfunction and its impact on our global presence. I said earlier that Christopher Dickey, Paris correspondent to the The Daily Beast, seemed to speculate on NPR that the Charlie Hebdo attack was staged by a couple of jerks acting alone. A later piece by Dickey (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/12/why-our-spies-failed-to-save- charlie-hebdo.html) notes a confusion about connections to larger organizations: "... officials were puzzled, if not stunned, when Chérif Kouachi told the French BFMTV network over the phone on Friday that his operation against the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine was backed by al Qaeda in Yemen, while his evident accomplice, Amedy Coulibaly, in a call to the same network and in a video released yesterday, claimed his allegiance was to the so-called Islamic State and its self-proclaimed caliph." In fact, Al Qaeda and ISIS are at war with each other, but Dickey's piece quotes a CIA operative, saying "The super-bosses may be wrapped up in these ideological fights, but the followers really are not." From my perspective, while in a way the Hebdo terrorists were related to larger organizations, because those organizations are so decentralized, the connection is more ideological than practical. Terrorism is spreading infection, a loose way of connecting rogue mutating viruses that don't need all the source DNA to be toxic. In all the talk of wars and terrorists, I don't see enough about accelerating populations, challenged resources, and increasingly complex demographic mixes and collisions. I suppose an overfed analyst with a four bedroom house, two kids, and clean water doesn't know what to make of population overload and resource scarcity. I know I can't get my head around it. In the U.S.A. our responses to the shock of global and accelerating change are varied, but the fact that we're electing so many reactionary legislators, some of them intellectually challenged, must mean something. It could mean that, seeing the daunting complexity of the world around them, the smartest among us have no desire to run for public office. Here's a quote from an interview with poet Gary Snyder (mostly about bioregionalism) ... "I talked to an elderly Crow Indian up in Montana a few years ago who said just that. He was an interesting man, I guess regarded as a medicine man, and we were at a meeting where there were a lot of younger Indian radicals and activists. This older man said to me, kind of as an aside, 'You know, I'm not really worried about what white people are going to do to this continent. If anybody lives here long enough, the spirits will begin to speak to them. It's the power of the spirits coming up from the land,' he said. 'That's what taught us, and it would teach everybody, if they'd just stay here. The old spirits and the old powers they aren't lost; they just need people to be around long enough to begin to influence them.' "Now that may be overly optimistic, but it's an elegant perspective. To some extent, you can see it working. If people will just be in a place long enough and will begin to actually say 'OK, I'm here,' then they'll begin to learn."
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 17 Jan 15 16:11
So the world of humans is going a little nuts, but the earth may find us again.
Truffle hunter (oink) Sat 17 Jan 15 17:03
I like that notion <jonl>
Type A: The only type that counts! (doctorow) Sat 17 Jan 15 23:21
One other salient fact about a 3D printed knitting machine: knitting is, itself, a form of 3D printing. So it's also a 3D printed 3D printer. About sf writers Doing Stuff in the world. -- I have always felt that telling stories about how technology can make you feel (for good or bad) is an intrinsically political act. It's a way of colonizing the future, because when it arrives, we parse it thorugh the sf narratives we've absorbed on the way. It's not that huge a leap from there to direct activism. This project started gestating about a year ago, when the W3C green-lit putting DRM in HTML5. I saw that as the beginning of the end for a world in which it was legal to tell you if your computer is doing something bad to you, whether on behalf of cops, spies, or crooks (skids, RATters, identity thieves, etc). So the project I'm announcing on Tuesday is an effort to reform the legal, commercial, technical and normative framework through which we understand and interact with technology, all over the world, in order to ensure that the very idea of a computer thatyou own, but which acts on someone else's behalf, is a dead letter.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 18 Jan 15 01:30
*I managed to clean the house. Currently awaiting a flight to Milan. Snagged some semi-licit wifi. It's pretty hectic, like the Housing Crisis in fractal miniature. I'm guessing the rest of 2015 will be Augean Stables for me and mine. *I'm quite proud to participate in these State of The World events. It's great that the WELL is three decades old. First in, last out -- it's like a symposium in a neoclassic library built during nobler times. *Oh, and I got my story about the Roman Empire done. So we got some closure there. I'll have to tighten and brighten the latest draft a little, so that is hopefully becomes interesting to somebody besides me. "Leave out the parts people skip!" "But I suffered for my homework, and now it's your turn!" *Every writer likes to imagine his words echoing down the ages, into the vasty halls of Futurity, yea, even unto the much-awaited 22nd Century. But I bet anything that if you hauled some Roman literary bigwig into the present day and confronted him with the wreckage of his writings, he'd be horrified. "The freakin' Aeneid survived? But I couldn't even be bothered to finish the Aeneid! I wanted the manuscript burned!" *Ave atque vale.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 18 Jan 15 07:40
Liz Fisher and Robert Matney of Whirligig Productions here in Austin are just wrapping up the successful run of Liz's interactive play "Deus Ex Machina." Rob pulled together the technology for interaction - the play has multiple narrative paths, and the audience members can vote a direction for the narrative via cellphone at various points, with the votes quickly tallied via the "machina" and the play proceeding according to the collective whim of the audience. This being a classic Greek tragedy (transformed into a classic geek tragedy), I suspect that all paths lead to a similar bloody end, but I've only see the play once, and there are twelve different storylines and 12,288 possible variations. If you want to see the play, they're live streaming a final performance today at 5pm CT: http://whirligigproductions.com/live/ But you'll just be seeing one of the many possible variations. (I should mention that the WELL's own <katecat> has a prominent role in the play, as Clytemnestra.) If you don't have time to stream the whole play, you can get a sense of it from the short video series, "Drunk Oresteia" http://whirligigproductions.com/drunkoresteia-the-complete-series/ - hilarious, but without interactive choice. The state of the (human) world is like this play, many potential paths forward, the life-narrative depending on collective choices along the way. And various actors find ways to add weight to the collective will, to steer the narrative in a direction favorable to them. Even the most irrational-seeming narrative paths have a logic,if you can see the full complexity of the decision paths and all the weights applied. And there are shocks, as well, from natural disaster to irrational acts, that can also change the direction of the human narrative. Scenario-building and future-forecasting look at current trends in the narrative and predict where the play will go some number of years out, but without visibility into the potential weights and shocks. It's better to forget about predicting the future, and focus more on creating the future you want. Create the weights you want, prepare to adapt to the shocks, steer the most constructive and productive human course. Politicians are absolutely failing in this regard, and probably always have. As Howard Rheingold says, "What it is, is up to us."
(katecat) Sun 18 Jan 15 12:04
oh yes you guys, do stream if yu have a chance. Controlling the action (in many many small and three ENORMOUS ways) seems to be really fun for the audience--lots of shouts and arguments during the voting, and at intermission people jockey for more power. It's been a quite intense and enjoyable experience. During the big audience decisinos we're all standing backstage glued to the monitors, bucket of blood in one hand, costume change in another, script at the ready also because um we haven't done some of those bits in a couple of weeks..
Gail Williams (gail) Mon 19 Jan 15 12:15
Very cool. Do you know how many variations audiences have demanded of you?
(katecat) Mon 19 Jan 15 16:46
we had thirteen performances and only ever did six of the twelve endings, I think. Maybe seven. The "endings" were short, two to six pages of script. The script branches in two; then each of those two branches branches in two; then each of those four branches branches into three endings, twelve altogether. BUT beyond those main votes, where a character goes to the oracle for help with a major decision, there are many many smaller votes throughout that cause not so much a branch in the stream as a rock that the stream parts to flow around and and then joins together again--if that awkward image makes sense. Gods, should we retell this part of our history again? Gods, should I walk on this red silk Clytemnestra has laid out for me, which I feel is a bad omen? Gods, can I kiss this pretty girl? That kind of thing. The producers calculated that there were actually over 12,000 possible different experiences of the show. oh AND, if you didn't like the way the last oracle went, you had the option to "secede" and leave the theater with zeus to see the ending you had voted for (albeit, as it turned out, in a different, lesser form--I think in one thread the audience members who left were given scripts so that they could act out the endings themselves)
Gail Williams (gail) Mon 19 Jan 15 17:32
Wow, that's nice. I remember as a kid I went to Expo67, the World's Fair in Montreal. There was a movie there with plot forks where the audience voted, and as I heard tell at the time, the audiences were always choosing the same plot. (Could have been rumor, and was only part way through the season, but I thought that was pretty funny at the time.) Flowing back together is a wise structure choice. Cool that you made this workable!
Type A: The only type that counts! (doctorow) Tue 20 Jan 15 09:13
Aaaand here's the announcement: https://www.eff.org/press/releases/cory-doctorow-rejoins-eff-eradicate-drm- everywhere Basically, I've gone back to EFF to start the resistance in the War on General Purpose Computers. We're going to use law, code, norms and markets to eradicate all forms of DRM in a decade. Details will follow. We do this not because it is easy, but because it is hard.
Gail Williams (gail) Tue 20 Jan 15 09:55
Excellent. You are needed as an activist, though personally I was hoping it was another novel being published. I hope the quote from the press release gets used. It's a good one. Happily reposting here: "Apollo was a decade-long plan to do something widely viewed as impossible: go to the moon. Lots of folks think it's impossible to get rid of DRM. But it needs to be done," said Doctorow. "Unless we can be sure that our computers do what we tell them, and don't have sneaky programs designed to take orders from some distant corporation, we can never trust them. It's the difference between 'Yes, master' and 'I CAN'T LET YOU DO THAT DAVE.'"
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 20 Jan 15 16:45
Didn't want to wrap the conversation until Cory made his announcement, but we're done here now and I just want to put a bow on it and ship. Thanks to Bruce, Cory, and all the other folks who chimed in! Like Cory, I have a long history with EFF - even longer, all the way back to the founding of the org. I'm still involved, as President (for over a decade) of EFF-Austin, the EFF protochapter that just kept choogling along after EFF decided not to be chapters organization. EFF didn't have chapters because that didn't make sense for a network organization - better to interact with independent nodes of all shapes, sizes, and philosophies. Cooperation is more powerful than control. If you care about the Internet, and if you care about the network of people that the Internet has empowered, you should support EFF in all its activities. Maybe we can build a world where rights are respected, not "managed." See you all next year.
Alan Fletcher (af) Wed 28 Jan 15 09:47
Too late to join the discussion as it happened. As for the old-white-male-participant domination ... they didn't start off that way! I would continue this unbroken sequence .. and ADD a parallel young-color-female version.
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