Futurist Digest Weekly

I've more I want to highlight from that Bruce Sterling speech, because it has a lot of startling ideas. But I've been coming in to a lot of really great speeches lately. So I think I'll just sort of index them here.

What if the Singularity Doesn't Happen?
Vernor Vinge @ the Long Now Foundation
February 15, 2007

In one scenario, Vinge breaks failure of a tech-rapture down in software/hardware terms. Software never advances to the level to deal with all our information. Software fails catastrophically and deters economic incentive for advancement. Etc. Vinge says that if we can make it through this century than we can be fairly certain we'll reach the Singularity.

Storytelling & Spore
Will Wright @ SXSW
March 2007
[via Wonderland]

The Spore stuff I'm somewhat skeptical of after listening to Will Wright's Long Now speech he gave with Brian Eno.
[mp3] [Summary & Discussion]
Though Wright has lots of interesting things to say about generative systems in both speeches. I think that Spore will not quite be the realization of the dream that many (he) may be claiming. It will still be trapped in the mundanity of Sim City and the Sims.

The Wonderful Power of Storytelling[txt]
Bruce Sterling @ the Computer Game Developers Conference, San Jose CA
March 1991

A few more snippets from Sterling's speech, because it covered so much ground, and being 16 years old, it now has covered even more.
Something of the sort may come from virtual reality. I rather imagine something like an LSD backlash occuring there; something along the lines of: "Hey we have something here that can really seriously boost your imagination!" "Well, Mr Developer, I'm afraid we here in the Food Drug and Software Administration don't really approve of that." That could happen. I think there are some visionary computer police around who are seriously interested in that prospect, they see it as a very promising growing market for law enforcement, it's kind of their version of a golden vaporware.

I now want to talk some about the differences between your art and my art. My art, science fiction writing, is pretty new as literary arts go, but it labors under the curse of three thousand years of literacy. In some weird sense I'm in direct competition with Homer and Euripides. I mean, these guys aren't in the SFWA, but their product is still taking up valuable rack-space. You guys on the other hand get to reinvent everything every time a new platform takes over the field. This is your advantage and your glory. This is also your curse. It's a terrible kind of curse really.
In the art of book-writing the classics are still living competition, they tend to elevate the entire art-form by their persistent presence.
I'm into technical people who attack pop culture. I'm into techies gone dingo, techies gone rogue -- not street punks picking up any glittery junk that happens to be within their reach -- but disciplined people, intelligent people, people with some technical skills and some rational thought, who can break out of the arid prison that this society sets for its engineers. People who are, and I quote, "dismayed by nearly every aspect of the world situation and aware on some nightmare level that the solutions to our problems will not come from the breed of dimwitted ad-men that we know as politicians."
That last bit, reminded me of something Vinge said in his speech, about a world where the masses were better educated then the elites; here the government would have to provide true freedom, or a closer imitation of it than has ever been seen, to satisfy this new class. (olpc users unite!) And finally, Cory Doctrow makes some interesting points in his non-speech article, You Do Like Reading Off a Computer Screen.
The novel is an invention, one that was engendered by technological changes in information display, reproduction, and distribution. The cognitive style of the novel is different from the cognitive style of the legend. The cognitive style of the computer is different from the cognitive style of the novel.
The problem, then, isn't that screens aren't sharp enough to read novels off of. The problem is that novels aren't screeny enough to warrant protracted, regular reading on screens.

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