inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #101 of 196: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 12 Jan 14 16:26
<emilyg>, am I crazy to think that professional journalism is coming
back? That paywalls are actually working? That there's a renewed hunger
for in-depth journalism?
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #102 of 196: Emily Gertz (emilyg) Sun 12 Jan 14 17:54
I'm no expert on the business side of running a news outlet. Speaking
solely as someone with a vested professional interest, however: The
signals were mixed on paywalls last year. 

Some newspapers dismantled them--the San Francisco Chronicle comes to
mind as a particular debacle. But people I know are encouraged by the
progress at The New York Times, which went to a "metered" paywall
(fixed number of free articles per month for non-payers, as well as
more nuanced payment tiers) at some point in the past two or three
years, and says it's now earning more from subscriptions than online

The Times is a national and even global news outlet, though; those
outlets, plus the really local small papers, have done best with
paywalls, AFAIK. Signs are not great for regional papers like the
Chron, the Miami Herald, and similar, even good ones.

Here's a recent article at that I found illuminating on
the state of paywall strategy and tech, going into 2014:

inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #103 of 196: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 12 Jan 14 18:12
My impression, more of a hunch, not evidence-based, is that the era of
free is behind us, that we're seeing successful strategies for payment
and a consumer expectation that worthwhile content will have a
cost.Not that journalists will be rolling in dough, but I dare to hope
that professional writers and other creators of content in various
forms can make a living after all.
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #104 of 196: Ed Ward (captward) Sun 12 Jan 14 18:33
If we don't die of starvation first, of course. 
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #105 of 196: Emily Gertz (emilyg) Sun 12 Jan 14 19:19
That's the challenge.

As for in-depth reporting, it's encouraging that so many new efforts
are commissioning the longer pieces--Narratively and Epic Magazine and
the Atavist and others.  I don't know what the "business models"
are--what their knowledge is about sustained demand for that kind of
reporting--and not all of them pay very well at the moment. 

But it's a relief that at long last there are some astute people
looking for the angles to render them sustainable financially.
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #106 of 196: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 13 Jan 14 00:58
Relevant to the "end of free," this post from David Weinberger about

" was Clay Shirky’s Power Law post that rang the tocsin. His
analysis showed that the blogosphere wasn’t a smooth ball where
everyone had an equal voice. Rather, it was dominated by a handful of
sites that pulled enormous numbers, followed by a loooooooooong tail of
sites with a few followers. The old pernicious topology had reasserted
itself. We should have known that it would, and it took a while for
the miserable fact to sink in.

"Yet there was hope in that long tail. As Chris Anderson pointed out
in a book and article, the area under the long tail is bigger than the
area under the short head. For vendors, that means there’s lots of
money in the long tail. For bloggers that means there are lots of
readers and conversationalists under the long tail. More important, the
long tail of blogs was never homogenous; the small clusters that
formed around particular interests can have tremendous value that the
short head can never deliver."

Read the post, it's rich. Read the comments, too.
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #107 of 196: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Mon 13 Jan 14 02:43
Emily Gertz (emilyg)   Are you really suggesting that unpaid
political operatives, and PR flacks can *replace* people like me, who
some facility with asking pertinent questions and sorting the
for relevance and truthfulness?

*Well, no, Emily, I would never say that; I'm a very "dead media" guy,
so I never bought into that early-blogger ideology, even though I was
an early blogger.

*However, I've seen plenty of working societies where people like you
aren't allowed to operate.  Freelance journalists can in fact be
replaced by various kinds of publicity apparatchiks.  

*Berlusconi stayed in power for decades because he was a media mogul
in control of the Italian TV fare, while the former Yugoslavia was a
dictatorship.  So, the "relevance" and the "truthfulness" were probably
just as "needed" there as ever anywhere, but they just weren't valued.
 They didn't happen.   Civil society in those states didn't expect to
get their "truth" and "relevance" from anything that was "public."  

*They weren't even cynical about that situation; they just knew that
was how public life was, everybody knew.  The truth would pop up
publicly every once in a while, but it was socially inconvenient, just
like global-warming truth, or NSA truth, is inside the USA now.

*People can get along under those conditions; in fact it's the way
things normally work in most human societies.  Most human societies are
devoutly religious, after all.  People with Scriptures aren't keen on
pertinent questions sorted for relevance and truthfulness, because they
figure they've already got the answers handy.
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #108 of 196: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Mon 13 Jan 14 02:43

*I happen to be a novelist as well as a journalist, and we're inside a
situation nowadays where novels are as disrupted as the news is.  But
I'm hard put to say that novels, or even literature, are "needed" any
more than journalism.  I've been in lots of minority-language societies
where "novels" exist -- they do get written sometimes -- but only
occasionally, and among small groups of enthusiasts, and where
novelists never, ever make money.  

*These novelists don't "starve" or anything quite so drastic -- they
just teach high school, or they work for insurance bureaucracies…   If
you walk around the streets, the local people aren't gasping for lack
of air because they lack novels. 

*If you'd asked John Keats if there was any "truth" in the journalism
of his day, Keats would have said no, that all the newspapers were
organs of party faction, and that the "truth," and also the beauty, was
in poetry.
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #109 of 196: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Mon 13 Jan 14 02:44
*Our own society don't have "Poetry."  Poetry is already gone.  We
don't miss it any more than those un-novelled societies miss novels. 
That's a major cultural loss we've already experienced through media

*I mean, we do still have oodles of poems around of course, but it's
all of that unpaid-enthusiast, unsorted, so-what variety.  We no longer
rejoice in that  huge and ponderous cultural institution of Capital-P
Poetry, where the great poets were vastly read and hugely honored, even
by people who didn't speak their language.  

*"Poetry" is certainly much, much older and more "needed" than
"Journalism." Poetry is probably pre-human in its origin, while
Journalism is only three or four centuries old. So I think it's unwise
of us to conclude that there's some metaphysical need within society
for an institution like Journalism to exist.
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #110 of 196: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Mon 13 Jan 14 02:45
*What's more: much bigger changes in communication are coming, much
bigger than those we have already experienced.  They're not merely
economic changes about journalists getting health insurance and a
regular salary.   

*I can imagine a future situation where we don't even have "media." 
At least, no "medium" in that strict sense of some visible, distinctive
channel of communication.  

*I'll get a tad sci-fi here.  Suppose that the NSA was acquired by
Google, let's say, and suppose that Microsoft, Facebook, Apple and
Amazon pooled all their databanks, maybe through legislative fiat, or
through open-source…  And then we spiced-up that huge Cloud of Big
Data, with some massive real-time data flows from "smart cities" and
"wearables"…  And then we attacked that amorphous post-mediated mass
with Siri, and Watson, and such…  Well, that would no longer be
"media." That would be something very sci-fi, very "ubiquitous
computing," very pervasive and ambient.

*But it would also be what was just plain going on in real life.  We'd
be living inside all that, teaching with it, courting, preening
ourselves, all the usual stuff.

*Of course there would be some news within the fetid ambient mass
there, some new events would be happening that would properly be of
public interest.  But why would that be five hundred words of text, due
on Wednesday, with a byline?  That wouldn't make much sense, would it?
 You might as well write a sonnet about it.

*I'm not saying that this conjectured future situation would be
"better" than what we have today.  Likely a lot of the prized values of
Journalism, such as objectivity, relevance and fact-checking, might
take an ever worse beating than they already have.  But a situation
like that seems much more plausible to me than some return to the
status quo ante, journalism as it was taught to me by my professors in
journalism school in the late-middle 20th century.
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #111 of 196: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Mon 13 Jan 14 02:46
*My professors in my journalism school taught me a lot of useful
stuff, especially some period-methods of research, using the technology
of their day.  What I best recall from that education though, what
stuck with me through thick and thin, was some rather elaborate and
tortured ethical explanations from my professors, about why American
journalists have to be willing to go to jail to protect their sources. 

*You see, that activity was not written into the American legal code,
and it's certainly not in the Constitution.  It's actually a form of
ethical civil disobedience that journalists, as a profession, chopped
out of the background noise of American society. 

*This principled silence of journalists regarding sources is a
civilized species of mafia omertà, to tell the truth.  However, as a
journalist, your willingness to  silently make this personal sacrifice
is, in my opinion, how you know that you're really a "journalist." 
That's as opposed to some easy notion that you might, say, be a
"journalist" because you spread lots of ink on heaps of paper, or that
you're a "journalist" because you digitally chatter a lot to some big
audience about stuff that happened recently.

*Also: journalists tend to get shot a lot.  More than ever, lately.
Some bloggers get shot nowadays too, I grant them that, but especially
journalists get shot.  People who get shot are commonly segregated into
specialized social categories.  I'm thinking that time-honored custom
is likely to cling, somehow. 

*That differential treatment will likely remain whether "journalists"
have paywalls or not.  I'd point out that a lot of the warriors
shooting the journalists nowadays aren't getting any regular salaries,
either.  They fight, and they die for a cause, but they don't have
uniforms or flags or codes of military conduct.  Yet they're still very
active among us.  Terrorists who used to have armies and states: they
were created by the same contemporary social conditions as journalists
who used to have news magazines and analog TV networks.

*So as long as you morally behave as a "journalist," I reckon you can
still remain one somehow, despite the sources of revenue.  However,
even that condition isn't permanent.  

*For the profession of "journalism," one major threat of increased
surveillance is the demonstrated ability of the surveillors to defeat
the journalist's protection of the sources.  If there's no
confidentiality left in leakage to journalists, then a journalist is no
longer morally different from anybody else with a keyboard; he's like
a Catholic priest with no confessional booth.  Just another modern
problem among many new ones.
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #112 of 196: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Mon 13 Jan 14 02:48
*As a journalist, I'd love to say with Milton's Areopagitica that the
truth will win out.  As a novelist, I'd love to say that the word is
immortal and will outlast the trivial changes in our machinery and our

*But as a futurist, I know that neither of those things are true.  So
I can state here, and I'll do it right now:  these shibboleths about
Truth and literature are mere comforting fictions.  That is a seriously
inconvenient truth for us mere mortals -- but, well, that chilly,
Lovecraftian, a-theistic "all is vanity" chiding doesn't last within
people's minds.  

*So I can state that stuff -- I just did -- and people will read it,
too -- you just did -- and it's even true.  We all have the sheepish
feeling that we know it's really truly true, but so what?  We are
people, we are living and vital beings.  We forget that, and we go on
with the day's struggle.

*Someday the Sun will explode, and what about our journalism and
poetry then?  Well, so what? To hell with our exploding Sun.  We have
to do what we can do in the time we can act.
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #113 of 196: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 13 Jan 14 05:24
Do we need novels?

"After completing all nine sections of the novel, the participants
returned for five more mornings to undergo additional scans in a
resting state. The results showed heightened connectivity in the left
temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for
language, on the mornings following the reading assignments."

Do we need journalism?

* But why would that be five hundred words of text, due on Wednesday,
with a byline?

I think the answer here is related to the neural response to novels,
more broadly to stories. 

Your example of a large scale technology gathering and disseminating
facts doesn't work, because it's not facts we want, or pure
information. We want stories, in fact we need them to enhance those
cortical connections that arguably make us what we are, human and, as
human, social. (See Dunbar & the social brain hypothesis - Storytellers
are essential to ongoing social and human evolution, and they feed
into something we all acknowledge, however unconsciously, as necessary
and important - not just wiring but sustaining and evolving those
connections within the brain without which we'd be zombified, or like
slugs with arms and legs. I suppose you could argue that journalism
could disappear or morph or whatever you've argued here, and as a
result those connections would whither or at least change and we would
lose or transform the "social being," but to me that's unlikely - the
drive to evolve as social rather than away from social is too great,
it's in the essence of human beings and human society. So I don't think
this Joe Friday future you've described (just the facts, ma'am) is
plausible. We need stories and we need the context and connections they
bring, and to have stories, we need storytellers.
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #114 of 196: Alan L. Chamberlain (axon) Mon 13 Jan 14 11:11
Humans have been transmitting meaning through narrative for as long as
they've had language. Technology isn't changing that.
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #115 of 196: backwoods charity-kitchen scullion (story) Mon 13 Jan 14 13:58
(bruces):"To hell with our exploding Sun.  We have to do what we can
do in the time we can act."

Thomas Nagel has an interesting review on Samuel Scheffler's "Death
and the Afterlife" [NYRB Jan 9 2014].  Both of these writers (and P.D.
James) have interesting takes on the likely effects of knowing that the
human stories were to be lost tomorrow.  However, I have a hard time
understanding why it matters whether the stories are written by
employed "Journalists" and members of a much-honored institution of
"Poetry."  Doesn't it put the cart before the horse to judge the health
of poetry or non-fiction writing by the renown and remuneration of
their contributors?
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #116 of 196: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Mon 13 Jan 14 18:39
From Off Well reader ddodd:

I personally am a bit wary of the "narrative is essential for human
life" arguments, in that narrative ends up distorting a situation as
much as it represents it. I tend to take narrative as a widely used
tool for communication. Drawing on Lakoff and Johnson's argument about
metaphor being essential to human thought, narrative has the advantage
of structuring an event in forms that make the event metaphorical to
the structure of physical action. So narrative is a common and useful
metaphor in the same way as "inside" is a common and useful metaphor.

In other words, in the kind of communication environment that Bruce
described, narrative would exist, both in the form of teaching and of
gossip. But it wouldn't be the only tool for organizing the
information. For instance, lists have become ridiculously popular.
Dialogue/debate also seems to be a useful means of structuring
information on the net as well. In any case, both formats benefit more
immediately from hypertext capabilities than conventional journalistic
narrative or essays do.

I sort of see the most "advanced" forms of online communication being
those with a higher link/text ration. Those end up being fairly
difficult to join into though, which is where narrative proves more
valuable, a sort of gateway drug to more efficient communication.
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #117 of 196: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 13 Jan 14 19:51
Bruce, my colleague Benjamin Bradley wanted to hear your take on the
potential of Distributed Autonomous Corporations.

Good defs & related links here:
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #118 of 196: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 14 Jan 14 01:24
*Here's a comprehensive list of the first authors who signed that
"petition against mass surveillance," and the countries they come from.

*This could be quite a handy checklist, if you're interested in novels
by foreigners, and you're looking for contemporary people who are
pretty much guaranteed to be clued-in.  I find this list exciting, it's
like discovering some cool writers' bar.  A lot of names I recognize,
but many more that I don't.

*Also, if you're a totalitarian secret policeman, you're gonna want to
round up all these literary dissidents, burn their books, and cut
their chatty, literary, informal lines of communication.  Good luck
with that.

*Here's a video of the original organizers, all sober and politically
committed, and sitting in at a press conference.  They're got kind of a
Teutonic WELLbeing look about 'em, if you ask me.

Petition by Writers Against Mass Surveillance

First Signatories (by countries):

ALBANIA  Anila Wilms

ALGERIA  Boualem Sansal

ANGOLA  José Eduardo Agualusa

ARGENTINIA  Maria Teresa Andruetto, Edgardo Cozarinsky, María Sonia
Cristoff, Marcelo Figueras, Carlos Gamerro, Alberto Manguel, Guillermo
Martinez, Elsa Osorio, Claudia Piñeiro, Samanta Schweblin.

AUSTRALIA  Debra Adelaide, Chris Andrews, Venero Armanno, Larissa
Beherendt, James Bradley, Brian Castro, Nick Cave, Miriam Cosic,
Michelle de Kretser, Nick Earls, Delia Falconer, Anna Funder, Helen
Garner, Elisabeth Holdsworth, Linda Jaivin, Gail Jones, Evelyn Juers,
Thomas Keneally, Nam Le, James Ley, Angelo Loukakis, David Malouf,
Frank Moorhouse, Peter Rose, Rosie Scott, John Tranter, Kirsten
Tranter, Arnold Zable

AUSTRALIA/USA  Lily Brett, Geraldine Brooks. 

AUSTRIA  Olga Flor, Karl-Markus Gauß, Thomas Glavinic, Josef
Haslinger, Monika Helfer, Klaus Hoffer, Alois Hotschnig, Elfriede
Jelinek, Michael Köhlmeier, Eva Menasse, Robert Menasse, Robert
Pfaller, Doron Rabinovici, Kathrin Röggla, David Schalko, Robert
Schindel, Clemens J Setz, Marlene Streeruwitz, Peter Weibel, Josef

AUSTRIA/GERMANY  Daniel Kehlmann

BANGLADESH  Ahmad Mostofa Kamal


BELARUS  Svetlana Alexievich

BELARUS/USA  Valzhyna Mort 

BELGIUM  Gie Bogaert, Saskia De Coster, Patrick De Rynck, Jozef Deleu,
Laurent Demoulin, Charles Ducal, Joris Gerits, Jos Geysels, Luuk
Gruwez, Thomas Gunzig, Peter Holvoet-Hanssen, Elisabeth Marain, Pierre
Mertens, Bart Moeyaert, Elvis Peeters, Erik Spinoy, Rik Torfs, Koen Van
Bockstal, Walter van den Broeck, Miriam Van hee, David van Reybrouck,
Annelies Verbeke, Paul Verhaeghe, Roel Verschueren, Erik Vlaminck,
Georges Wildemeersch



BOSNIA  Miljenko Jergovic

BRAZIL  Marçal Aquino, Rafael Cardoso, Bernardo Carvalho, João Paulo
Cuenca, João Ubaldo Ribeiro, Luiz Ruffato, Paulo Scott

BULGARIA  Georgi Gospodinov

BULGARIA/UK  Kapka Kassabova

CAMEROON  Patrice Nganang

CANADA  Margaret Atwood, Ken Babstock, Cory Doctorow, Yann Martel,
Colin McAdam, Michael Ondaatje, John Ralston Saul, Madeleine Thien

CHILE  Carla Guelfenbein, Arturo Fontaine Talavera


CHILE/USA  Lina Meruane

CHINA  Liao Yiwu

COLOMBIA  Antonio Ungar, Héctor Abad, Oscar Collazos, Oscar
Guardiola-Rivera, Juan Gabriel Vásquez

CROATIA  Slavenka Drakulic, Nenad Popovic, Dubravka Ugrešic

CUBA  Leonardo Padura Fuentes

CUBA/SPAIN  Iván de la Nuez 

Cuba/USA  José Prieto

CZECH REP  Jaroslav Rudi

DENMARK  Niels Barfoed, Suzanne Brøgger, Tom Buk-Swienty, Peter H
Fogtdal, Katrine Marie Guldager, Iselin C Hermann, Peter Høeg, Sven
Holm, Hanne Vibeke Holst, Carsten Jensen, Pia Juul, Peter Øvig Knudsen,
Morten Kringelbach, Jørgen Leth, Ib Michael, Morten Ramsland, Morten
Sabroe, Pia Tafdrup, Janne Teller

DJIBOUTI  Abdourahman Waberi

ECUADOR  Francisco Proaño Arandi

EGYPT  Alaa al-Aswany, Nawal El Saadawi, Ahdaf Soueif

EGYPT/USA  Mona Eltahawy

EL SALVADOR  Horacio Castellanos Moya

FINLAND  Monika Fagerholm, Jarkko Tontti, Kjell Westö

FRANCE   Jean-Jacques Beineix, Céline Curiol, Marie Darrieussecq,
Philippe Djian, Lionel Duroy, Mathias Énard, Jérôme Ferrari, Anne-Marie
Garat, Laurent Gaudé, Pascale Hugues, Alban Lefranc , Roger Lenglet ,
Virginie Lou-Nony , Jean Mattern , Betty Mialet , Catherine Millet ,
Frédéric Mitterrand , Hélène Neveu Kringelbach , Philippe Pozzo di
Borgo , Flore Vasseur

FRANCE/CANADA  Martin Winckler

France/USA  Jonathan Littell

GERMANY  Friedrich Ani, Michael Augustin, Anke Bastrop, Ulrich Beck,
Artur Becker, Josef Bierbichler, Marica Bodroži´c, Mirko Bonné, Ralf
Bönt, Nora Bossong, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Daniela Dahn, Liane Dirks,
Doris Dörrie, Ulrike Draesner, Kurt Drawert, Tanja Dückers, Carolin
Emcke, Sherko Fatah, David Finck, Julia Franck, Franziska Gerstenberg,
Christoph Giesa, Roman Graf, Günter Grass, Kerstin Grether, Annett
Gröschner, Gert Heidenreich, Christoph Hein, Thomas Hettche, Paul
Ingendaay, Steffen Kopetzky, Mareike Krügel, Michael Krüger, Michael
Kumpfmüller, Antje Kunstmann, Katja Lange-Müller, Benjamin Lauterbach,
Jo Lendle, Michael Lentz, Ulli Lust, Angelina Maccarone, Kristof
Magnusson, Sten Nadolny, Christiane Neudecker, Norbert Niemann, Ingo
Niermann, Markus Orths, Georg M Oswald, Inka Parei, Annette Pehnt,
Antje Rávic Strubel, Annika Reich, Moritz Rinke, Charlotte Roos, Eugen
Ruge, Peter Schneider, Erasmus Schöfer, Ingo Schulze, Hilal Sezgin,
Peter Sloterdijk, Tilman Spengler, Burkhard Spinnen, Ulrike Steglich,
Hans-Ulrich Treichel, Ilija Trojanow, Regula Venske, Marius von
Mayenburg, Thomas von Steinaecker, Gisela von Wysocki, Jan Wagner,
Alissa Walser, Theresia Walser, Florian Werner, Roger Willemsen, Ron
Winkler, Juli Zeh, Jan Christophersen

GHANA/USA  Kwame Dawes

GREECE  Kostas Akrivos , Petros Markaris, Amanda Michalopoulos,
Michailis Modinos, Nina Rapi, Thanassis Valtinos

HAITI/USA  Edwidge Danticat


HUNGARY  Tibor Babiczky, Zsófia Balla, Zsófia Bán, Báthori Csaba,
György Dragomán, Peter Esterhazy, Krisztián Grecsó, Noémi Kiss, László
Krasznahorkai, Lajos Parti Nagy, Anna T. Szabó

ICELAND  Björk, Oddný Eir, Einar Már Guðmundsson, Hallgrímur Helgason,
Bjarni Jónsson, Andri Snær Magnason, Steinnun Sigurðardóttir, Sjón,
Jón Kalman Stefánsson

INDIA  Shahid Amin, Amit Chaudhuri, Tishani Doshi, Naresh Fernandes,
Amitav Ghosh, Ramchandra Guha, Anjum Hassan, Ranjit Hoskoté, Raj Kamal
Jha, Anjali Joseph, Ruchir Joshi, Girish Karnad, Mukul Kesavan, Amitava
Kumar, Pankaj Mishra, Kiran Nagarkar, Jerry Pinto, Arundhati Roy,
Arundhati Subramaniam, Jeet Thayil, Altaf Tyrewala

INDIA/UK  Salil Tripathi, Suketu Mehta

IRAQ  Jabbar Yassin Hussin

IRAQ/FINLAND  Hassan Blasim


IRELAND  Roddy Doyle, Colum McCann, Colm Tóibín

ISRAEL  Assaf Gavron, David Grossman, Etgar Keret, Yitzhak Laor, Sami
Michael, Amos Oz, Zeruya Shalev

ITALY  Andrea Bajani, Andrea de Carlo, Massimo Carlotto, Umberto Eco,
Erri de Luca, Paolo Giordano, Dacia Mariani

ITALY/AUSTRIA  Sabine Gruber

JAPAN  Tosihiko Uji, Jordan Elias Farkouh

LEBANON  Dominique Eddé


LIBYA/EGYPT  Ahmed Fagih

LUXEMBOURG  Ranga Yogeshwar

MACEDONIA  Nikola Madzirov

MALAWI  Samson Kambalu 

MALAYSIA  Tan Twan Eng

MALTA  Pierre Mejlak

MEXICO  Rosa Beltrán, Sabina Berman, Carmen Boullosa, Ana Clavel, Alma
Guillermoprieto, Angeles Mastretta

NETHERLANDS  René Appel, Abdelkader Benali, Ronald Bos, Ian Buruma,
Gerrit Bussink, Saskia de Jong, Job Degenaar, Renate Dorrestein, Rudolf
Geel, Arnon Grünberg, Joke J Hermsen, Marjolin Hof, Tjitske Jansen,
Liesbeth Lagemaat, Thomas Lieske, Geert Mak, Nelleke Noordervliet,
Ester Naomi Perquin, Aleid Truijens, Manon Uphoff, Jan van Mersbergen,
Anne Vegter

NEW ZEALAND  Pip Adam, Tim Corballis, Nicky Hager, Ingrid Horrocks,
Lloyd Jones, Elizabeth Knox, Bill Manhire, Courtney Sina Meredith,
Sarah Quigley, Anna Sanderson, C. K. Stead

NEW ZEALAND/UK  Susan Pearce

NIGERIA  Helon Habila, Ben Okri, Chika Unigwe

NIGERIA/GERMANY  Olumide Popoola

NORWAY  Jostein Gaarder, Per Petterson

PAKISTAN  Mohsin Hamid, Ahmed Rashid

PAKISTAN/UK  Kamila Shamsie

PALESTINE  Suad Amiry, Mourid Barghouti, Najwan Darwish, Nathalie
Handal, Raja Shehadeh, Adania Shibli, Ghassan Zaqtan


PERU  Santiago Roncagliolo


POLAND  Ignacy Karpowicz, Beata Stasi´cska, Witold Szab´cowski, Olga

PORTUGAL  Pedro Rosa Mendes

ROMANIA  Mircea Cartarescu

RUSSIA  Vladimir Aristov, Alan Cherchesov, Victor Erofeyev, Alisa
Ganiyeva, Dmitri Golynko, Alexander Ilichevsky, Sergei Lebedev,
Stanislav Lvovsky, Mikhail Shishkin, Alexander Skidan, Alexander

SAMOA  Albert Wendt

SENEGAL  Cheikh Hamidou Kane

SERBIA  David Albahari


SLOVAKIA  Michal Hvorecký

SLOVENIA  Gabriela Babnik, Aleš Car, Aleš Debeljak, Mojca Kumerdej,
Miha Mazzini, Dušan Šarotar, Aleš Šteger


SOUTH AFRICA  Breyten Breytenbach, Antjie Krog, Zakes Mda, Margie
Orford, Henrietta Rose-Innes, Gillian Slovo, Ivan Vladislavi, Zukiswa


SOUTH KOREA  Hwang Sok-Yong

SPAIN   Ricardo Bada, Javier Cercas, Rafael Chirbes, Juan Goytisolo,
Julio Llamazares, Javier Marías, Antonio Muñoz Molina, Rosa Montero,
Javier Salinas. 


SUDAN  Jamal Mahjoub

SWEDEN   Arne Dahl, Per Olov Enquist, Aris Fioretos, Jan Guillou,
Björn Larsson, Henning Mankell, Håkan Nesser, Tomas Tranströmer, Svante

SWITZERLAND  Melinda Nadj Abonji, Sybille Berg, Peter Bieri, Irena
Brežná, Melitta Breznik, Iso Camartin, Alex Capus, Martin Dean, Catalin
Florescu, Christian Haller, Reto Hänny, Eveline Hasler, Franz Hohler,
Pedro Lenz, Charles Lewinsky, Klaus Merz, Julian Schütt, Peter Stamm,
Alain Sulzer, Urs Widmer

SYRIA  Hala Mohammed

TANZANIA/UK  Abdulrazak Gurnah

THAILAND/US  Rattawut Lapcharoensap


TURKEY  Yasar Kemal, Murathan Mungun, Orhan Pamuk, Buket Uzuner

UK   Akkas Al-Ali, Tariq Ali, David Almond, Martin Amis, Julian
Barnes, Priya Basil, John Berger, Jane Borodale, William Boyd, John
Burnside, Louis de Bernières, Isobel Dixon, Joanne Harris, Kazuo
Ishiguro, Pico Iyer, Stephen Kelman, Hari Kunzru, Ian McEwan, David
Mitchell, Stella Newman, Henry Porter, Martin Rowson, Manda Scott, Will
Self, Owen Sheers, Philip Sington, Tom Stoppard, Adam Thirwell, David
Vann, Nigel Warbuton, Irvine Welsh, Jeanette Winterson

UK/INDIA  Rana Dasgupta, Nikita Lalwani

UK/JORDAN   Fadia Faqir

UK/PAKISTAN  Hanif Kureishi

UK/US  Lionel Shriver

UKRAINE  Myroslav Marynovych, Oksana Zabuzhko

USA  John Ashbery, Paul Auster, Elise Blackwell, TC Boyle, Alexander
Chee, Isabel Fargo Cole, Billy Collins, Don DeLillo, Colin Dickey,
Jennifer Egan, Dave Eggers, Elizabeth Eslami, Richard Ford, Jorie
Graham, George Dawes Green, Joe Hurley, Elizabeth Kostova, Adrian
Nicole LeBlanc, Jonathan Lethem, Barry Lopez, Ben Marcus, Tyler
McMahon, Claire Messud, Josip Novakovich, George Packer, Tim Parrish,
Richard Powers, James Salter, Sapphire, Richard Sennett, Jane Smiley,
Anne Waldman, Alice Walker, Eliot Weinberger, Jeffrey Yang

USA/BOSNIA  Aleksandar Hemon

USA/China  Ha Jin

USA/ROMANIA  Domnica Radulescu

ZIMBABWE   Brian Chikwava, Peter Godwin
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #119 of 196: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 14 Jan 14 01:26
*Forgot the link to the video, here it is.

*Since they're German authors, don't expect a thrill a minute.
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #120 of 196: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 14 Jan 14 02:35

*On the subject of writers, poets and their political activities, I
thought I'd say a little about Birgitta Jonsdottir.  She's a
cyberpunk-in-power; I follow her doings with grave interest.

*If you're somehow into the spectral idea of cyberpunks inside
city-hall, Birgitta Jonsdottir is the only politician I know of who is
really, really punk, and really, really cyber, and is actually a
legitimately elected public official.

*Birgitta's a member of the international Pirate Party.  Sort of. 
There are lots of Pirate Party affiliates who won elective office here
and there, but they don't seem to me to be quite so entirely "punk" as
Birgitta, who is your basic, black-clad, poetry-writing, Bjork-centric,
moony-eyed counterculture refusenik.

*If I myself were magically made the almighty dictator of a severely
repressive cyberpunk surveillance state, my sinister court of
black-clad Grand Councillors would be cram full of people like
Birgitta.  Our awesome regime would probably last about a week.  A
legendary week though… come on, imagine our uniforms.
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #121 of 196: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 14 Jan 14 02:36
*Anyway, here's some Birgitta online memorabilia, for those who have
never heard about her.  I'm surprised Birgitta's not more famous than
she is.  You'd think there'd be an adoring Birgitta personality cult by
now, that she'd have, like, her own fashion line like Anna Chapman
does nowadays, or maybe the Birgitta Jonsdottir Wikileaks Fragrance. 
My guess is that she's been offered lots of that stuff, and she swiftly
gave it the rusty Viking pitchfork.

*Here I am in the front row while Birgitta's laying down some law in

*Birgitta speaking for herself:

*Here's Birgitta being fictionally portrayed in a movie by a comely,
Nordic-looking actress from "Game of Thrones."  And why not, really.
However, Birgitta didn't like the resultant movie much.

*Here's Birgitta's talking ideology, somewhat.

*And here's a summary of what happened to Iceland after its upheaval
of 2008.
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #122 of 196: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 14 Jan 14 02:37

*Birgitta's an '08er, basically.  She's a very honest, forthright,
street-smart punk dropout type, who reacted in indignant horror as her
nation rolled straight into the ditch.  She's a patriot, so she leapt
to her feet and was like: "Get the hell out of that drivers' seat!  I
couldn't do any worse if I just sat in there smoking clove cigarettes!"

*And when American intelligence services complain about her Internet
activities, surveilling her Twitter stream and so forth, she's like:
"Am I American? Get the hell out!  You call those 'secrets'?  They're
not secrets to me, Jack!"

*This behavior demonstrates the wisdom in having an alternative
society handy.  Normally punks and hippies are rather a drag, frankly:
they're sleazy, pretentious, long-haired pests with drug and attitude
problems; but then the day comes when there's some genuine, profound,
radical shock, and then everybody is like "Havel to the Castle!"  Then
Mr Alternative there is like a cultural fire-extinguisher.  It turns
out he can actually run stuff.  Sort of.  Barely.  He's like a spare
fuse, though.  Because it's him or the Darkness.  Much better him,
really, no kidding.
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #123 of 196: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 14 Jan 14 02:38
*You will note from that report that most everything radical in
Iceland from 2008 has been tamped well back down now.  They tried a
whole lot of weird cyber-culture stuff in Iceland in 2008, most of it
was diffused, assimilated, defeated or ignored.

*Birgitta's still busy at the grinding wheel tossing sparks, but she
hasn't seen many signal political successes.  She was deeply involved
in Wikileaks, which was a radical social Internet innovation with some
radical social  real-life consequences.  Wikileaks was never the
smooth, subversive, bulletproof cypherpunk leak-machine that its
inventors had in mind.  Wikileaks blew up internally and externally,
and some of its participants are in hiding, or in the slammer, or in
Birgitta's case, stuck in a legislature.  

*But I don't blame her for that; not at all.  What you see is what you
get with Birgitta Jonsdottir.   The woman *is* a radical social
innovator, such is her nature, that is what she's all about.  I'd vote
for her.  For Austin City Council, for sure.  I think she'd be great in
my own home town.   For the Texas state legislature, I'd be 105%
Birgitta, because Texas is overrun by crazed anti-abortion fundies and
nutty armed Tea Party blowhards with gold bars; four or five Birgittas
in that legislative body would be like freakin' penicillin.
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #124 of 196: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 14 Jan 14 02:39
*But to hear Birgitta tell the story -- and I was listening -- the
main difference between being an elected official and being a political
activist is that people return your phone calls.  She's constantly up
to radical actions she considers worthy -- trying to get Snowden
asylum, trying to turn Iceland into, I dunno, a volcanic-powered Green
encrypted open-source free-as-in-freedom Oz of some kind; and heck, I'd
go; if she pulled that off, I'd be on the first plane to Reykjavik. 
But, it's real politics and it's not science fiction, so Birgitta's
spending valuable years of her mortal lifespan devoted to her cause. 

*It's 2014 not 2008, and Julian's still stuck in the embassy;  she's
personally tired of him, anyway.   Birgitta's not a fierce,
power-hungry apparatchik by her nature.  I get the strong impression
that she'd  much rather be chewing her pencil stub and laying down some
heartfelt Icelandic poetry, but, well, it can be rather easier to get
some power than it is to put it aside.

*By the traditional historical standard of Icelandic poet-politicians,
our Birgitta is quite a mild, polite, civilized person.   She's a
global force for goodness, even -- at least, by comparison.   Check
this guy out, Iceland's greatest poet-politician ever.  Got chopped up
with an axe in a basement.
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #125 of 196: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 14 Jan 14 02:48
*I woke up in Turin this morning to discover, to my grave surprise and
everyone else's, that the city council of Turin just voted to legalize

*Naturally, since this is Italy, and it's also marijuana, it's got
about a million bureaucratic Catch-22s in it, like, to legally blow
some weed you'll need a glaucoma prescription and you need to stand on
your head on alternate Tuesdays while practicing yoga with an
air-cleanser and an ambulance standing by.  Whatever.  It's Turin, the
first city in Italy to ever try a scheme like that.

*That's very 2014, folks.  I happen to dwell within  Turin's San
Salvario party district, so if this works out, it's gonna be Amsterdam
and Denver in the streets below.


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