inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #51 of 179: Dodge (dodge1234) Wed 6 Jan 16 18:05
    
I'd be interested to know what form 3D scanners and producers will
take and how they will impact us in the coming years.
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #52 of 179: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 6 Jan 16 18:17
    
> have managed to emerge from several crises over the past 150 
> years with the frameworks of democracy and pluralism relatively
intact.

In the USA, voter turnout is low, and there are various ways the
vote is manipulated, so there's a question whether we have a truly
democratic process. Furthermore, most corporations, organizations,
agencies etc. are not organized or run democratically, and if the
general mode of organization is not democratic, democratic
governance is a largely unrealized ideal. 
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #53 of 179: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 7 Jan 16 00:30
    <scribbled by tcn Thu 7 Jan 16 00:31>
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #54 of 179: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 7 Jan 16 00:33
    
It's like deja vu all over again (Yogi Berra) 

Looks like another economic tsunami is rolling in, are we in for
another global meltdown?

China halts trading:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/08/business/dealbook/china-shanghai-stocks-fall
.h
tml?_r=0

A quadrillion here, a quadrillion there:
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-is-how-much-money-exists-in-the-entire-w
or
ld-in-one-chart-2015-12-18

1.2 trillion in derivatives, U.S. has 57% of its money tied up in
them. Cool fiscal planning there. 

Is this all chicken little stuff or are we in for another bumpy
ride. 'We' not including the 1% of course...they might lose a yacht
or club membership or two, buy, hey, times are tough for them.
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #55 of 179: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 7 Jan 16 04:53
    
*Americans used to have all kinds of practical "reform" advice for
Russia, but that's worse than useless now.  If you show up in Russia
and tell 'em to follow the American Dream, it's like showing up with
whooping cough at a house party for tuberculosis.

*I tend to think that the newly-militarized Russians are actually
off their bed of pain, though.  If anybody's pitifully drinking
themselves to death nowadays, it's the American middle class.

*Also, when it comes to aggressive de-globalization, Russia might
actually be a vanguard.  They're not gonna win any converts with
their weird neo-Czarist Russian Orthodox routine, but Putin has
plenty of admirers among other nation-state leaders and is
skyrocketingly popular in Russia.
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #56 of 179: lovevolv (lovevolv) Thu 7 Jan 16 05:36
    
Practical simple steps each of us can & should take??
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #57 of 179: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 7 Jan 16 05:46
    
Meanwhile in the USA, governance if fogged by leadership that
famously committed "to get [government] down to the size where we
can drown it in the bathtub." The president gamely leads as well as
he can through tenuous executive action. Right-wing billionaires
control media channels and fund grassroots agitprop campaigns via
astroturf websites and viral email networks. An unlikely bloviating
presidential contender captures airwaves and mindshare while serious
candidates and issues are sidelined, driven into media gutters and
alleyways, out of sight and out of mind.

But life goes on. We experiment with alternatives: digital
currencies and bartering systems, co-operative businesses, maker
havens and hackerspaces, resilient communities. When the
mainstream's gone insane, the sane retreat to the fringes...
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #58 of 179: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 7 Jan 16 06:26
    
Good points Jon. These storms, too, shall pass.

Bruce, 're: Putin and his friends. Do we just not get it? Would you
please elaborate a bit on why they like him and what possible
futures the 'Stans are seeing and hoping to happen for themselves?
Is Putin's political agenda evolving? Is he capable of going with
the flow should the Stans go off in other directions?
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #59 of 179: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 7 Jan 16 06:32
    
<lovevolv> slipped in while I was posting, asking about practical
steps. 

Here's one thought...

I spend a lot of time working with and thinking about
non-governmental organizations and nonprofits, the sort of
organizations Paul Hawken wrote about in his book _Blessed Unrest_,
published in 2007. He talked hopefully about a worldwide movement
for social and environmental change. He was seeing the evolution and
growth of the many global social justice and environmental groups as
"the largest movement in the world." 

I can't see that these groups have had much effect, though I imagine
the world would be far worse without them.

Part of the issue with all these NGOs is that their struggle with
sustainability often interferes with their commitment to mission:
i.e., if you're under-resourced and have to spend your time and
resources collecting money, you don't have as much energy to focus
on the real work you set out to do. You find yourself running a lot
of petitions to churn influence, but also to attract donations to
the cause. It's a big question whether the petitions actually create
influence or make an impact on the problem you're trying to solve.

An obvious conclusion here is that these orgs need help. They need
donations, and they need volunteer energy. So one thing you can do
is become an activist and supporter for an organization focused on
something you care about.

But I don't think that's enough.

I've been an Internet activist since the early 90s, and I was there
when the first email campaigns were rolling out, orchestrated by
Shabbir Safdar of Voters Telecommunications Watch and Jonah Seiger
of the Center for Democracy and Technology. (Shabbir and Jonah later
consulted with Moveon.org when it was forming, and influenced its
use of email for activism).

What bothered me about email campaigns, which often had signing a
petition as a call to action, was that they didn't make the
recipients smarter about the issue at hand. You could get someone to
sign a petition that they didn't completely understand. I thought it
would be more powerful to build a based of truly informed activists
who had dug into the details and nuances of an issue, and thought
hard about alternatives and solutions. That wasn't happening and
isn't happening.

But I often see ad hoc clusters of people coming together and
talking, and through conversation going deeper. This might be via
meetups, or salons, or house parties.

Long-winded answer, but the "practical step" I advocate is that we
all convene and/or attend conversational groups, talk about the
problems we care about, and get smarter about them. Collaborative
intelligence is an important part of the solution to the fix we're
in. And I don't think you get smarter by reading emails or chunks of
information on the web, probably not even by reading periodicals and
books. Think of it this way: all that information you get by reading
has to be activated and honed in order to become real, actionable
intelligence. And it can be activated by conversation, debate... and
by thinking together with others, as a group.

What all those NGOs need, more than donations or signatures on
petitions, is intelligent support from activists who understand.
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #60 of 179: Emily Gertz (emilyg) Thu 7 Jan 16 06:48
    
>In the USA, voter turnout is low, and there are various ways the
vote is manipulated, so there's a question whether we have a truly
democratic process...

Yes, hence why I wrote "frameworks of democracy." No one could be
more convinced than me that the system has been bought; it's just
that the mechanisms for buying it back are still largely in place,
waiting for the pendulum to swing. 
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #61 of 179: Joel Westerberg (tux) Thu 7 Jan 16 14:38
    
Isn't the problem that internet killed counterculture? There's 
no Us & Them in the easygoing cultural sampladelic world of 
2016? There's no place for high weirdness in a world that is
an electric smorgasbord. Everything has it's own youtube channel.
Even spooncarvers are networking on facebook.

Geek culture as an expression of otherness is a thing hopelessly 
lost to the past. Not that I don't enjoy it, but it's just not
all that happening culturally.

Looking back at old issues of Mondo 2000, one can think that
all that came to pass, and this is where we are now, but now 
what? The open internet wasn't prepared for the behavioural 
analysis of the stacks, maybe the next counterculture will be 
a group of renegade psychologists that will shape the future?
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #62 of 179: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 7 Jan 16 16:14
    
(tux) excellent!

Makes me wonder if the only way to have another counterculture is to
unplug entirely, do a reverse Timothy Leary, "unplug, drop in"
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #63 of 179: Never were the way she was (jet) Thu 7 Jan 16 20:05
    
Going back a bit:

> China made a lot of money 

I'm close to 50 and how the world works has changed in ways I couldn't
have imagined back when I was going to Armadillocon or got my
"CLACKER" custom license plate in California.

When someone says "China made a lot of money", they didn't make money,
they shifted digits on bank accounts.  How did their air pollution and
other costs of "make a lot of money" translate to air quality in Tokyo
or costs of consumer products in the US?

Let's say India does to China what China did to western factories --
does the "money" in China move to India or is the Chinese money
devalued by the new strength of Indian money?

Here in the US, what does that do to our concept of money?  Or do my
barter relationships with locals gain more strength against the
abstract idea of "money"?
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #64 of 179: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 8 Jan 16 02:06
    
#18 of 60: bill braasch (bbraasch) Tue 05 Jan 2016 (10:15 AM)

Facebook's Free Basic service was shut down in Egypt and India. 
This cloud thing is controversial because 1) it usurps the powers
that be?  or 2) it
data mines the serfs?  or 3) both? or 4) neither?

*The Indian and Egyptian power-players just aren't buying into the
pitch there.  They know perfectly well it's not about "free basic
Internet service," it's all about Zuckerberg, a billionaire
maharajah of the Internet Counterrevolution.  

*Why give this ultra-rich American Jewish guy the run of their Arab
and Hindu national infrastructures?  Did he offer them nice bribes? 
Will it help them crush their enemies?  Will it annihilate internal
subversion?  Heck no it won't; in Egypt, Facebook was obviously the
ruin of the country.  

*So where is the benefit for Indian and Egyptian de-globalizing
national elites? What's in it for them?  Nothing but trouble. 
Zuckerberg and his "free" access can take a hike.
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #65 of 179: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 8 Jan 16 02:06
    

lovevolv (lovevolv) Thu 07 Jan 2016 (05:36 AM)

Practical simple steps each of us can & should take??


*I had to live in Europe for years to understand this, but this is a
deeply American question. It's "pragmatism." Pragmatism has its
benefits.

*As an American often on the ground in eastern Europe, I'm
consistently surprised by how much I can publicly contribute by
simple, practical approaches. Such as: "So, your toilet is leaking
all over the floor, is it?  Did you try taking the top off and
looking inside the toilet?  You didn't? What's all this ancient rust
in here?"  I'm no plumber, but nobody but an American would dream of
pragmatically intervening and actually looking inside the mysterious
works there. 

*I've even adopted some design principles that seem simple and
practical to me.  "Steps" that I, in fact, commonly take.  I didn't
invent them, I adopted them from other design theorists, but I can
boldly claim that these simple principles have genuinely improved my
quality of life.

*I concentrate very hard on everyday objects -- intimate, immediate
things --  rather than on aspirational status luxuries. I remove
things if I don't regularly interact with them or share them. I
clear my space and time of obsolete tools that no longer efficiently
perform a useful function.  

*When I stumble over some possession of mine, I don't thoughtlessly
assume, in standard consumer-culture fashion, "Oh well, this is a
good thing, it's been around here a long time, it's kind of nice,
I'm used to it, it cost a lot once." Instead, I ask what it is doing
now to earn the privilege of being in my immediate vicinity and
taking up my attention.  Quite often the answer is that it is doing
nothing much, and hasn't seen pragmatic use for quite a while. In
which case it should be given away, stored, sold, recycled or
removed.

*1. Beautiful things 2. Emotionally important things. 3. Efficient
and useful tools.  4. Everything else.  The harmful number-four
"everything else" category pretty much needs to go.  With the
passage of time, most everything relentlessly trends toward
"everything else."  Entropy requires no maintenance.

*If "each of us" adopted these "practical, simple steps," then we'd
be living in a quite different culture.   However, these steps
require a lot of mindfulness, which is always troublesome to people.
It's far-fetched to think that everyone would always be able to live
those principles daily.  Personally, I tend to observe them in
spring-cleaning fits.

*What's actually happening in the material culture of the
Twenty-Teens is a dematerialization of objects into apps on handheld
devices owned and controlled by the GAFAM Big Five, along with a
kind of Uberization of bourgeois possessions into financialized,
on-off, network-centric, "blank-as-a-service."  The "Internet of
Things" is on the way.  Quite an interesting story, but it's pretty
much anything but "simple."
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #66 of 179: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 8 Jan 16 02:11
    
*Those practical and simple steps.  This seemingly honest, direct,
Ben Franklin-style, problem-solving approach has its limits.  

Your apparently "practical" approach is never universally practical.
It's an emanation of what you yourself think should practically be
happening. You're not the universe, you're just some American guy,
even if you're the genius Ben Franklin.  Your practicality is not
objective reality. It's your own approach, and others don't share
it. They can't. They never will.

*Take this intimate problem, for instance: the teenage daughter is
sobbing unbearably. She's dented the sheetrock walls with her aching
head… What could be wrong?  She's afflicted by adolescent
menstruation!  Buy her an Advil and a heating pad!

*These practical, simple steps don't solve the tragic human
condition of womanhood. But they're pretty good steps -- to an
extent. She's better off than the suffering teenage girl next door
who lacks that painkiller and the plug-in gizmo. You were pragmatic!
You frankly admitted the problem, at least; you didn't lie about it
or conceal it, out of delicacy, shame or taboo. So you did okay.

*The downside of pragmatism ---"Just fix the problem! Do something
practical! Simple! Honest!"  is when you get aggressive about it,
and apply it to mutilate the full dimensions of the situation.  Fed
up with her endless whining, you might snap at the teenager, "Your
grumpy mood problems don't affect our family mortgage! Everything's
great except for you! The bottom line seems just fine, so let's just
change the subject!" 

*Then, to your startled amazement, she  hangs herself while you are
fixing the garage door. The garage door was doable.  Your daughter
is no more fixable than you yourself are fixable.  

*"Without vision the people perish." You imagined that you were
brusquely, efficiently cutting to the chase, simply fixing the
practical problems, making everything all better, but your
self-centered crassness destroyed her will to live.  

*Your pragmatic solutionism betrayed you. Your philosophy of solving
wrecked you.  Instead of "being practical," you should have told
your daughter something soulful, tender, heartfelt, vague,
supportive, mushy, lyrical and open-ended: "Just hold on through
this, my darling!  The pain only lasts a few days, it always gets
better!  Never doubt that mom and I will always love you!
Generations of women have been through this trial that you are
suffering!  Read female poets who can illuminate your spiritual
ordeal for you!  Anybody but Sylvia Plath!"

*I'm a pragmatist myself, but I've learned to deploy it with some
care, and not use it to razor off every aspect of existence.  I'm a
futurist, but I know that a lot of guys called "futurists" are
basically motivational speakers.  Some of them are pretty good
trend-spotters, sharp and alert people, but they realize that the
audience can't emotionally survive on a diet of analysis.  The
futurist's core audience is anxious about the future; they want and
need somebody to cheer them up.  

*The truth is, some of the audience have no future. In any large
crowd of X thousand people, some subset-of-X are gonna be
statistically dead by next year.  Any insurance guy knows that.  
It's the simple and practical truth, but it's cruel to reveal it;
it's brutal frankness.
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #67 of 179: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 8 Jan 16 02:13
    
#58 of 60: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 07 Jan 2016 (06:26 AM)

Bruce, 're: Putin and his friends. Do we just not get it? Would you
please elaborate a bit on why they like him and what possible
futures the 'Stans are seeing and hoping to happen for themselves?
Is Putin's political agenda evolving? Is he capable of going with
the flow should the Stans go off in other directions?

*Well, I think that people more or less get it; the Russians are
secretive, but they're not so wildly enigmatic as all that.  There
was a hostile revolution next door in Ukraine; Putin stole the part
of the country with the naval base; then the Russian-speaking chunk
of Ukraine counter-rebelled against the rebels in Kiev and wanted to
join him, so he had to put up with their aspirations even though it
meant sanctions and a shooting war.

*Under the modern dispensation, you're really not supposed to, just,
well, steal Crimea.  Sure, you can invade other countries, topple
hostile regimes, kill people with drones pretty much anywhere, but
just sawing off a chunk of somebody else's country, putting your own
flag on it and declaring it's your own country, there's no way that
Brussels or Washington are gonna like that.  

*Putin knows there's no way to justify Crimea, so he's got a
two-fold strategy.  A, just hang on until the adversaries get tired
of complaining and sanctioning, and B, undermine political will with
just an amazing tidal wave of Kremlin-troll bullshit.  Just use
cheap digital media to lie, distort, deny, dismiss, around the
clock, methodically, endlessly.  The point to trolling is not to win
the argument.  It's to muddy the waters so much that nobody can
drink.  

*With previous forms of media, if you blatantly lied all the time
you'd be shamed out of it by the gatekeepers, but if there are no
media gatekeepers, then you can troll.  It's information warfare
under conditions of modern Internet Counterrevolution.  

*You try to keep as much order in your local media as you can, and
then you recruit network foot soldiers to hand-throw dirt-bombs into
everybody else's media.  You won't convince them that your course is
just and right (because it's not), but maybe you can paralyze their
political will.  Get inside the ol' OODA Loop there; disrupt the
adversary's ability to observe, orient, decide and act.

*I think that describes what Putin is doing, and it's not stunningly
weird or a failure on our part to sympathize with him.  The guy's
from the intelligence services.  Spooks by their nature are very
keen on media dirty-tricks, every spook apparatus does at least some
of it.  He's got plenty of ardent neo-nationalist Russians to help
him troll; he doesn't have to fling the mud personally.

*What's different nowadays derives from the current structure of
media. This isn't 1955, you can't jam Radio Free Europe.  But maybe
you can just fill up the airwaves with gaudy noise, lots of
meme-style chaff and smoke-bombs.  Just throw troll-spaghetti in all
directions, see if anything sticks. You're not seeking tender
understanding from Americans, it's not a charm-offensive.  It's the
new "Troll-State" approach.  

*I never saw it done  quite like this before, but I guess some
nation had to try it.  It's like climate-denialism, basically. 
However, instead of being run out of K-Street by Exxon-Mobil and the
coal interests to deter legislation, it's run from the Kremlin to
consolidate gains and deter the spread of a shooting-war.

*It's very contemporary.  Donald Trump gets it.  Trump and Putin
quite admire one another: they both think they know what it takes
nowadays, and that they've got plenty of it.  Trump is the Troll
Candidate.
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #68 of 179: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Fri 8 Jan 16 03:38
    
(bruces) Thanks for that response, makes the Trump connection
perfectly clear now.

What about the 'stans, they all seem to be wanting to go off in
their own directions? Putin isn't about to let that happen is he? Or
is the new alliances the 'stans are making with China and India and
the new "Silk Road" too much for him to challenge...

You know, the old trope from Princess Bride, '''"and don't get into
a land war with China"
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #69 of 179: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 8 Jan 16 06:11
    
In #59 above I suggested creating or joining conversational groups
focused on issues of interest, beyond vicarious actions, as in
responding to emails and donating to mission-driven NPOs who are
Doing The Work. In a private conversation, someone told me that
these ad hoc conversations are unlikely to have an impact on the
distribution of power. I responded that "knowledge is power," or as
he rephrased it, "knowledge potentiate power." 

Granted that mere conversation won't do much, there's more to be
said. And of course, it doesn't take the place of organizing and
working the system, it's a supplement.

This is a US-centric thought. Clusters of thoughtful conversation in
some parts of the world might invite beheading, or worse.

If you want participatory governance or "democracy," the
conversations have to happen. Democracy isn't a voting mob, it's not
a vote at all - we sometimes confuse majoritarianism with democracy.
If you want people to participate, to influence decisions, they have
to know WTF they're deciding about, and have an intelligent
perspective on it. This is so rare and so difficult, practically
speaking, we never have democracies at all in the real sense of the
term, and however close we might get to the democratic ideal, we
eventually drift.

Donald Trump comes to mind. Whatever you might think about him,
about his prospects as a U.S. presidential candidate, he's been a
great case study and proof that you can't overestimate the "wisdom
of the crowd." 

Check out Trump's Politifact profile:
http://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/ His statements
are 1% true, 39% false, 22% "pants on fire." 99% of what he says is
some degree of false. Yet he has a huge following, many of them
seemingly intelligent people. What do they like about him? "He
speaks his mind." I really doubt that.

But he's a showman, he plays to the emotions, he's doing stand-up
politics.

If he loses the nomination or drops out... he hasn't really lost,
because he's build a substantial base of power, and commanded
fungible attention. Without telling the truth.

Those trump supporters could hold monthly meetups, salon-style, and
lie like dogs to each other for an hour or two at a time. A nuanced
and well-considered pack of lies is still a pack of lies. This is
the weakness of the suggestion I made.  To make people smarter,
you'd have to include a commitment to critical thinking, and
facilitation to keep the conversation on the rails.

Critical thinking, digging for truth, complete honesty - hard to
achieve, increasingly rare, probably impossible in some parts of the
world.
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #70 of 179: Ari Davidow (ari) Fri 8 Jan 16 06:32
    
About a year ago, I became sufficiently depressed by the
polarization in US (and global) politics. I rejoined a local
political coalition that has done good work in the past on issues
ranging from healthcare to housing and education. Right now, a major
focus is criminal justice reform. For the first time I can recall,
the group is calling for a "Day of Fasting" as a prelude to
addressing the more general tone of discourse and "rejecting the
language of otherness":

"In the charged rhetoric of our times, the demonization of the other
- from Mexican immigrants to Muslims to other marginalized
minorities– has become commonplace. [We] invite congregants from all
of our faith traditions to four diverse houses of worship, to
develop relationships, learn about each other’s traditions and
affirm our shared values and common humanity."

I have no idea whether this will attain any traction, but I am
hopeful that 2016 will be a year in which calling for such discourse
will be part of what reaches people. Of course, this is also an
election year, so I may be blowing smoke.
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #71 of 179: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 8 Jan 16 10:45
    
A report from the Anthropocene Working Group:
http://quaternary.stratigraphy.org/workinggroups/anthropocene/

"The 'Anthropocene' is a term widely used since its coining by Paul
Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer in 2000 to denote the present time
interval, in which many geologically significant conditions and
processes are profoundly altered by human activities. These include
changes in: erosion and sediment transport associated with a variety
of anthropogenic processes, including colonisation, agriculture,
urbanisation and global warming. the chemical composition of the
atmosphere, oceans and soils, with significant anthropogenic
perturbations of the cycles of elements such as carbon, nitrogen,
phosphorus and various metals. environmental conditions generated by
these perturbations; these include global warming, ocean
acidification and spreading oceanic 'dead zones'. the biosphere both
on land and in the sea, as a result of habitat loss, predation,
species invasions and the physical and chemical changes noted
above."

...

"The beginning of the 'Anthropocene' is most generally considered to
be at c. 1800 CE, around the beginning of the Industrial Revolution
in Europe (Crutzen's original suggestion); other potential
candidates for time boundaries have been suggested, at both earlier
dates (within or even before the Holocene) or later (e.g. at the
start of the nuclear age). A formal 'Anthropocene' might be defined
either with reference to a particular point within a stratal
section, that is, a Global Stratigraphic Section and Point (GSSP),
colloquially known as a 'golden spike; or, by a designated time
boundary (a Global Standard Stratigraphic Age)."
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #72 of 179: lovevolv (lovevolv) Fri 8 Jan 16 15:46
    
superb discourse, thank you for all of it including responses to my
'practical' query. 
yes, i happen to be american (both coasts); living in switzerland
for half a decade. everyone asks, 'don't you miss new york?' and i
say, 'no'. 
well it's not that simple... or is it? 
everyone's on facebook ...

speaking of which, one can go pretty far to effect real (practical)
change right there, without the need for other platforms for quite a
while.
however...

one more question, perhaps a request for a redux/ remix, of an
inkwell from some time back with ethan zuckerman. he was throwing
down on the topic of echo chambers and filter bubbles. has anything
changed, and/or how are these things morphing in the foreseeable
future?  what's the prognosis for most 'users'?
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #73 of 179: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 9 Jan 16 03:34
    
*I've got an anecdote on the Ukraine situation.

*Last year I edited "Twelve Tomorrows," which is MIT Technology
Review's annual science fiction issue.  I decided to commission a
work from the Deputy Defense Minister of the People's Republic of
Donetsk, which is a warlord enclave in rebel Eastern Ukraine.

This guy, Fyodor (formerly he used "Fedor," the Ukrainian spelling)
Berezin, is a career military science-fiction writer who used to be
a captain in the  former Soviet Union's nuclear missile forces. 
Captain Berezin also writes space-opera sci-fi, but his favorite sub
genre is near-future military speculation.  Much of his work
concerns the prospects of war breaking out in his own region, and
Russia getting back on its feet by rising to the challenge of
foreign aggression.

Captain Berezin's immediate boss in Donetsk, Igor "Strelkov" Girkin,
was the major warlord figure in the early rebellion, and also a
fantasy novelist.   The intimate involvement of science fiction
writing in this dismal shooting-war was something that rather
concerned me.

So I contacted Berezin and got him to write a speculative military 
science fiction story specifically for Americans.  Berezin delivered
the story, which, in its English translation, is called "Panama
Cataclysm."  It details a future nuclear terrorist attack on an
American aircraft carrier in the Panama Canal.  Everybody at "Twelve
Tomorrows" thought it was pretty good, and just what one would want
to hear from a guy with Berezin's point-of-view.  We had it
proofread, typeset, all that good stuff.  

Then we figured out that it was illegal to pay Berezin.  As a
warlord, he's been placed an a US State Department financial
sanctions list.  Since we couldn't pay him, MIT and Techology Review
couldn't print the story.

These financial sanctions lists are very typical of the
Twenty-Teens.  Tens of thousands of people are on them.  They're
effective in peculiar ways; in the case of this Russian-speaking
science fiction writer, they're a form of censorship.  Sure, he can
write whatever he wants, but he can't do business.  It's like the
State Department choking off the credit cards of Wikileaks.  They're
hostiles, so, you know, shut  off their money.

As a writer, I wouldn't want this done to me; obviously it's a
blatant threat to free expression, but I'm thinking that these
sanctions methods are going to multiply. States and non-state actors
alike are gonna find ways to extralegally harass opponents by making
them economic non-persons.  The US is pioneering it because they've
got so much global finance clout, but since the finance and credit
systems are electronic now, I don't doubt there's a lot of other,
clever ways to do it.

Given that economic sanctions lists exist, and they do, there's no
doubt that Berezin belongs on one.  He fits their stated purpose. 
He's not a science fiction colleague who happens to be sorta, kinda
be a warlord.  He was, and is, an armed and uniformed rebel in a
city, Donetsk, that's been blown to hell with heavy artillery in
gruesome siege conditions.  He's a real-deal, no-kidding warlord who
aided and abetted an armed secession to the best of his ability.
However, I consider it a pity that the machineries of the new Cold
War denied him his say in a magazine I edited.  In my opinion, this
is precisely the kind of science fiction that Americans should be
learning more about.

So, if you send me email -- "bruces@well.com" -- then I will
privately send you a copy of Captain Fyodor Berezin's "Panama
Apocalypse," the missing twelfth story in the 2015 'Twelve
Tomorrows.'  The other stories in there, that aren't written by
warlords under sanctions, are also pretty good.  However, you can
buy those.
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #74 of 179: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 9 Jan 16 03:35
    
63 of 67: Never were the way she was (jet) Thu 07 Jan 2016 (08:05
PM)

Going back a bit:

> China made a lot of money 

When someone says "China made a lot of money", they didn't make
money,
they shifted digits on bank accounts.  How did their air pollution
and
other costs of "make a lot of money" translate to air quality in
Tokyo
or costs of consumer products in the US?

*I hear this "Potemkin Village" argument quite a lot from Americans,
like: the Chinese can't possibly be actually succeeding at doing
something so alien to our understanding of world order.  The Chinese
must be cheating somehow, the whole thing's a put-up job; the
protected yuan is not really money, the state-supported engineering
projects aren't real infrastructure, the moon rockets and giant
Weibo networks are stolen intellectual property,  their markets are
mere Communist facades and not genuine markets,  the colossal scale
of their cyberwarfare doesn't really gain them any benefits, all of
that.

*Maybe it's true, maybe they'll suddenly implode this year because
the Dragon Emperor has no clothes.  But for people who aren't really
rich, the Chinese sure are buying a lot of stuff.  Farmland, mines,
resources, all over the planet.  The Chinese have got multiple
hundreds of billions in US dollar reserves: if that's also funny
money, then we're all just as naked as China is.

*If a people are better-fed, better-housed, better educated and
visibly throwing their weight around on the world stage, then I'm
inclined to presume that events are going their way, and not search
for elaborate theories about how that can't be happening.  

*Not that the Chinese are perfect or anything; successful people in
China tend to vote with their feet and get the hell out of China. 
The air stinks, the secret police kidnap people: life in China is
tough.  But if you compare the China of 2016 to the China of 1986,
their transformation is just amazing.  They're a troubled nation,
but they don't seem to need much condescending advice any more.
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #75 of 179: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 9 Jan 16 05:11
    
Then there's China's foray into big media production, specifically
this week's announcement that China's Dalian Wanda Group will buy a
majority stake in Legendary Entertainment, a film company that makes
big budget action-fantasy films that are immensely popular in China
as well as the USA. Wanda also owns AMC Theatres, and in China owns
commercial plazas, five-star hotels, thousands of cinema screens,
department stores and karaoke outlets. 

They're shifting a lot of digits, and it feels as real as
entertainment can be.
  

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