inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #151 of 179: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 15 Jan 16 06:55
    

As for corporate dominance, it's quite old-fashioned.  What actually
dominates now is stockholder value and a few ultra-rich individuals;
finance defeated corporate power many years ago.  We have oligarch
dominance, not corporate dominance.  Otherwise, Donald Trump would
be insulting and trolling corporations instead of individuals.  The
Koch Brothers wouldn't be hated, feared and respected, we'd hate
their front corporations instead.  People don't do that now. 
Mistaking the Koch Bros for one of their corporate fronts would be
naive and corny.

Our problems an downsides will become old-fashioned too.  Not that
things will become more positive.  Just, things get old-fashioned,
across the board.
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #152 of 179: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 15 Jan 16 07:06
    
*An interesting suggestion from four years ago that seemingly flat
and equal peer-to-peer networks, such as Internet and Bitcoin,
actually breed oligarch elitism.

http://blog.dshr.org/2014/10/economies-of-scale-in-peer-to-peer.html

*It was often argued in previous centuries that democracy without
republican institutions led to tyranny.
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #153 of 179: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 16 Jan 16 07:24
    
In the end, it's a math problem.
http://blogs.ams.org/phdplus/2012/11/01/the-mathematics-of-democracy/#sthash.l
44PfFv1.dpbs

I moderated a conference discussion a couple of days ago. The
question was whether technology could turbocharge democracy. The
obvious questions all emerged: is a Republic such as ours a
"democracy"? what's the best way to make participatory decisions?
how easy is it to game the system? etc. Does gerrymandering subvert
democracy? Does propaganda shape the vote so that democracy is only
apparent? Is a low-participation vote democratic, or is it just a
ritual of affirmation? 

Everyone seems to agree that we're in a real mess, but it's unclear
what combination of energy and intelligence (and power) would clean
it up; is it cleanable? Was it cleaner/better before? 

Has technology actually undermined democratic principles, e.g. by
facilitating the spread of propaganda and disinformation?

I think that last post <bruces> linked is insightful, clearly the
problems of democracy, like the problems of p2p networks, are
associated with scale and diversity.

It's hard to sustain a state the size of the USA, let alone sustain
it as a democracy. But we don't exactly do that: we're not a
monolithic entity governed centrally, but a collection of states
with state governments, and those state "unite," ideally co-operate,
as a federated set, seeking the advantages of scale and
co-operation. When I worked in state government, we talked a lot
about our Federal partners - the states are in partnership with the
federal government, and through that partnership, they're
co-operating with each other. 

Question is, where do the authority and rights of the state end, vs
the authority and rights of the federation?

We hear about states' rights, but we probably don't have enough
conversation or intelligence about that division of responsibility
and accountability.

And the rest of the world is still at various levels of Figuring It
Out.

When I step back, I think, globally, the question we should all ask
ourselves is about where we should be competing, and where we should
be co-operating...
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #154 of 179: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 16 Jan 16 07:26
    
(A political scientist, reading that, would probably shake his head
and say, "that's simplistic, it's a LOT more complicated"...)
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #155 of 179: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 16 Jan 16 09:50
    
*I'm currently in Munich Germany at their local Maker Faire, which
is a rather standard Maker culture event except that the city's
government has rather a prominent presence there.

*I opined that the "flat world" Internet theory where everybody was
on a level electronic playing field is over for the time being. 
We're into an Internet Counterrevolution period of balkanization,
wall-building, silos and centers of regional ambition.

*In the meantime, shabby, cheesy Little Britain has kindly offered
to expel immigrants who make less than L35K a year.  Are they a
nation or an AirBnB?

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-urged-to-rethink-new
-35000-earnings-threshold-for-non-eu-migrants-as-teachers-face-a6814841.html
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #156 of 179: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 16 Jan 16 09:53
    
*Glum, tormented, spiteful Canada now officially hip for 2016! 
Welcome back, Canada, all is forgiven!

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/01/15/style/canada-justin-trudeau-cool
.html
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #157 of 179: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 17 Jan 16 08:41
    
*Off to play some techno music in a Munich nightclub and dedicating
my set to the memory of Countess Franziska du Reventlow.
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #158 of 179: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Mon 18 Jan 16 02:47
    
Nice...Bruce, Europe has always had a long history of 'salons'...are
there any still going on, do people spark ideas face to face
anymore? Or has digital killed that off?

There is something about food, drink, and the chemistry of dialog
all in the same physical space that doesn't seem able to be
replicated in cyberspace. Maybe VR will change that, but I doubt it.
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #159 of 179: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Mon 18 Jan 16 04:11
    
http://brucesterling.tumblr.com/post/137539537838/dedicating-my-munich-techno-
dj-set-to-the-memory

*There's the playlist for you fans of hole-in-the-wall DJ sets in
ex-industrial "creative quarter" areas of big European cities.
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #160 of 179: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Mon 18 Jan 16 04:37
    
Thx, good Gopod, I'm feeling old, only know of two of those groups
:(
So much to do, so much to do....(Dave Matthews)

Bruce, how's your career Bollywood quest going? Anyone new,
observatons of its continued cultural impact.   New music you are
excited about. Have you heard King Krule, my particular new fav:

https://www.youtube.com/user/kingkrulevideo
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #161 of 179: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 18 Jan 16 07:16
    
Thanks for the playlist! I programmed it in Spotify, listening now.
Streaming music makes me happy as a clam.

Today's the last day of our discussion... we should load the
soundtrack on the front end next year.

Tonight I'm giving a talk at EFF-Austin, "Agoratopia," the latest in
my series of "Future of the Internet" talks. I wanted to give a more
focused talk - the one I'd been giving is about half history and
half speculation; it's always tempting to wax nostalgic about the
history, which leaves less time for the "future of" speculation. One
version of the talk, for an IEEE consultants' group, never got past
the history, we had a great time remembering our experiences with
Gopher, Archie & Veronica, Usenet newsgroups, etc. 

"Agoratopia" is about the Internet as a marketplace. After
struggling to weld that onto the existing framework of the talk, I
woke this morning with the outline for a pretty-much-from-scratch
new version that talks about what we have, and what we (should)
want, if we assume that we're okay with "the agora" - where the
market is built into the public gathering-place in some ideal,
non-obnoxious way...

Off to make the slides...
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #162 of 179: disclaimers and disentanglements at gailwilliams.com (gail) Mon 18 Jan 16 11:44
    

Looking forward to seeing the slides, Jon.  Mostly concerned about
restrictions and contortions of the agora of ideas, but the agora of
products seems more and more tied in. And of course the nautual
planet is the platform for all the platforms, and that future is not
absolute, but complex and nuanced.  

You said something earlier about "too late" for our atmosphere, but
if you look at the calculated projections for late response to the
challenge (now, pretty much) versus later or none, there are
powerful reasons not to be fatalistic about climate change
mitigation. I'm still thinking about the first few days of the topic
here.  That listicle you shrugged at probably lists the most
influential thing you can do first.  That's to not eat meat, of
course. You don't have to sumpathize with animal abuse or adopt a
buddhist tradition, just scientifically choose to skip the meat, and
don't be derisive when somebody asks for the salad without bacon. 
Each time you select vegetable proteins instead of meat you buy our
planet some time. Well, the biosphere anyway.  Cause geology doesn't
care about biodiveristy or the agora of the future and how it will
be powered. Imperfect gestures are better than none.  (I don't talk
about this very much partly because I do eat dairy, and I know that
is part of the problem, but even a grilled cheese sandwich instead
of a cheeseburger is a meaningful vote for a liveable planet.)  I
hang out a lot with craft beer community people, and young American
brewers with their beards and shorts and can-do spirit tend to be
extremem meat fetishists, so I think about this a lot and say very
little. Such a coward.   

Thanks for the insights into Europe and the world, Bruce. I guess
it's kind of obvious to say that your posts pop because of your
facility with the language, but damn they can be pleasant as well as
informative and disturbing.  

So here's a pebble into the stream.  Best thing I learned this year
was about antibiotic-resistant staph infections foiled by early
Anglo-Saxon medicine derieved from an old manuscript called Bald's
Leechbook. Mostly motivated by the fun of experimentation.

I think one reason I love the story is that I love how citizen
science is back, after being a curioisty of earlier centuries.  

There are some articles around that tell this story, about a
microbiologist who did historical battle reenactments for fun -- not
US Civil War, but Viking/Anglo-Saxon battles -- and who became
friends with an historian who had an amateur interest in
epidemiology... and how they proceeded to test old remedies, and
detemined that they could beat MRSA with a formula including garlic
and ox bile.  

But some of those articles draw dumb conclusions.  The story is even
better in more depth.

The Radiolab version is thorough, charming, amusing and asks all the
right questions.   http://www.radiolab.org/story/best-medicine/   
A few months old, but if you missed it, grab it.
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #163 of 179: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Mon 18 Jan 16 14:32
    
This is our last 'official' day, I would like to thank Bruce and Jon
for their extraordinary generosity of time and knowledge, for
sharing so much 'spot on' content, wishing you both the most joyous
and productive year ahead in all your endeavors.

To everyone participating, on WELL and off WELL, thank you for your
inputs, questions, lurkings, etc. This has been one of the best
SOTW's, Not that they aren't all great, but we all mostly we able to
stay out of Bruce and Jon's way and let them post as they wished and
answer your questions as they felt so inclined.

To all who helped in the production of this year's conversation:
Brady, Gail, et.al.  Thanks for being present behind the stage and
making it all go so smoothly.

This conversation will always be available in the Archives, to on
WELL and OFF WELL folks alike....

If you have further questions or comments, please feel free to ask
or make them...Bruce and Jon will occassionally check in to the
topic during the next two weeks, then we will archive it.

Next up, Jon Lebkowsky will begin a two week conversation with Sarah
Hepola:

http://sarahhepola.com/

Feel free to hang around for that one as well, should it interest
you.

All the best to you and yours, enjoy

Ted
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #164 of 179: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 18 Jan 16 15:09
    
Thanks, Ted! And thanks to everybody who dropped by, and especially
to all who contributed comments and questions...
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #165 of 179: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 19 Jan 16 05:39
    
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Mon 18 Jan 2016 (02:47 AM)

"Nice...Bruce, Europe has always had a long history of
'salons'...are
there any still going on, do people spark ideas face to face
anymore? Or has digital killed that off?

"There is something about food, drink, and the chemistry of dialog
all in the same physical space that doesn't seem able to be
replicated in cyberspace. Maybe VR will change that, but I doubt
it."

*I appreciate Ted's insight and, yes, I think there's something to
the face-to-face issue.  I've noticed that, while social media
destroyed the economic underpinnings of paper media, events somehow
became the new magazines.  

*In 2015 I went to events about as often as I used to write a
magazine article, back during the  last 20th century.   I also wrote
a few magazine articles during 2015, but about as often as I used to
go to public events in, say, 1987.
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #166 of 179: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 19 Jan 16 05:39
    

*Why is it happening -- events, not magazines?  Because the physical
presence of people can still be monetized.  People need each other. 
I'm pretty sure that the lasting success of SXSW Interactive has
plenty to do with the fact that women abound there -- at least, for
a tech event.  SXSW is a geek romance scene.

*So, let's assume that European salons indeed have some legs in
2016.   How would you test that idea out?  Well, that's what we have
tried here in Torino (for indeed I am in Turin now, for 24 hours at
least).  

*We built a home that is entirely dedicated to the local Torino Fab
Lab.  
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #167 of 179: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 19 Jan 16 05:40
    

*If you think about it, a "fab lab" is a kind of "salon" for digital
production machinery.  You may own saws, a lathe, 3DPrinters, but
you need a community to gather over the tools.  That requires human
presence, got a host or hostess, the "mistress of the salon" who
keeps the lights on and oils the machineries of collaborative social
networking.

*There are now over 30 Fab Labs in various corners of Italy.  Torino
had the first Italian Fab Lab.   Now it's got the first *residency"
in a Fab Lab anywhere to my knowledge.  It's called "Casa Jasmina."

http://casajasmina.arduino.cc

*Massimo Banzi of Arduino/Genuino named Casa Jasmina after Jasmina
Tesanovic (my wife) because Jasmina is more or less the "mistress of
the salon" within this Maker Culture enterprise.
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #168 of 179: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 19 Jan 16 05:40
    

*It took us quite a while to get the place up and running, because
lofting out a house inside a derelict European factory is no picnic.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/brucesterling/albums/72157647536440143

*But, eventually, we managed.  So, in 2016, Casa Jasmina has
heating, lighting, plumbing, a kitchen, pantry, rather a lot of odd
Maker furniture, broadband, 3DPrinters next door, a big robot
downstairs and other necessities of modern life.  People from the
Maker scene are, in fact, residing in Casa Jasmina, on occasion.  We
even have an AirBnB account and could rent the place out if we felt
like it.

*It's an open question if you could start a "salon" in a private
home and have that really work in 2016.  But Casa Jasmina is not a
private home, it just closely resembles one, and it's not a classic
European culture salon, it's a European technoculture salon.  In
reality, Casa Jasmina is a crypto-domestic space within a huge
ex-factory also occupied by a Fab Lab, an open-source electronics
company, a printing house and a rather large rent-and-share complex
for designers, "Toolbox CoWorking."  Therefore the "Casa" is a kind
of club-house, a domestic front-scene, or even a promotional
billboard of sorts, for its busy sister enterprises within a
Turinese post-industrial setting.
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #169 of 179: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 19 Jan 16 05:41
    

*The interesting and important aspect is that the social mood of
this factory complex definitely changes within the context of
"house."  People simply change their behavior, because of the polite
domestic cues around them.  They can't help it.  They talk
differently; they act differently.

*You walk in the house, and it's not a factory; there are artworks
on the walls, ambient theme music plays.  There's a private library
with interesting books on widely assorted cultural topics.  It
smells like fresh coffee and Piedmontese food.  Somebody took some
trouble with the paint job.  

There's even a specialized kid's room, where the entirely fictional
children of Casa Jasmina pretend to live.  Once inside the Casa
Jasmina venue, people go all un-businesslike, quite suddenly.  They
stop trying to make-their-numbers and, instead, relax and let their
hair down.  It's still a Maker house, but instead of being all about
Maker websites and Maker instruction manuals, suddenly it's about
Maker Culture.
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #170 of 179: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 19 Jan 16 05:42
    


*People in other European cities seem to like this idea.  We just
got back from explaining it at a Maker Faire in Munich, where the
locals are simpatico.  It wouldn't surprise me if other open-source
residencies show up soon in other cities, because Europe is  overrun
with derelict industrial zones that have been clumsily transformed
into "creative quarters."  

*Also, it's logically and culturally consistent.  As Jasmina pointed
out in the Fab Lab two years ago, if you're a Maker into open source
hardware and software, and you boldly claim that you have the
capacity to "make" all kinds of cool stuff, then why don't you
"make" something that people in Europe really need: a place to live?

*It's a provocative concept, and it's gathering attention from
groups that we knew nothing about.  It's not proven successful yet,
but I'm thinking that 2016 will be quite a strong year for this
effort, and we'll be quite busy at it.  We'll be hosting students,
seminars, cultural events; in the salon of Casa Jasmina, we seem to
have a lot of new friends in 2016 that we didn't know we had.
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #171 of 179: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 19 Jan 16 05:54
    
Also, Bruce and Jasmina will be talking about Casa Jasmina at SXSW 
Interactive, in March... 
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2016/events/event_PP49446
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #172 of 179: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 19 Jan 16 11:38
    
"“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of
life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to
be enthusiastic about.”  &#8213; Charles Kingsley. He was a career
Christian functionary, but a devotee of Charles Darwin.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Kingsley
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #173 of 179: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 19 Jan 16 12:32
    
*Pretty much what I said on the Well here, but I've got a microphone
on my hand and I am staring into the startled face of Spaniards
whose first language isn't English.

https://youtu.be/ZTj3NeeIGo0
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #174 of 179: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 19 Jan 16 13:01
    
"... a European Union internal cultural export..."
  
inkwell.vue.487 : Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016
permalink #175 of 179: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 19 Jan 16 23:34
    
You never know what fate will hand you.  Hope to be back here next
year.    Now, I've got to catch a train.
  

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