Bruce Sterling's hour-long lecture to the Southern California Institute of Architecture is pretty good vintage Sterling: a seeming grab-bag of loosely related futuristic, ascerbic observations about climate change, Estonian e-residency, Kazakh new cities, monumental architecture, rotting Turinese palaces, Silicon Valley arrogance, AI, new-new urbanism, and so on -- which then all seems to pull together in an ineffable, somehow coherent finale that is both hopeful and bitter. Read the rest
The "Turkey City Lexicon" is a widely used -- if controversial -- set of critiquing terms for use in science fiction writing workshops, created by Lewis Shiner and Bruce Sterling for use in the Turkey City Writing Workshop; Sterling describes SF workshops as being "like a bad rock band" in that a workshop "can be set up in any vacant garage by any group of spotty enthusiasts with nothing better to occupy their time. No one has a copyright on talent, desire, or enthusiasm." Read the rest
In 2010, Steve Almond started work on a Tea Party-inspired novel called Bucky Dunn Is Running, about a racist demagogue businessman who comes within a whisker of the Republican nomination for their presidential candidate; he'd aimed to have it done for the 2016 election season, but then Trump happened, and his satire seemingly caught up with him. Read the rest
Bruce Sterling's scathing editorial in The Atlantic on the future of "Smart Cities" uses London's many smart city initiatives as a kind of measuring stick for the janky and dysfunctional future of civic automation: a city that throws great smart city conferences while its actual infrastructure is a mess of "empty skyscrapers, creepy CCTV videocams, and sewers plugged with animal fat" that require decades of planning an attention to cope with -- significantly beyond the attention spans of any of the tech giants vying to be the smart city providers of the future. Read the rest
Every year, Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky take to The Well and conduct a weeks-long, wide-ranging "state of the world" discussion, trying to dig through to the zeitgeist's bedrock, taking questions from all comers (you don't need to be a WELL member to read, and you can send your questions in to Jonl). Read the rest
Last week I was in Italy for the first Maker Faire Rome. (You can see my photo galleries of the event here and here.) The Faire kicked off on Thursday with a series of presentations. One of my favorites was given by science fiction writer and design critic Bruce Sterling. He gave a slideshow about his Venn diagram of things that are desirable, profitable, and buildable.
For instance, things that are profitable, but not desirable or buildable, include speculation, embezzlement, frauds, hoarding, theft, vaporware, and hoaxes. Things that are desirable, but not buildable or profitable, include fantasies, speculations, the magical, and the mythical. Things that are buildable, but neither profitable nor desirable, include trash, pollution, and entropy. Things that are buildable and profitable but not desirable include niche products, hobby gear, long tail objects, weaponry, and criminal hardware. All in all, there were seven categories of products that Sterling identified, and gave examples of, in his slideshow.
An improvised explosive device (IED) is buildable and profitable, but not desirable (at least not by anyone other than the people making and using them) Read the rest