Since the first days of SXSW Interactive, Bruce Sterling has closed the festivities with a haranguing, funny, provocative keynote and nearly every year (2017, 2016, 2014, 2013, 2012 etc) we link to it. Read the rest
Are you at SXSW this week? On Thursday (3/15) at 12:30pm, I'll be on a panel about art and technology titled: "Why are artists vital to tech's future (and ours?)" Moderated by Heather Sparks of ScienceSparksArt, the panel also includes artist Rhonda Holberton and curator Aimee Friberg. I'll be speaking about the Voyager Golden Record as a futurist talisman at the intersection of science, art, and wonder. From the panel description:
In a recent report from Silicon Valley's Institute for the Future, technology is said to be "on an inexorable path toward redefining the human experience." Our lives will soon be entirely networked and analyzed by for-profit interests. Yet art—from Carl Sagan's Golden Record on the Voyager, to the works of many artists today—offers a different vision. Join this panel to discuss how artists are vital in steering technology—and therefore humanity—toward a more beneficent and beautiful future.
I hope to see you there!
image above: Rhonda Holberton; below: NASA/JPL-Caltech
EFF-Austin's Jon Lebkowsky writes: "Every year while thousands flock to a certain large festival that temporarily colonizes Austin, EFF-Austin throws a honking big geek soiree. Keynote speakers are this year are Caroline Old Coyote and Michael Running Wolf, Native American VR/AR activists who are using technology to preserve their culture and heritage. Additional speakers include EFF Investigative Researcher David Maass discussing police surveillance, government transparency, and legislation in California, former EFF-Austin president Jon Lebkowsky, Carly Rose Jackson with Texans For Voter Choice, and Vikki Goodwin, Democratic candidate for Texas House District 47. Also music by Michael Garfield, Pilgrimess, and UBA, plus custom video game consoles, lockpicking, and cosplay. " Read the rest
SXSW has made good on its promises to walk the talk on supporting immigration rights, coming out in support of the city of Austin's lawsuit against the state of Texas over SB-4, the Texas law that bans "sanctuary cities" where law enforcement officers do not check or take action on arrestees' immigration status unless it is relevant to their alleged crimes. Read the rest
Every year, Bruce Sterling closes the SXSW Interactive Festival with a wide-ranging, hour-long speech about the state of the nation: the format is 20 minutes' worth of riffing on current affairs, and then 40 minutes of main thesis, scorchingly delivered, with insights, rage, inspiration and calls to action. Read the rest
At SXSW, CIA Senior Collection Analyst David Clopper revealed a series of tabletop games developed as training materials for CIA internal training exercises: Collection, a Pandemic-style crisis-resolution game; Collection Deck, a Magic: The Gathering style intel-collection game; and Kingpin: The Hunt for El Chapo, designed "to train analysts who might work with law enforcement and other partners around world to find a well-armed, well-defended, well-protected bad guy." Read the rest
For many years, the SXSW festival's standard contract with its non-US artists contained an over-reaching, frightening clause that seemed to threaten them being turned over to immigration authorities if they violated the terms of their deal with the show -- say, by playing unauthorized gigs. Though the festival never invoked this language, it took on a new salience in light of the Trump administration's scapegoating of migrants. Read the rest
Evan Greer writes, "SXSW is one of the most popular music festivals in the US. It was just revealed that they are actively threatening bands from outside the US with "immediate deportation' and immigration investigations if they perform at 'unofficial' events during the festival. At a time when immigrants are under attack, this policy is all the more chilling. Sign the petition to tell them to drop this practice." SXSW has had this policy for years, apparently, but it still sucks. Read the rest
Old-school bOING bOING editor Jon Lebkowsky invites everyone to Cyberpunk2017, the Annual EFF/EFF-Austin SXSW Afterparty in Austin, Texas, Saturday, March 11, 2017, from 5pm to 1am! It's free!
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Our latest EFF/EFF-Austin event takes a cyberpunk perspective on 2017, exploring how our vision of the future has changed over the last forty years of science-fiction made real, and considering this year as a turning point in the way we live our lives and participate in our society, as well as our sense of personal autonomy.
Cyberpunk imagined a world where the average person’s autonomy and privacy is commoditized and exploited by the shadowy machinations of global forces beyond our comprehension. “Information wants to be free,” and when a person’s image, voice, and words all manifest as data, their personal identity is potentially free for the taking.
In a world where dead actors are resurrected as data objects in major motion picture blockbusters, where a billion people’s account data can be stolen by a few rogue hackers, where software can edit video to show a person doing and saying things they never actually did or said, where services are free because users are the product, where truth is secondary to narrative, how can we hope to ensure that privacy and the right to one’s data and representation remains a fundamental, enshrined, and preserved right?
Taking place at The Butterfly Bar/The Vortex on Saturday, March 11th from 5:00pm-1:00am, there will be free drinks for our supporters who register in advance as well as illuminating talks from a variety of speakers including Cory Doctorow, Jon Lebkowsky, David DeMaris, Todd Manning, Jonathan Morgan, Owen McNally, and others.
It's his 30th consecutive closing address to the attendees of SXSW Interactive, and as always, Bruce delivers: an overarching, everything-in-the-world tour of everything weird, dystopian, screwed up, hopeful and ugly in the year 2016. Read the rest
Obama's SXSW appearance included the president's stupidest-ever remarks on cryptography: he characterized cryptographers' insistence that there is no way to make working cryptography that stops working when the government needs it to as "phone fetishizing," as opposed to, you know, reality. Read the rest
Comedian, commercial director and documentarian Jordan Brady hosts a great podcast on commercial filmmaking called Respect The Process. He recently interviewed Ryan Berman, Chief Creative Officer for San Diego ad agency I.D.E.A. The interview is a smart casual conversation between old colleagues about the modern advertising agency, the challenges of staying forward-thinking, and keeping your team fresh and energized.
Late in the podcast (14m30s), the talk turns to Berman's own documentary film on the current state of U.S. patent law, Inventing To Nowhere, which recently screened at SXSW. Though Berman is quick to point out this was a sponsored project for The Innovation Alliance, a tech-industry lobbying group, it is not branded content. The doc is an impassioned plea for inventor protection under whatever patent reform comes from congress.
The Innovation Alliance website SaveTheInventor.com features a petition declaring:
...we oppose efforts by some multinational companies in Washington, DC to weaken patents and make it harder for inventors and start-ups like us to live out our dream of creating something and calling it our own. With our ideas, willingness to take risks, and hard work, we have just as much right to succeed as they have.
Last month, Barton Gellman and I opened for Edward Snowden's first-ever public appearance, at the SXSW conference in Austin. The kind folks at SXSW have put the video online (the Snowden video itself was already up). I think we did a good job of framing the big questions raised by the Snowden leaks. Read the rest
As ever, Bruce Sterling's closing remarks to the SXSW Interactive festival were a barn-burner; in them, Sterling rattles off a list of people who should be in the room, either because they know something that is lost on mainstream geekdom, or because they serve as examples for what not to become -- from GCHQ spies to Italian net-politics ninjas, from the Dread Pirate Roberts to Barrett Brown. Sterling dips into the future ("the future is full of cities full of old people who are scared of the sky") and wonders where Silicon Valley will decamp to once California is destroyed by climate change.
It's 45 minutes of funny, uncomfortable, storming invective, and a bracing way to pass the Ides of March. Here's an unauthorized MP3 rip in case you want to listen on the go (warning, may not work very well!).
I'm at SXSW, having just done the panel introducing Edward Snowden's first live address to the USA. He will be appearing momentarily. The livestream is provisioned for 1M simultaneous sessions -- watch above. Read the rest