robertogreco + dystopia   68

White Allies, Let’s Be Honest About Decolonization by Kyle Powys Whyte — YES! Magazine
"Indigenous environmental movements in North America are among the oldest and most provocative—from the Dish With One Spoon Treaty between Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples to the Mni Wiconi (“Water Is Life”) movement of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. As a Potawatomi environmental justice advocate, I often get asked by other environmentalists in the U.S. to share my views on what they can do to be good allies to Indigenous peoples. Those who ask usually identify themselves as being non-Indigenous, white, and privileged. They are U.S. settlers: people who have privileges that arise from the historic and ongoing oppression of Indigenous peoples. 

Whether one participates in settler colonialism is not entirely a matter of when or how one’s ancestors came to the U.S. Having settler privilege means that some combination of one’s economic security, U.S. citizenship, sense of relationship to the land, mental and physical health, cultural integrity, family values, career aspirations, and spiritual lives are not possible—literally!—without the territorial dispossession of Indigenous peoples. 

How then can settler allies move beyond being sympathetic beneficiaries of colonialism? What approach is legitimately decolonizing?

The resilience of settler privilege is a barrier. Gestures toward allyship can quickly recolonize Indigenous peoples. Some people have tried to create bonds of allyship by believing that Indigenous wisdom and spirituality are so profound that Indigenous people have always lived in ecological harmony. This is the romantic approach. Other allies have tried to create solidarity through claiming that Indigenous and non-Indigenous environmentalists should not distinguish their efforts. In this view, environmental issues threaten us all, and we should converge around common problems that affect all humanity, instead of wasting dwindling time on environmental racism. This is the same-boat approach. 

The romantic approach assumes that lifting up Indigenous wisdom and spirituality constitutes action. But this approach does not necessarily confront ongoing territorial dispossession and risks to health, economic vitality, lives, psychological well-being, and cultural integrity that Indigenous people experience. This is why scholars Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang say decolonization is not a metaphor. Yet, the empathetic responsibility to support others’ self-determination and well-being is a major lesson in many Indigenous environmental traditions. Subscribers to the romantic view are unprepared to respond to criticisms of supposed Indigenous hypocrisies, like the alleged contradiction of tribally sanctioned coal industries. Responding to these critiques requires an understanding of colonialism, yet some romantics are unwilling to take the time to learn how the U.S. forcefully re-engineered tribal governments to facilitate extractive industries. This understanding is key if one’s goal is to undermine the levers of power that undermine Indigenous self-determination and well-being today.  

The same-boat approach also misses the colonial context. The conservation movement has been as damaging to Indigenous peoples as extractive industries. National parks, ecological restoration projects, conservation zones, and even the uses of certain terms—especially “wilderness”—are associated with forced displacement of entire communities, erasure of Indigenous histories in education and public memory, economic marginalization, and violations of cultural and political rights. Though certain sectors of conservation have improved greatly, newer movements, such as the international UN-REDD+ Programme, still repeat harms of the past. Almost every environmental achievement in the U.S.—such as the Clean Air or Clean Water acts—has required Indigenous peoples to work hard to reform these laws to gain fair access to the protections. 

A decolonizing approach to allyship must challenge the resilience of settler privilege, which involves directly facing the very different ecological realities we all dwell in. Sometimes I see settler environmental movements as seeking to avoid some dystopian environmental future or planetary apocalypse. These visions are replete with species extinctions, irreversible loss of ecosystems, and severe rationing. They can include abusive corporations and governments that engage in violent brainwashing, quarantining, and territorial dispossession of people who stand in their way. 

Yet for many Indigenous peoples in North America, we are already living in what our ancestors would have understood as dystopian or post-apocalyptic times. In a cataclysmically short period, the capitalist–colonialist partnership has destroyed our relationships with thousands of species and ecosystems.

Zoe Todd and Heather Davis, authors of “On the Importance of a Date, or Decolonizing the Anthropocene,” characterize the ecological footprint of colonialism as seismic. The ongoing U.S. colonial legacy includes forcing Indigenous peoples into grid-like reservations that empower corporations and private individuals to degrade our territories; fostering patriarchy and conditions for sexual violence in Indigenous communities; brainwashing Indigenous children through boarding schools; and brainwashing everyone else through erasing Indigenous histories and experiences across U.S. culture, education, and memory. 

So Indigenous people awaken each day to science fiction scenarios not unlike the setup in films such as The Matrix. Yet in Indigenous science fiction films, such as Wakening and The 6th World, the protagonists are diverse humans and nonhumans who present unique solutions to daunting environmental problems. They are not portrayed as romantic stereotypes or symbols of a common humanity. They do not presuppose naive notions of Indigenous spirituality. They see environmental protection as possible only if we resist the capitalist–colonialist “matrix” of oppression and build allyship across different human and nonhuman groups. These films differ greatly from, say, Avatar, where the protagonist is a white male who passes as Indigenous and uses romantic Indigenous wisdom to save everyone. Indigenous people learn to ignore this difference, embracing a common foe together.  

Decolonizing allyship requires allies to be critical about their environmental realities—and about the purpose of their environmentalism. To do this, allies must realize they are living in the environmental fantasies of their settler ancestors. Settler ancestors wanted today’s world. They would have relished the possibility that some of their descendants could freely commit extractive violence on Indigenous lands and then feel, with no doubts, that they are ethical people. Remember how proponents of the Dakota Access pipeline sanctimoniously touted the project’s safety and that it never crossed tribal lands? On the flip side, when more sympathetic (environmentalist) settler descendants lament the loss of Indigenous wisdom without acting for Indigenous territorial empowerment; buy into the dreams and hopes of settler heroism and redemption in movies like Avatar; or overburden Indigenous people with requests for knowledge and emotional labor yet offer no reciprocal empowerment or healing—then they are fulfilling the fantasies of their settler ancestors.  

One can’t claim to be an ally if one’s agenda is to prevent his or her own future dystopias through actions that also preserve today’s Indigenous dystopias. Yet how many environmentalists do just this? I do not see much differentiating those who fight to protect the colonial fantasy of wilderness from those who claim the Dakota Access pipeline does not cross Indigenous lands. Indigenous environmental movements work to reject the ancestral dystopias and colonial fantasies of the present. This is why so many of our environmental movements are about stopping sexual and state violence against Indigenous people, reclaiming ethical self-determination across diverse urban and rural ecosystems, empowering gender justice and gender fluidity, transforming lawmaking to be consensual, healing intergenerational traumas, and calling out all practices that erase Indigenous histories, cultures, and experiences.

Perhaps these goals and values are among the greatest gifts of Indigenous spirituality and wisdom. I want to experience the solidarity of allied actions that refuse fantastical narratives of commonality and hope. Determining what exactly needs to be done will involve the kind of creativity that Indigenous peoples have used to survive some of the most oppressive forms of capitalist, industrial, and colonial domination. But above all, it will require that allies take responsibility and confront the assumptions behind their actions and aspirations."
decolonization  capitalism  indigenous  indigeneity  2018  kylepowyswhyte  resilience  self-determination  colonialism  dystopia  settlercolonialism  privilege  allyship  solidarity  environment  environmentalism  zoetodd  heatherdavis  anthropocene  scifi  sciencefiction 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Athi-Patra Ruga | WHATIFTHEWORLD/ GALLERY
"Athi-Patra Ruga is one of the few artists working in South Africa today whose work has adopted the trope of myth as a contemporary response to the post-apartheid era. Ruga creates alternative identities and uses these avatars as a way to parody and critique the existing political and social status quo. Ruga’s artistic approach of creating myths and alternate realities is in some way an attempt to view the traumas of the last 200 years of colonial history from a place of detachment – at a farsighted distance where wounds can be contemplated outside of personalized grief and subjective defensiveness.

The philosophical allure and allegorical value of utopia has been central to Ruga’s practice. His construction of a mythical metaverse populated by characters which he has created and depicted in his work have allowed Ruga to create an interesting space of self reflexivity in which political, cultural and social systems can be critiqued and parodied.

Ruga has used his utopia as a lens to process the fraught history of a colonial past, to critique the present and propose a possible humanist vision for the future."

[See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athi-Patra_Ruga

"Athi-Patra Ruga is a South African artist who uses performance, video, textiles, and printmaking to explore notions of utopia and dystopia, material and memory.[1] His work explores the body in relation to sensuality, culture, and ideology, often creating cultural hybrids.[2] Ruga was recently included in the Phaidon book ‘Younger Than Jesus,’ a directory of over 500 of the world’s best artists under the age of 33.[2] In 2014 he presented at Design Indaba Conference in Cape Town."]

[via: "Hapticality in the Undercommons, or From Operations Management to Black Ops," by Stefano Harney https://www.academia.edu/6934195/Hapticality_in_the_Undercommons_or_From_Operations_Management_to_Black_Ops

"I want to take just two examples, very different. The first is the performance artist Athi-Patra Ruga. The second is photographer and filmmaker Zarina Bhimji. I don’t intend to read these artists nor to place them in a school or tradition. I want to say instead that they inspire me to think about the line today and its killing rhythm, and to think about the ways this line runs through us, and how it bypasses subject formation at work. But most of all I want to look at their work to think about what Fred calls Black Ops, and the undercommons their work invites us to feel around us.

When Athi-Patra Ruga stages his synchronised swimming in a bath bathed in bright coloured lights, or when he or his models appear in balloon suits, or in helmets of black hair and high heels, or naked with a white boy kabuki mask, climbing police stations or strolling down dusty roads or painting studios with their bodies, there is no question of ‘who am I’, There is nothing chameleon here, no subject in transformation. Instead there is a kind of militant access to the materials, to light, bright colours, hair, but also to flesh, intelligence, movement, liveliness. Ruga offers a practice of what runs through but is not based on the protocols of work, or a killing rhythm. This is a practice that helps me to see that access is already granted by the time it is granted, that what is found to be beautiful, erotic or painful, or mournful is what is already conducted, transduced in the flesh and the intellect before the arrival of the performance, the figure, the bursting embroidery of the painting. This is the line before the line that makes us vulnerable to abuse, and always more than that abuse.

The rhythm of the line is unsettled by such practices not because these practices unsettle the subject, something about which capital could not care less today, one way or the other. Ruga unsettles with what passes through, what recombines, what mocks and dances around the social factory in plain sight, late at night, on the lunch break, in the undercommons, in a differing rhythm. The line may speak of its innovation, entrepreneurship, and logistical reach, but it appears like the dull rhythm it is next to Ruga’s work, next to the hapticality that lets us feel our own access."]
athi-patraruga  southafrica  art  artists  uncommons  stefanoharney  hapticality  rhythm  performance  utopia  dystopia 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Zeynep Tufekci: We're building a dystopia just to make people click on ads | TED Talk | TED.com
"We're building an artificial intelligence-powered dystopia, one click at a time, says techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci. In an eye-opening talk, she details how the same algorithms companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon use to get you to click on ads are also used to organize your access to political and social information. And the machines aren't even the real threat. What we need to understand is how the powerful might use AI to control us -- and what we can do in response."

[See also: "Machine intelligence makes human morals more important"
https://www.ted.com/talks/zeynep_tufekci_machine_intelligence_makes_human_morals_more_important

"Machine intelligence is here, and we're already using it to make subjective decisions. But the complex way AI grows and improves makes it hard to understand and even harder to control. In this cautionary talk, techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci explains how intelligent machines can fail in ways that don't fit human error patterns -- and in ways we won't expect or be prepared for. "We cannot outsource our responsibilities to machines," she says. "We must hold on ever tighter to human values and human ethics.""]
zeyneptufekci  machinelearning  ai  artificialintelligence  youtube  facebook  google  amazon  ethics  computing  advertising  politics  behavior  technology  web  online  internet  susceptibility  dystopia  sociology  donaldtrump 
october 2017 by robertogreco
SOLARPUNK : A REFERENCE GUIDE – Solarpunks – Medium
"Solarpunk is a movement in speculative fiction, art, fashion and activism that seeks to answer and embody the question “what does a sustainable civilization look like, and how can we get there?” The aesthetics of solarpunk merge the practical with the beautiful, the well-designed with the green and wild, the bright and colorful with the earthy and solid. Solarpunk can be utopian, just optimistic, or concerned with the struggles en route to a better world — but never dystopian. As our world roils with calamity, we need solutions, not warnings. Solutions to live comfortably without fossil fuels, to equitably manage scarcity and share abundance, to be kinder to each other and to the planet we share. At once a vision of the future, a thoughtful provocation, and an achievable lifestyle.
In progress…"

[See also:
http://solarpunks.tumblr.com/post/165763925033/solarpunk-a-reference-guide-solarpunks

"This page is an attempt to open up the optics of the Solarpunk community/genre for newcomers and others looking for references. A lot of the early discussions happened on tumblr dot com from 2014 onward after @missolivialouise‘s character concept post took off — with a core community of stewards who know who they are.

What follows is not meant to be an exhaustive list but hopefully will increasingly become one. We’re also aware that we are missing almost all of the art references from this list. :(

We also didn’t include any posts from us here at http://solarpunks.tumblr.com

Please get in touch (DM) with art and their references as a lot of content has lost their attribution  — @thejaymo"]
solarpunk  reference  speculativefiction  art  fashion  activism  sustainability  civilization  utopia  dystopia  optimism  kindness  future  futurism 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Why capitalism can’t survive without socialism - Vox
"Sean Illing

This raises a thorny question: The kinds of skills this technological economy rewards are not skills that a majority of the population possesses. Perhaps a significant number of people simply can’t thrive in this space, no matter how much training or education we provide.

Eric Weinstein

I think that's an interesting question, and it depends a lot on your view of education. Buckminster Fuller (a prominent American author and architect who died in 1983) said something to the effect of, "We're all born geniuses, but something in the process of living de-geniuses us." I think with several years more hindsight, we can see that the thing that de-geniuses us is actually our education.

The problem is that we have an educational system that's based on taking our natural penchant for exploration and fashioning it into a willingness to take on mind-numbing routine. This is because our educational system was designed to produce employable products suitable for jobs, but it is jobs that are precisely going to give way to an economy increasingly based on one-off opportunities.

Sean Illing

That’s a problem with a definable but immensely complicated solution.

Eric Weinstein

Part of the question is, how do we disable an educational system that is uniformizing people across the socioeconomic spectrum in order to remind ourselves that the hotel maid who makes up our bed may in fact be an amateur painter? The accountant who does our taxes may well have a screenplay that he works on after the midnight hour? I think what is less clear to many of our bureaucrats in Washington is just how much talent and creativity exists through all walks of life.

What we don't know yet is how to pay people for those behaviors, because many of those screenplays and books and inventions will not be able to command a sufficiently high market price, but this is where the issue of some kind of hybridization of hypercapitalism and hypersocialism must enter the discussion.

“We will see the beginning stirrings of revolution as the cost for this continuing insensitivity”
Sean Illing

Let's talk about that. What does a hybrid of capitalism and socialism look like?

Eric Weinstein

I don't think we know what it looks like. I believe capitalism will need to be much more unfettered. Certain fields will need to undergo a process of radical deregulation in order to give the minority of minds that are capable of our greatest feats of creation the leeway to experiment and to play, as they deliver us the wonders on which our future economy will be based.

By the same token, we have to understand that our population is not a collection of workers to be input to the machine of capitalism, but rather a nation of souls whose dignity, well-being, and health must be considered on independent, humanitarian terms. Now, that does not mean we can afford to indulge in national welfare of a kind that would rob our most vulnerable of a dignity that has previously been supplied by the workplace.

People will have to be engaged in socially positive activities, but not all of those socially positive activities may be able to command a sufficient share of the market to consume at an appropriate level, and so I think we're going to have to augment the hypercapitalism which will provide the growth of the hypersocialism based on both dignity and need.

Sean Illing

I agree with most of that, but I’m not sure we’re prepared to adapt to these new circumstances quickly enough to matter. What you’re describing is a near-revolutionary shift in politics and culture, and that’s not something we can do on command.

Eric Weinstein

I believe that once our top creative class is unshackled from those impediments which are socially negative, they will be able to choose whether capitalism proceeds by evolution or revolution, and I am hopeful that the enlightened self-interest of the billionaire class will cause them to take the enlightened path toward finding a rethinking of work that honors the vast majority of fellow citizens and humans on which their country depends.

Sean Illing

Are you confident that the billionaire class is so enlightened? Because I'm not. All of these changes were perceptible years ago, and yet the billionaire class failed to take any of this seriously enough. The impulse to innovate and profit subsumes all other concerns as far as I can tell."



"Sean Illing

I suppose that’s my point. If the people with the power to change things are sufficiently cocooned that they fail to realize the emergency while there’s still time to act, where does that leave us?

Eric Weinstein

Well, the claim there is that there will be no warning shots across the bow. I guarantee you that when the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators left the confines of Zuccotti Park and came to visit the Upper East Side homes of Manhattan, it had an immediate focusing on the mind of those who could deploy a great deal of capital. Thankfully, those protesters were smart enough to realize that a peaceful demonstration is the best way to advertise the potential for instability to those who have yet to do the computation.

“We have a system-wide problem with embedded growth hypotheses that is turning us all into scoundrels and liars”
Sean Illing

But if you're one of those Occupy Wall Street protesters who fired off that peaceful warning shot across the bow six years ago, and you reflect on what’s happened since, do have any reason to think the message was received? Do you not look around and say, “Nothing much has changed”? The casino economy on Wall Street is still humming along. What lesson is to be drawn in that case?

Eric Weinstein

Well, that's putting too much blame on the bankers. I mean, the problem is that the Occupy Wall Street protesters and the bankers share a common delusion. Both of them believe the bankers are more powerful in the story than they actually are. The real problem, which our society has yet to face up to, is that sometime around 1970, we ended several periods of legitimate exponential growth in science, technology, and economics. Since that time, we have struggled with the fact that almost all of our institutions that thrived during the post-World War II period of growth have embedded growth hypotheses into their very foundation.

Sean Illing

What does that mean, exactly?

Eric Weinstein

That means that all of those institutions, whether they're law firms or universities or the military, have to reckon with steady state [meaning an economy with mild fluctuations in growth and productivity] by admitting that growth cannot be sustained, by running a Ponzi scheme, or by attempting to cannibalize others to achieve a kind of fake growth to keep those particular institutions running. This is the big story that nobody reports. We have a system-wide problem with embedded growth hypotheses that is turning us all into scoundrels and liars."



"Sean Illing

So our entire economy is essentially a house of cards, built on outdated assumptions and pushed along with gimmicks like quantitative easing. It seems we’ve gotten quite good at avoiding facing up to the contradictions of our civilization.

Eric Weinstein

Well, this is the problem. I sometimes call this the Wile E. Coyote effect because as long as Wile E. Coyote doesn't look down, he's suspended in air, even if he has just run off a cliff. But the great danger is understanding that everything is flipped. During the 2008 crisis, many commentators said the markets have suddenly gone crazy, and it was exactly the reverse. The so-called great moderation that was pushed by Alan Greenspan, Timothy Geithner, and others was in fact a kind of madness, and the 2008 crisis represented a rare break in the insanity, where the market suddenly woke up to see what was actually going on. So the acute danger is not madness but sanity.

The problem is that prolonged madness simply compounds the disaster to come when sanity finally sets in."
2017  capitalism  socialism  business  dystopia  history  seanilling  ericweinstein  economics  politics  policy  productivity  technology  inequality  revolution  dignity  creativeclass  creativity  repetition  ows  occupywallstreet  banks  banking  finance  ponzischemes  alangreenspan  timothygeitner  civilization  systems  systemsthinking  growth  society  science  automation 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Are We as Doomed as That New York Magazine Article Says? - The Atlantic
"Over the past decade, most researchers have trended away from climate doomsdayism. They cite research suggesting that people respond better to hopeful messages, not fatalistic ones; and they meticulously fact-check public descriptions of global warming, as watchful for unsupported exaggeration as they are for climate-change denial.

They do this not because they think that climate change will be peachy. They do it because they want to be exceptionally careful with facts for such a vital issue. And many of them, too, think that a climate-changed world will look less like a starved wasteland and more like our current home—just more unequal and more impoverished.

What does that world look like? We got a fairly good look late last month, actually, when a new consortium of economists and scientists called the Climate Impact Lab published their first study in the journal Science. Their research looks at how global warming will afflict Americans economically, on a county-by-county level. It tells a frightening but much more mundane story.

Climate change, they say, will not turn us into idiots before broiling us in our sleep. Instead, it will act as a kind of ecological reverse Robin Hood, stealing from the poor and giving to the rich. It will impoverish many of the poorest communities in the country—arrayed across the South and Southwest, and especially along the Gulf Coast—while increasing the fortunes of cities and suburbs on both of the coasts.

“This study—the climate equivalent of being informed that smoking carries serious risk of lung cancer—should be enough to motivate us,” says Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist and professor of political science at Texas Tech University. “The NYMag article is the climate equivalent of being told that everyone in the world’s life will end in the most grisly, worst-case possible scenario if we keep on smoking.”

The Climate Impact Labs’ accounting is a much likelier view of what is “much more likely to occur than the doomsday scenario,” she added.

Other communicators reject Wallace-Wells’s approach for a third reason: He glosses over the many reasons that climate advocates now have hope. Many of these criticisms came not from researchers but from other climate communicators. “Through combo of exaggeration and hopelessness, [the NYMag piece] turns away those in the middle we need to persuade. It makes action harder,” tweeted Ramez Naam, a technologist and novelist. “We’ve made huge climate strides. Business-as-usual used to mean six or seven degrees Celsius or warming. Now it looks like three to four, and [it’s] trending down.”

Chuck Wendig, another novelist, called the story irresponsible. “It leans very hard on the EXTINCTION PORN angle, and almost not at all on the BUT HERE'S WHAT WE DO angle,” he said on Twitter.

I’m not so sure about this last angle. I have been writing about climate change nearly full-time for several years now. I don’t think journalists should frame the truth to better inspire people—that’s not our job.

But I vacillate considerably on the doom versus no-doom question. Consider what Wallace-Wells writes about climate change and war:
Researchers like Marshall Burke and Solomon Hsiang have managed to quantify some of the non-obvious relationships between temperature and violence: For every half-degree of warming, they say, societies will see between a 10 and 20 percent increase in the likelihood of armed conflict. In climate science, nothing is simple, but the arithmetic is harrowing: A planet five degrees warmer would have at least half again as many wars as we do today. Overall, social conflict could more than double this century.

That final sentence is simplistic; we cannot wield careful social science conclusions like an abacus. It is also too certain: While Burke and Hsiang have found links between conflict and climate change, another group of researchers from Oslo have found far weaker connections. They observe a link between natural disaster and war only when a country is divided by ethnicity.

Yet this is worrisome by itself. Consider the world that climate scientists say is more realistic: a place where sea levels cause mass migration within and without the developed world; where the economy is never great but isn’t in shambles either; where voters fear for their livelihoods and superpowers poke at each others’ weaknesses.

Does that world sound like a safe and secure place to live? Does it sound like a workable status quo? And how many small wars need to start in that world before they all fuse together? Who needs planet-killing methane burps when nine different countries have 15,000 nuclear weapons between them? In short, there are plenty of doomsday scenarios to worry about. They don’t need to be catastrophic on their face to induce catastrophe."
2017  accuracy  reporting  climate  environment  future  climatechange  sustainability  inequality  robinsonmeyer  davidwallace-wells  science  communication  journlism  dystopia  doom  doomsdayism  exaggeration 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Apocalypse, Now - On The Media - WNYC
"Science fiction has always been an outlet for our greatest anxieties. This week, we delve into how the genre is exploring the reality of climate change. Plus: new words to describe the indescribable.

1. Jeff VanderMeer @jeffvandermeer, author of the Southern Reach Trilogy and Borne, on writing about the relationships between people and nature.

2. Claire Vaye Watkins @clairevaye talks about Gold Fame Citrus, her work of speculative fiction in which an enormous sand dune threatens to engulf the southwest. 

3. Kim Stanley Robinson discusses his latest work, New York 2140. The seas have risen 50 feet and lower Manhattan is submerged. And yet, there's hope.

4. British writer Robert Macfarlane @RobGMacfarlane on new language for our changing world.

Throughout the show: listeners offer their own new vocabulary for the Anthropocene era. Many thanks to everyone who left us voice memos!"
robertmacfarlane  kimstanleyrobinson  clairevayewatkins  jeffvandermeer  sciencefiction  scifi  speculativefiction  anthropocene  humans  nature  multispecies  language  tolisten  economics  finance  cli-fi  climatechange  utopia  names  naming  silence  pessimism  optimism  hope  dystopia  anthopocene  deserts  natue  change  earth 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Parable Of The Sower – Not 1984 – Is The Dystopia For Our Age – Nnedi Okorafor
"Following US President Donald Trump’s inauguration, George Orwell’s classic dystopia 1984 jumped to number one on Amazon’s list of best-selling books, just the latest sign of the genre’s current popularity.

But Nigerian-American World Fantasy Award winner Nnedi Okorafor said 1984 is not the dystopia that feels most relevant to her at this point in history. “After everything that happened, I’m not reading 1984, I’m not reading Fahrenheit 451, I’m not reading A Handmaid’s Tale. I’m reading Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. I feel like if we’re looking for any answers or where we’re going, it’s definitely in Octavia’s work.”

Speaking to The Stream on Al Jazeera, Okorafor read from the African-American novelist’s 1998 sequel, the Nebula-winning Parable of the Talents, which features a presidential candidate, Andrew Steele Jarret, who rises to power by promising, like Trump, to “make America great again,” and whose supporters are known to form mobs to burn and feather and tar those who don’t “quite match Jarret’s version of Christianity.”

Okorafor added that “the definition of dystopia depends on the group of people.” The Stream host, Femi Oke, used the regular power cuts in Nigeria as an example, saying, “Not having regular power could be the end of civilisation if you live in Brooklyn but not if you live in Abuja.”

New York Times bestselling Chinese-American author Marie Lu agrees. She lived in Beijing at the time of the Tiananmen Square protests, a period most in the West would have described as dystopian, but says during her time there it felt “like that’s just everyday life.”

Utopias for some are normally dystopias for others. Ron Charles, the fiction editor for The Washington Post, recounts a conversation with a professor of American-American literature. “She said what’s so interesting to her is that white people always think of dystopias as looking forward into this scary future, but black Americans can look back. They’ve already come through their dystopia. They had 200 years of horror and slavery. All the kinds of things we imagine the future dystopia being like are what black Americans already went through.”

Lu takes this further, saying, “There has never been a time in which we have not been living through a dystopia.”

Okorafor’s novels have been described as both dystopian and Afrofuturism, but she doesn’t see a contradiction in the terms. “Afrofuturism isn’t always upbeat,” she says. “A lot of it is in response to the darkness and trying to show the light but a lot of it goes dark… Afrofuturism is very diverse, so pinning it down to being focused on upliftment and being positive is a little short-sighted.”

Asked about what she’s currently working on, Okorafor said she is editing a “not so dark” novel called Remote Control, set in the future in Ghana, dealing with both technology and mysticism.

Watch the full discussion, which also features Dakar-based photographer Fabrice Monteiro, at https://fabricemonteiro.viewbook.com/ "

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQpdYT3jByM ]
dystopia  nnediokorafor  marielu  roncharles  afrofuturism  fabricemonteiro  femioke  2017  present  future  optimism  utopia  1984  georgeorwell  octaviabutler  parableofthesower  civilization 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Is Children of Men 2016’s Most Relevant Film? -- Vulture
"Now, in 2016, Children of Men is having a remarkable resurgence — not just because of its tenth anniversary but because of its unsettling relevance at the conclusion of this annus horribilis. There have been glowing reappraisals on grounds both sociopolitical (Children of Men is “obviously something that should be on people’s minds after Brexit and after the rise of Donald Trump,” political scientist Francis Fukuyama declared in September) and artistic (“Children of Men, like no other film this century, and perhaps no other movie ever, solves the meaning of life,” wrote Vanity Fair columnist Richard Lawson in August). It’s getting the kind of online attention it sorely lacked ten years ago, generating recent headlines like “The Syrian Refugee Crisis Is Our Children of Men Moment” and “Are We Living in the Dawning of Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men?” As critic David Ehrlich put it in November, “Children of Men may be set in 2027,” but in 2016, “it suddenly became clear that its time had come.”

Cuarón, however, is not feeling like taking an overdue victory lap. Curled over a table in an upscale Mexico City restaurant recently, the 55-year-old director gets a little irritated when I laud the film’s imaginative prescience. “This thing was not imagination,” he says, jabbing his index finger into the tablecloth. By Cuarón’s estimation, anyone surprised at the accuracy of his movie’s predictions was either uninformed or willfully ignorant about the way the world already was by 2006. “People were talking about those things, just not in the mainstream!” he says. He was reading about refugees, know-nothing reactionaries, and eerie disruptions in biological processes during the early '00s. If Children of Men can be said to have a message, Cuarón encapsulates it: “What’s really relevant now,” he tells me, “is to stop being complacent.”"



"Action. Owen ran, Richmond followed, and astoundingly, all was going smoothly. They got to a hollowed-out bus filled with people, through which Theo is supposed to scamper. Suddenly, one of the squibs misfired and, horror of horrors, a squirt of fake blood landed on the lens. Cuarón, watching on a monitor, felt his world collapse. “I yell, ‘Cut!’ ” he says, recounting the moment like a ghost story. “But an explosion happens at the same time, so nobody hears me.” The camera kept rolling, and Cuarón realized he had no choice but to let it play through, even though he was sure the shot was ruined and had no idea how he would proceed. “When we said, ‘Cut,’ Chivo starts dancing like crazy,” he says. “And I was like, ‘No, it didn’t work! There’s blood!’ And Chivo turns to me and says, ‘You stupid! That was a miracle!’ ” Chivo was right. One of the film’s enduring strengths is how it uses hyper-minute details to lull you into accepting the plausibility of this dire reality: bus advertisements that hawk trendy clothes for dogs (kids may be gone, but capitalism isn’t, so wouldn’t the Gap push you to dress your pets?); Theo casually asking Julian if her parents were “in New York when it happened” and never explaining what terrifying event “it” might have been; or the elderly, white, German refugee using her native tongue to indignantly weep about being herded alongside Schwarzen. The blood-squib shot encapsulates this aesthetic, and has since become famous — an eerie moment that, once seen, can’t be shaken, even ten years later. This dystopia doesn’t feel like a metaphor or a cautionary tale; it feels like a revelation of deeper truth. As one of Children of Men’s biggest fans, Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek, put it in a documentary featurette that accompanied the DVD release, “A good portrait is more you than you are, yourself, and I think this is what the film does with our reality … It simply makes reality more what it already is.”"



"I saw Children of Men by accident on January 1, 2007, after finding that the movie I’d intended to see — Clint Eastwood’s Letters From Iwo Jima, if I recall correctly — was sold out. I picked Children of Men despite knowing absolutely nothing about it, and seeing it was one of the most profound experiences of my life. I came back to the theater to see Children of Men at least a half-dozen times over the following weeks. Then, a strange thing started to happen at night. I would dream about the final scene, in which Theo and Kee sit in the rowboat, awaiting the ship whose existence Theo won’t live to confirm. Upon waking, I’d find myself sobbing uncontrollably, soaking my pillow and heaving my gut.

Only after speaking with Cuarón did I realize why I wept: not with sorrow, but with hope for my own future. Children of Men imagines a fallen world, yes, but it also imagines a once-cynical person being reborn with purpose and clarity. It’s a story about how people like me, those who have the luxury of tuning out, need to awaken. This has been a brutal year, but we were already suffering from a kind of spiritual infertility: The old ideologies long ago stopped working. In a period where the philosophical pillars supporting the global left, right, and center are crumbling, the film’s desperate plea for the creation and protection of new ideas feels bracingly relevant.

Even though that lesson eluded me for a decade, I retained a passionate affection for Children of Men, long ago losing count of the number of times I’ve watched it. So it’s been deeply satisfying to see its robust second life among critics: It was particularly gratifying to see that, when the BBC polled 177 critics for a master list of the greatest films of the 21st century, Children of Men clocked in at number 13, beating out canonical flicks like 12 Years a Slave, Brokeback Mountain, Lost in Translation, and The Master.

Oddly enough, Cuarón doesn’t seem interested in talking about the film’s critical reappraisal, nor in agreeing that it is more relevant now than it was in 2006. We met up 12 days after Trump’s victory, and I expected him to be in full end-is-nigh mode, but he was relentlessly pleasant. He said he was not surprised that the atavistic rage of the Brexiters and Trumpists had overcome the weakening forces of centrist democracy. But most important, Cuarón was, against all odds, confident that better days lie ahead. “I used to think that any solution would come from the paradigms that I know,” he says. “Now I think that the only thing is to think of the unimaginable. For the new generation, the unimaginable is not as unimaginable.”

But, I counter, thanks to climate change, won’t we all be underwater pretty soon? Sure, he says, climate change could decimate humanity, but that’s no excuse to give in to fatalism. “There would be, still, pockets of populations that will scatter around the world,” he says. “What’s at stake is the culture as we know it.” Humans will continue to exist — and we have a responsibility to build a culture of respect and mutual assistance. It seems so dreadfully unlikely, but we are obligated to hope.

Cuarón is very specific about what he means by that word. For him, it is not a passive thing. It is not a messianic thing, either — he speaks derisively of the idea that you could vote for Barack Obama, then sit back passively and feel disappointed. “The hope is something that you create,” he says. “You live by hoping and then you create that change. Hope is trying to change your present for a better world. It’s pretty much up to you.” The gap between our world and that of Children of Men is closing rapidly, but he refuses to give up his faith in our wayward species. There are dark days ahead, to be sure, but perhaps they will also be days of transformation. “Look, I’m absolutely pessimistic about the present,” Cuarón says. “But I’m very optimistic about the future.”"
alfonsocuarón  childrenofmen  2016  2006  film  movies  abrahamriesman  climatechange  optimism  hope  refugees  francisfukuyama  richardlawson  complacency  dystopia  emmanuellubezki  filmmaking 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Remarks at the SASE Panel On The Moral Economy of Tech
"I am only a small minnow in the technology ocean, but since it is my natural habitat, I want to make an effort to describe it to you.

As computer programmers, our formative intellectual experience is working with deterministic systems that have been designed by other human beings. These can be very complex, but the complexity is not the kind we find in the natural world. It is ultimately always tractable. Find the right abstractions, and the puzzle box opens before you.

The feeling of competence, control and delight in discovering a clever twist that solves a difficult problem is what makes being a computer programmer sometimes enjoyable.

But as anyone who's worked with tech people knows, this intellectual background can also lead to arrogance. People who excel at software design become convinced that they have a unique ability to understand any kind of system at all, from first principles, without prior training, thanks to their superior powers of analysis. Success in the artificially constructed world of software design promotes a dangerous confidence.

Today we are embarked on a great project to make computers a part of everyday life. As Marc Andreessen memorably frames it, "software is eating the world". And those of us writing the software expect to be greeted as liberators.

Our intentions are simple and clear. First we will instrument, then we will analyze, then we will optimize. And you will thank us.

But the real world is a stubborn place. It is complex in ways that resist abstraction and modeling. It notices and reacts to our attempts to affect it. Nor can we hope to examine it objectively from the outside, any more than we can step out of our own skin.

The connected world we're building may resemble a computer system, but really it's just the regular old world from before, with a bunch of microphones and keyboards and flat screens sticking out of it. And it has the same old problems.

Approaching the world as a software problem is a category error that has led us into some terrible habits of mind.

BAD MENTAL HABITS

First, programmers are trained to seek maximal and global solutions. Why solve a specific problem in one place when you can fix the general problem for everybody, and for all time? We don't think of this as hubris, but as a laudable economy of effort. And the startup funding culture of big risk, big reward encourages this grandiose mode of thinking. There is powerful social pressure to avoid incremental change, particularly any change that would require working with people outside tech and treating them as intellectual equals.

Second, treating the world as a software project gives us a rationale for being selfish. The old adage has it that if you are given ten minutes to cut down a tree, you should spend the first five sharpening your axe. We are used to the idea of bootstrapping ourselves into a position of maximum leverage before tackling a problem.

In the real world, this has led to a pathology where the tech sector maximizes its own comfort. You don't have to go far to see this. Hop on BART after the conference and take a look at Oakland, or take a stroll through downtown San Francisco and try to persuade yourself you're in the heart of a boom that has lasted for forty years. You'll see a residential theme park for tech workers, surrounded by areas of poverty and misery that have seen no benefit and ample harm from our presence. We pretend that by maximizing our convenience and productivity, we're hastening the day when we finally make life better for all those other people.

Third, treating the world as software promotes fantasies of control. And the best kind of control is control without responsibility. Our unique position as authors of software used by millions gives us power, but we don't accept that this should make us accountable. We're programmers—who else is going to write the software that runs the world? To put it plainly, we are surprised that people seem to get mad at us for trying to help.

Fortunately we are smart people and have found a way out of this predicament. Instead of relying on algorithms, which we can be accused of manipulating for our benefit, we have turned to machine learning, an ingenious way of disclaiming responsibility for anything. Machine learning is like money laundering for bias. It's a clean, mathematical apparatus that gives the status quo the aura of logical inevitability. The numbers don't lie.

Of course, people obsessed with control have to eventually confront the fact of their own extinction. The response of the tech world to death has been enthusiastic. We are going to fix it. Google Ventures, for example, is seriously funding research into immortality. Their head VC will call you a "deathist" for pointing out that this is delusional.

Such fantasies of control come with a dark side. Witness the current anxieties about an artificial superintelligence, or Elon Musk's apparently sincere belief that we're living in a simulation. For a computer programmer, that's the ultimate loss of control. Instead of writing the software, you are the software.

We obsess over these fake problems while creating some real ones.

In our attempt to feed the world to software, techies have built the greatest surveillance apparatus the world has ever seen. Unlike earlier efforts, this one is fully mechanized and in a large sense autonomous. Its power is latent, lying in the vast amounts of permanently stored personal data about entire populations.

We started out collecting this information by accident, as part of our project to automate everything, but soon realized that it had economic value. We could use it to make the process self-funding. And so mechanized surveillance has become the economic basis of the modern tech industry.

SURVEILLANCE CAPITALISM

Surveillance capitalism has some of the features of a zero-sum game. The actual value of the data collected is not clear, but it is definitely an advantage to collect more than your rivals do. Because human beings develop an immune response to new forms of tracking and manipulation, the only way to stay successful is to keep finding novel ways to peer into people's private lives. And because much of the surveillance economy is funded by speculators, there is an incentive to try flashy things that will capture the speculators' imagination, and attract their money.

This creates a ratcheting effect where the behavior of ever more people is tracked ever more closely, and the collected information retained, in the hopes that further dollars can be squeezed out of it.

Just like industrialized manufacturing changed the relationship between labor and capital, surveillance capitalism is changing the relationship between private citizens and the entities doing the tracking. Our old ideas about individual privacy and consent no longer hold in a world where personal data is harvested on an industrial scale.

Those who benefit from the death of privacy attempt to frame our subjugation in terms of freedom, just like early factory owners talked about the sanctity of contract law. They insisted that a worker should have the right to agree to anything, from sixteen-hour days to unsafe working conditions, as if factory owners and workers were on an equal footing.

Companies that perform surveillance are attempting the same mental trick. They assert that we freely share our data in return for valuable services. But opting out of surveillance capitalism is like opting out of electricity, or cooked foods—you are free to do it in theory. In practice, it will upend your life.

Many of you had to obtain a US visa to attend this conference. The customs service announced yesterday it wants to start asking people for their social media profiles. Imagine trying to attend your next conference without a LinkedIn profile, and explaining to the American authorities why you are so suspiciously off the grid.

The reality is, opting out of surveillance capitalism means opting out of much of modern life.

We're used to talking about the private and public sector in the real economy, but in the surveillance economy this boundary doesn't exist. Much of the day-to-day work of surveillance is done by telecommunications firms, which have a close relationship with government. The techniques and software of surveillance are freely shared between practitioners on both sides. All of the major players in the surveillance economy cooperate with their own country's intelligence agencies, and are spied on (very effectively) by all the others.

As a technologist, this state of affairs gives me the feeling of living in a forest that is filling up with dry, dead wood. The very personal, very potent information we're gathering about people never goes away, only accumulates. I don't want to see the fire come, but at the same time, I can't figure out a way to persuade other people of the great danger.

So I try to spin scenarios.

THE INEVITABLE LIST OF SCARY SCENARIOS

One of the candidates running for President this year has promised to deport eleven million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, as well as block Muslims from entering the country altogether. Try to imagine this policy enacted using the tools of modern technology. The FBI would subpoena Facebook for information on every user born abroad. Email and phone conversations would be monitored to check for the use of Arabic or Spanish, and sentiment analysis applied to see if the participants sounded "nervous". Social networks, phone metadata, and cell phone tracking would lead police to nests of hiding immigrants.

We could do a really good job deporting people if we put our minds to it.

Or consider the other candidate running for President, the one we consider the sane alternative, who has been a longtime promoter of a system of extrajudicial murder that uses blanket surveillance of cell phone traffic, email, and social media to create lists of people to be tracked and killed with autonomous aircraft. … [more]
culture  ethics  privacy  surveillance  technology  technosolutionism  maciegceglowski  2016  computing  coding  programming  problemsolving  systemsthinking  systems  software  control  power  elonmusk  marcandreessen  siliconvalley  sanfrancisco  oakland  responsibility  machinelearning  googlevntures  vc  capitalism  speculation  consent  labor  economics  poland  dystopia  government  politics  policy  immortality 
june 2016 by robertogreco
crap futures — counter-constraint #1: non-progress dogma
"The world’s fairs also offer their insights into this dichotic system. For example, Futurama’s hidden agendas are strikingly revealed in E. L. Doctorow’s novel World’s Fair (1985). As a family leaves the exhibit, the father says: ‘“When the time comes General Motors isn’t going to build the highways, the federal government is. With money from us taxpayers.” He smiled. “So General Motors is telling us what they expect from us: we must build them the highways so they can sell us the cars.”’

Bel Geddes’s vision of super-highways largely came true, but so did various dystopian imaginaries that were generated out of the Futurama vision. In ‘Futurama, Autogeddon’, Helen Burgess describes the way in which ‘a messy, always-under-construction, polluted highway system, beaming cheerfully forward into the future, is reflected back to us in the second half of the century as a degraded landscape in J. G. Ballard’s Crash and The Atrocity Exhibition. In these tales,’ Burgess writes,

Bel Geddes’ optimistic narrative of the Interstate has collapsed … because the Interstate system is unsustainable - both narratively and ecologically. The ghosts of the highway call back to us from these future narratives, reminding us that death is just around the next bend.

Progress dogma as an eternally recurring phenomenon

The progress boosterism in the West of the 19th century was followed by two highly regressive world wars. Yet the postwar period saw an almost immediate return to … optimism! Progress dogma was reborn! America, isolated from the worst ravages of the two World Wars, kept blowing the trumpet for progress, and the other western countries followed. The lessons of history continued, and continue, to fall on deaf ears.

Designing counter-constraints

We realise now that we’ve not set ourselves an easy task. These are massive, complex systems that are more easily identified and critiqued than challenged with alternatives. But inaction is no solution. So we’ll go on, inspired by historical examples of how critical approaches have impacted on specific research directions and undermined progress dogma. The public inquiry into genetically modified food development in Europe and the consequent demonising of an entire scientific area (‘Frankenstein foods’) led by certain newspapers is one example of technology being steered away from its intended trajectory. In that case, however, the approach was problematic because the debate was simplified as a contest between good and evil, dystopia vs. utopia, rather than being an open and constructive dialogue. As this article suggests, the reality is often more nuanced and complex than a simple binary opposition can express.

So how do we move toward a more constructive approach to counter-constraints?
Here, as a discussion starter, are some first steps:

1. Stop assuming that, through technology, the future will be better than the present.
2. Be wary of too-positive presentations of technological future solutions.
3. Don’t assume that any of society’s problems will be solved by technology alone.
4. Do assume that for every benefit a new technology brings there will be unforeseen implications.
5. Remember to ask: ‘Progress for whom?’
6. And: ‘What in this specific case does progress actually mean?’
7. Remember that progress is easily confused with automation. Or efficiency.
8. Watch Adam Curtis’s The Century of the Self (and then watch it again).
9. Find ways of encouraging a critical perspective in others, without being a dystopian dick about it.
10. Actively start building the future you want, with or without technology.

One approach where we have first-hand experience and that begins to address point 10 is speculative design, which aims to facilitate a more critical and considered approach to future-formation. By countering the constraints that limit normative design to slavishly serving the market, speculative design is free to present futures that are neither explicitly utopian or dystopian. Using this approach we can explore possible scenarios when specific emerging technologies collide with everyday life. Or we can see what happens when we apply alternative configurations of contemporary technologies or systems to generate fresh perspectives on particular problems (a counter-constraint to constraint no. 2: legacies of the past, which we’ll return to in a future post). Speculation is time well spent.

We’ll give further thought to counter-constraints over a game of ping-pong on our rough-hewn autoprogettazione table, followed by coffee and toast. More, much more, to come. "
crapfutures  counter-constraints  futures  speculativedesign  design  2016  technosolutionism  technology  progress  progressdogma  automation  efficiency  normanbelgeddes  eames  productification  utopia  dystopia  resistance  richardbarbrook  processfatigue  eldoctorow  helenburgess  interstatehighways  cars  history  optimism  sustainability  boosterism  adamcurtis  thecenturyoftheself  statusanxiety  bladerunner  pollution  traffic  futurama  world'sfairs  1939  1964  ibm 
february 2016 by robertogreco
All our imagined futures | A Working Library
"No, an end to growth will not look like Blade Runner, Mad Max, or The Hunger Games. These movies imagine what happens when we do not end growth soon enough.

So what would an end to growth look like? Writing in Dissent last spring, Daniel Immerwahr doesn’t paint the rosiest picture, but he also makes clear the alternative:
Such cuts can be made more or less fairly, and the richest really ought to pay the most, but the crucial thing is that they are made. Because, above all, stopping climate change means giving up on growth.

That will be hard. Not only will our standards of living almost certainly drop, but it’s likely that the very quality of our society—equality, safety, and trust—will decline, too. That’s not something to be giddy about, but it’s still a price that those of us living in affluent countries should prepare to pay. Because however difficult it is to slow down, flooding Bangladesh cannot be an option. In other words, we can and should act. It’s just going to hurt.

There’s the rub: those of us living in affluent countries must pay. Porter presumes that technology can get us out of climate change without that payment—that nuclear energy, renewables, carbon capture, and electric cars will let us continue to consume at current levels as if nothing had changed. (As an aside: you can follow the American love of cars all the way to Immortan Joe’s citadel.) But I don’t think it’s likely we’re going to get off that easy. Carbon capture is still a pipe dream, nuclear energy will take too long to ramp up even absent strong local objections, electric cars are hardly a panacea, and renewables such as solar and wind, while certainly promising, won’t help much if we continue to pull coal and oil out of the ground at the rates we are now.

As it happens, though, I think Porter’s instinct to reach for science fiction to understand the future is a useful one. In Submergence, J.M. Ledgard’s novel of planetary depths, Danny remarks: “If this was happening in a science-fiction world we would see it clearly for what it is, but we don’t because it’s happening here and now.” Fiction, and science fiction in particular, can help us imagine many futures, and in particular can help us to direct our imaginations towards the futures we want. Imagining a particular kind of future isn’t just day dreaming: it’s an important and active framing that makes it possible for us to construct a future that approaches that imagined vision. In other words, imagining the future is one way of making that future happen. Writing in Essence in 2000, Octavia Butler asked,
So why try to predict the future at all if it’s so difficult, so nearly impossible? Because making predictions is one way to give warning when we see ourselves drifting in dangerous directions. Because prediction is a useful way of pointing out safer, wiser courses. Because, most of all, our tomorrow is the child of our today. Through thought and deed, we exert a great deal of influence over this child, even though we can’t control it absolutely. Best to think about it, though. Best to try to shape it into something good. Best to do that for any child.

Butler’s Parable of the Sower is, like Mad Max, a tale of the road. And, like Mad Max, it’s a difficult but hopeful one. Maybe Porter should read it."
mandybrown  2016  octaviabutler  mikeculfield  eduardoporter  zizek  peterwirzbicki  submergence  hungergames  dystopia  optimism  hope  scifi  sciencefiction  danielimmerwahl  jmledgard  fiction  imagination  future  futurism  capitalism  growth  zerosum  change  economics  climatechange  globalwarming 
february 2016 by robertogreco
‘This is the dirty, magical realism future of Los Angeles’ | Buildings | Architectural Review
"Maltzan’s bold, stacked forms engage with a formerly industrial neighbourhood in downtown LA

Fundamental transformations are taking place within the two main urban centres of California, the state that exemplified a previous model of laissez-faire sub-urbanity. The force of change is a new generation of urban dwellers that bring a different set of values around identity, community and responsibility. The effect of these changes seems to differ between the two cities, as a forum commenter recently pointedly summarised: ‘San Francisco is a utopia gone wrong, while Los Angeles is a dystopia gone right.’ While SF’s development has become dubiously intertwined with the tech boom and its relating social disparities, LA is possibly evolving towards a more enmeshed alternative. These developments deserve attention, as even more than the car-oriented suburb of the ’60s, this current idea of the city might well become the model for other developing regions around the globe.

Los Angeles for decades was understood as an entropic field of enclaves. A mat-city where sunshades and windshields allowed for a coexistence of minimal interaction, as depicted so cleverly in Robert Altman’s Shortcuts (1993). The city’s downtown frequents as hell-on-earth in numerous sci-fi movies. For years, the dark and haunted vision of this part of town, as depicted in Blade Runner (1982), was an idée fixe. Come 2014, Spike Jonze’s magical realism brings us a radically new notion of what LA’s future might look like. In Her, the movie in which protagonist Theodore Twombly falls in love with an OS with an exceptionally seductive voice, the future of downtown LA is clean, dense and comfortable. According to Her cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema, Jonze wanted an LA set in the not-so-distant future – a ‘world that was tactile and pleasant: the very opposite of a dystopian future’.

Los Angeles architect Michael Maltzan has been contemplating the not-so-distant future of LA for a while, leading in 2011 to his book No More Play. ‘The city is at a moment where much of the way that it has been developed in the past, which has created both the physical and psychological identity for the city – a city that just continued to push the boundaries outward and sprawl into the periphery – that data equation is probably untenable at this point. There is an extraordinary pressure back in and onto the city that is creating a kind of overwriting of the city in a very intense way.’ This brings up a number of questions that other cities, older more traditional cities, probably have dealt with in the past, things like transport, and certainly scale and density as important urban questions. What Maltzan has been most interested in, ‘is trying to imagine how you deal with those questions, but deal with them in a way that is inspired by and specific to Los Angeles. I don’t think it really helps at all to try to import models from other established or more traditional cities into a culture that has its own identity, its own character, its own spirit’.

This spirit is increasingly emerging in Maltzan’s own work. His lines and forms are daring and bold. His predominantly white massings, shaped through hard chamfers and sharp facets, gain their expression in the dark shadows of the Sunshine State. More particular is his embrace of the raw and given – the reality of the everyday in all its looseness and unpredictability. This engagement with the real, which was also crucial for fellow Angeleno and former employer, Frank Gehry, is helping Maltzan now add two significant projects to LA evolving downtown less than a mile apart."



"As the project’s linear form moves south, it begins to shift, delaminating to create views and ground-level connections across its width for a clear connection to the LA River and future transit nodes. Says Maltzan, ‘It’s seen as a three-dimensional armature that eventually weaves itself into the city.’ Interspersed in this connective network are the contemporary perks these buildings require such as pools, barbecue decks and gyms as points of orientation.

Both The Star Apartments and One Santa Fe are frugal encampments of wood and stucco on top of a new ground with its concrete structures and ordinary plumbing exposed. They are built to current economic realities and construction techniques. In their parti, the projects evoke Masato Otaka’s Sakaide Artificial Ground development (1968-86). This Japanese Metabolist established an artificial datum over a seismically unstable slum area in Sakaide, using a fixed concrete slab and beam platform, which housed itinerant salt workers in a series of prefabricated housing structures on the slab. Underneath was occupied by offices, shops, parking and a network of pedestrian alleys. The second ground certainly is not a new concept in architecture, but other than in its utopian or Structuralist precursors, Maltzan’s new ground is not infused with radical rhetorics. Somewhere within the amalgam of new realities, housing subsidies, affordability ratios, zoning requirements, ROI models, parking quota, etc, Maltzan is able to create two projects that are both unique and memorable.

In addition to that, in their pragmatism and embrace of the currents of our time, they form a ‘casual’ manifesto of how the city could transform. Unlike in other cities, space in LA is actually not yet precious, so doubling the ground is not to create more; it is the introduction of a layer within the city that can take on new community or urban roles. The new public layers appear as a testing ground, or antechamber, allowing the changing and diverse LA populace to gradually get reconnected, to both the outside and to the other. ‘I think architecture through building form has a responsibility to try to point to what urban forms are going to look like and what the city’s going to look like. These buildings are trying to do that,’ says Maltzan. If this is where the city is heading, a ‘dirty’, magical realism awaits us in the not-too-distant future."
losangeles  sanfrancisco  california  2015  architects  housing  cities  michaelmaltzan  design  urbanism  onesantafe  dystopia  spikejonze  her  future  sprawl  density 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Why I Quit Ordering From Uber-for-Food Start-Ups - The Atlantic
[This is Josephine: https://josephine.com/ ]

"I work some days from a small office in San Francisco, and every day, I gotta eat. For a stretch of several weeks this year, I obtained my lunch from an iPhone app called Sprig.

It’s a beautiful piece of software. A trompe l’oeil table offers a compact slate of choices for lunch and dinner, all photographed beautifully from above. On the day I’m writing this, I can get a Caesar salad ($11), blackened chicken with broccoli ($11), a lamb-kofta wrap ($11), a tequila-lime shrimp salad ($13), or a kimchi veggie bowl ($10). Everything is organic, with sources all specified. The chicken comes from Petaluma.

* * *

I work some days from my apartment in Berkeley, and every day, I gotta eat. Two or three times a month, I obtain lunch or dinner from a network called Josephine.

The first time I encountered Josephine, its website was a bare page that instructed you to enter your phone number and “join our SMS list.” The design is only slightly more elaborate today; there’s still no iPhone app.

Josephine doesn’t prepare any meals itself. Instead, it screens home cooks and takes orders on their behalf. On the day I’m writing this, I can get carrot soup ($11) from Lisa in Oakland or pho ($13) from Hai in Emeryville. That’s it for tonight. Tomorrow, there’s chicken and dumplings ($11) from Suzie in Albany or veggie enchiladas ($8) from Afiba in Fruitvale. The menu extends out two weeks; Josephine is less “I’m hungry now” and more “I expect to be hungry on Thursday, so I’d better line something up.” The photography is rough-and-ready, Etsy-caliber, and the dishes are described by the cooks themselves.

* * *

Sprig sells on speed: From selection to delivery, it’s twenty minutes. The experience is identical to an order from Seamless or GrubHub. A harried courier extracts your meal from a fat insulated bag; you say “thank you,” close the door, and feel bad for a moment about the differences between your lives. Five stars.

Meals from Sprig arrive reliably deflated from their in-app depictions: soggier, less composed. The quality of the food ranges, in my experience, from “sure, I can eat this” to very good indeed. It’s approximately equivalent to what you’d get in a nice cafeteria; better than Kaiser Permanente’s, not as good as Facebook’s.

“Gotta eat” is a rumble in the belly, a business opportunity, and a public-health crisis all rolled into one, and to address it, Sprig is building the biggest, nicest cafeteria ever. The ambition is clear: Sprig in every city, with longer menus, better ingredients, faster delivery. I can see them: the drones dropping lamb kofta from the sky.

But there’s more to any cafeteria than the serving line, and Sprig’s app offers no photograph of that other part. This is the Amazon move: absolute obfuscation of labor and logistics behind a friendly buy button. The experience for a Sprig customer is super convenient, almost magical; the experience for a chef or courier…? We don’t know. We don’t get to know. We’re just here to press the button.

I feel bad, truly, for Amazon and Sprig and their many peers—SpoonRocket, Postmates, Munchery, and the rest. They build these complicated systems and then they have to hide them, because the way they treat humans is at best mildly depressing and at worst burn-it-down dystopian.

What would it be like if you didn’t have to hide the system?

* * *

Meals from Josephine are not available for delivery.

On the day of your order, a text message arrives bearing a street address. You ride over on your bicycle and spot a Josephine sign taped to the front door, which is ajar. You step inside; the feeling is both clandestine and transgressive. In the kitchen, the cook—your neighbor—is working. Maybe another customer—also your neighbor—is lingering. You announce yourself, say hello, receive your meal. Chat a bit, if you like. Carry it home in a bag dangling from your handlebars.

It definitely takes more than twenty minutes.

But I will tell you that my Josephine pickups have been utterly reliable generators of smiles and warm feelings. I look forward to them, not just because “gotta eat,” but because they unlock my neighborhood, fill in the blank spaces on my mental map. And of course, it’s always fun to see the insides of other people’s houses.

The seriousness of Josephine’s cooks ranges widely. Some are clearly demi-professionals, as polished and efficient as Airbnb hosts; others seem surprised to have people in their kitchen. Some offer fat slices of cornbread as impulse buys; others seem happy to have finished their soup in time.

What unites them is this: They are your neighbors; they have cooked a dish of their own design; they have invited you into their home.

I flaked on a Josephine meal once, and as the pick-up window was closing, my phone rang. It was the cook. “I can leave it out for you,” she offered. I demurred. “Oh, okay,” she said. Her voice betrayed her disappointment. I felt bad all night.

* * *

Sprig started in 2013. Its four founders have tech-industry roots, and the company has raised around $50 million so far. (It is safe to assume the words "Uber for food" were uttered along the way.) Currently, you can order in San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Chicago—the last of which is clearly the test case for national expansion. The Sprig careers page advertises openings in Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Dallas, and Austin.

Josephine started in 2014. Its two founders also have tech-industry roots, and the company has raised around $600,000 so far. Mark Bittman recently joined its board of directors. Josephine’s home cooks are mainly scattered around Oakland and Berkeley. In October, the company listed its first batch of meals for San Francisco; on the day I’m writing, there are three home cooks in the city.

If Sprig projects an Amazon-like relentlessness, Josephine feels tenuous; some days, it seems almost too good for this world, too “eat your vegetables,” literally and figuratively. It’s convenient, but not THAT convenient. When it needs more cooks, it can’t simply hire them. Its viability in neighborhoods beyond the Bay Area will depend on instruments subtler than a war chest and an expansion playbook.

* * *

We are alive at a time when huge systems—industrial, infrastructural—are being remade, and I think it’s our responsibility as we make choices both commercial and civic—it’s just a light responsibility, don’t stress—to extrapolate forward, and ask ourselves: Is this a system I want to live inside? Is this a system fit for humans?

It’s like this:

Sprig-type operations drain agency and expertise out of the world. They centralize, aiming to build huge hubs with small spokes; their innermost mechanisms are hidden. They depend on humans behaving as interchangeable units of labor.

In the hypothetical future we can label Full Sprig, no one cooks who is not employed by this kind of company.

Josephine cultivates agency and expertise. It decentralizes, aims to build a dense mesh, neighborhood-scale; its mechanisms are public. It depends on humans developing their specific, idiosyncratic tastes and skills.

In the hypothetical future we can label Full Josephine, many people don’t cook, but some people cook a lot more, and better, than ever before, and all of us, cooks and non-cooks, derive pleasure from that. We meet on the sidewalk carrying warm veggie enchiladas.

What kills me is the plausibility of the Josephine future. This isn’t some utopian vision; there’s a scale model working in the East Bay today. Neighborhoods everywhere are full of cooks, or would-be cooks; the talent and the desire is thick on the ground.

Josephine employs the most basic tools of telecommunications to make a market and match “gotta eat” with “wanna cook.” This could be the system! The rumble in the belly, the business opportunity, the public-health crisis: The answer to all of it might be waiting next door.

We make these choices, bit by bit. I stopped ordering from Sprig back in the spring, because (a) I don’t like that future and (b) they sent me a truly sub-par chicken sandwich.

Every couple of weeks, or whenever I think of it, I check Josephine for something nearby. The food is always good, at least friend-cooking-dinner good and often better, but honestly, the future is what sells it."
robinsloan  systems  systemsthinking  2015  amazon  sprig  uber  efficiency  josephine  markbittman  decentralization  civics  society  neighborhoods  community  humanity  future  food  cooking  eating  slow  slowness  relentlessness  neighbors  neighborliness  dystopia  technosolutionism 
november 2015 by robertogreco
It Doesn't Know What You Want Until You Teach It
"So, I just got home from Tel Aviv, which, while I happened to be there, was hit by a massive sandstorm that swept across from Syria.

Now, sandstorms, or at least the one I saw, do not work like the ones in Mad Max. I woke up in my little hotel cocoon, threw back the blackout curtains and saw … nothing. Because that’s what sandstorms do: they make landscape into nothing. They disappear buildings and the sea and the horizon and even the sun. Beyond half a mile, everything fades into white-yellow nothing.

I went for a run up the beach until I got to an old crumbling stone jetty. An old shirtless man with a huge belly was fishing from it. All I could see was a few big hotels behind me rising into dust and this jetty with the man in front of me. And it was possible to imagine that this was all the world, that this little narrow spit of land was all that was left.

That’s the dystopian story.

But, at the same time, I could snap a photo of the sea and the sky and send it to my wife across the world and have her send me back a picture of our son. And I could go look up the sandstorm and see it from a NASA satellite. And Apple would put out a new version of their phone, and just down the road, hundreds of Israeli startups were building new things in the world. And as I wandered around Tel Aviv, the strange light of the sandstorm making every photo look as if it were taken in a dream, I thought to myself: there are so many futures happening at once.

When we imagine a utopia or dystopia, both represent a hope that human lives will somehow be less messy and complex in the future than they are now. Because, good or bad, that’s the most comforting lie we can tell ourselves about what’s going to come: that we might be able to process and understand it more easily than we do our own short moment.

It's good to be back."
alexismadrigal  sandstorms  future  futures  humanity  life  messiness  complexity  technology  2015  communication  photography  perception  utopia  dystopia  understanding  presence 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Solarpunk: We Are Golden, and Our Future Is Bright | F.W. Fife
"There are two forces at work here, and they’re found in the two words that make up this new idea.

First, SOLAR:

• Light. In direct opposition to the increasingly dark tone our fiction—and world—seem to be taking.
• Day. As opposed to the permanent night in which stories of cyberpunk and dystopia seem to take place.
• The Sun. A source of natural energy to support and power our future.
• Which is, of course, a much cleaner energy, the use of which will not harm our environment or selves.
• This is, then, a blending of nature and technology.
• And this is a gentle blend, not a subjugation of the earth by force through deforestation and polluting, harsh industry.
• Beneficial not only for the earth, but for the people who need it most.
• Healing and including marginalized people—like the physically and mentally disabled, the poor and homeless, people of color and immigrants, abuse victims, the chronically ill, LGBTQA people, all of the most vulnerable members of society.
• Essentially, HOPE.

And that note takes us to PUNK. Something you might be a little more familiar with, but depending on your age, might associate with loud music, outlandish hairstyles, and rude kids acting out. But I assure you, there’s not much to be scared of here. (Punk rockers can be nice too! We don’t bite. Horns up!)

PUNK:

• Rebellion. Going in a different direction than the mainstream. But in this case, that’s increasingly going in the scary direction.
• Counterculture. If our culture is pessimistic and self-centered, our counterculture will be made of hope, joy, and caring for one another.
• Enthusiasm. Ever been to a rock concert? When it goes right, it’s fun! Solarpunk goes after its goals with that same level of energy! Rock out!
• Individuality. Like the piercings and tattoos and spiky purple hair you might associate with the word ‘punk,’ it’s made to let everybody be who they are—especially those described above, who need safe places the most. As a chronically ill, queer kid, I really needed this growing up. Punk indeed!

So that’s the ideology. And you might have noticed the pretty pictures I included here! Worth a thousand words, I hope they help illustrate the more visual side of it. Solarpunk fits in with styles like art deco and art nouveau. Lots of gentle curves and swirling, bright colors, the antithesis of harsh angles and metal and stark, painful edges. Solarpunk is gentle and nurturing and welcoming.

You might say it’s also an artistic aesthetic. Like in Disney’s Treasure Planet with its gorgeous storybook ships that traverse the vast reaches of outer space with solar-powered sails on an earnest, hopeful search for hidden wonders.

Solarpunk is an architecture and building and living methodology. It’s shown in Hayao Miyazaki’s beautiful films with human society living in harmony with nature, as in the floating steel-and-tree city below from Castle In The Sky. And when humanity fails to respect and live alongside nature, it quickly learns that it must.

And it’s a philosophy and a way of life, about lifting up instead of oppressing. The spreading and sharing of resources instead of hoarding by an elite few. Good for all instead of only benefiting the very rich. A vision of a beautiful future is rebellion. In this increasingly grim, dark, gritty world, hope is a radical act of rebellion.

Solarpunk rejects the idea that because something is dark or pessimistic, it’s more meaningful. Just because a story has a devastating ending doesn’t make it somehow more profound as an art form. Just because something is optimistic doesn’t make it silly or trite. Hope is not something to be scoffed at. It’s the only thing that will keep the world functioning."

[via: https://twitter.com/Threadbare/status/639595474706558976 ]
solarpunk  2015  hope  optimism  dystopia  utopia  environment  hayaomiyazaki  nature  harmony  sustainability  punk  fwfife 
september 2015 by robertogreco
SOLARPUNKS — You’re Doing Solarpunk All Wrong
"I’m not saying that apostulating’s proposed world/setting isn’t cool - I like it! - but it’s at odds with solarpunk as it’s been conceived and described up to this point. Lots of people have been putting thought and imagination into solarpunk as a genre or a movement, and for the most part the consensus has described a hopeful future in which we work together against the machine to move from our current world of competition, isolation and intolerance to one of cooperation, community and pluralism. 

This optimistic mood is what people have found compelling about solarpunk. I know it’s a big reason I’m so enthused about the idea, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. It’s hopeful. It tells us that we can make a difference, that there is an alternative to the seemingly-inevitable slide into dystopia. That this has resonated with so many people is awesome. We need these stories, now more than ever. To say “that’s not solarpunk, this is solarpunk”, where this is a bleak and blasted world of hopeless desperation, oppression and brutality - completely counter to how everyone else has been imagining it - is kind of presumptuous. It disregards all the thought and effort that everyone else has put in. 

Maybe if the post-apocalyptic world of the Energy Barons can still be saved - if they can be overthrown - if a new, kinder, wiser civilisation can rise from the ashes of the old world - if as a species we can learn from our mistakes and reject the misguided values which killed the world - if there is hope, maybe it could be solarpunk. But it needs that hope. It needs that chance to move forward and make something better than what we have now. 

The world as described by apostulating doesn’t have that. It’s a world of ashes in which there is no future, no potential, no hope, just an endless, futile scrabble for survival. Without hope, it’s not solarpunk.

Call the post-apocalyptic hellscape of the Energy Barons something else - wastepunk, maybe. But please don’t try to supplant the work that’s already been done to turn solarpunk into something it’s not and never has been.

There’s darkness enough in the here-and-now. Here’s to being angry and hopeful."
solarpubk  optimism  dystopia  2015 
june 2015 by robertogreco
No one cares about your jetpack: on optimism in futurism - Dangerous to those who profit from the way things areDangerous to those who profit from the way things are
"This review [http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/tomorrowland-is-like-watching-a-jetpack-eat-itself-1706822006 ] of Disney’s Tomorrowland (and others like it that I have read) got me thinking about something I was asked at the Design In Action summit last week in Edinburgh. I was there participating in the “Once Upon a Future” event, where I read a story called “The Dreams in the Bitch House.” It’s about a tech sorority at a small New England university. And programmable matter.

After I did my keynote and read my story, I did a Q&A. After a few questions, someone in the audience asked: “Why so negative?”

I get this question a lot. I’ve been involved in a couple of “optimistic” science fiction anthologies, namely Shine (edited by Jetse de Vries) and Hieroglyph (edited by Kathryn Cramer and Ed Finn). But people don’t invite me to these because I’m an optimistic person. In fact, it’s usually quite the opposite. Evidence:

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InDOzrtS42M ]

When I was trained as a futurist (I have a Master’s in the subject), I was taught to see the whole scope of a problem. That’s at the root of design thinking. The old joke about designers is that when someone asks how many designers you need to change a lightbulb, the designer asks “Does it need to be a lightbulb?” Because really, what the room needs is a window. When people talk about innovation, that’s what they mean. A re-framing of the issue that helps you see the whole problem and approach it from another angle.

America’s problem is not that it needs more jetpacks. Jetpacks are not innovation. Jetpacks are a fetish object for retrofuturist otaku who jerked off to Judy Jetson, or maybe Jennifer Connelly’s character in The Rocketeer. “We were promised jetpacks!” they whine. Yeah, dude, but what you got was Agent Orange. Imagine a Segway that could kill you and set your house on fire. That’s what a jetpack is.

Jetpacks solve exactly one problem: rapid transit. And you know what would help with that? Better transit. Better telepresence. Better work-life balance. Are jetpacks an innovative solution to the problem of transit? Nope. But they sure look great with your midlife crisis.

But railing against jetpacks isn’t an answer to the question. Why so negative? Three reasons:

1) We have more data than we used to, and we’re obtaining more all the time.

Why don’t we fantasize about life in space like we used to? Because we know it’s really fucking difficult and dangerous. Why don’t we research things like food pills any more? Because we know eating fibre helps prevent colon cancer. We know those things because we’ve done the science. The data is there, and for every piece of technology we use, we accumulate more. It’s hard to argue with that vast wealth of data. At least, it’s hard to do so without looking like some whackjob climate change denier.

2) Less optimistic futures have the power to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

When people ask me, “Why can’t you be more positive?” what I hear is, “Why can’t you tell me a story that conforms to my narrative and comforts me?” Because discomfiting futures have real power. As Alf Rehn notes:
What we need, then, is more uncommon futurism. A futurism that cares not a whit about what’s hot right now, who remain stoically unimpressed by drones and wearable IT, and who instead take it as their job to shock and awe CEOs with visions as radical as those of the futurists of yore. We need futurism that is less interested in agreeing with contemporary futurists and their ongoing circle-jerk, and who takes pride in offending and disgusting those futurists who would like to protect the status quo.


The truth is that the horrible dystopia you’re reading about is already happening to someone else, somewhere else. What makes people nervous is the idea that it could happen to them. That’s why I have to keep sharing it.

3) The most harmful idea in this world is that change is impossible.

Octavia E. Butler said it best: “The only lasting truth / is Change.” And yet, we act like change is impossible. Whether we’re frustrated by policy gridlock, or rolling our eyes at Hollywood reboots, or taking our spouses on the same goddamn date we have for for twenty years, we act as though everything will remain the same, forever and ever, amen. But look around you. Twenty years ago, thinks were very different. Even five years ago, they were different. Look at social progress like gay marriage. Look at the rise of solar power. Look at the shrinking of the ice caps. Things do change, they are changing, and they will change. And not all of those changes will be positive. Not all of them will be negative, either. But change does occur. Rather than thinking of change as a positive or a negative, as utopian or dystopian, just recognize that it’s going to happen and prepare yourself. Futurists don’t predict the future. We see multiple outcomes and help you prepare for them.

In the end, the lacklustre performance of Tomorrowland at the box office has nothing to do with whether optimism is alive or dead. It has to do with changing demographics among moviegoers who know how to spot an Ayn Rand bedtime story when they see one. There are whole generations of moviegoers for whom jetpacks don’t mean shit, whose first memories of NASA are the Challenger disaster. And you know what? Those same generations believe in driverless cars, solar energy, smart cities, AR contacts, and vat-grown meat. They saw the election of America’s first black president, and they witnessed a wave of violence against young black men. They don’t want the depiction of an “optimistic” future. They want a future where their concerns are taken seriously and humanely, with compassion and intelligence and validation. And that’s way harder than optimism."
culture  future  futurism  discourse  madelineashby  2015  tomorrowland  alfrehn  dystopia  octaviabutler  optimism  pessimism  realism  demographics  aynrand  race  establishment  privilege  drones  wearables  power  innovation  jetpacks  telepresence  transit  transportation  work  labor  scifi  sciencefiction  systemsthinking  data  retrofuturism  climatechange  space  food  science  technology  change  truth  socialprogress  progress  solar  solarpower  validation  compassion  canon  work-lifebalance 
june 2015 by robertogreco
When It Comes to Tech Dystopia, Portlandia Is Better Than Black Mirror
"UK series Black Mirror is being lauded as the first show that really tells the truth about our dystopian tech destiny. But the best critique of technology in today's culture is not this science fiction import. For the most scathing commentary on the high-tech world we've designed for ourselves, you have to watch Portlandia.

The series' fifth season finished airing last week on IFC (full episodes are on YouTube), and I went down a P-hole, rewatching every episode all the way back to 2011. I expected to find some greater takeaway about artisanal culture or the evolution of urbanism. Or, like, raw food restaurant trends.

I was stunned when I realized that the series' greatest strength comes from its disturbingly on-point takedowns of technology, each delivered like a crisp smack of an iPad to the back of our Instagram-addled heads. So many anti-technology diatribes miss the mark because their authors are clearly late-adopting haters. But it's obvious that Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein are tech fans at heart.

It's easy to lose sight of the show's intelligent vision when 85 percent of the chatter about it revolves around the chirpy chorus "Put a bird on it." And yes, this not-so-alternate universe inhabited by bike messengers and coffee baristas focuses heavily on the handcrafted rejection of contemporary mainstream culture. Except that's also why the tech-focused sketches are so skewering: Even though the characters pride themselves on their pickling prowess and sustainable jewelry-making, they still can't bear to delete their Facebook accounts.

[video]

In fact, it's one particularly good sketch about leaving Facebook which launched my theory that Portlandia tackles these issues better than anyone else. In order to remove herself from the internet, Carrie goes to what looks like a bank branch to declare social media bankruptcy. When she goes to see Fred at a bar, he doesn't recognize her without an avatar to validate her existence. At the end, she is placed in a room with the handful of other people without online presences. It's hilarious, but it also confronts our deepest fears about being forgotten when we don't file a status update.

Each tech sketch serves as a kind of worst-case scenario for all the products and services that touch our lives. The owners of a feminist bookstore attempt to confront a negative Yelp reviewer in real life. A sharing economy startup implodes spectacularly. Patton Oswalt plays a man who becomes famous for his witty Evite responses. The city buys a 3D printer, as if this might be the answer to all civic problems—"Portland is finally a world-class city!"

[video]

But it's really the characters' relationships with television that highlight our most bizarre and hypocritical behavior with technology. "I don't have a TV" is the smug refrain uttered by more than one character, but binge-watching shows is a running theme. In season 2, characters played by Armisen and Brownstein alienate friends and lose jobs while watching all the episodes of Battlestar Galactica. Their lives fall apart in the quest for one more episode. Yet, you know, we don't watch TV.

Another sketch, "Spoiler Alert" is maybe one of the smartest pieces of TV-related satire in history, as four characters at a dinner party talk about how much they hate spoilers — and manage to reveal all the spoilers in the most talked-about shows.

[video]

Looking back at some of the older episodes, it's almost depressing how much Portlandia's plots have mirrored real life. In an attempt to avoid the questionable labor practices of foreign-made fashion, two characters hire local seamstresses to make their clothes by hand in their home, and in turn, end up transforming their own basement into a sweatshop. It's disarmingly poignant for a sketch comedy show—I found myself thinking for days about claims that Etsy sellers are essentially doing the same thing.

Like the way The Daily Show claims to cover fake news but really provides a maddeningly accurate evisceration of journalistic practices, Portlandia is purportedly about hipsters (I got almost all the way through the story without using that word) but it's really shining a light on the perplexing dilemmas that we all face when we choose to buy into the latest hype. Who hasn't had some version of this dramatic flashback montage like Carrie does when she drops her iPhone? It's all way too close to home.

[video]

And besides, isn't sketch comedy the most palatable way to examine the stranglehold these concepts have on our lives? You could watch a show like Black Mirror to fret about the way technology will ruin civilization in the future, or you could watch Portlandia to think about the way it's ruining us today—and laugh your ass off while you're at it."
alissawalker  portlandia  blackmirror  technology  dystopia  2015  humor  facebook  religion  media  attention  smartphones  socialmedia  3dprinting  portland  oregon 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Why does Hollywood like dystopian LAs and utopian SFs? - Boing Boing
"Jon sez, "When conjuring up the future, why do writers and filmmakers so often imagine Northern California as an edenic utopia, while Southern California gets turned into a dystopian hellscape? While Hollywood, counterculture, and Mike Davis have each helped to shape and propagate this idea, Kristin Miller traces its roots back to the 1949 George R. Stewart novel Earth Abides. Her essay follows the north/south divide in science fiction films and literature through the decades, and explores how it's continued to evolve. In the accompanying slideshow, Miller photographs stills from sci fi movies filmed in California, held up against their filming locations, from 1970's Forbin Project to 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It shows not just the geographic divide in SF, but also how our futures have evolved, and how movies have the ability to change how we see our surroundings in the present."
Northern California-as-utopia, on the other hand, is strongly linked to the countercultural movement of the sixties, with its guides for technologically advanced back-to-the-land living. One can read Ernest Callenbach’s influential novel Ecotopia (1975) as the possible future seeded by Whole Earth Catalog. Ecotopia is a fictional “field study” of a future Pacific Northwest society that has split from an apocalyptic United States and is governed according to ecological principles. While much technology has been abandoned, the Ecotopians have selectively retained public transit, electric cars, networked computers, and improved recycling (Callenbach was a longtime resident of Berkeley). Ecotopia‘s themes were later picked up and elaborated in the eco-feminist tales of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home (1985), a cultural anthropology of latter-day Napa Valley-ites who have returned to indigenous ways; Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing (1993) about a pagan, nonviolent San Francisco threatened by southern biological warfare; and Octavia Butler’s Parable books (1993, 1998) where refugees from the LA wasteland grow a new eco-religion, Earthseed, in the forests of Mendocino.
"

[See also: http://www.boomcalifornia.com/2014/02/postcards-from-the-future/ ]
hollywood  mikedavis  california  dystopia  utopia  sciencefiction  scifi  sanfrancisco  losangeles  2015  kristinmiller  ecotopia  ursulaleguin  cascasia  pacificnorthwest  wholeearthcatalog  counterculture  erneestcallenbach  starhawk  octaviabutler  earthseed  georgerstewart 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Fontspots: Eurostile | Typeset In The Future
"In addition to the film-specific typographic deconstructions on this site, I'm keeping track of all the times I spot classic sci-fi fonts in movies. What better way to start than with perennial sci-fi favorite, Eurostile?

Eurostile, and in particular its Bold Extended variant, has appeared in countless sci-fi settings over the years. It's got to the point where the very presence of Eurostile Bold Extended in an opening title card says FUTURE far more effectively than an expensive effects shot:

[image]

Indeed, Eurostile is such a quick way to establish a timeframe that whenever I see it in real life – which happens quite a lot in my adopted home of California – I assume I’ve been transported to some futuristic dystopia, where a local care center feels more like a sinister government facility for scientific experimentation:

[image]

Eurostile is most commonly seen in its Bold Extended form, but Regular, Bold, and Regular Extended sometimes crop up as well. I've captured (and tried to clarify) as many as possible below."
typography  film  scifi  sciencefiction  2014  via:senongo  eurostile  fonts  future  dystopia 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Ai Weiwei is Living in Our Future — Medium
'Living under permanent surveillance and what that means for our freedom'



"Put a collar with a GPS chip around your dog’s neck and from that moment onwards you will be able to follow your dog on an online map and get a notification on your phone whenever your dog is outside a certain area. You want to take good care of your dog, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the collar also functions as a fitness tracker. Now you can set your dog goals and check out graphs with trend lines. It is as Bruce Sterling says: “You are Fluffy’s Zuckerberg”.

What we are doing to our pets, we are also doing to our children.

The ‘Amber Alert’, for example, is incredibly similar to the Pet Tracker. Its users are very happy: “It’s comforting to look at the app and know everyone is where they are supposed to be!” and “The ability to pull out my phone and instantly monitor my son’s location, takes child safety to a whole new level.” In case you were wondering, it is ‘School Ready’ with a silent mode for educational settings.

Then there is ‘The Canary Project’ which focuses on American teens with a driver’s license. If your child is calling somebody, texting or tweeting behind the wheel, you will be instantly notified. You will also get a notification if your child is speeding or is outside the agreed-on territory.

If your child is ignoring your calls and doesn’t reply to your texts, you can use the ‘Ignore no more’ app. It will lock your child’s phone until they call you back. This clearly shows that most surveillance is about control. Control is the reason why we take pleasure in surveilling ourselves more and more.

I won’t go into the ‘Quantified Self’ movement and our tendency to put an endless amount of sensors on our body attempting to get “self knowlegde through numbers”. As we have already taken the next step towards control: algorithmic punishment if we don’t stick to our promises or reach our own goals."



"Normally his self-measured productivity would average around 40%, but with Kara next to him, his productiviy shot upward to 98%. So what do you do with that lesson? You create a wristband that shocks you whenever you fail to keep to your own plan. The wristband integrates well, of course, with other apps in your “productivity ecosystem”."



"On Kickstarter the makers of the ‘Blink’ camera tried to crowdfund 200.000 dollars for their invention. They received over one millions dollars instead. The camera is completely wireless, has a battery that lasts a year and streams HD video straight to your phone."



"I would love to speak about the problems of gentrification in San Francisco, or about a culture where nobody thinks you are crazy when you utter the sentence “Don’t touch me, I’ll fucking sue you” or about the fact this Google Glass user apparently wasn’t ashamed enough about this interaction to not post this video online. But I am going to talk about two other things: the first-person perspective and the illusionary symmetry of the Google Glass.

First the perspective from which this video was filmed. When I saw the video for the first time I was completely fascinated by her own hand which can be seen a few times and at some point flips the bird."



"The American Civil Liberties Union (also known as the ACLU) released a report late last year listing the advantages and disadvantages of bodycams. The privacy concerns of the people who will be filmed voluntarily or involuntarily and of the police officers themselves (remember Ai Weiwei’s guards who were continually watched) are weighed against the impact bodycams might have in combatting arbitrary police violence."



"A short while ago I noticed that you didn’t have to type in book texts anymore when filling in a reCAPTCHA. Nowadays you type in house numbers helping Google, without them asking you, to further digitize the physical world."



"This is the implicit view on humanity that the the big tech monopolies have: an extremely cheap source of labour which can be brought to a high level of productivity through the smart use of machines. To really understand how this works we need to take a short detour to the gambling machines in Las Vegas."



"Taleb has written one of the most important books of this century. It is called ‘Anti-fragile: Things That Gain from Disorder’ and it explores how you should act in a world that is becoming increasingly volatile. According to him, we have allowed efficiency thinking to optimize our world to such an extent that we have lost the flexibility and slack that is necessary for dealing with failure. This is why we can no longer handle any form of risk.

Paradoxically this leads to more repression and a less safe environment. Taleb illustrates this with an analogy about a child which is raised by its parents in a completely sterile environment having a perfect life without any hard times. That child will likely grow up with many allergies and will not be able to navigate the real world.

We need failure to be able to learn, we need inefficiency to be able to recover from mistakes, we have to take risks to make progress and so it is imperative to find a way to celebrate imperfection.

We can only keep some form of true freedom if we manage to do that. If we don’t, we will become cogs in the machines. I want to finish with a quote from Ai Weiwei:
“Freedom is a pretty strange thing. Once you’ve experienced it, it remains in your heart, and no one can take it away. Then, as an individual, you can be more powerful than a whole country.”
"
aiweiwei  surveillance  privacy  china  hansdezwart  2014  google  maps  mapping  freedom  quantification  tracking  technology  disney  disneyland  bigdog  police  lawenforcement  magicbands  pets  monitoring  pettracker  parenting  teens  youth  mobile  phones  cellphones  amberalert  canaryproject  autonomy  ignorenomore  craiglist  productivity  pavlok  pavlov  garyshteyngart  grindr  inder  bangwithfriends  daveeggers  transparency  thecircle  literature  books  dystopia  lifelogging  blink  narrative  flone  drones  quadcopters  cameras  kevinkelly  davidbrin  googleglass  sarahslocum  aclu  ferguson  michaelbrown  bodycams  cctv  captcha  recaptcha  labor  sousveillance  robots  humans  capitalism  natashadowschüll  design  facebook  amazon  addiction  nassimtaleb  repression  safety  society  howwelearn  learning  imperfection  humanism  disorder  control  power  efficiency  inefficiency  gambling  lasvegas  doom  quantifiedself  measurement  canon  children 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Junot Diaz - Art, Race and Capitalism - YouTube
"Despite what we think, we're more isolated and atomized than ever before. […] The fact is that most poor people are more segregated and isolated than they've ever been. […] There's something really bewildering about the fact that we feel so rhizomatically interconnected to people, but we've never been more isolated. Classes no longer come into contact with each other in any way that's meaningful. I look at my mom and people are like “oh, she's that old generation.” My mom had more interclass contact than the average person has today. Because these great barriers — what we would call the networked society in which we live — hadn't been put into place yet. Think about how much public space my mother inhabited where she was going to encounter people from different cultures and different classes every day. There's almost no public space left at all. And any public space that we have is so patrolled and under so much surveillance and has been schematized and culturalized in certain ways that we're not really coming into contact with anyone who isn't like us. […] You basically encounter people in your network. So that if you are of a certain class, that's who you're encountering in the village. If you come from a certain educational background or from a certain privilege, that's who you're encountering in Williamsburg, these quote-unquote diverse spaces."

[via: http://botpoet.tumblr.com/post/103750710570/you-gotta-remember-and-im-sure-you-do-the

quoting these lines: “You gotta remember, and I’m sure you do, the forces that are arrayed against anyone trying to alter this sort of hammerlock on the human imagination. There are trillions of dollars out there demotivating people from imagining that a better tomorrow is possible. Utopian impulses and utopian horizons have been completely disfigured and everybody now is fluent in dystopia, you know. My young people’s vocabulary… their fluency is in dystopic futures. When young people think about the future, they don’t think about a better tomorrow, they think about horrors and end of the worlds and things or worse. Well, do you really think the lack of utopic imagination doesn’t play into demotivating people from imagining a transformation in the society?”]
junotdíaz  capitalism  race  class  segregation  dystopia  utopia  hope  faith  humans  2013  humanism  writing  literature  immigration  life  living  classism  activism  ows  occupywallstreet  punk  hiphop  compassion  identity  failure  guilt  imperfection  politics  self  work  labor  courage  howtobehuman  forgiveness  future  oppression  privilege  society  change  changemaking  futures  schools  education  business  funding  policy  resistance  subversion  radicalpedagogy  burnout  teaching  howweteach  systemschange  survival  self-care  masculinity  therapy  cultureofcare  neolithic  optimism  inventingthefuture  humanconstructs  civilization  evolution  networkedsociety  transcontextualism  paradigmshifts  transcontextualization 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Three Uncertain Thoughts, Or, Everything I Know I Learned from Ursula Le Guin | Design Culture Lab
"One.

In her 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K Le Guin writes, “The unknown, [...] the unforetold, the unproven, that is what life is based on. Ignorance is the ground of thought. Unproof is the ground of action . . . [T]he only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.”

If the only certainty is death, then to deny uncertainty is to deny life.

My work (creative? social science?) is vital not in the sense of being necessary or essential, but energetic, lively, uncertain. In a short 2006 piece in Theory, Culture & Society, Scott Lash argues that the classical concept of vitalism has re-emerged in the face of global complexity and uncertainty, manifesting itself in cultural theory that acknowledges that “the notion of life has always favoured an idea of becoming over one of being, of movement over stasis, of action over structure, of flow and flux.”

In my research I take seriously the idea that what I am seeing, doing and making is emergent; I cannot know how — when, where, for whom or why — it will all end. I can only live with, and through, it. This means I do not want to convince others that I am right. (Have you ever noticed that Le Guin’s stories unfailingly explore ethics and morality without dealing in absolutes?)

I only — as if this were a small thing! — invite you to accompany me for a while, and see what we can become together. This is just — as if this too were a small thing! — one way of knowing the world.

Two.

In a 2014 interview for Smithsonian Magazine, Le Guin explains that the future is where “anything at all can be said to happen without fear of contradiction from a native. [It] is a safe, sterile laboratory for trying out ideas in, a means of thinking about reality, a method.”

My work makes things, and explicitly makes things up, in some near or far future. I practice different worlds.

Fictions and futures give me (you? us?) space to move, and be moved. This is the space of utopia, but not an idealist utopia set against a pessimist dystopia. Fictions and futures are literally no-places: real but not actual, and always vital. I feel as though I thrive in these spaces, both grounded and reaching toward the sky, open to the elements, potential.

But here’s something I’ve learned: I can’t make up anything and expect it to work. The stories need to resonate. And that means they need to be internally coherent and consistent, plausible. So I locate others and myself empirically, ethnographically. I look to the hopes and promises that bind us together, to the threats that rip us apart, and I look to the expectations that constrain and orient us along particular, but not certain, paths.

And then I imagine it (me, you, us) otherwise.

Three.

In her 2007 essay “The Critics, the Monsters, and the Fantasists,” Le Guin clarifies “although the green country of fantasy seems to be entirely the invention of human imaginations, it verges on and partakes of actual realms in which humanity is not lord and master, is not central, is not even important.”

My imagination has sought out this vital, “green country of fantasy” by focussing on possible futures for multispecies, more-than-human, agents. But I’ve yet to be successful in my quest to avoid anthropocentrism. (My dragons remain stubbornly human!)

Still: I follow Donna Haraway’s argument, in 2007’s When Species Meet, that “animals enrich our ignorance.” When I look at people and technology and design and everyday life with — and through — animals I am never more uncertain about what they all mean. To take animals (and other nonhumans) seriously forces me to let go of many preconceptions, even when I fail to imagine a plausible alternative.

But perhaps that uncertainty is only appropriate, too."
annegalloway  2014  ursulaleguin  unknown  uncertainty  unproven  certainty  death  life  scottlash  vitalism  complexity  culture  theory  morality  ethics  absolutism  knowing  unknowing  future  futures  fiction  worldbuilding  process  method  making  speculativefiction  designfiction  ethnography  imagination  utopia  dystopia  potential  fantasy  invention  design  anthropocentrism  multispecies  donnaharaway  ignorance  technology  preconceptions  posthumanism 
october 2014 by robertogreco
The future of ed tech is here, it’s just not evenly distributed — Futures Exchange — Medium
"Using design fiction to cut through the relentless TEDTalk-like optimism of ed tech marketing"



"People talk about the future of technology in education as though it’s right around the corner, but for most of us we get to that corner and see it disappearing around the next. This innovation-obsessed cycle continues as we are endlessly dissatisfied with how little difference these promises make to the people implicated in these futures. These products and practices, cloaked in the latest buzzwords and jargon, often trickle down to non-western geographic regions after they’ve been tried and rejected, yet still adopted as the new and advanced “western” methodology that will solve the “problem” of education.

In an attempt to cut through the relentless TED Talk-like optimism of ed tech marketing, this year at the HASTAC conference in Peru we presented a series of fictional case studies. These four design fiction based personas aimed to illustrate the possible impact on society and education, in both positive and negative ways, of not just emerging technologies but also global social and economic trends. They give brief snapshots of the lives of individuals in imagined futures from different geographic, ethnic, economic, and cultural backgrounds, illustrating how each of them might interface and interact with the different technologies."

[See also: http://www.hastac.org/blogs/savasavasava/2014/06/19/hastac-2014-future-ed-tech-here-it%E2%80%99s-just-not-evenly-distributed
Wayback: https://web.archive.org/web/20150630153225/http://www.hastac.org/blogs/savasavasava/2014/06/19/hastac-2014-future-ed-tech-here-it%E2%80%99s-just-not-evenly-distributed ]
savasahelisingh  timmaughan  designfiction  edtech  technology  education  dystopia  marketing  optimism  pessimism  2014  williamgibson  speculativefiction  futures  future  innovation  buzzwords  hastac  casestudies 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Our Comrade The Electron - Webstock Conference Talk
"Termen had good timing. Lenin was just about to launch a huge campaign under the curiously specific slogan:

COMMUNISM = SOVIET POWER + ELECTRIFICATION OF THE WHOLE COUNTRY

Why make such a big deal of electrification?

Well, Lenin had just led a Great Proletarian Revolution in a country without a proletariat, which is like making an omelette without any eggs. You can do it, but it raises questions. It's awkward.

Lenin needed a proletariat in a hurry, and the fastest way to do that was to electrify and industrialize the country.

But there was another, unstated reason for the campaign. Over the centuries, Russian peasants had become experts at passively resisting central authority. They relied on the villages of their enormous country being backward, dispersed, and very hard to get to.

Lenin knew that if he could get the peasants on the grid, it would consolidate his power. The process of electrifying the countryside would create cities, factories, and concentrate people around large construction projects. And once the peasantry was dependent on electric power, there would be no going back.

History does not record whether Lenin stroked a big white cat in his lap and laughed maniacally as he thought of this, so we must assume it happened."



"RANT

Technology concentrates power.

In the 90's, it looked like the Internet might be an exception, that it could be a decentralizing, democratizing force. No one controlled it, no one designed it, it was just kind of assembling itself in an appealing, anarchic way. The companies that first tried to centralize the Internet, like AOL and Microsoft, failed risibly. And open source looked ready to slay any dragon.

But those days are gone. We've centralized the bejesus out of the Internet now. There's one search engine (plus the one no one uses), one social network (plus the one no one uses), one Twitter. We use one ad network, one analytics suite. Anywhere you look online, one or two giant American companies utterly dominate the field.

And there's the cloud. What a brilliant name! The cloud is the future of online computing, a friendly, fluffy abstraction that we will all ascend into, swaddled in light. But really the cloud is just a large mess of servers somewhere, the property of one American company (plus the clouds no one uses).

Orwell imagined a world with a telescreen in every room, always on, always connected, always monitored. An Xbox One vision of dystopia.

But we've done him one better. Nearly everyone here carries in their pocket a tracking device that knows where you are, who you talk to, what you look at, all these intimate details of your life, and sedulously reports them to private servers where the data is stored in perpetuity.

I know I sound like a conspiracy nut framing it like this. I'm not saying we live in an Orwellian nightmare. I love New Zealand! But we have the technology.

When I was in grade school, they used to scare us with something called the permanent record. If you threw a spitball at your friend, it would go in your permanent record, and prevent you getting a good job, or marrying well, until eventually you'd die young and friendless and be buried outside the churchyard wall.

What a relief when we found out that the permanent record was a fiction. Except now we've gone and implemented the damned thing. Each of us leaves an indelible, comet-like trail across the Internet that cannot be erased and that we're not even allowed to see.

The things we really care about seem to disappear from the Internet immediately, but post a stupid YouTube comment (now linked to your real identity) and it will live forever.

And we have to track all this stuff, because the economic basis of today's web is advertising, or the promise of future advertising. The only way we can convince investors to keep the money flowing is by keeping the most detailed records possible, tied to people's real identities. Apart from a few corners of anonymity, which not by accident are the most culturally vibrant parts of the Internet, everything is tracked and has to be tracked or the edifice collapses.

What upsets me isn't that we created this centralized version of the Internet based on permanent surveillance.

What upsets me, what really gets my goat, is that we did it because it was the easiest thing to do. There was no design, forethought, or analysis involved. No one said "hey, this sounds like a great world to live in, let's make it". It happened because we couldn't be bothered.

Making things ephemeral is hard.

Making things distributed is hard.

Making things anonymous is hard.

Coming up with a sane business model is really hard—I get tired just thinking about it.

So let's take people's data, throw it on a server, link it to their Facebook profiles, keep it forever, and if we can't raise another round of venture funding we'll just slap Google ads on the thing.

"High five, Chad!"

"High five, bro!"

That is the design process that went into building the Internet of 2014.

And of course now we are shocked—shocked!—when, for example, the Ukrainian government uses cell tower data to send scary text messages to protesters in Kiev, in order to try to keep them off the streets. Bad people are using the global surveillance system we built to do something mean! Holy crap! Who could have imagined this?

Or when we learn that the American government is reading the email that you send unencrypted to the ad-supported mail service in another country where it gets archived forever. Inconceivable!

I'm not saying these abuses aren't serious. But they're the opposite of surprising. People will always abuse power. That's not a new insight. There are cuneiform tablets complaining about it. Yet here we are in 2014, startled because unscrupulous people have started to use the powerful tools we created for them.

We put so much care into making the Internet resilient from technical failures, but make no effort to make it resilient to political failure. We treat freedom and the rule of law like inexhaustible natural resources, rather than the fragile and precious treasures that they are.

And now, of course, it's time to make the Internet of Things, where we will connect everything to everything else, and build cool apps on top, and nothing can possibly go wrong."



"What I'm afraid of is the society we already live in. Where people like you and me, if we stay inside the lines, can enjoy lives of comfort and relative ease, but God help anyone who is declared out of bounds. Those people will feel the full might of the high-tech modern state.

Consider your neighbors across the Tasman, stewards of an empty continent, who have set up internment camps in the remotest parts of the Pacific for fear that a few thousand indigent people might come in on boats, take low-wage jobs, and thereby destroy their society.

Or the country I live in, where we have a bipartisan consensus that the only way to preserve our freedom is to fly remote controlled planes that occasionally drop bombs on children. It's straight out of Dostoevski.

Except Dostoevski needed a doorstop of a book to grapple with the question: “Is it ever acceptable for innocents to suffer for the greater good?” And the Americans, a more practical people, have answered that in two words: “Of course!”

Erika Hall in her talk yesterday wondered what Mao or Stalin could have done with the resources of the modern Internet. It's a good question. If you look at the history of the KGB or Stasi, they consumed enormous resources just maintaining and cross-referencing their mountains of paperwork. There's a throwaway line in Huxley's Brave New World where he mentions "800 cubic meters of card catalogs" in the eugenic baby factory. Imagine what Stalin could have done with a decent MySQL server.

We haven't seen yet what a truly bad government is capable of doing with modern information technology. What the good ones get up to is terrifying enough.

I'm not saying we can't have the fun next-generation Internet, where everyone wears stupid goggles and has profound conversations with their refrigerator. I'm just saying we can't slap it together like we've been doing so far and expect everything to work itself out.

The good news is, it's a design problem! You're all designers here - we can make it fun! We can build an Internet that's distributed, resilient, irritating to governments everywhere, and free in the best sense of the word, like we dreamed of in the 90's. But it will take effort and determination. It will mean scrapping permanent mass surveillance as a business model, which is going to hurt. It will mean pushing laws through a sclerotic legal system. There will have to be some nagging.

But if we don't design this Internet, if we just continue to build it out, then eventually it will attract some remarkable, visionary people. And we're not going to like them, and it's not going to matter."
internet  surveillance  technology  levsergeyevichtermen  theremin  electricity  power  control  wifi  intangibles  2014  maciejceglowski  physics  music  invention  malcolmgladwell  josephschillinger  rhythmicon  terpsitone  centralization  decentralization  cloud  google  facebook  us  government  policy  distributed  anonymity  ephemeral  ephemerality  tracking  georgeorwell  dystopia  nsa  nest  internetofthings  erikahall  design  buran  lenin  stalin  robertmoog  clararockmore  maciejcegłowski  iot  vladimirlenin 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Spike Jonze's 'Her' a refreshingly original take on a future L.A. - latimes.com
"Critic's Notebook: Spike Jonze boldly bucks the retro trend in creating a vivid future L.A. in 'Her,' a thoughtful meditation on tech and culture."



""Her" bucks the retro moment by jumping enthusiastically, and blindly, into a future that is neither utopian nor dystopian but — like our own era, and like every era —somewhere in the slippery in-between. The film is set in the Los Angeles of two or three decades from now; the year is never specified.

The city has dense clusters of tall towers and a mass-transit system to rival London's. Cars seem to have been banished. The thoughtful but hopelessly needy hero, Theodore Twombly, lives in a large and serene apartment in a downtown high-rise and either walks or takes the train everywhere."



"Alternating between scenes shot in Los Angeles and Shanghai gives this limbo cinematic form. The city is stuck between two realms just like Theodore, with his feet on the ground in Los Angeles and his mind and heart in a digital reverie.

Those gestures by Jonze and Barrett turn "Her" into an extended and surprisingly kindhearted meditation on how we grapple with major change — personal, cultural, technological and architectural.

The reason the culture has become creatively stuck, endlessly reusing our own recent past, is not only that it has become so easy for artists and consumers to call up old material. It is also because we are in the midst of a dramatic and profound digital upheaval that is remaking our personal and professional lives.

We have had a tough time moving forward in part because we haven't had a chance to make any coherent sense of what this digital revolution means culturally.

The question seems so huge and unwieldy, so existential, that it has been easier to turn our backs and find either comfort and inspiration in the newly accessible past.

This retro turn hardly kills creativity; it has produced some energetic and important work, a lot of which seems to fully inhabit and animate past styles rather than simply ape them. This is particularly true of records and novels by artists in their 20s and early 30s, digital natives who effortlessly give fresh energy to discarded or antique genres.

Think of "Days Are Gone," the addictive 2013 debut from three twentysomething sisters from the San Fernando Valley in the band Haim, which shamelessly borrows tricks from '80s pop and still manages to sound fresh. Or "The Luminaries," the Booker Prize-winning novel by Eleanor Catton, a 28-year-old New Zealand writer who mines Victorian fiction for inspiration.

In architecture, too, the ease of looking backward has made looking forward tougher or simply more rare. Younger architects are relying on historic pastiche to a degree not seen since the heyday of postmodernism in the 1980s. Consider the work of the recently disbanded London firm FAT (Fashion Architecture Taste), which in recent years rescued tongue-in-cheek historicism from the margins of architectural practice.

Or the newly opened Ace Hotel on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles; occupying the ornate 1927 United Artists tower by the firm Walker & Eisen, the hotel has interiors remade by the Los Angeles design firm Commune as a loving tribute to 1920s architecture, with nods to Rudolph Schindler, Frank Lloyd Wright and the Viennese modernist Adolf Loos.

Like "The Way Way Back," which is essentially set in the 1980s and the present day at the same time, the hotel's design scheme is comfortable mixing historical eras: Layered atop the throwback architectural details are artworks by contemporary L.A. artists, including pencil drawings on the walls by the Haas Brothers.

At a certain point, though, we are going to have to confront the growing gap between the relentless pace of innovation in the high-tech world and the ever-faster cycle of rehash and rediscovery that dominates the cultural one.

"Her" is one of the first high-profile efforts to do so. Jonze sidesteps the retro riptide that has trapped so many of his peers. And he eagerly takes on the question of what it might mean to live in an era when nearly everything is capable of being delivered (and theoretically improved) in digital form — not just newspapers, music, novels and architectural blueprints but love affairs too."
her  losangeles  future  spikejonze  2014  elizabethdiller  dystopia  utopia  cities  christopherhawthorne  retro  culture  history  architecture  design  film  lizdiller 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Harrison Bergeron - Wikipedia
""Harrison Bergeron" is a satirical and dystopian science-fiction short story written by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and first published in October 1961. Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, the story was republished in the author's Welcome to the Monkey House collection in 1968. The satire raises a serious question concerning desirability of social equality and the extent to which society is prepared to achieve it.

It is the year 2081. Because of Amendments to the Constitution, every American is fully equal, meaning that no one is smarter, better-looking, stronger, or faster than anyone else. The Handicapper General and a team of agents ensure that the laws of equality are enforced. The government forces citizens to wear "handicaps" (a mask if they are too handsome or beautiful, earphones with deafening radio signals to make intelligent people unable to concentrate and form thoughts, and heavy weights to slow down those who are too strong or fast).

One April, 14 year old Harrison Bergeron, an extremely handsome teenage genius, is taken away from his parents, George and Hazel, by the government. George and Hazel are not fully aware of the tragedy. Hazel's lack of awareness is due to "average" intelligence, which in 2081, is the politically correct way of referring to someone of well-below-average intelligence. George does not comprehend the tragedy since the law requires him to wear the radio ear piece for twenty-four hours a day because he is of above-average intelligence."
kurtvonnegut  shortstories  classideas  dystopia  equality  books  toread  srg  scifi  vonnegut 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Book of Lamentations – The New Inquiry
"If the novel has an overbearing literary influence, it’s undoubtedly Jorge Luis Borges. The American Psychiatric Association takes his technique of lifting quotes from or writing faux-serious reviews for entirely imagined books and pushes it to the limit: Here, we have an entire book, something that purports to be a kind of encyclopedia of madness, a Library of Babel for the mind, containing everything that can possibly be wrong with a human being. Perhaps as an attempt to ward off the uncommitted reader, the novel begins with a lengthy account of the system of classifications used – one with an obvious debt to the Borgesian Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, in which animals are exhaustively classified according to such sets as “those belonging to the Emperor,” “those that, at a distance, resemble flies,” and “those that are included in this classification.”

Just as Borges’s system groups animals by seemingly aleatory characteristics entirely divorced from their actual biological attributes, DSM-5 arranges its various strains of madness solely in terms of the behaviors exhibited. This is a recurring theme in the novel, while any consideration of the mind itself is entirely absent. In its place we’re given diagnoses such as “frotteurism,” “oppositional defiant disorder,” and “caffeine intoxication disorder.” That said, these classifications aren’t arranged at random; rather, they follow a stately progression comparable to that of Dante’s Divine Comedy, rising from the infernal pit of the body and its weaknesses (intellectual disabilities, motor tics) through our purgatorial interactions with the outside world (tobacco use, erectile dysfunction, kleptomania) and finally arriving in the limpid-blue heavens of our libidinal selves (delirium, personality disorders, sexual fetishism). It’s unusual, and at times frustrating in its postmodern knowingness, but what is being told is first and foremost a story."



"The idea emerges that every person’s illness is somehow their own fault, that it comes from nowhere but themselves: their genes, their addictions, and their inherent human insufficiency. We enter a strange shadow-world where for someone to engage in prostitution isn’t the result of intersecting environmental factors (gender relations, economic class, family and social relationships) but a symptom of “conduct disorder,” along with “lying, truancy, [and] running away.” A mad person is like a faulty machine. The pseudo-objective gaze only sees what they do, rather than what they think or how they feel. A person who shits on the kitchen floor because it gives them erotic pleasure and a person who shits on the kitchen floor to ward off the demons living in the cupboard are both shunted into the diagnostic category of encopresis. It’s not just that their thought-process don’t matter, it’s as if they don’t exist. The human being is a web of flesh spun over a void.



If there is a normality here, it’s a state of near-catatonia. DSM-5 seems to have no definition of happiness other than the absence of suffering. The normal individual in this book is tranquilized and bovine-eyed, mutely accepting everything in a sometimes painful world without ever feeling much in the way of anything about it. The vast absurd excesses of passion that form the raw matter of art, literature, love, and humanity are too distressing; it’s easier to stop being human altogether, to simply plod on as a heaped collection of diagnoses with a body vaguely attached."
books  literature  psychology  samkriss  borges  dsm-5  dsm  2013  disorders  dystopia  dystopianliterature  happiness  suffering  humans  via:ablerism 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Blackbar for iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation) and iPad on the iTunes App Store
"Blackbar is a text game: a sci-fi story of a dystopian future told through the medium of word puzzles. Reminiscent of text adventures and interactive fiction, it has a unique mechanic centered around the concept of censorship. Censorship is frustrating, but the human spirit can beat that frustration by turning it into a game.

You'll pick up and understand Blackbar instantly; however, its challenges will keep you searching, trying, and thinking for days."
games  ios  toplay  nevenmrgan  2013  text  sciencefiction  scifi  puzzles  dystopia  wordpuzzles  words  language  gaming 
september 2013 by robertogreco
hyperbolic.guitars.home.: On my mind
"When we go through our reasons for why we teach a discipline, we'd better have more substantial reasons than "It'll be beneficial in the future" or "You need it to get into a good college" or "It teaches thinking skills" or "Shut up and eat your broccoli". I recognize that historically, traditionally, math was sold to students in all of those ways, and with varying degrees of success. But educational history and tradition are proving poor guides to our current situation. The questions that our students will have to face are, fundamentally, unlike any ones previous generations have had to:

• What happens if/when the climate changes dramatically?

• What happens if there are no more "good jobs" for most people?

• What happens if the dystopian visions elaborated by William Gibson, Aldous Huxley, Philip K. Dick, Ray Bradbury, and many others, start to become real?

• More optimistically, what do students need to know/be able to do/figure out to be engaged, thoughtful, intelligent citizens of the world they will inherit?"
via:carwaiseto  education  teaching  math  mathematics  whyweteach  bigquestions  cv  purpose  learning  problemsolving  criticalthinking  mathinisolation  williamgibson  society  dystopia  aldoushuxley  philipkdick  raybradbury  mikethayer  2013 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Dark Materials: Reflecting on Dystopian Themes in Young Adult Literature - NYTimes.com
"Are today’s young adult novels darker in theme than in years past? What’s behind the current wave of dystopia in young adult literature? In this lesson, students reflect on some of the reasons dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories appeal to young readers by engaging in one of six different activities."
classideas  books  literature  dystopia  utopia  post-apocalyptic  youngadult  reading  from delicious
june 2011 by robertogreco
Vivek Haldar : Stallman's Dystopia
"It sounded like a ridiculous, unbelievable dystopia. It was even written like sci-fi. Of course that would never happen! Nobody would stand for this, ever, right?

But exactly what Stallman described has come to pass, with very little protest.

For example, here are the terms under which you can lend your Kindle books: books where lending is enabled by the seller, “can be loaned once for a period of 14 days.” Most other ebook stores and audio book stores have similarly restrictive policies."

[Refers to this Richard Stallman piece from 1997: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html ]
technology  books  information  activism  2011  vivekhaldar  richardstallman  sharing  law  dystopia  bookfuturism  stevenjohnson  ipad  ebooks  copying  copyright  drm  1997  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
ClubOrlov: America—The Grim Truth [A bit over the top, but there are some major truths in here, especially about the worry that results from the financial precariousness we feel as part of our system, lack of social safety net]
"Americans, I have some bad news for you:

You have the worst quality of life in the developed world—by a wide margin.

If you had any idea of how people really lived in Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and many parts of Asia, you’d be rioting in the streets calling for a better life. In fact, the average Australian or Singaporean taxi driver has a much better standard of living than the typical American white-collar worker.

I know this because I am an American, and I escaped from the prison you call home.

I have lived all around the world, in wealthy countries and poor ones, and there is only one country I would never consider living in again: The United States of America. The mere thought of it fills me with dread.

Consider this…"
politics  collapse  us  economics  health  healthcare  expats  2010  via:mathowie  finance  well-being  qualityoflife  food  pharmaceuticals  work  balance  australia  fragmentation  teaparty  immigration  emmigration  canada  newzealand  japan  europe  comparison  middleeast  guns  safety  society  fear  dystopia  unemployment  decline  oil  peakoil  grimfutures  change  policy  freedom  germany  finland  italy  france  scandinavia  singlepayerhealthsystem  government  socialsafetynet  bankruptcy  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
The Dark Side of Young Adult Fiction - Room for Debate - NYTimes.com
"If you were in the market this season for a book that would appeal to a teenager, you probably noticed that the young adult sections in bookstores and on bestsellers lists were filled with titles bearing dark and scary themes.<br />
Whether it's Suzanne Collins's "The Hunger Games" trilogy or James Paterson's "Maximum Ride" series, the popularity of post-apocalyptic fiction doesn't seem to be abating.<br />
Why do bestselling young adult novels seem darker in theme now than in past years? What's behind this dystopian trend, and why is there so much demand for it?"
teaching  books  fiction  nytimes  dystopia  pessimism  scottwesterfeld  paolobacigalupi  jayparini  andrewclements  lisarowefraustino  michelleannabate  yaliterature  trends  post-apocalyptic  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Welcome To The Soft Apocalypse - Books - io9
"By now, the apocalypse story – which goes back at least as far as the ancient Hebrews – has fractured into numerous sub-genres. Our favorite, these days, is the soft apocalypse, where the end has come but life goes on." Also: http://www.tor.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=blog&id=58054 AND http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2009/nov/25/cosy-catastrophe-fiction AND http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2010/01/the-soft-apocalypse-genre/
scifi  2010  apocalypse  catastrophe  softapocalypse  dystopia  books  novels  sciencefiction  io9 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Amusing Ourselves to Death by Stuart McMillen - cartoon Recombinant Records
"Orwell feared the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance."
aldoushuxley  georgeorwell  technology  society  culture  future  art  philosophy  government  literature  comics  entertainment  dystopia  books  history  politics  us  tcsnmy  social  media  world  neilpostman  via:kottke 
august 2009 by robertogreco
Rossignol » Thrilling Wonder Stories
"The rocketship wonder of earlier decades is gone, and our children write dystopias by default: a fascinating, terrifying realisation. He seemed rather earthy and upbeat, and talked of how problems mean invention, and creativity, but I couldn’t help think about a generation of kids for whom there is no bright imagined future: only Bladerunner, eco-death, the Drowned World, apocalypse. MacLeod talked about the problems for idealistic sci-fi now, and I wonder if there was something about the hip nihilism of modern fantasy, combined with relentless terror-cancer newsmedia shit, that really will stop future generations bothering to climb out of their doomed shrug." ... "The whole thing was stamped, perhaps imperceptibly to everyone else, with a motto I come back to - paraphrasing Richard Rorty - which is: “anything can be redescribed”. Sometimes, a new description is all you need."
design  archigram  architecture  fiction  simulation  speculation  jgballard  pessimism  sciencefiction  scifi  optimism  narrative  representation  writing  futurism  future  tcsnmy  dystopia  utopia  jimrossignol  wonder  children  simulations 
may 2009 by robertogreco
FT.com / Weekend / Reportage - The travails of Detroit
"Instead, Michiganders, despite being self-deprecating to a fault, make a point their countrymen won’t want to hear: Detroit is no longer the nation’s worst-case scenario, but on its leading edge, the proverbial canary in the coal mine. “It’s like the rest of the country is getting to where Detroit has been,” said Peter De Lorenzo, who writes the acerbic and very funny Autoextremist.com blog. That means that smug mock-horror is no longer the appropriate reaction to the frozen corpse. Instead, get ready for a shock of recognition."
detroit  urban  urbanplanning  decay  politics  economics  cities  health  crisis  collapse  us  future  dystopia  autoindustry 
march 2009 by robertogreco
How are you coping with collapse-anxiety? - Boing Boing
"Like everyone, I'm starting to freak out a little about the state of the economy. Many of my good friends are out of work -- and some of them have been out of work for a longer period than I would have thought possible. It seems like every day, I pass another closed store or cafe on my way to the office. And of course, the suggestion file here at Boing Boing is full of stories of the collapsing property bubble in Dubai, the implosion of the South Chinese manufacturing cities, and a million indicators, large and small, of a crisis that is global, deep and worsening.
2009  economics  collapse  crisis  dystopia  banking  finance  corydoctorow  discussion  boingboing  fear  anxiety  society  optimism  pessimism 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Earthrise Now Accepting Beta Applicants | Game | Life from Wired.com
"The upcoming sci-fi MMO Earthrise has just begun accepting applicants for beta testing, according to a news blurb on the game's official site. Though it may not have the cachet of Champions Online, Earthrise is one of my most anticipated upcoming online games simply by virtue of its gorgeous art style. Everything I've seen so far perfectly balances dystopian and futuristic in a really appealing way."
games  gaming  earthrise  mmo  dystopia  future 
january 2009 by robertogreco
TNH FTW! A final post and a question for you. - Boing Boing
"what do you think you know about the future that few other people understand yet? What's going to happen in the next five years or so that will catch most of the rest of us by surprise, but not you?" See the comments (spotty as they may be), including this one: "I think the college system will collapse. I'm right in the middle of it now, and dorm life was never meant to be lived on this scale, or for this length of time. Fewer people are finishing in four years, and colleges building "upscale" dorms set absurd residency requirements just so they can make their money back. ... Schools are becoming financial institutions, and students are being driven into the psych floors of hospitals in alarming numbers because of it. To the schooling business, we're livestock, not learners. We are market statistics and target demographics. We are profit margins. And someday, we're going to realize our degrees were cheapened by their yuppy greed."
predictions  clayshirky  boingboing  colleges  universities  dystopia  future  futurism 
december 2008 by robertogreco
Feral cities - The New Strategic Environment | Naval War College Review | Find Articles at BNET
" The putative "feral city" is (or would be) a metropolis with a population of more than a million people in a state the government of which has lost the ability to maintain the rule of law within the city's boundaries yet remains a functioning actor in the greater international system...social services are all but nonexistent, and the vast majority of the city's occupants have no access to even the most basic health or security assistance. There is no social safety net. Human security is for the most part a matter of individual initiative. Yet a feral city does not descend into complete, random chaos..."
urbanism  ruins  sciencefiction  scifi  urban  cities  population  future  politics  economics  culture  military  terrorism  law  dystopia 
december 2008 by robertogreco
Kevin Kelly -- The Technium - The Missing Near Future
"We have no story of progress that fits in the next century...no vision of 50 years hence that billions of people on earth would say, yes, that is what I want. Billions of people in the developing world know what they want tomorrow: clean water, free education, self-governance, cheap consumer goods, & hope for their kids. But beyond that, what? What do the billion in developed nations want? A clean environment & opportunities for meaningful work & ……? ... there is a moral imperative to articulate our path towards something better. Not to leave it a vague post-modernist muddle. Not to shirk from the complexity & realities of costs. And not even to expect everyone to consent. I don’t know if it is possible. It may be as the postmodernists insist: a vision relegated to the past. But I think we’ll behave better to each other, & towards future generations, if we can tease out a scenario of near-future progress for 8 billion humans & our uncountable natural co-inhabitants on this planet."
future  nearfuture  technology  progress  dystopia  society  development  scifi  futurism  sciencefiction 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Disaster: Post-Apocalyptic Housing that Doesn't Look Like Bunkers
"After a massive earthquake hit central China in May, the government pledged to create 1.5 million temporary homes for people whose houses had been destroyed. Designer Ming Tang came up with the idea to create some of these shelters out of bamboo crafted in collapsible, geometric shapes. Each home can be reconfigured quickly and moved vast distances efficiently. You can see more of his ideas for how these light, temporary homes might deployed in the next disaster. Inspired by origami, these designs highlight the way a simple set of bamboo structures can be assembled in many ways and then covered over with tarp or other tent material to create a simple, effective shelter that could house families and groups of varying sizes."
architecture  design  dystopia  post-apocalyptic  homes  housing  origami  sciencefiction  scifi 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Frieze Magazine | Editors' Blog | A Change of Scenery
"Danish art, architecture and engineering group N55 are currently displaying their latest proposal for future living on the streets of Cambridge. Walking House, commissioned by Wysing Arts, is a living capsule that is able to move itself around, roughly at the same speed as a human might walk or, say, flood levels might rise. Indeed the group envisage a dystopic future in which nomadism is not a lifestyle preference, but a necessity brought on by unstable and treacherous environmental conditions."

[See also: http://www.n55.dk/MANUALS/WALKINGHOUSE/walkinghouse.html ]
nomads  mobility  climatechange  dystopia  architecture  design  walkingcity  homes  housing  kinetic  neo-nomads 
october 2008 by robertogreco
What Is the Future of Suburbia? A Freakonomics Quorum - Freakonomics - Opinion - New York Times Blog
"Several months ago, we ran a quorum here about urbanization, pegged to the fact that more than half of the world’s population now lives in cities. Given the economic changes of the past several months, particularly those in the housing market and in energy prices, it seemed like a good idea to run a new quorum on suburbia, even if it might cover some of the same ground. So we gathered up a group of smart people — James Kunstler, Thomas Antus, Jan Brueckner, Gary Gates, John Archer, Alan Berube, and Lawrence Levy — and asked them the following: What will U.S. suburbs look like in 40 years?"
suburbia  suburbs  future  us  urban  urbanism  demographics  housing  society  cities  planning  dystopia 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Tokyo Fantasy: Images of the apocalypse ::: Pink Tentacle
"These fantastic photoshopped images by Tokyo Genso (Tokyo Fantasy) show a post-apocalyptic Tokyo overtaken by nature."
japan  illustration  scifi  tokyo  fantasy  worldwithoutus  urbandecay  ecotopia  dystopia 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Sweet Juniper! - It will rise from the ashes [on the photos of the abandoned Detroit Public Schools Book Depository]
"Can decay be something more than sentimental? Can it ever be beautiful? Can it just be respected for what it is, and not further corrupted by our emotions? And what is it that draws us to ruination? Why do some of us find it so compelling?"
urbandecay  detroit  education  books  government  history  photography  urbanism  urban  urbanexploration  urbanprairie  decay  architecture  archaeology  dystopia  exploration  schools  publishing 
june 2008 by robertogreco
William Gibson Interview: William Gibson Talks to io9 About Canada, Draft Dodging, and Godzilla
"Having that experience in a small town made me happiest in big cities. Especially in radically multicultural big cities – as far as you can get from monoculture....where people are generally not even of recognizable ethic derivations. I'm into hybrid v
scifi  books  writing  interviews  williamgibson  cities  dystopia  cyberpunk  fiction  canada  history  literature  novels  privacy  sciencefiction 
june 2008 by robertogreco
YouTube - Trailer for World Made by Hand novel by Kunstler
"In his first book since "The Long Emergency," James Howard Kunstler follows the people of a small New York town through an eventful summer, as they struggle with life after a series of global catastrophes."
jameshowardkunstler  dystopia  peakoil  future  futurism  books  fiction 
june 2008 by robertogreco
The Next Slum?
"The subprime crisis is just the tip of the iceberg. Fundamental changes in American life may turn today’s McMansions into tomorrow’s tenements."
us  architecture  housingbubble  capitalism  bubble  housing  recession  slums  sociology  subprime  suburban  suburbia  suburbs  sustainability  theatlantic  economics  realestate  urbanism  walking  transportation  urban  mortgages  demographics  future  green  cities  crime  culture  planning  politics  poverty  property  dystopia  neighborhoods  collapse  environment 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Chart: When The Economy Booms, Dystopias Rule
"We charted number of dystopian movies in US for each of last 30 years against economic downturns, found dystopian movies are counter-cyclical...do best when economy is booming...fall in the number of dystopian movies may predict a recession."
scifi  sciencefiction  dystopia  culture  economics 
february 2008 by robertogreco
JOHO -February 4, 2008 - Is the Web Different?
"The present is always right about itself but — in times of disruption — essentially wrong about the future. That's why we need to flood the field with utopians so we can be right often enough that we build the best future we can."
via:preoccupations  future  web  online  technology  change  progress  utopia  dystopia  time  society  disruption 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Conceptual Trends and Current Topics - Doomsday Art [Cloverfield Review]
"If I were to repeat it, I know how I'd like it. The ideal way to distribute this film would be to hand someone a camcorder tape and say, "Here, watch this." The ideal screen to see it on is the tiny preview screen on a video cam corder."
art  film  media  narrative  video  doomsday  dystopia  cloverfield  jjabrams  kevinkelly  doomsaday 
january 2008 by robertogreco
The Right to Read - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation (FSF)
"School policy was that any interference with their means of monitoring students' computer use was grounds for disciplinary action. It didn't matter whether you did anything harmful—the offense was making it hard for the administrators to check on you."
books  commons  rights  freedom  law  copyright  politics  privacy  sciencefiction  scifi  literature  ebooks  kindle  economics  surveillance  stories  fiction  education  schools  society  philosophy  opensource  gnu  software  drm  dystopia  Linux  licensing  writing  technology  internet  richardstallman 
november 2007 by robertogreco
The End of Oil is Upon Us. We Must Move On - Quickly. | Autopia from Wired.com
"If there are any lingering doubts as to whether the age of oil is nearing its end, the International Energy Agency has put them to rest and made it clear that only a massive and immediate investment in sustainable energy will prevent a global crisis."
globalwarming  green  sustainability  environment  oil  peakoil  economics  energy  security  resources  dystopia  future  global  urbanism  utopia  wind  solar 
november 2007 by robertogreco
globeandmail.com: An optimist with a bleak side
"Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron didn't want Children of Men to be all doom and gloom. But he did want his new film to send a powerful warning"
film  future  dystopia  human  life  sustainability  earth  world  sciencefiction  scifi  mexico  uk 
december 2006 by robertogreco

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