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Bruce sterling’s reality check

July 14, 2009

Bruce Sterling gave the closing address at Reboot 11 where he talked about our future that won’t follow the patterns of the C20th.

According to Sterling, the coming future does not look or act like any future we’ve previously thought about.

This new future is being defined by new theory which he shares with William Gibson called ‘a-temporality” (which he describes as steam-punk with metaphysics).

His view of the future is darkly labeled “transition to nowhere”; no more booms and bad weather.

He identifies 4 future quadrants…

Crisis Capitalism: Boomers getting old and not getting out of the way- detached from getting anything done.

(BRICS-minus Russia) Brazil, India, China: Emerging to nowhere- just globalizing.

Shock of the Old: Fundamentalism-don’t change anything-no policy -transform things only to ruin.

Reboot In Power:
Generation X running things.

“Dark Euphoria”
is how he describes the cultural flavor of the twenty-teens period, which is like the excitement of falling to earth, but discovering there’s no earth there.

Sterling’s future comes in two flavors;

Gothic Hi-Tech: Steve Jobs creates something brilliant, but you have to suffer from health problems. He places Obama and Sarkozy in the same camp as people who position themselves in the narrative, rather than building any permanent infrastructure, they are “cheerleaders” not “leaders”.

At the other end is..

Favela Chic: You have lost everything material, no job or prospects, but you are wired to the gills and really big on Facebook.

According to Sterling, the best way forward for individuals is to think about the the things they own and ensure they have the best everyday objects like your bed, desk chair, good shoes and to get rid of the things you never touch like old exercise equipment and tuxedos. 

Sterling suggests that it’s possible to get to fewer things by auditing what you own into four groups;beautiful things (is it beautiful?), emotionally important things (is it something you going to tell anyone about- does it have a narrative?), tools and devices that perform some useful function (no inferior tools- no beta roll out crap- don’t be enslaved) and everything else (get rid of it- probably 80% of everything you have).

Posted by Ed Cotton

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