Bruce Sterling on the State of the World 2020

Right now at The WELL, Bruce Sterling is in online conversation. As you would expect, his remarks, updated daily for this week and probably a few more days, touch on numerous subjects directly relevant to these NGI discussions here.

Here is the link: The WELL: State of the World 2020: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky


I would port it over here, but that would not be permissible. Seriously, though - much food for thought there as we try to see and create our way into a real internet of humans.

So far he has been talking about the new world oligarchy, the maker movement, and - todays’ news - shutting down their Casa Jasmina in Torino on January 15.

His comments about makers and making are relevant to some of the talk going on here.

Thanks for the reminder, John. Wow, Bruce really is on fire.

You mean like this recent post over there…

"Then there’s other people’s post-Westphalian land-grab problems,
occupied Palestine, Golan Heights, Kosovo… and endlessly ‘failed
states’ like Congo, Yemen, Afghanistan…. If you add in the
possibility of waves of refugees, due to ethnic
purges, or rising seas, in a planetary landscape that’s physically
unstable from climate change, you might be looking at a 22nd century
where national walls and borders are physically unworkable. The
nation-state system, of staking out the acreage with gates and
barbed wire, has to be abandoned like the Maginot Line. You end
up with a different, novel, planetary security order, as in: what
mercenary army do you pay mafia protection to, and are you on
somebody’s belt-and-road trading system…

A situation where nobody obeys nation-states any more, they’re
archaic, and you’ve got an oligarchic situation that looks more like
Dark Age Italian city-states. Not any post-national ‘world
government,’ but a pulverized world that’s got some networked
patches of high-tech governance on it, here and there, with vast
barbarian hordes of AirBnB nomads."

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maybe ask @bruces if he would mind?

I think a teaser quote here and there is fair use. Hopefully it sends people over to join in the fun.

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Hmm. I sent an email to to ask a question on Jan 12th, but it seems to have fallen through the cracks. @johncoate, do you have any traction left with admin?

The mail said:

(I may be a bit late to the party, in this case… apology)

I enjoyed the broad, grim sweep of Bruce’s “everywhere is kind of the same” in Posts 5 to 7. But I wonder: where does that leave the European Union? That’s the one polity that can never go ethno-nationalist, not without completely disintegrating. I live in Brussels, with maybe half a foot in the Eurosphere. From where I stand I can see the EU shudder and lurch, but to be honest I have no idea where all this is going. The EU does seem to have a chance to do something completely different – almost an obligation to do so, just by sheer inertia in a world that has suddenly changed its direction. The buzzwords are getting weirder (“Green EU Deal”, “Internet of Humans”), and von der Leyen is still mostly an unknown quantity.

Any intuition to share from you guys?

Thanks, keep up the good work!

I can ask jonl about it and their progress.

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Bruce provided a link to this Wired column that at least suggests there are people in the USA who think there needs to be a next generation internet too, although the writer doesn’t use that term.

It’s just that it becomes more clear over time that this tech wonderland we all have created and use needs a reboot, this time with values, or as the writer says, looking at what can go wrong instead of just looking at how wonderful one’s new tech creation is…

Though Bruce goes on to make some astute comments about the subject, pointing out that big tech companies are hardly the only bad players out there. “When you look around, obviously the other major industries are just as bad or worse than Big Tech is. Other big American industries are not moral exemplars of corporate good-citizenship and kindness to the user-base. The US has become a crooked country, and its industries look and act crooked.”

Go here for more. It really is worth your time: