Ramblings & ephemera

Umberto Eco on books

From Umberto Eco’s “Vegetal and mineral memory: The future of books” (Al-Ahram Weekly: 20—26 November 2003): Libraries, over the centuries, have been the most important way of keeping our collective wisdom. They were and still are a sort of universal brain where we can retrieve what we have forgotten and what we still do not […]

Philip Larkin on achieving happiness

From Robert Phillips’s interview of Philip Larkin in “The Art of Poetry No. 30” (The Paris Review: Summer 1982, No. 84): INTERVIEWER Do you feel happiness is unlikely in this world? LARKIN Well, I think if you’re in good health, and have enough money, and nothing is bothering you in the foreseeable future, that’s as […]

Ray Bradbury on science fiction

From Sam Weller’s interview of Ray Bradbury in “The Art of Fiction No. 203” (The Paris Review: Spring 2010, No. 192): Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn’t exist yet, but soon will, and will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again. As soon as […]

William Burroughs on the necessary changes in biology

From Conrad Knickerbocker’s interview of William S. Burroughs in “The Art of Fiction No. 36” (The Paris Review: Fall 1965, No. 35): Science eventually will be forced to establish courts of biologic mediation, because life-forms are going to become more incompatible with the conditions of existence as man penetrates further into space. Mankind will have […]

The future of news as shown by the 2008 election

From Steven Berlin Johnson’s “Old Growth Media And The Future Of News” (StevenBerlinJohnson.com: 14 March 2009): The first Presidential election that I followed in an obsessive way was the 1992 election that Clinton won. I was as compulsive a news junkie about that campaign as I was about the Mac in college: every day the […]

A homogenized religion for America in the 21st century

From Damon Linker’s “The Future of Christian America” (The New Republic: 7 April 2009): hat will provide the theological content of the nation’s civil religion now that the “mere orthodoxy” of the evangelical-Catholic alliance has proven unsuitable for a pluralistic nation of 300 million people? To my mind, the most likely and salutary option is […]

The future of TV is the Internet

From Paul Graham’s “Why TV Lost” (Paul Graham: March 2009): About twenty years ago people noticed computers and TV were on a collision course and started to speculate about what they’d produce when they converged. We now know the answer: computers. It’s clear now that even by using the word “convergence” we were giving TV […]

The future of security

From Bruce Schneier’s “Security in Ten Years” (Crypto-Gram: 15 December 2007): Bruce Schneier: … The nature of the attacks will be different: the targets, tactics and results. Security is both a trade-off and an arms race, a balance between attacker and defender, and changes in technology upset that balance. Technology might make one particular tactic […]

A one-way ticket to crazyville

Image by rsgranne via Flickr Image by rsgranne via Flickr Image by rsgranne via Flickr From Dave Alan’s “Interview with Alex Christopher” (Leading Edge Research Group: 1 June 1996): Legend: DA [Dave Alan, Host] AC: [Alex Christopher] C: [Caller] … (Note: according to former British Intelligence agent Dr. John Coleman, the London-based Wicca Mason lodges […]

Bruce Schneier on wholesale, constant surveillance

From Stephen J. Dubner’s interview with Bruce Schneier in “Bruce Schneier Blazes Through Your Questions” (The New York Times: 4 December 2007): There’s a huge difference between nosy neighbors and cameras. Cameras are everywhere. Cameras are always on. Cameras have perfect memory. It’s not the surveillance we’ve been used to; it’s wholesale surveillance. I wrote […]

Tracking children who might commit a crime later

From Mark Townsend and Anushka Asthana’s “Put young children on DNA list, urge police” (The Guardian: 16 March 2008): Primary school children should be eligible for the DNA database if they exhibit behaviour indicating they may become criminals in later life, according to Britain’s most senior police forensics expert. Gary Pugh, director of forensic sciences […]

Like music, authors will make more money from personal appearances

From Douglas Rushkoff’s response to R.U. Sirius’ “Is The Net Good For Writers?” (10 Zen Monkeys: 5 October 2007): But I think many writers – even good ones – will have to accept the fact that books can be loss-leaders or break-even propositions in a highly mediated world where showing up in person generates the […]

The Internet makes (sloppy) writers of nearly everyone

From Adam Parfrey’s response to R.U. Sirius’ “Is The Net Good For Writers?” (10 Zen Monkeys: 5 October 2007): I like the internet and computers for their ability to make writers of nearly everyone. I don’t like the internet and computers for their ability to make sloppy and thoughtless writers of nearly everyone.

The shift from interior to exterior lives

From Mark Dery’s response to R.U. Sirius’ “Is The Net Good For Writers?” (10 Zen Monkeys: 5 October 2007): But we live in times of chaos and complexity, and the future of writing and reading is deeply uncertain. Reading and writing are solitary activities. The web enables us to write in public and, maybe one […]

Spimes, objects trackable in space and time

From Bruce Sterling’s “Viridian Note 00459: Emerging Technology 2006” (The Viridian Design Movement: March 2006): When it comes to remote technical eventualities, you don’t want to freeze the language too early. Instead, you need some empirical evidence on the ground, some working prototypes, something commercial, governmental, academic or military…. Otherwise you are trying to freeze […]

Imagining a future of warring balloons

From Tom Reiss’s “Imagining the Worst: How a literary genre anticipated the modern world” (The New Yorker [28 November 2005]: 108): … the first mini-boom in invasion fiction began in the seventeen-eighties, when the French developed the hot-air balloon. Soon, French poems and plays were depicting hot-air-propelled flying armies destined for England, and an American […]

America, the failed state

From Noam Chomsky’s “Why It’s Over For America” (The Independent: 30 May 2006): … the fear, which cannot casually be put aside, that, as Gar Alperowitz puts it in America Beyond Capitalism, “the American ‘system’ as a whole is in real trouble – that it is heading in a direction that spells the end of […]

Ben Jones on primal fears

From Ben Jones’ Benblog: I wonder if, the same way we possibly have a residual ancestral memory of snakes eating early hominids that makes certain people fearful of snakes, if the inexplicable fear that some of us have for clowns and realistic dolls and marionettes and that horror of horror a realistic looking clown marionette, […]

Feral cities of the future

From Richard J. Norton’s “Feral cities – The New Strategic Environment” (Naval War College Review: Autumn, 2003): Imagine a great metropolis covering hundreds of square miles. Once a vital component in a national economy, this sprawling urban environment is now a vast collection of blighted buildings, an immense petri dish of both ancient and new […]