I'm a hacker and wannabe writer interested in how technology is portrayed in culture and how that affects us.
Is the current popularity of dystopias really caused by a future shock? Can we promote positive futures by changing the narrative and making technology human-centered?
Two years ago I started a project to address that with stories: https://glider.ink/ . I realized I need to learn a lot about writing, and now I'm recovering from the initial burnout.
@alxd Great work!
That was probably me :)
@alxd This is fascinating. I will look at it more closely as soon as I have time. This is old-school cyberpunk talk, and I am *into it*.
@orionkidder this is rather what cyberpunk could have evolved into, but stopped because everyone got drunk on the aesthetic.
I want to step outside of the basement and show the world in the light of day, where people have lives and goals outside of "smashing the state", or "planning a run", and yet still use and shape the tech around them.
@alxd Fair critique. I recall Sterling (?) saying something about a generation of generic SF "tarted up in leather and chrome." Gross sexism aside, he had a point. That said, the lofty ideals of cyberpunk might never have existed when Gibson, no radical, is the face of the style and Sterling, a radical, was also prone to that kind of masculine posturing.
@orionkidder I'd love to come back to that tomorrow, right now I'm about to fall asleep :)
Could I ask you to send me an email?
@alxd (I should say, I still think Gibson is a gifted observer who extrapolates the present into futures that often constitute dire warnings. It's just that I don't think he's ultimately advocating for a radical present. SPOOK COUNTRY contains some real nostalgia for a time when "adults were in charge" in America. Wen that could possibly have been, I cannot say.)
@orionkidder It doesn't need to be a time, it can be a "yesterday's tomorrow" or a "yesterday's dream".
I really like Gibson's "Pattern Recognition" and would like to hit something similar when it comes to the level of realism.
@alxd Oh sure. That's how nostalgia works. It's phrased as a bygone era, but it was never really true.
Pattern Recognition is a great book! I heard him talk in Edmonton once, and he said he wanted to see if he could write a "William Gibson novel" set in the present, with all the extrapolations and social commentaries intact. The Blue Ant books really do that, showing us our world from his point of view.
@orionkidder back to the topic:
I see several narratives / philosophies which evolved from #cyberpunk:
#postcyberpunk "yeah, we will be ruled by the corporations and the technology will be driven by the Progress, but we can still be the humans"
#SiliconValley: (and Bay Area) We are the Progress, There Is Only One Way - Our Way, Progress Is Unstoppable, To Oppose Us Is To Oppose The Future, We Have Things You Dont Know You Need, We Need Your Data To Cure Cancer
#solarpunk is trying to find some footing there and I thing the first manifestos were perfect, putting the emphasis on the communities outside of the West, focusing the culture and technology on the people's needs. It started as a humanist movement.
Later it evolved into... some kind of aesthetic-obsessed genre, with a lot people worshipping the notion of being "green" and #burningman -like festivals
The problem of " #solarpunk has no conflicts in its scope" is one of the most important. It should be FULL of conflicts, of new ways to solve them and organize to discuss them. It should be about very different communities with varied goals and ideas trying to find a common ground without forming a hierarchy.
Otherwise it's less than a fairy tale - those teach us something - it's a kitsch postcard with a badly photoshopped sunset.
@alxd @orionkidder #solarpunk is more than an utopian postcard when people act according to it. Lot's of this is happening around #ecoanarchist struggles like in #hambacherForst - very interesting to see people play around with DIY renewable energies, camp life, tree occupations, and communal living without hierarchies.
@alxd As a self-professing hacker, I think it's great that you're trying to change the public perception of what we do.
People are very surprised when I call myself a hacker, then I explain to them that I enjoy helping people fix their computers, play around with VMs incessantly, and compete in CTFs. It never crossed their minds that most hackers aren't thugs with keyboards.
Right mow I use my friend researcher's definition of a hacker: someone who opens black boxes.
I dont take part in CTFs myself, but I teach basic cybersecurity at schools, create open journal neuroscientific research in Jupyter and try writing about the most fascinating black box openers out there.
I even have slides about who is a hacker:
@alxd I find it interesting that even in non-English literature, technical terms are still written in English. It is similar to how many musical terms used by English speakers are actually Italian.
@alxd When technology is the centerpiece of a story the natural assumption is to weave it into the narrative's conflict. If our characters live in a future with a robot government, the robots will become the source of antagonism.
One way around this could be to create stories that take place in an interesting technological future where conflict happens between residents of the world instead of against the world itself. The tech then supports the protagonist instead of instigating her.