04 janvier 2004

:: Bruce Sterling

The 2004 Bruce Sterling State of the World Address:
"In the case of the American policy, the manual is supposed to be the Constitution. It gets kinda spooky when power-players in the USA decide to no longer read it.
I'm very interested indeed in smart-mobs, but a mob isn't a democracy, no matter how much hardware its members may be carrying or how clever they get at deploying it.
Woodstock is unexpected, delightful and surprising, because nobody expected it and there are huge raw energies there. Altamont comes to grief. It's like a principle.


I'm gonna believe in the Internet as a true-blue 'platform for democracy' when a bunch of people go start some new settlement, using the Internet first, and then a town *grows up around that.*
It's like the apotheosis of the 'smart house,' which isn't a normal house with some wiring and chips strung through it, but a place specifically built to shelter the network.
A functional polity needs a social infrastructure. Government requires things like separation of powers, balance of powers, consent of the governed, rules of order for debate. It needs civility. Its institutions have to command public credibility. It helps a lot if they've been around a while and their workings are open and obvious. The Internet has been around a while but it's conspicuously lacking in those other things.
I'm glad that major candidates are understanding that the web is around, and I'm all for Thomas Paine getting a few sentiments off his chest. Radio used to have much the same political role, when it was shiny new and sexy in the 1930s. Radio is technology, not a political panacea. Roosevelt was great at radio, but so were Goebbels, Huey Long, Father Coughlin and Mussolini. Those particular struggles weren't resolved by building better vacuum tubes.
Radio is still around, and we don't have highly advanced, highly democratic radio now. We've got awful radio."

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