Being a pedestrian in certain parts of a city, those places where transportation meets shipping, is to feel displaced by architecture that has no relation to you. Highways arch overhead, fluid with insectile steel, cranes move product onto ships, or build themselves cocoons of glass with the patience of plants. There is no human scale here. You are an afterthought to vast Petroleum Archons who built infrastructure for themselves, and not for you. Humans are relegated into containers, or seek shelter against the flanks of great concrete beasts who are too huge to register them, like ticks on a rhino. This must have been what it was like to be a mammal, just before the asteroid came, only this time it’s been reversed, and just as the dinosaurs became crocodiles and chickens, the humans will eventually evolve into something smaller and more docile, as they give way to the dominant species.
Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Fanfare For The Common Man :: I grew up on these guys, so this is partly nostalgia, but, the image of this three piece British band doing a massive 70s synth interpretation of an American composer’s piece written for the entry of the Americans into WWII, to an enormous, obviously freezing and completely empty stadium is pretty resonant for me. Sadly this is not one of the performances where Keith Emerson tries to destroy his synths with knives or leaps over them to percussively short them out, but he did that too.
Grails - Stray Dog :: I’ve been getting into Nonstandard Banjo Methodology recently. I really love this track, and wasn’t quite sure why. Then the other day I realized that the banjo bit hits This part of my brain, which will only be meaningful to Nerds of a certain period who grew up in a fiction of British Sci Fi.
Also my new favorite youtube game is counting how many comments on a piece of music before someone claims that it’s Sandstorm.
So I says to twitter I says:
Steen @mediapathic · Sep 8 Oops. Just wrote a 101 word short story. What the hell do I do with that?
The responses I got were evenly divided between “put it in your newsletter” and “put it on your livejournal.” Smartasses.
It’s not even a ‘story’, in any real sense, it was just a little thing that was inspired by a tweet that Howard Rheingold retweeted, which is reproduced after, so as not to spoil.
Like. Like. Upvote. Friend.
FreenDawg63 said “Just look at these cute kitties!” Upvote.
MassSpec50 said “Single ladies in your area require attention!” Downvote.
QuarterHalf60 said “Check out this new algorithm for more efficient data throughput!” Like. Favorite.
DawkKnig886 said “You won’t believe this new Markov chaining technique!” Upvote.
Friend. Friend. Like. Like. Like.
FrescUff376 said “Humanity perfected germ warfare: You won’t believe what happened next!” Like.
GeenBlu78 said: “10 Human communities that are still holding out – without electricity!” Like.
UX0157 likes your comment “since the Purge, the net has been so much better.”
And the tweet that launched it:
suZombie06 @suZombie06 · Sep 8 If everyone…died simultaneously, the Internet would be comprised entirely of bots posting, liking and upvoting each other. @hrheingold
One of Dan Hon’s newsletters this week was, among other things, about “WATCH; BERG”, and those are the two poles of where I am right now as regards the Tech Industry.
A lot of people have said way more useful things about the BERG closing than I could. Most notably, Warren wrote this… and, shit, I look at the one after that and realize he’s already covered what I wanted to say here. The WATCH and BERG, the two all-caps poles of where we are today, and how it feels (to me, at least) like the kind of Zombie Jobs design of WATCH and how that’s the new norm is the inverse of the wonder and brilliance that BERG represented.
I do want to add this, though: for a certain period of time, for a certain class of autodidactic generalists like myself, there were a few places where we dreamed that if we were just Awesome enough, the Smart Fairies would come fluttering down from the internet and say “hey, we don’t care that you don’t know where you’re going with these great ideas, come get paid to be Awesome with us.” Places where, from the outside, it just looked like a jolly clubhouse of brilliant people who just formed a critical mass (to blatantly steal Warren’s metaphor) and amazing things happened. The tops of that list, for me, were always MIT Media Lab and BERG.
Which is of course a huge disservice to those groups, because the focus that isn’t obvious from the outside is what made them into functional units rather than the constantly shifting wankfests who tried to be that and whose names we don’t even remember now. But it was a nice fiction to tell yourself when you were tweaking pixels at 4 am while recording audio of the EM coming off a giant CRT through a badly shielded radio and watching feeds of security cameras around the world– hey, maybe someday I’ll find a way for this to all mean something.
Now, of course, the map has imploded, capitalism has turned its bleary eye to us, and it’s not enough to be just brilliant anymore, not and make a living at it. Not that it ever was, but there was a brief period, there, where it felt like the Internet was a liminal space somehow detached from the world, and the passing of BERG, for me, is one of the higher islands sinking under that rising tide. So, thank you, BERG, for that. You helped me through a lot of agonizing self-doubt, just by being awesome. And here’s to hoping that your constituent particles will act as seed crystals in farther corners of this drowning world.
Still churning on the Novel, it’s undergoing a major restructuring which I’ll probably talk about in excessive detail later. They say you have to write several novels before you have one that’s worth publishing; does it count if you continually rework the one over and over?
Also been thinking about ways of trying to make a living doing this writing thing. My amazing artist friend Trista and I have been mulling a collaboration that we’re thinking doing on patreon, and you’ll be hearing more about that as we start to unwrap it. A conversation with Eliza led me to thinking about how novels used to be serialized, and we now are in a position again to play with that. I’ll probably not be doing that with the current novel, because the structure seems the wrong fit, but it’s something I want to mess with soon. So if I can ever get this one to the point where I can feel it’s done that’ll likely be the next one.
And that’s gone 1k and change. Remember, I would always love to hear from you if you have anything to say, and I would love to hear from your friends when you share this newsletter with them hint hint.
Stay frosty, and keep your powder dry.
You just read issue #8 of Fractal Interpolation. You can also browse the full archives of this newsletter.