Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

24 Jan 2003, 18:09 p.m.

I would actually watch Mr. Sterling, a new NBC drama best…

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2003 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

I would actually watch Mr. Sterling, a new NBC drama best described as The West Wing on Capitol Hill, were it to star Bruce Sterling. A few nights ago I met, conversed with, and listened to Bruce Sterling when he spoke at Cody's Books. He just wrote a book of blatant futurism, Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next Fifty Years. (You can find it in Aisle 8 at Cody's, New Social Sciences and Humanities, despite Sterling's pronouncement that "the future is a form of history that happens to be in the future rather than the past," which would place it in Aisle 1, New History and Politics.)

Sterling read a very funny excerpt comparing vendor-customer relationships to romantic relationships, especially with reference to vendor techniques to snare customers. I recommend it.

He said all sorts of interesting things in the Q&A period, predicting that a really effective global civil society would look "kind of like Al Quaeda, only not murderous," and that [liberal paraphrase] fetal-control technology will be hot.

He dismissed a questioner's optimism/pessimism paradigm, noting that futurism is about looking into one's own grave, an endeavor best performed without optimism or pessimism. His words: "Mr. Sterling, you're going to be mouldering in your grave for about 13, 14 billion years before the universe implodes on itself. Do you plan on mouldering in a hopeful, positive fashion?"

Tossed-off controversial comment: the idea that existence comprises life, an interregnum (death), and then an eternity of praising the Creator: "a psychotic misapprehension of the nature of reality," said Sterling.