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David Lucifer
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I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by Google
« on: 2006-09-22 10:39:10 »
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source: NewScientist

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by Google
Bruce Sterling

Los Angeles, 2026

Ted got busted because we do graffiti. Losing Ted was a big setback, as Ted was the only guy in our gang who knew how to steal aerosol spray cans. As potent instruments of teenage social networking, aerosol spray cans have "high abuse potential". So spray cans are among the many things us teenagers can't buy, like handguns, birth control, alcohol, cigarettes and music with curse words.

I tried hard to buy us another spray can. I'm a street poet, so really, I tried. I walked up to the mall-store register, disguised in my Dad's business jacket, with cash in hand. They're cheap, aerosol spray cans. Beautiful colours of paint, just screaming to get sprayed someplace public where everybody has to see what's on our minds. The store wouldn't sell me the can. The e-commerce system simply would not allow that transaction. The screen just went gray and stayed gray.

That creepy "differential permissioning" sure saves a lot of trouble for grown-ups. Increasing chunks of the world are just... magically off limits. It's a weird new regime where every mall and every school and every bus and train and jet is tagged and tracked and ambient and pervasive and ubiquitous and geolocative... Jesus, I love those words... Where was I?

Right. We teenagers have to live in "controlled spaces". Radio-frequency ID tags, real-time locative systems, global positioning systems, smart doorways, security videocams. They "protect" us kids, from imaginary satanic drug dealer terrorist mafia predators. We're "secured". We're juvenile delinquents with always-on cellphone nannies in our pockets. There's no way to turn them off. The internet was designed without an off-switch.

So my pal Ted, who stupidly loved to tag his own name on the walls, got sent to reform school, where the security is insanely great. Me, I had a much higher grade-point average than Ted, but with no handy Ted to steal spray cans, the words of the prophet have vanished from the subway walls. So much for my campaign to cover the town with graffiti street-stencils of my favourite teen pop stars: George Orwell and Aldous Huxley.

And Shakespeare. I used to hate Shakespeare, because the teachers would park us in front of the webcam terminals, turn on the Shakespeare lessons and leave the building. But then, somehow, they showed us Macbeth, a play which actually MEANS something to us. Grown-ups don't understand that (or they wouldn't be teaching it) but Macbeth is the true authentic story of my generation. This is Macbeth's world, and us teenagers just live in it. Dig this: those "Three Weird Sisters", who mysteriously know everything? They can foretell anything, instantly, like Google? Plus, the witches make it all sound really great - only, in real life, it totally sucks? Well, those "Three Weird Sisters" are the "Internet of Things", they're "Ubiquitous Computation", they're "Ambient Findability". The truth is written all over the page (or the screen - my school can't afford to give us any "pages"). Just read that awesome part where they're boiling pseudocode in their witch-cauldron! They talk like web designers!

Macbeth stumbles around seeing ghosts and virtual-reality daggers. That sure makes sense. Every day of my life, I see people with cellphones yelling eerie gibberish in public. The world of Macbeth is totally haunted and paranoid! You can't get one minute's privacy, even inside your own bed!

So, I did my class report about Macbeth, and every kid in my English class instantly agreed with me. I'm not the most popular guy in school, but they started CHEERING me. And Debbie, this wacky Goth chick in my class who identifies with Lady Macbeth... After my class report, Debbie sleep-walked out of the classroom and pretended to hang herself! Of course the teen-suicide subroutines in the school jumped onto Debbie immediately. Debbie broke the software rules, so Debbie is toast, just like Ted.

My Dad - he's still alive, apparently - he sent me an email from China and said I ought to "recruit" Debbie into my "social group dynamics of online identity production". My Dad always talks like that. I haven't seen Dad face-to-face in six years. Look: I am a 17-year-old male, okay? I don't want to send Debbie any hotlinks and digital video. I want to take Debbie out! Maybe we could take some clothes off! But there isn't any "out" for me and Debbie. There isn't any "off", either.

Okay, I admit it: Debbie is insane. The fact that Debbie really likes me, that just proves it. Debbie ACCEPTS this sick state of reality. She EMBRACES it. We are doomed.

Imagine that Debbie and me somehow go out together. We want to network with our peer group, teenager-wise. I need to figure out what's hip and with-it and rebellious, and Debbie needs to know what the other cyber-Goth chicks are wearing. Is that okay? No!

It's not that we can't do it: it's that all our social relations have been reified with a clunky intensity. They're digitized! And the networking hardware and software that pervasively surround us are built and owned by evil, old, rich corporate people! Social-networking systems aren't teenagers! These machines are METHODICALLY KILLING OUR SOULS! If you don't count wall-graffiti (good old spray paint), we have no means to spontaneously express ourselves. We can't "find ourselves" - the market's already found us and filled us with map pins.

At our local mall, events-management sub-engines emit floods of locative data. So if Debbie and me sneak in there, looking for some private place to get horizontal, all the vidcams swivel our way. Then a rent-a-cop shows up. What next? Should we go to Lovers' Lane? There aren't any! They eliminated all those! They were tracked down with satellites and abolished with Google Maps.

Okay, sure: I know I sound pretty depressed. Us teenage poets depress easily. You know what they tell me whenever I rant like this? "Get a hobby." Play imaginary fantasy computer games! That is allowed me! Wow, thanks! When she nursed me as a baby, my Mom dropped me right on my head to play Wonder-World of Witchcraft. I sure know where that story goes. If "religion is the opiate of the people", then immersive multiplayer 3D virtual worlds are hard-core Afghani heroin. My Mom will never make it back into the labor force: Mom's way too busy building herself up to 146th-level SuperMasonic Tolkien-Fantasy Ultra-Elf Queen. Like that helps! Look, I can show you Mom's gaming environment, right on the screen here. My Mom's a Welfare Elf Queen (CR) (system crash) (hard reboot)

Debbie: why do you access me, when you know that makes things hard for me? Why do you tag, and link to me? Why do you telephone? And why, why, why do you write me silly notes on paper? I am so sick of you, Debbie. Why, why do you hack me? It is just to see the things that you know I am writing about you...

Debbie, you believe in us. You think we are the future.

I am so miserably happy, just now.

From issue 2569 of New Scientist magazine, 15 September 2006, page 52-53
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Blunderov
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Re:I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by Google
« Reply #1 on: 2006-09-27 03:22:09 »
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[Blunderov] Not only the best minds have been destroyed. For instance the lurker in the Sphincter Room at the Straw House* has yet to realise that not everything can be found on Google.

Best regards.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14801243/site/newsweek/

No Server Left Unturned

The president enlists the world's most powerful search engine in search for the terrorist leader.

"Osama bin Laden, you can run, but you can't hide," Bush said, with his trademark steely resolve.  "Google will find you."

The president concluded his speech by warning the world's most wanted man, "I'm Googling you right now. And I'm feeling lucky."

News reports that the CIA had recently disbanded a special unit dedicated to finding bin Laden suggested that the White House no longer saw his capture as a top priority. But Bush’s decision to use what he called "the most powerful search engine on the Internets" has sent a different message.

But even as the president announced plans to enlist Google in the search for bin Laden, he attempted to manage the expectations of the American people, warning, "The Googling of Osama bin Laden will be a long and arduous Googling."

Bush also acknowledged that he tried to use the auction site eBay last month to ensnare bin Laden, when news surfaced that the terror mastermind was a fan of the singer Whitney Houston.

The White House auctioned an autographed photo of Houston on the site, but the plan failed when the winning bid was made by North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il.

* set google searchstring = "hudibrastic rhyme" ~suggestion~ seek!
« Last Edit: 2006-09-27 03:30:58 by Blunderov » Report to moderator   Logged
Blunderov
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Re:I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by Google
« Reply #2 on: 2006-11-02 01:34:30 »
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[Blunderov]
"I lived with them on Montague Street
In a basement down the stairs,
There was music in the cafes at night
And revolution in the air.
Then he started into dealing with slaves
And something inside of him died.
She had to sell everything she owned
And froze up inside.
And when finally the bottom fell out
I became withdrawn,
The only thing I knew how to do
Was to keep on keepin' on like a bird that flew,
Tangled up in blue." ~ Dylan

Feed: Huffington Post
Paul Krassner: Remembering Allen Ginsberg
01 November 2006, 16:48:10 | Paul Krassner

Although Novembe 1st marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Allen Ginsberg's Howl, I knew him more as an activist than a poet. Our paths had crossed often--at civil rights marches, antiwar rallies, marijuana smoke-ins, environmental demonstrations--and when it came to gay rights, he was on the front lines. As a researcher, he meticuolously acquired files on everything that the CIA ever did, and I'm pleased that they're included in his archives at Stanford University.

In 1982, there was a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Jack Kerouac's On the Road at Naropa, a Buddhist college in Boulder, Colorado, where presumably they refer to his book as On the Path. I was invited to moderate a discussion, "Political Fallout of the Beat Generation." The panelists: Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Abbie Hoffman and Timothy Leary. During that panel, Ginsberg said:

"I think there was one slight shade of error in describing the Beat movement as primarly a protest movement. That was the thing that Kerouac was always complaining about. He felt the literary aspect or the spiritual aspect or the emotional aspect was not so much protest at all, but a declaration of unconditioned mind beyond protest, beyond resentment, beyond loser, beyond winner--way beyond winner--beyond winner or loser...but the basic thing that I understood and dug Jack for was unconditioned mind, negative capability, totally open mind--beyond victory or defeat. Just awareness, and that was the humor, and that's what the saving grace is. That's why there will be political aftereffects, but it doesn't have to win because having to win a revolution is like having to make a milliion dollars."

As moderator, I asked, "Abbie, since you used to quote Che Guevara saying, 'In a revolution, one wins or dies,' do you have a response to that?"

Hoffman: "All right, Ginzo. Poems have a lot of different meanings for different people. For me, your poem Howl was a call to arms."

Ginsberg: "A whole boatload of sentimental bullshit."

Hoffman: "We saw in the sixties a great imbalance of power, and the only way that you could correct that imbalance was to organize people and to fight for power. Power is not a dirty word. The concept of trying to win against social injustice is not a dirty kind of concept. It all depends on how you define the game, how you define winning and how you define losing--that's the Zen trip that was learned by defining that you were the prophets and we were the warriors. I'm saying that you didn't fight, but you were the fighters. And I'll tell you, If you don't think you were a political movement and you don't like winning, the fuckin' lawyer that defended Howl in some goddamn obscenity suit--you wanted him to be a fuckin' winner, I guarantee you that. That was a political debate."

Ironically, Ginsberg was very insecure about Howl, and he questioned the big fuss over it. "There shouldn't be a trial over this poem," he once lamented. In fact, a biography of Allen Ginsberg--American Scream by Jonah Raskin--has a surprising revelation:

"In the mid-1970s, in the midst of the counterculture he had helped to create, he promised to rewrite Howl. Now that he was a hippie minstrel and a Pied Piper for the generation that advocated peace and love he would alter Howl, he said, so that it might reflect the euphoria of the hippies. He would include a 'positive redemptive catalogue,' he said."

The famous opening line of Howl was, "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked..." Abbie Hoffman would've been shocked to learn that Ginsberg had planned to rewrite Howl, this time beginnng with an upbeat line: "I saw the best minds of my generation turned on by music..."

On one hand, Ginsberg was a pacifist. When he first started taking LSD, he thought that world peace would come about only if President Kennedy and Russian premier Nikita Krushchev would take acid together. And yet I remember a scene---this was in the early '70s--Ken Kesey, my daughter Holly and I were visiting William Burroughs in New York. He lived in this huge loft, with a great many cardboard boxes and one cat, and he was wearing a suit and tie with high-top red sneakers.

We decided to visit Ginsberg in the hospital. He'd had a stroke, and part of his face was paralyzed. He was in bed, and I introduced him to Holly, and he graciously struggled to sit up and shake hands with her, but he was weak and deep in some kind of medication. A little later--in psychiatry this is called a "primary process"--he blurted out, "Henry Kissinger should have his head chopped off!" It was a pure case of Ginsbergian Tourettes' Syndrome.

Subsequently, Kesey would reminisce, "I was at a party one time, when I first knew Ginsberg, and he was standing by himself over by the fireplace, with a wine glass in his hand, and people millling around, and finally some young girl sort of broke off from the rest of the crowd and approached him and said, 'I can't talk to you--you're a legend.' And he said, 'Yes, but I'm a friendly legend.'"
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