Live Raw Notes on Bruce Sterling’s capnote – #sxsw2016 .@bruces

Later, post-talk: Awesome Bruce Sterling talk.

The old days of SXSW.

Talked about Italy.

SXSW is looking kind of mature. What would SXSW be if she was a human being. Thirty years old, from Texas, a little over-educated. Dr. Amanda Southby.

What would I tell her when I met her. “Well I knew you when you were born” would not be appropriate. She has a child now.

What do you like? VR Goggles.

Can I get the drink with the paper umbrella? I need a little value-add design.

The explainer class can’t explain anything that’s actually going on.

I’m actually happy that things are far from explainability.

Data-driven society – what about the data on the thermometer?

Clay Shirky Explanation.

Social media breaks the Overton window (the ability of elites to set the agenda). (

Voting for Trump is actually a proper choice because the competition is actually far worse.

The Overton Window works best with Broadcast TV because the TV is just one class window in the house. Mobiles are worst than both. Crowdfunding is worse. Twitter really breaks the window. You get good mobilization? You don’t even need a political party.

150 Million voters is a huge audience, but it is less than the audience on Facebook.

The parties no longer control the essential resources they used to control. They’ve lost control of the way, means, opportunities.

Trump and Sanders can blow up party because they get how media works.

The trolls can insult their way, like the YouTube comments section.

Bruce is Skeptical

For example, Britain is trying to succeed from itself and they are usually the adults in the room.

What’s going on?

Shoshanna Zuboff, Harvard Biz School,

Master or Slave?: The Fight for the Soul of Our Information Civilization

. The new Surveillance Capitalism. Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon are the four horsemen. (She ignores Microsoft, and they should be upset.)

Invasive power of the internet around us, their former users will become clients, that they will lead around like peons.

Germany: NSA land so an ideal place to land this mind-bomb.

They don’t spread prosperity, suck money out of the system and impoverish the people they are spying on.

Corollary: This justifies people’s anxieties about government versus Apple iPhone.

Surveillance marketing versus surveillance government.

About who has the ultimate surveillance keys.

Two enterprises tear each other down severely. If the feds weaken the stacks. If Apple manages to ignore the justice department it is actually destabilizing and cause them to do more and more weird stuff. They’re looking at financial crises.

Four wolves are at the door and they’re not paying attention.

Worried that people think math will solve all problems. In cyphering stuff and holding it for ransom is an aggressive use of cryptography. The idea that someone can put the whole of Silk Road in his pocket and get away with it is not going to work. It has been tried–look at BitCoin.

They begin to argue that BlockChain is bullet-proof. You have no organization around you.

The BitCoin community is sinister. They are like 4Chan with extra greed and organized crime. They make Goldman Sachs look like Goldie Locks.

BitCoiners will be turned in by their moms.

They’ll surround you with informants. You’re not going to get away from the human element. You’ll keep trying. BitCoin isn’t going to get better.

More people have mobiles than toilets and so forth, but not going to succeed.

Do Apple users have the power to be their best.

Does Microsoft send you where you want to go today?

Does everybody trust Google? Do they never do evil?

Does Facebook unite people with their most intimate dearest friends?

Dr. Amanda Southby can do with another fruity margarita. And consider what kind of world am I being my tot into?

It’s not like the tech companies prey on the blue collar. TEch companies prey on tech companies. IBM, AT&T, HP, and Cisco. Your uncle’s computational companies. They’ll get ripped to pieces because they’re closer to the cheese.

It’s like Finland losing Nokia. The blow to society was falling on the shoulders of engineers, coders, Dr. Amanda.

One of the big 5 will fade too. Who will be the first to go? I’m guessing it is the one people don’t mention as much. When their start-up chime is gone, we’ll miss them.

Maybe the issue is something deeper like neo-liberal capitalism. Neo-nationalism (and turning a hostile face to refugees).

Nowhere in the world is saying “send them to us, we’re trying to globalize.”

Venezuela, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, ISIS, Britain (Scotland wants to succeed), EU failing, everyone hates Brussels, Germany will exit from its own self it has to. What’s that got to do with a bunch of American Tech companies? Maybe nothing?

The world is a failed state, technically speaking.

Erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions (like Congress.)

Huge operating systems. Facebook is not a church, not a state, people don’t know what to call it–an emanation of the Zuckerberg family.

No one can get nominated to Supreme Court. The Congress is frozen. All we have to do is blow out the executive and there’s no there, there.

We’re trying to move from one man/one vote to one dollar/one vote. Have the donor class run things more or less directly.

It’s the Putin Model. Let’s pretend to have elections, and me and my pals will tell you what to do. If you have oil money you can bribe the population. If you don’t, you’re just a dwindling autocracy.

The donor class ought to be running the world, but they can’t because they don’t have

A superpower whose worst enemy are ardent, internal patriots.

In Italy they say: “OK you got a Berlusconi. You got a bunch of rubes who fall for it like we do.”

I pretend to govern, and you pretend to pay taxes and it’s kind of okay.

Berlusconi is The Donald’s best case scenario.

[Describes Berlusconi’s deviant behavior.]

“Could be us…”

If we could get a functional government we’d be a unipolar super-power.

It isn’t MadMax, groceries have all kinds of delicacies in them.

The People are too busy with their screens to riot. If Amazon went down there’d probably be mile-high flames.

I think surveillance is overblown–it’s not as powerful as its fans believe it is.

They’re not paying attention to the population at all, they continue to be surprised by their behavior. The most surveilled people, Iraqis, don’t behave, we have no idea what they’re going to do.

Anyone with a drone over their head is actually doing what the guy with drones want. It’s just not working out.

Great Britain, the formerly “great” Britain, now infested with little video cameras. GCHQ sucked the life out of their military. They used to be able to go kick the ass of everyone. Now they’re like (…).

The decay of their democratic institutions is based on push-button hardware.

The only good idea is to rent out downtown London to billionaires.

2016 could have been the dynastic war between Bush and Clinton. But it’s not.

This is the Hillary that’s been batted around like a badmitten birdie.

Bushes are just classic Texas pols. I’m sure they’re very ashamed and feel bitterly disenfranchised. But they’ll await the next generation. They’ll be back.

No one expected it to happen. At least we’re not numbly repeating the same mistakes over and over.

People seem mildly interested. Political news is everywhere.

What’s the upside? The concluding moral? OK, well you know, “This too shall pass.”

This talk is very current-event focus, so will date quickly.

The president has met Dr. Amanda Southby means you are all grown up. You have captured the top of the pundit foodchain. You get the pope, that’s about–there’s no one else. Every day is a gift. Calamitous surprises can be good.

There is some daylight any kind of loss of credibility of the establishment.

The 30-year-old Amanda Southbys have his symptahy. She’s been through two major depressions. They are at a historic disadvantage.

The fact that conventional wisdom demolished actually gives some daylight to this generation. The Overton Window is opening, it has become possible to think outside of the rigid orthodoxies of right and left.

The more they chew on their own bare feet, there is some chance to return to the center.

Despair is an act of intellectual arrogance, because you falsely think you have everything figured out. Much of the joy will come from pleasant surprises. Rather than things rumbling along in their own inevitable dark fashion.

The only wisdom we’ll find will be uncommon wisdom.


2 Responses to “Live Raw Notes on Bruce Sterling’s capnote – #sxsw2016 .@bruces”

  1. brianfit Says:

    I loved live blogging the closing rant raw every year I was at SXSW. This year I just listened from afar, and hoped someone was capturing all that nuggetty wisdom and clear-eyed grumpery. Great job. THANK YOU!

  2. christye Says:


    Live Raw Notes on Bruce Sterling’s capnote – #sxsw2016 .@bruces | Work Different

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