Session Transcripts

A live transcription team captured the SRCCON sessions that were most conducive to a written record—about half the sessions, in all.

Through an iPhone darkly: Media and networks through the lens of science fiction

Session facilitator(s): Joe Germuska

Day & Time: Friday, 2:30-3:30pm

Room: Innovation Studio

PARTICIPANT: Good afternoon, we are waiting for one more person to show so I’ll do a little preface. Hopefully you’ve read the session thing. This is not just me filling your brains about stuff. We actually have a handful of wonderful volunteers who will each share 0 sort of science fictional story that has something that they want to nerd out about you with you. So this is all about just enjoying the ideas of science fiction stuff. So as soon as Gerald comes, or maybe a minute before and there’s going to be time. Like if we all do our talks in five minutes or less.

PARTICIPANT: OK, I thought I saw you—I didn’t see you. OK, we’re all here. So let me get started. You are at the session through an iPhone darkly, which I think this got picked just because of the name. That’s what Ryan said. But again, basically I have this one story that I think is really cool and I wanted to nerd out about it with some people and I figured I could do that for at least five minutes and if I could recruit some other people, we could have fun. So the real goal is for people to say, hey, stories are cool and they inspire us to get excited about stuff and some of us are prepared to share some things but I’m hoping we have time for people in the audience who are game to stand up and say, here as an awesome one that I think are cool and hopefully at the end of the day we’ll end up with an etherpad. So I also welcome anyone who’s game to help -P sort of scribe stuff in our etherpad, because they turn out to be really good records of what happens. And in fact I already started like two other things that I will talk about if there’s time. If nobody’s game after we do all our talks, then I may. But that’s basically the idea. So hopefully that’s what you’re here for and if it’s not, and you sneak out, I won’t take it too personally, so …

OK, I guess we’ll start.

PARTICIPANT: So I’m Joe Germuska, and I work at Northwestern … but I also have been a nerd for a long time and in fact and in fact our story starts in—all right. Bay village, Ohio. At the library. Not the old library, where—does anyone have a ter by the way? I won’t go long, but time me, yeah, five minutes. Month at the old library where when I was four or five I got locked in because I was reading quietly in the back room and they closed the library not knowing I was there. That’s a story for another time. But instead the new library. When I was in middle school conveniently the new library was in the same block as our middle school. I spent a lot of time there. We also played top secret. The spy role-playing game, but also hanging out with books because that’s what you did if you were me, I suspect a lot of you because you’re here. Especially science fiction was really my jam. It was a small town, less than 5,000 people so you can imagine that I was pretty excited when the librarian set up a little feature here’s a bay village author. I promptly started reading Kevin O’Donnell Jr, not to be confused with a musician I thought one of them really stuck with me, Oracle. In fact, you can see my very bat copy. Another little piece came off on the way here. It’s really in.

They don’t live in tron, despite what the picture looks like, they live in towers, like this, but because th dacks are dangerous. Everything you need, so don’t have to go out and get shot by the dack, the point being that this is the world where people live in 2188. So at the beginning of the story our protagonist goes out and his dach watch has failed. So he encounters one of these things. It almost kills him, he kills it and then later he finds out that somebody sabotaged his alarm and the whole plot of the book is basically trying to murder alia lady who’s our protagonist. Now, notice the punctuation. There’s a colon put in there. It’s opinions research and device computer linked experts and this was the first thing that I—it was focused in 1983, so ALS is a CLE, a computer linked expertise and his expertise is 1500 to 2,000 China, and this is basically what you think of now as the gig economy. So he lived in this world for scholars and say I I have this question and he would get hooked up and answer the questions and he’d get paid some money and he had the same sort of uncertainty in his income and stuff that people in the gig economy have, so this is his thing. The other thing that I thought was really, really cool about this book is this is really washed out but this is basically every chapter begins with the headlines of the day. So you can see that maybe there would be micro-payments. You can probably barely see it. Each story costs 20 cents, 15, 10. But I love this stuff. But throughout the book are narrative things. So this guy really develops the world to sort of surprising levels. But a lot of it’s sort of tucked in and if you read it, it flushes it all out. So there’s other weird ones as you can see, this one here about courtesy titles gets into the ID dress, which are sort of like names but they’re different. Social Security numbers crossed with names so our ALL80 our protagonist. But it gets into the partisan nature of news so you can see this news bank is run by the Muslim Republican party and the headline here is the Muslim Republicans to the rescue again. And each chapter has a headline of a different party. I just listed them for fun. These are the different parties.

And they also this also get into the proposition of government because in these towers they contracted the different parties for like garbage service and transportation, too, so that’s kind of a weird tidbit. And then the Dac killer, he’s in the headlines there. So sometimes it’s that, sometimes it’s turned into words but it takes you a while to figure out that they’re the same thing.

This is Kevin D by the way. I thought this was a great picture. He’s apparently really good in the science fiction writer’s association, he was really well loved. Oh, my time is up. So all right so this one is this is like citizen journalism, too, so Dac killer bestseller. He writes about his experience and publishes it to the news banks and actually makes more money from selling the story than he did than a CLE like on a daily basis, so there’s this other thing that anybody can publish it to the news ecosystem and carry on. So I guess the time is up. Sorry that’s a little bit of a floppy ending. I didn’t really land the point landing.

Another book it’s a space column nization ones, and it’s generations and generations of people on a space expation and how culture evolves over time. I guess I should stop now. Thank you. So thank you … …

And now.

PARTICIPANT: I’m just pulling this up here. Hi everybody. I’m here to talk about the—how many of you have read the da gauge. OK, a few of you. You can tell me how wrong I am on this. So I’m talking about a kneel Stevenson book called the diamond age and this was a book published 1995, which is interesting because there’s a whole lot of stuff there. It is a book about a nano technological civilization, maybe near future, mid future, but none of this is about space. It’s about the earth. It’s about the connections that different people have and the nature of media is very core to the story, but first the substrate of what world this takes place in. Humans have nanotechnology, they can build things and a society has evolved past nation states into sort of communities of interest which are referred to as claves, and one of these claves, the new Victorian actually have matter compilers and this has radically changed the way difficultlization works, where they have created new * land masses off the coast of China. This—you know, I’m not going to give you the full detail but the book is really fascinating for the world that it describes, including the fact that they’ve got this basic in common of living in a post scarcity world allows anybody to have access to at least the basic resources that one needs. The question is, how much matter are you paying to—what’s the through-put for the matter that can come through your matter compiler. So in a post scarcity world, what are the things that actually control the destiny of an individual and where they will end up in society? And that’s really what the book is about. You know, there is some goofy examples of the way that media is used, like now everybody just gets media on screens, only the richest of the rich actually have content published to them and delivered to their doorstep, but the crux of the book is about one of these neoVictorian, who, not satisfied with his lot in life he ended up with a software architect and matters more for his daughter, and is approached by one of these rich entrepreneurs who also is not satisfied with where his sort of wishes for his children, wants more for his grandchildren and essentially licenses this software architect or this artifice to create a book for his granddaughter and this book is something essentially magic. It is a book that will grow with these children. And will help—it able to read what the environment around them is like, adapt to what the child is interested in, and over time, help mold, shape the child in response to what their interests are. And the way that this is set up is really fascinating, because it’s—there’s a point in the book which talks about, sure, you could make pseudointelligences and sort of provide some sort of illusion of interactivity with this child, but for this rich entrepreneur, he licenses actual actresses who essentially work in sort of a mechanical Turk-like environment, where the book itself is the interface for these children. There is an actress that provides a lot of the interactivity for this. The child never knows who’s actually on the other end of this.

And so the world in which all this takes place is undergrowing this shift through control of who has the capability and the access to be able to determine their own future and help shape what the future will be like to come, and one of these books ends up not in the hands of one of these neoVictorians, but a girl whose family is on basic income, and the book essentially watches her path and development through the events of the books, culminaing in a fundamental shift in the way that nanotechnology is delivered to populations outside of the neoVictorians who control the feed and who have amassed this great amount of wealth. So that’s 15 seconds. And I’ll stop there.[applTiff: Hi, I’m Tiff. I’m here to give a book report about China immediate Evals, the city and the city as if I’m in kindergarten. Some of you are probably familiar with China Miavle’s work. He’s sword sort of this genre-hopping experimental fiction madman. I can give or take a lot of his stuff but I love this book. How many of you have read his realm of stuff. OK, a handful. He’s also written quite a bit for the gardian around the protests * you might have read that in a journalistic context, as well.

So the city in the city is eeffectively mayville who had done a sci-fiish Moby dick steam punk novel. It’s like four is not one of his books, thank. OK, the city in the city is detective police procedural quasi-noire wrapped up in sci-fi. But it’s a little bit of a different twist. This one has to do with ciies that are overleaved into each other or interleaved into each other. So the city in the city is actually one city but they are two cities that were created in the same place. And they’ve created this imaginary divide about how you can’t go one in. The you start out this is also set somewhere near the Crimea black sea as a little bit of an allegory for effectively the—into the cold war and how Berlin was effectively split up with a line down the middle, but these two cities are cross-stitched into each other. The interesting thing is that the detective or some of the characters actually believe there’s a third city in the seam between the two cities. There’s this entire conspiracy theory paganist nonsense. Which is interesting … Another factor that comes from that is there’s this emergent police force called the breach so if you cross from one city to the other, even if you just look at someone who lives in the other city, breach will know and they just sort of materialize, not in they just only appear. They were there the whole time but you just didn’t notice them because you were trained to not notice them in some way. So this is an extra judicial police force and all the citizens are raised to be not able to see the other city because they choose not to. So all the distinctions between the two cities those distinctions are held together by the populace, and this is what I find interesting about the store as sort of a communication device is how much of the thought training is implied in all the citizens will intentionally go to the trouble of unseeing the other city once they’ve seen it. To the point where like traffic laws he’s describing down the street to go to a crime scene and the crux of the crime is it happened in one city but the body ended up in the other, so high jinx. And he’s * intentionally not noticing he’s stuck in a car in the other city. And so he’s got to observe all the traffic laws of the other city and the other car and what it’s doing, but he’s just trying to drive to the crime scene. So there’s all this crazy stuff that happens including at one point a really lovely standoff scene that he’s pacing alongside a guy who he suspects has done something terrible. He’s all noirey and stuff and has a black trench coat and whatever. So they’re like feet apart but the other guy is in the other city and so they have this whole cat and mouse chase while navigating spaces and the thing that kind of brings the novel to the part of where it kind of flips to beginning to tidy up some details is he has decided to act if he’s going to cross the barrier and go into breach to get the villain who’s in the other city. It’s delightful as a book. It’s a really neat concept. It’s a great detective story. It’s really good as an audio book. One city has kind of a Arabic derived naming scheme, and then the other one is very much Cyrillic-Slavic, perfect. Can recommend.

Hi, everybody. I’m Martin McClellan, and I cofounder of Seattle review books, so if you love books, some read Seattle review books, please. That’s my pitch. And I’m going to talk about an Alfred bester book. Anybody read Alfred bester? He wrote a book called the demolish man in 1952. And then published in 1959 and it won a Hugo award which is notable because it was the very first Hugo award given out. So it’s a well known book. But he wrote another one which tends to be the one that gets all the attention. But the demolish man is a little more small and more driven and I find its interesting because it’s about one single thing. Which is a businessman wakes up and decides he wants to kill another businessman head of another company and that’s the entire book is I’m going to kill that guy but there are some complications one of the complications being that ESP is a thing. Where you can’t commit a crime, because if you think like the precogs that came later, influenced, I think by bester, you can’t actually think I’m going to go kill somebody and then go kill them because they’re going to catch you because you’re thinking about killing them. So it’s a little bit of a logistical puzzle how am I going to go and kill that guy that I want to kill and not get caught for it and that’s basically the sum of this book.

Why I like this book is because it answers a really fundamental question in fiction in a very specific and driven way. And that’s, well, there was a screenwriter Todd alcot. He wrote the movie ants which was th not-Pixar ant movie that came out. he is he has this meeting where he’s going to pitch Jeffrey catsen berg when Jeffrey catsen berg wasn’t a owner of a studio. OK, we have this ant and’s’ going into this New York play writer explanation of what this ant is and Jeffrey catsen Berger got really mad at him and he started pounding the table and said what does the guy want? What does the guy want? And today Al cot was really well, that really freaked me out but then afterwarts he * started thinking, this is nothing nothing really new, it’s like the protagonist, was what’s the protagonist want? Protagonist walks over there and gets blocked somehow. That’s modern storytelling, 101, like base level. But I love this expression. Instead of a guy he makes up what does the protagonist want. And how are they getting blocked along the way of doing it and why is this interesting to me especially in this book, which is just propulsive and it’s one of those books you pick up and you’ll be done with it in two hours and you won’t know where the time went. Is because as like a news point of view, how do you look at somebody who is that driven towards something? Like what perspective do you have, let’s say if you’re one of the ESP people who’s trying to see what they’re doing or you’re a journalist who’s investigating a politician who’s really driven on something but is key, like part of their fundamental aspect of what they’re doing is to block you from having too much information from what they’re doing. Which kind of seems relevant to what we’re looking at now in our country. So I am also it’s a fun read. A really big caveat of course it’s written in 195 it, and the gender roles are 1952. He was incredibly prescient, there’s a character named Atkins and the at is like an @ symbol. So that aside, I couldn’t recommend it enough. Alfred bester, demolished man, thank you very much.

PARTICIPANT: Hi. Hello. I feel like—I feel underprepared. My book is China mountain Zang. Literally nobody that’s amaing. It’s Maureen F McHugh. The book is wonderful. If you’re looking for a book that is about a single thing, that is not the book for you. It’s basically a series of character studies where some of the character studies are about the same character at a different point in their life. So it starts off with one character Zhang, who at some point crosses paths with Zang and then it goes back to another one and Zang is it like, it’s science fiction, it takes place in a future in which China is the preeminent power and there’s space travel. But that doesn’t matter. A feature of the book or like one of the stories of the book or something that happens that exists in this world, is this concept of kite racing and that’s what I thought was relevant to this talk, so kite racing is not just flying kites and running along with them. You’re actually hooked into the kites, sort of mentally but also it affects your body so if you crash the kite while you’re flying it, it feels like you’re flying it and you’ll die and you’re hooked into that. It’s the most important sport so a lot of people watch it. It’s in union square’s Washington park and back and people would go on rooftops and physically watch the races but you could also synch in so you’re experienced in flying with them and I think you’re getting at the lower sensory emotion of what they’re getting, but so kite racing is deadly so people will die sometimes when they’re kite racing and one of the kite racers is I have a quote it’s like I— well, people can be self-conscious about it. I wonder briefly how many people are synched with me. I used to be self-conscious about people who were tied in, experiencing what I’m experiencing when I fly. Now I don’t think about them anymore. If the numbers get high enough. so there’s a concept of sponsorship who people who actually get more people to watch them. In order to get people to watch them, they have to do more dangerous flying which will increase the chances they’ll die. I wonder how many people are synched in to me, waiting that I die. They’re cut off a nanosecond before the person was actually killed and there’s a lot of people who go on and watch this, hoping that that’s going to happen and that reminds me of Facebook live and periscope, people who just go on and watch for tragedies and so that’s what I was thinking about and we’re getting to the point where VR is getting better and cheaper, that those experiences are going to be more and more high definition, and it’s like, you know, exciting and terrifying. But I mainly just became because I want to promote this book that not enough people have heard of or read and you should go read it. It’s great. I’m going to cut early.

PARTICIPANT: It’s my first lightning talk, come on.

Heyyyyyy!What? Bring it, bring it, you all know this movie, you know it. So I’m going to talk a little bit about something that is near and dear to my heart, but since this is my first lightning talk I decied like any good lightning talk I needed to begin with the best GIF ever which is I made a huge mistake and my big mistake is when I first saw back to the future II I totally thought we were going to have all of these newspapers that could change the headlines. But fun fact I’m going to share with you, a friend of mine brought this up that this is also in minority report, strangely with USA today, as well, see? Changes, push notification, whoa and also one more part, the world is changing. I’m an interactive graphics person, this is like the coolest shit ever to me. This is from 2002. There’s also a lady who has Google glass behind her. And you think about Harry Potter and this has moving pictures and this is going to be the part where you say Gerald, that’s an iPad. I’m going to say screw your iPads, it’s not nearly as cool as this. So shut up, OK.

One of the cool things about sci-fi in journalism so you kind of think about it they’re both these forms of expression from like the current day about the future, you know, we’re thinking about what’s coming up next, and you know, when you design, you want to try and harken back to the old days, you think about iPads, hate ‘em, but you have the page flip or your camera has a little shutter thing. But also, you know, Apple has their little Apple times newspaper emoji. Bootstrap if you’re a designer has a little newspaper icon. We have these iconography and these visual clues of newspapers, yet er we’re losing that and I feel that we’re losing something dear that the iPad still does not have. I’ve been trained on newspapers, and this is crazy hypothesis here but if you know about articles, people love reading ten things about their cats and they also love reading like a really awesome marshal project ProPublica, the story of rape. You want the short thing, before the jump what happened at the DNC last night and you want to read after the jump what the hell is going on in Turkey, it’s crazy, right? I think there’s a lot of unease we’re going to Facebook instant articles, we’re talking about Snapchat stories at SRCCON, all these things are not ours, they’re not our platform, we can’t really control them like we could a newspaper. If we wanted to do a full crazy Front Page, we were able to. And I feel like part of that is we’re losing something when we lose a little bit of that. It kind of reminds me of this Simpson’s episode where with each platform we’re coming out we’re stepping on rakes over and over and over again, and you see like, damn it, it’s just one thing after another, man, so where am I really going with all of this stuff? First of all if you’re from Gannet, give me money for this, please, I live in San Francisco and it’s expensive, but what I also wanted to talk about, too, is the future. Thinking about this, as you go home, and everything, think about how we can bring the back to the future of news. You know, when you think about news, what we’re doing right now is we’re trying to redescribe this experience of reading a paper in another language. Literally in HTML and CSS and Javascript, they’re shitty languages. We cannot fully comprehend and get all that awesomeness into it. So what does this matter? I say go back to the future of news, enjoy it, pick up your paper, subscribe. Thank you.


PARTICIPANT: Thank you, so I intentionally didn’t want to pack the session that full, but I don’t really know how the discussion part happens, but I guess if anybody has questions, we can do questions. Also, if anybody is inspired, even to get up and say in two sentences some story that you think is awesome that we should all know about, I’ll pass the mic around or if we don’t have that much to say, we could be donePARTICIPANT: So I realized actually this morning that there’s another one that I wanted to quickly mention. Which is a book by Charles straws. How many people here have read anything about Charles Strauss. Charles Strauss is awesome. There are two stories that you should have should go read, but one in particular is called halting state which is about MMO, alternated reality, and espy imagine. And it takes place in a world * where it—it all takes place in Scotland and the series is supposed to be a trilogy but the third book is on indefinite hiatus, because the reality has caught up with the first two books and the first book is about people going out in the world playing these augmented reality games that just are integrated into their daily life as something you go do, and it turns out that you know, Secret Services have infiltrated some of these systems and are actually using them in order to move around packages and do dead drops and things like that as you know, just tasks that you do in the game and you get points for effectively. And that seemed particularly topical the number of people I’ve been seeing playing Pokemon Go and it’s been interesting to see the nascent world that that he described coming forth. And as you go out and play these games, what can you do for other people and what are you doing for other people is the question.PARTICIPANT: So we’re not going to just I’m not going to ramble for the rest of the time but I do have a couple of other ones that I will mention. I put this in the etherpad actually when Martin was giving his talk it reminded me of a really cool book. Not so much about this media stuff but it’s tall deadly silence and it’s by this sort of obscure author called Lee kilo, and it’s set in a world where the native culture is telepathic and when the humans arrive through space travel, the unmanaged din of human thought deafened a subset of this culture and killed their telepathy, they were both deafened and muted so people doesn’t read their minds. So the humans come and try to set up a police force as sort of a pay-back of you know, we’re sorry that we caused this problem in your community so we’re going to help you do policing and the book unfolds as the interplay between some people who read other people’s minds and other people. It’s a really neat book. And also the another book called the doppelganger gambit. It’s another police procedural set in Lawrence, Kansas, sometime in the not too distant future where basically this guy shouldn’t be able to commit a murder. He’s able to set up an alibi for committing a murder by having somebody else go spend money on his credit account with the apparently unforgable fingerprint that’s part of completing the transaction. So these people have a way of faking fingerprints, and that sets up this situation where this guy should have an iron-clad alibi and the pair of politics it’s sort of like a little bit of a lethal well onpolice duo with some other overlay, have to figure out what happened there. Somebody else must have. I think we’ll go in order. So I’ll let Joel start.

PARTICIPANT: Hey, guys, my name is Joel, I work at the WSJ. I’m going to talk about some blindingly obvious one, Arthur R. Clark, right author. Short story of his called the star. The premise is it’s some astronauts who are exploring and they come across a planet the equivalent of Pluto. And on it they find a temple that’s a monument to a civilization that used to live in this solar system. They realized their star was going to go super Nova in a century or so, so all they could do was build a big monument to their civilization and go extinct. Then there’s a twist that I won’t spoil but it’s a great read.

The second one is Isaa Asimov who I assume most people have read. The first law of robotics.Tures first law, the concept that no robot should do harm to a human or allow humans to come to harm. Second law, establishing that robots always have to do what humans tell them. Back in the 40s and 50s, these ground rules were laid out and they make a lot of sense. When you think about them, you think, yeah, that is how technology should function in a real world and now we’re at the point from Tesla autopilot to drones in the skies flying in Afghanistan or Pakistan to internet of things, our computers, our refrigerators, our laptops, we have these things that break our rules on a regular basis. They don’t allow what we want them to do, they allow humans to come to harm either through intentionality or poor programming or whatever else and I find that fascinating that the rules are so relatively simple and yet we seem to forget them and/or ignore them on a daily basis. Many.

PARTICIPANT: Hi, I just got super-nervous because I realied that I broke the rules. I don’t have a book. I have a movie and it’s not a sci-fi movie, it’s a romantic comedy.

[laughterBut, OK, so like one night I was watching Netflix at maybe like 3 in the mornings, because that’s what I do, and I came across a movie and I watched it and it was so great. This was before I worked in journalism and I thought that it was so relevant to everything that was going on. The movie was called desk set. And it was made in 1957. Starring Catherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. And I will just read the synopsis of the plot. Bunny Watson, Catherine kep burn, is a library reference clerk stuck in a dead-end relationship with a boring television executive. Her life is thrown into turmoil when computer expert Richard Sommers, Spencer Tracy, enters it. He has been assigned with automating her department and she is fearful that Sommers’ new computers will automate her out of a job. But the most interesting part about this is the weird parallel and the fact that, you know, despite everything we say about computers and everything, the formidable Catherine Hepburn cannot be beaten by AI. So I would like all of you to take that lesson away.



PARTICIPANT: I also am going to talk about a R OM COM, foundation by icic Asimov, you’ve heard of it.


Develops a field called psycho history. Kind of identify inflection points where the galaxy might need particular advice and so he records messages, that are kind of held in this vault and there’s this date, they open up the vault, they get the message from Harry, they can respond to it so the thing that I think is interesting about this and kind of relates it back to the media and journalism is kind of embedded in this is that he’s making long-term predictions and then he would be held accountable. Is he right about the situation when they open the vault, this message that he’s delivering? And we as journalists cover people all the time who are predicting all sorts of things, many of them over longer terms than we tend to think in, you know, like tomorrow’s deadline or next week’s magazine or whatever. For example, a few years ago in Washington State where I live, there was a ballot measure to privatize the liquor industry which had previously been controlled by the state. Costco dumped a whole bunch of money into this ballot initiative. They won. They wanted to sell liquor through Costco. The message that they gave to everyone was, it’s going to cost you less out of pocket to buy whiskey, if you pass this measure were they right? I don’t know. I don’t think any of us really know if—well, we know why Costco wanted this to pass, but were they telling the truth?

Did they actually have that effect? Like as journalists, I don’t know who has held, you know, these predictions to account so that’s kind of like a thing that I would love to see us as an industry do more of, is to come back to these politicians, to these corporations whoever are making these predictions and saying, you know, were they right, and you know, we ought to be thinking about these things. So foundation, rom-com.

Snoop hey, everybody, so this inspired me to talk about a novel I really like it’s by Peter Watts. Anybody here at all like Peter? OK, it’s not a meditation on the nature of media. It’s really like investiging completely other topics, but the story is told from the perspective of a protagonist in the far future who’s traveling Ong a spaceship to save humanity. Everybody else on the trip is genetically modified, they have drugs, they have implants, they’re all exchanging ideas in the form of Wikipedia articles with citations and a lot of rich context and this dude is on there using the extremely primitive, fully immersive 3D reality interface to community with everybody. They’re avatars, right? So it went to the nature of media and its relationship to thought and from there to what I’m about to get to which is the most interesting part, the cultural foundations of thought so one of the key concepts of this book is that you have people who were there who act as mediators between people with different world views, because all of these things when I say a Wikipedia of information, you’re thinking, well, those are objective facts, they’ve been verified but the fact of the matter is that all knowledge is subjective and it’s a metaphor and so this novel somehow becomes oh, yeah, and somehow, that all relates down to the nature of physical reality through provable results. Anyway, it’s a great book so I just want to say read it. The end.


PARTICIPANT: Hi, Nicole hencely, I work at the New York Daily News and I work overnight. It’s kind of unique. It will be about 2 in the morning, I still have four hours to go in my shift and the lights kind of dim into this weird dystopian energy-saving atmosphere and I only started thinking of blade runner and you can be a hater, but I like the movie way he ever more than the book and I started going onto these weird little like deep dives, rabbit holes into images and photos, and videos where I’m just sitting there and muttering to myself, in my head, enhance, enhance! Zooming in and like what is in this photo, what can I find? What nugget of information is yet to be found? Is there the ID on this snake skin that will lead me to the killer? Instead, I find the other little treasures that will help me in my news gathering, for instance, during the Brussels airport attack, finding the location, what side of the airport was hit just based on a single photo, is this real? Is this instant, did this really happen? There are three aspects of that photo that made me go forward, one people running, looking terrified as hell, shattered windows above the entrance, and smoke. These are three things in a single photograph that make me think, hm, maybe, and also I went on Google street view and started driving through the airport, I’m like what side are we on? OK, we’re on this entrance and judging by that, I can go look at the map in the airport and know which desks are by that entrance and start sending out emails to each of those airlines for statements and that’s just one example and then when I’m enhancing again, enhance, enhance, and I’m’ tracking down YouTube videos and I just want to know, where is he? He’s all these places. He’s in Texas, he’s in Louisiana now, where is he? He’s driving and he’s ranting and he’s talking and suddenly I pause, there’s a street sign, and enhance, enhance, and I keep hitting space bar, space bar as he’s driving. Suddenly I see a business sign and that’s not too far from one of his stops. I pinpoint on a map, and I’m on Google street view, am I going backwards to where he was just in a minute in the drive and I find a location where he stopped to go hand out his book to this guy, and there’s no street sign. It’s an inconspicuous building, you don’t really know what’s there. But you know what, I forward it to the runner, the stringer down there and maybe, just maybe you find the guy that talked to this guy. You might learn something so whenever I’m gathering news I just think of sitting in the dark and I’m in my dystopian newsroom, enhance, enhance.


Stand right in front of the thing and talk. All right, I don’t have a specific story but I just wanted to call out one of the groups that’s going through madder VC right now, it’s called scout.AI and I think they’re doing a weekly or monthly dispatch, which is a combination of like a highly technical social story, and then science fiction written around it that sort of explores the issues, and then calling on a community to sort of interact on that. So, I think it would be of interest to the group. Check it out.

PARTICIPANT: So the technology review from MIT has done a couple of volumes that they publish to look like old science fiction magazines that are commissioned from current-of-current science fiction writers to do near-term predictions. I think it’s a little bit the way that Scout is taking on their fiction side. We’ve almost done. We have a couple of more minutes so I’m happy to cede the mic. But I have a couple of other things. One is a great movie, how many know of a movie called sleep deeper? So it’s kind of obscure but it won this thing called the Alfred P Sloan prize at Sundance. It won, I think in 2008. But it’s a really cool story about drones. The filmmaker is Mexican American. I highly recommend, it’s got a lot of topical things. Projected a little bit further in the future and the last one I’ll close on. I know there’s probably a lot of Star Trek next generation fans here? Yeah? So I actually –

I don’t sake sides and I respect it but I don’t have a lot of knowledge. But how many know the episode that’s called shocko when the walls fell? And also it has part of it that seems to have crept into culture that I just encountered recently is a phrase called dar mock and Johnod at tan agra. And I learned about it boastless a meme of Hillary and Barack embraing with—yeah, and there was Hillary and Bernie. It probably would have been—anyway, embracing with that sort of impact font over it. And but what plays back to is the nature of the story ask pi card and the Enterprise crew find that the translation card has failed. Everything they say is a reference, they basically name some people and places that within that culture are clear references back to some story, perhaps like side show Bob stepping on a rake and the whole story plays out what it can be communication by reference. I thought it was really interesting to imagine a whole story based on this thing that we now do routinely with meme images. And just to put a weird spin on it yesterday I dropped back to the hotel during the session, I was coming back here and I was walking by the hotel at 10 H. and something and she had a t-shirt that said tar: What does this mean? But it blew my mind.

PARTICIPANT: I think there is this is interesting is there’s a podcast called reply all and they get Alex Blumberg to find something they don’t understand and get the host of the show to explain it. Which is exactly that thing. It’s interesting to see the way that it propagates, because there are subcultures through which it goes and some people understand it and the other it becomes a form of self-identification, how does that stuff get mediaed.

PARTICIPANT: So my hope is in the future, you will just say through an iPhone darkly, and it will have some reference back to this session and you’ll say, oh, yeah, through an iPhone darkly. Thank you for coming. Have a great afternoon.