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Sterling Speaks on Spimes

Yesterday I found a link on boingboing.net to a video of Bruce Sterling giving a talk in Munich.

So I pissed away a rather enjoyable hour watching it.

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It's kind of hard to sit in your computer chair and not do anything for an hour, so I got my yoga mat and lay on the floor for most of it. I ate some cereal out of a dish on the floor like a dog. At the feet of the Ascended Master of Industrial Design.

He's talking about what he calls spimes, he spoke on this at SIGGRAPH as well. BoingBoing has the text of this speech online.

The flash is that every object CAN have an URL address. The realworld tech for this is something called an RFID (pronounced Arfid] a little chip that sings out an ID number when scanned by an RFID reader within about ten meters. No more lost glasses.

[My addition: The scifi way to do it would be to have an intrinsic ID based on an object's measurements and quantum state. If the scifi case, a spimeID reader would be something you'd have to pick up outta the universal wave fuction.]

A big practical nearterm downside of RFID Bruce mentions is if Americans have to put them in their passports, as has been proposed. Duh? Another downside Bruce mentions is the the Beagle Boys skimming data to find where the expensive loot is.

He ends the talk with what he's been know to call “the standard SF move of transcendence.” Now each object has a life history, like a person. And therefore a soul? Dear objects!

Of course objects always did have a spacetime trajectory that God/the cosmos can see. But now it's a humanized soul. I think of the story of Byron the Bulb in Gravity's Rainbow.

Might one write a story from the point of view of two objects? A two-cans story instead of a two-guys story. In this context, forget not Phil Dick's “The Short Happy LIfe of the Brown Oxford.”

Or a hive mind could emerge from the objects? Stealthy scuttling of an empty sardine tin.

Or we discover what I've always suspected, that objects ARE regularly disappearing into the fourth dimension, and now it becomes known. Big Act One reveal for that.

It was a good show, always a pleasure to see Bruce in action. His delivery is such that he continually sounds like he's making fun of what he's saying, mocking it, wrapping it in irony, and by thus throwing the listener off balance, he keeps the upper hand. A rhetoritician sublime.

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