« I'm Just a Love Machine | Main | Ready or Not (Doomsday talk in San Francisco, June 2012) »

End of 2012

Odd year. Didn't do as much travel as I had in recent years, in terms of number of trips, but I did take the longest trip distance-wise I'd ever taken, to Kazakhstan. Quite a few interviews, but no significant long pieces in the media. Not many posts here, but pieces here hit topics likely of great importance over the next decade.

My favorites from 2012:

  • The Future Isn't What It Used To Be, arguing that we pay too much attention to technological shifts, missing the critical changes in society. This is probably my favorite post of the year. If you're going to read only one of these, read this one.
  • Got the Time, about the massive challenges facing the global environment.
  • Opaque Projections, about deception and control in a world lacking privacy.
  • The Pink Collar Future, about the unexpected implications of an increasingly roboticized future.
  • Nine Meditations on Complexity, arguing that complexity is the combination of complication and interconnectedness.
  • Lies, Damn Lies, and Twitter Bots, looking at how easily social media could be used to intentionally disrupt the economy.
  • I'm Just a Love Machine, about the unintended results of the emergence of "sex bots."

    Over at The Well, Bruce Sterling is engaged in his annual "state of the world" discussion. This is always worth checking out, and this year is covering everything from art to the quantified self. My favorite bit, so far, is his piece describing why ethnic/political enclaves desiring independence might just want to rethink their goals. Here's a small(!) taste:

    However, as somebody who's spent a lot of time in a region [Serbia] where such a devolution was actually carried out in real life, I need to warn Catalans about a few consequences of such a victory.

    First, you're never going to unite all the ethnic Catalans on some definite patch of ground. You're sure to create new minorities who share your ethnicity outside whatever patch you successfully claim. These abandoned guys are going to be a lot of trouble for you. There's also going to plenty of woe from multi-ethnic families, families newly divided by new borders, and so on.

    Also, you'll have new non-Catalan national minorities inside your own area. Naturally you think you're going to be really nice to them, much nicer than they were to you when they were the majority, and ruling over you. That isn't true. In a national secession, the sweet-tempered, nice guys are not going to win. Otherwise they would have already been nice and sensible in the statehouse in Madrid.

    Your former fellow-citizens are suddenly going to become foreigners. Places that you used to visit casually, properties you own, will become alien territory. Towns and cities on the new national borders will be economically strangled. Long-established businesses will pull out or shrink in size. Expect property courts clogged for decades.

    […] As soon as you're a nation, you'll have a new "national language." You'll have to change all the names on the street-sign, the school textbooks, re-write and republish the ancient classics, harass guys who blog without the proper spelling, insist that the EU translate all previous documents into your lingo, and so forth. You will never complete this orthographic reform work. It's impossible. The more energy you waste on it, the more you're going to look like chintzy, niggling fanatics.

    Bruce is eloquent and insightful, and worth your time.

    See you next year.

  • Comments

    I'm not sure that Sterling's commentary on separatism is especially relevant for Catalonia. (The Catalan language is already widely spoken by Catalonians; ethnic issues in Catalonia are mainly external and relate to wider Spain; pan-Catalan nationalism encompassing Valencia and the Balearics isn't in the cards; et cetera.) Yugoslavia isn't the right paradigm.

    Post a comment

    All comments go through moderation, so if it doesn't show up immediately, I'm not available to click the "okiedoke" button. Comments telling me that global warming isn't real, that evolution isn't real, that I really need to follow [insert religion here], that the world is flat, or similar bits of inanity are more likely to be deleted than approved. Yes, it's unfair. Deal. It's my blog, I make the rules, and I really don't have time to hand-hold people unwilling to face reality.


    Creative Commons License
    This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
    Powered By MovableType 4.37