The day before yesterday, Bruce Sterling (who is now posting over at Off-Center) gave a presentation at the South By Southwest interactive conference. He struck an optimistic tone about the future of the net: “This is the hottest period of invention since the invention of the browser…Flickr is not a copy of anything else; it is not a hippie knockoff of a commercial product. Wikipedia is not like anything else. A wiki is like nothing known to mankind. Collaborative web filters are very spooky things. They are without historical precedent… The Net community is no longer hanging on the coattails of Gates.”

But his chipper mood could only last so long. As a resident of Belgrade, he says he can see America from the outside, the way 94% of the world sees us, and it ain’t pretty, technologically speaking. Broadband in Serbia costs $20 a month, “and it works!” but the U.S. leaves broadband expansion to municipalities. He continues:

Our people in Washington are drinking their own bath water. They’ve forgotten how to build anything. They are busy monetizing stuff for their reelection campaigns. It is decadent, it is sclerotic. It looks like the Soviet Union. These guys in power are so eager to monetize the Net, that they’re turning the USA into a banana republic with rockets. Not just politically backward--technically backward! …The reality-based community are fatally easy to push around, mostly because they’re so gentlemanly and ladylike. But when you actually ignore reality for years on end, the payback is a bitch, brother! And I would know: because I’m a science fiction writer.
Here's a report on his presentation, and here's the podcast.

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