Bruce Sterling's Tomorrow Now

I just got done reading Bruce Sterling's Tomorrow Now, which is a cool book. It looks at how Bruce thinks humanity and the human condition will change in the next 50 years, including the effects of the infusion of technology and biotechnology.

While I occasionally read some Wired articles I did not know who Bruce was until I heard him at a keynote speech at SXSW.

A part of the book spoke about how unstable deprived corners of the world exist due to the desires and faults of many people in developed nations. If we do not tolerate crime we push it off to countries with less stable governments. Keeping drugs illegal provides the profit margins to protect and empower warlords. A failure to provide alternative energy solutions is also a source of crisis which warlords breed on.

Tomorrow Now also spoke about how fascist leaders can attach to religious ideas to push their agendas and how generally as communication becomes cheaper, quicker, and more available government will lose more and more of their power. People will eventually get their desires in spite of overt manipulation attempts.

The book told such vivid stories about war torn countries that last night I had a bizarre dream where I was shot six times because my friend invited me along to a gunfight that I did not know was a gun fight. After I got shot once my friend ran and I was shot an additional 5 times. Even more bizarre was that I was drinking a sip of orange juice at 5am the next morning chatting about how I was all shot up the night before. Perhaps I was also thinking about the advances in biotechnology to come.

Though the words I am typing likely seem like they have little to do with the world of SEO that is entirely untrue. The web is just a social network. Everything that exists off the web will find its way onto the web. Sure you can deny it and push things off into corners, but that is where corruption generally exists. Why not discuss the issues you feel are important?

Some blogging "gurus" will tell you how comment spam is associated with organized crime. And people were shorting airline stocks as they flew planes into buildings. Yet the stock market is still easily manipulated by some figures and blog software vendors created software that was not forward looking.

Tools are just tools. Isn't it what you do with the profits that is important? I distinctly remember some people blogging about WordPress spam being fine because they went to help out a good cause. Well aren't we being a bit hypocritical here?

Not too long ago I posted about some blog spamming software that was for sale. I said that I did not use comment spamming software based upon the social implications and karma values. I also wrote the post in a rather positive light for a few main reasons:

  • I was amazed at the price / value of the software.

  • I had never seen it publicly available before.
  • I wanted to see how people would react to it.
  • Just the act of mentioning it was sure to draw criticism. But how do you fix problems that you can't even mention?

It would have been just as easy for me to post about "I can't believe how this scumbag is selling this software...". It would have likely garnered many more links and more feedback. The conversation would not have been that rich though. Just a bunch of ditto heads echoing each other. My goal was to be honest about it.

I wrote a post title on that post to make people think that I WANTED to rank for the term. The whole goal was to remove the social stigma. It's out there. You know it exists. Why make a big deal out of mentioning it?

I find it interesting about how so many people take personally the idea that they need to (and actually help) control the business model and search result quality of another business.

Here is a perfect example of the typically arrogant & short sighted thought process, as described by a person who hunts down spammers:

If the goal is to get me blacklisted in Google, you can forget it. I’m sure there’s a whitelist as well as a blacklist. If anyone’s on that whitelist, it’s me.

And yet the search engines do not agree with certain aspects of business, like marketing, so they try to push link buying and marketing off into a corner somewhere. Google's lack of accepting the world for what it is perhaps is their biggest strength and their biggest weakness at the same time.

By pushing it into a corner they create more markets and build business models.

Most of us make enough profits to pay our bills, pay for our vices, pay for our families, pay to grow, and then support things we believe in.

Some people look at the addictions of others as profit streams. And rarely are their easier profits. I had a page mentioning casinos on a completely crap online mall affiliate site. Really a low quality site, but when I created it I was new to the web and did not know any better. It still didn't stop that page from generating thousands of dollars of income on $0 of ad spend.

Another thing I find fascinating is how selfish many of the purported experts are. Eventually you trade on your reputation and it becomes all you know...unless you force yourself to keep taking risks and keep learning.

Published: April 9, 2005 by Aaron Wall in book reviews


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