Bruce Sterling’s Blogger Blither

Bruce Sterling gives a short, tight, fun talk titled, “We need a new word for neologism.” He references Friedman – you name it you own in – and says, “Yeah, sorta. You can get it spun, but you still gotta get it done.”

He washes us in a sea of neologisms:

– blogjicts – objects than can blog, can make their presence know
– fabjicts – objects produced by fabricators
– fabricators – 3D printers, object renderers
– ubiquitous computing – computers all around us.
– ambient computing – Computing so subtle, we don’t know it’s there.
– physical computing – engineer the actual with the virtual
– pervasive computing – it’s in our pockets, our purses, our phones, our pods, our wands
– the internet of things – spread the internet like butter through everything
– consentual imaging – I’ve got a screen, you’ve got a screen, we’re all linking our screens
– locative media – the three d grid, saturated with localizers
– smart dust – too small to see, to small to smell
– spy chips – we didn’t put them there, somebody put them there
– node guano – we installed ’em, they got outdated, they died – someone’s gotta sweep them up

The avalanche of language is more intriguing that informative. Sterling tells us that he’s “intrigued by areas where it’s clear people don’t know what they’re talking about.” He sees the discussion over these objects as “a new ground, a semantic battlefield” where we’re figuring out both how to say it and how to do it.

He closes with a story from an engineering professor at Harvey Mudd. He split his students into two groups. The John Henry group had to hit the library, the encyclopedias and were forbidden to use the net. The Baby Hueys were forbidden to access ink on paper, and had to use wikipedia and “bizarre blogger blither”. He had to end the experiment because “the Baby Hueys were wiping the floor with the John Henrys”. Maybe a little blogger blither now and then isn’t a bad thing.

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