Tag Archives | media futurism

Cybernetic Society and Its Reflections in Science Fiction


Norbert Wiener, author of “Cybernetics,” a 1948 book in which he develops a theory of communication and control.

Jason Stackhouse writes on Engineerjobs:

Our own attempts to design centrally planned economies yielded only brittle, crushingly totalitarian states, Stalinist nightmares of fiat rule, corruption, and dehumanization. Yet the dream persists: a planned, smoothly-functioning world, responding rationally to evolving conditions, shepherding resources for the benefit of humanity.

Can engineers do better? As it turns out, we can – and almost did, 40 years ago.

The Foundation and the Culture

Many science fiction fans advance Star Trek as an example of such a planned, internally harmonious society. While Trek is many things, it’s not the best example of a cashless utopia – money, graft, and greed rear their heads the moment our crew leaves the ship.
Star Trek Utopia

Star Trek’s crew was not quite a Cybernetic Society.

Better representations can be found in the works of Isaac Asimov and Iain Banks.

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2011: We’re Living In The Future, For Good

1911-Harry-grant-dart-wellImagine if in 1995 someone had described to you what life would look like in fifteen years. It certainly sounds like “the future” that was long promised by twentieth-century science fiction, Discovery argues:

The year is 2010. America has been at war for the first decade of the 21st century and is recovering from the largest recession since the Great Depression. Air travel security uses full-body X-rays to detect weapons and bombs. The president, who is African-American, uses a wireless phone, which he keeps in his pocket, to communicate with his aides and cabinet members from anywhere in the world. This smart phone, called a “Blackberry,” allows him to access the world wide web at high speed, take pictures, and send emails.

It’s just after Christmas. The average family’s wish-list includes smart phones like the president’s “Blackberry” as well as other items like touch-screen tablet computers, robotic vacuums, and 3-D televisions.

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21C Magazine’s Ashley Crawford Interview

21c2010Ashley Crawford is the editor of the recently revived cyberculture magazine 21C (Richard Metzger called it “probably the best magazine of the ‘90s”) Via Mediapunk:

In 1994 I was approached by a Swiss-based international company, Gordon & Breach, who wanted to start an international art magazine – World Art. I accepted but didn’t really want to let go of 21C and so organized a take-over of the magazine. Accordingly I ended up editing and publishing a revised version of the title from 1994 to 1999. Given we were suddenly international in scope I made the most of it and approached folk I’d been a fan of for some time, amongst them such people as J.G. Ballard, William Gibson, Kathy Acker, Bruce Sterling, Rudy Rucker, John Shirley, Mark Dery, Andrew Ross, R.U. Sirius, Claudia Springer, McKenzie Wark, Darren Tofts, Michael Moorcock, Thurston Moore, Erik Davis and others. To my utter amazement they all responded enthusiastically.

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5 Media Trends To Watch

Via Mediapunk:

Here are the five media trends I’m watching and will focus on in future articles on this site:

  • Sources and advertisers going direct
  • Context is King
  • Journalist as brand
  • Reporting as service
  • Media companies as technology companies
  • I have a heavy emphasis on journalism, but most of these actually apply to other media fields as well.

    Sources and advertisers going direct

    Dave Winer coined the the phrase “sources go direct” to describe how organizations and individuals are routing around traditional media by using their own web sites and social media. Jay Rosen, as I recall, used the phrase “advertisers going direct” as well.

    Another expression of this trend comes from Tom Foremski: Every Company is a Media Company.

    But this is by no means limited to companies – activists, watchdog groups, whistle blowers, politicians, sporting leagues (which I guess are usually companies), etc. are now media organizations and all individuals are now media personalities.

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