I’ve decided that rather than trying to edit a truncated version to pitch to more popular websites, I’m just going to keep it conversational and run it here. Maybe less people will see it, but that’s ok. I get to say what I want.
I’ve added to my own spew as I edited. We hope you enjoy.
DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF: I came in contact with your work for the first time at a psychedelics conference in Los Angeles. Albert Hoffman and Laura Huxley [Aldous Huxley’s wife] were there. Timothy was there, and I think Ram Das and Ralph Metzner. It was the original psychedelics crowd.
And there were a bunch of issues of your first magazine, High Frontiers. And to me it was like a calling card from the future.
I was in my early 20’s, and your magazine was an amalgamation of everything that I had been interested in yet had never seen connected before: cultural, scientific, biological, cosmic, spiritual, and pharmacological advances, all in one place. How did physics and math and drugs and music and culture and transgender and cultural alchemy all end up considered part of the same strand of cultural information? How did you come up with that?
R.U. SIRIUS: In a way, it just came together in my head. I assumed that there were other people out there like me. Sort of like what Paul Krassner said about starting The Realist at the start of the ’60s. He put it out to meet the other aliens…
So this was a new generation of aliens.
And to me, the generational aspect of it was important. And the cultural aspect of it was important. Because even though I was from a generation that had a lot of hippies and deadheads and so on, we were also the people who created the cultures of punk and new wave. I was in my mid-twenties when all that came along and it was a refreshing blast to my pot-soaked mind.
So I was adapted for a very speedy, hyper, futuristic mentality by that, as well as by scientific ideas and psychedelic ideas and so forth.
And by the time we were doing High Frontiers in the mid-80s, one could clearly see the so-called digital revolution coming on, and one could be fairly optimistic about it… actually, radically over-optimistic. (laughter) So all these things just felt like the makings of a truly contemporary magazine.
DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF: High Frontiers really ran the full gamut of hallucinatory experiences. It was a flag in the sand. Leary had said, “Find the others.” And this was saying to a new generation, “Yes, there are others. These are our experiences.”
But then, you turned it into Reality Hackers and eventually Mondo 2000. It became the voice of this 21st century post-television, designer-reality society.
In any wilderness is beauty and fruitfulness and vicious predators and wandering madmen and disease and flooding and fires and regeneration…
by John Shirley
First, let’s quickly review the scale of the thing: In excess of a billion people are active on Facebook. Every month a hundred million use Instagram. There are three hundred twenty eight million plus monthly users of Twitter. More than half the world’s population is online in some way. Eighty percent of Americans go online. For years now, public school classes have given homework requiring online activity to complete it (indifferent to the fact that some of the poor don’t have steady access to a browser.)
There are more than a billion websites.
That’s not a system, it’s a series of randomly interlocked systems; it’s not a grand network of self expression. Envisioned in cyberspace, it may look like an endless stochastic city, like a megalopolis of data. But it’s really a kind of wilderness. In any wilderness is beauty and fruitfulness and vicious predators and wandering madmen and disease and flooding and fires and regeneration… Chaos is beautiful, chaos is necessary, chaos also destroys if it’s not modulated. Read more “OH THE HORROR! WE MAY ACTUALLY NEED FORBIDDEN MODIFICATION OF THE WEB!”
The following is the complete text of the speech the author had originally planned to give at TEDx in Brussels (November 2011). The speech he gave used high points from this off-the-cuff essay, but, of necessity, only half as long. He prefers this version.
It’s a contradiction in terms—two singularities. But there are two, there’s the fanciful technological singularity of the imagination and the singularity that’s likely to come about. The false singularity, supposed to come between 2035 and 2045, is almost a “supernatural event” in the minds of many people. With its dream of technologically achieved eternal life, it has the reek of religious mythology about it, the unconscious fear of mortality; the second singularity is the real singularity—it is more modest but impressive enough… Read more “The Next Fifty Years: Why I’m Optimistic Because Everything Will Be Terrible…”