The SxSW festival in Austin, Texas used to be a music, specifically a rock festival. Then like Glastonbury commercial interests began to muscle in. Gradually the musicians were all but driven out and now the nerds have taken over.
Nerds can be identified by several characteristics; one, though it is easy to be deceived by their bad haircuts and body odour issues they are not chaotic, shambolic people but dangerous control freaks; two, once they have hold of a bad idea they will cling to it more tightly than a pit bull clinging to a postman’s leg; three, given a sniff of power they turn into world domination freaks; four, they do not recognise the line between good business practice and fascism; five, neither do they recognise the line between reality and fantasy.
Reading up on this year’s SxSW I find that for many nerds and geeks
(a lesser species like donkey are to horses or gekkos to investment bankers) the boundary between ‘real life’ and ‘online’ has now bcome so blurred it may as well not exists.
South by Southwest Interactive, a component of the festival rather than a sideshow, is probably the world’s biigest gathering of nerds, geeks and Bond villains who, operating from a high tech headquarters in the magma chamber of an extict volcano somewhere in the Pacific Caldera ( venture capitalists as the mainstream media likes to call them), plan to take over the world and turn us all into unthinking automatons.
These people plan to change the way you live, the way you think. They hate being human and would rather be robots and they want you to be a robot too. When they speak it does not sound anything like a human conversation.
WTF is your “user experience”. If they mean spending a bit of time browsing the web why not just say so? Is “the gamification of healthcare” an attempt to write a zap the cancer tumour adventure in which players run through Lara Croft’s intestinal tract looking for a malignant polyp or do online diagnisticians compete to empty you bank account?
Since when have real people talked of “geofencing”? Or “design thinking”? Or “open source government”? What is “content strategy”? It all starts to sound like a corporate brainstorming session in which all the participants are just coming down from a mega-acid-trip.
One of the world’s leading content strategists tried to explain his area of special skill to an interviewer. “Well, from one perspective, I guess,” he said, “it’s kind of everything.”
Here lies the main obstacle to understanding where technology is heading to at breakneck speed. The nerds who are driving the juggernaut don’t even understand themselves when they talk in such jargon and they certainly are not looking at the road ahead as thy swing the steeting wheel wildly and keep the pedal right down to the metal.
Their goal is that all human activity will take place online, that our computers will change from being tools we use to being extensions of ourselves and eventually to being our selves.
Remember while computer scientists have been claiming for forty years they were on the verge of building a machine that is consciousness can think for itself (and for forty years failing at every attempt because they don’t understand human consciouness) the nerds of the gaming consoles and gadgets industry which these days passes for information technology already believe that our machines are smarter than us.
Anyone who has wrestled with a Windows Vista system will know how profoundly fuckwitted a human would have to be in order for a computer to be smarter.
The Intesity of the twentysomethings who floc to the Austin Convention Centre, and wander around in a trande like state juggling coffee cups, iPad 2s and the festival’s full Oxford English Dictionary sized schedule of events, can seem vaguely intimidating. They are no longer content with transforming that part of your life you spend at your computer, or even on your smartphone. They want you control your life, or your biosphere experience as the nerd who has just taken out a patent on your mind (customized life software) might put it.
Nerds who have recognised they have an issue with technology addiction, given their lives to a higher power and entered Boggart Blog’s 12 step program may find it helpful to read the longer version of this, I Am Not A Computer at the main Greenteeth Site.
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