I Quote: ….

Friday October 08 13:37

Integrity, clarity and honesty.

And Warren schooled me about SciFi writers – they don’t do prediction, they do extrapolation. And he should know, he’s one of the best.

The only thoughts that have occurred to are these:

1. Warren is, of course, right. But SF Writers saying they don’t do prediction is like Leonard Nimoy saying he’s not Spock. It’s factually true, but it’s not culturally or emotionally true. It’s not true enough to overturn the fact that we take them as predicitions, however they actually generate them. And we want predictions.

2. The SF I really like (recently: Makers or The Caryatids, eternally: Neuromancer or Planetary) shows me a world I can believe in and imagine being in. They’re worlds full of recognisable people, however much they’re not like today’s people. And they’re worlds I can imagine building. Sort of. When there’s an absence of those worlds, set a few years off, I think culture gets a bit thinner.

3. I bet this somehow connects to ideas about Design Fiction, Gear Porn and Concept Products. Our fictional itch is being scratched by actual technology companies but they’re not that good at it. (Not really sure about this one, might be another red herring, NOT like rugby league.)

((via @russelldavies from his post here.))

..They are not that good at it.

This remarks gets to the substance of one thing at least — technology companies are technology companies. They are burdened by an inability to think about people who are no longer concerned with feature lists and scales of things that continually go up and to the right, like the endless chase for more better and bigger or smaller.

I get Russell’s metaphor here, but maybe it goes the other way — technology companies are like mosquitoes nipping at us, causing us to itch, which feels satisfying at first but gradually becomes not such a good idea. The momentary glee of imagining a better little corner of experience that has been fictionally cast in the form of an advertisement about a new glowing thing but that lacks the integrity and honesty that most advertising lacks in that it’s just the vision of some marketing wonk who has no connection to the principles and logics that are embedded in the design and engineering work. Advertising is probably the worst kind of SciFi in this regard. No integrity. No expectations that what is being presented has any relationship to possibility. Maybe SciFi as it was has switched places with advertising: Warren Ellis says SciFi does extrapolation. Advertising-as-SciFi does..what? Dishonest predicting? When it isn’t connected to the principles of the thing, when it’s just that marketing guy who dreams up a selling point, then it is certainly lacking in honesty, whatever the sincerity of that marketing guy’s dream of what he’d like.

((c.f. Timo’s remarks.))
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