26 August 2007

Bruce Sterling writes ‘dispatches from the hyperlocal future’ for Wired Magazine

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hyperlocal
Bruce Sterling has written a number of “Dispatches from the hyperlocal future” for Wired’s July 2007 issue.

The fictional dispatches dated 2017, have the writer post from Turin (“Torino” in Italian), Milan, Dubai, Mumbai and Washington, DC.

As per usual with Bruce, it is dense and highly entertaining prose, virtually untranslatable, and difficult to quote from. Here is a quote about the hyperlocal web:

“You see, the difference between the old-fashioned semantic Web and the new hyperlocal Web — that’s hyper as in linked, and local as in location — is that the databases of the new Web are stuffed with geographic coordinates. Real positions. Real distances. So the bodyware I carry in my pockets and travel bag broadcasts its location to any device within earshot. (Of course, the RFID chips embedded in everything help the manufacturer get it out the door, but I programmed my own tags so I can’t lose anything.) Roomware — that’s houseware to you troglodytes who still live in houses — is the stuff that runs a hotel room. You know, the remotes that control temperature and unlock the liquor cabinet, plus the window overlay that displays the weather forecast and traffic conditions. Streetware is my mobile’s navigator, plus social tags, ad filters, and all those black-and-white barcode blotches painted on walls like graffiti. Cityware is the next scale up. That’s how the local government monitors traffic, chases down leaky water mains, and keeps tourists on the straight and narrow. Stateware, nationware, globalware — you get the idea.”

In the middle of the long piece, you can even find a visual demo for the Sensicast-Tranzeo 3000. (The article also introduces the Samsung-Olivetti SeeMonster, “a hefty Italo-Korean interactive designer coffee table with an eight-handed, 40-fingered 3-D touchscreen”.

Nice too is Bruce’s image of the Torino of the future:

“Torino worked hard on changing their public image by installing the Zone. Torino used to be the “Detroit of Italy,” but some of its derelict Fiat assembly plants have been turned into city-subsidized creative-class hangouts. Big retrofitted lofts, lots of auto-watered greenery, ping-pong tables and massage chairs…. Lots of freeware. You want a bicycle, you just beep at it and take it. Free Italian movies every night, right up on sides of buildings.

In Torino’s cyber-district, you get your basic Euro-trash laptop gypsies, some installation artists, robotics freaks, do-it-yourself makers, raffish free-software fanatics — stir continuously and feed with cheap spaghetti. Result: a classic Euro-bohemian ferment. It’s like a garage sale Ars Electronica that runs all year.”

Enjoy.

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