The Null Device
Bruce Sterling on the end of the Belle Epoque
Very much worth a read.
You have likely already seen a lot of earnest commentary consigning the period 1989-2001 to history. We are suddenly in a turbulent and violent time, and in a burst of harsh martial virtue, our immediate past is being written off as squalid, and overindulged, and pampered, and fatally innocent, and possibly somewhat effeminate. This is exactly what happened the last time a Belle Epoque collapsed.
The Net looks bad. The status quo ante is not going to cut it. Unless I miss my guess, the Net will be moving away from the flaky amateurism and sordid tragedy-of-the- commons that was its pride and joy, right past that totally imaginary commercial nirvana, and straight into a paramilitarized, ARPANET-friendly, Nervous System of the Coalition phase. We Viridians may be rather squeezed for room and oxygen in there.
Money, toys, and time may get tighter. We Viridians will no longer look much like What Happens Next (because we're not), and our abiding interests are likely to look a bit flaky and antiquarian for a while, like some guy leafing through Beardsley's YELLOW BOOK as the zeppelins hum above the searchlights.
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