It is an old saying but still quite true: Leaders are readers. When farmerchuck first noticed my writings here on DailyKos that was nothing so special, as quite a few have done so, but what got my attention was this:
I started getting emails asking for clarification in some areas and suggesting expansions in others.
There are quite a few very bright, motivated people who’ve accumulated around the Stranded Wind Initiative, but Chuck is the only one that challenges my thinking in this fashion; this was one of the primary drivers in my coming out here. I always look at people’s bookshelves when I visit and in this case it’s gone a little deeper, as we’ve traded the tomes we each find most instructive regarding our current dilemma.
I’ve read most everything in the cyberpunk genre written by William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Neil Gaiman, Vernor Vinge, and Bruce Sterling, but Sterling stands head and shoulders above the rest, primarily for his move from author to prophet. This snippet is the beginning of his October 14, 1998 introducing of the Viridian Design Movement.
Hello. Good to see all of you tonight. Thanks for
taking the trouble to show up. Tonight I'm going to do
something that I've never done before. I'm going to do
something that I've struggled against doing for twenty
Tonight, I'm going to prophesy.
If you want to connect with this prophecy in its raw form you can go to the Viridian web site and read all of 496 Viridian Notes, but I came to it by a more normal means – reading Distraction, a political thriller set in dystopian, post collapse Louisiana a generation from now.
I found the Regulators and Moderators, two "prole mobs" who play a key role in the novel particularly interesting. They’re sort of nomadic biohackers, for lack of a better description, and I am very much taken with the concept of "reputation economics".
Today we have reputation economics in many forms. Got a social security number? Then you’ve got (or not) a criminal record, a credit history, and so forth. Less formal (and federal) are your Ebay feedback and your DailyKos mojo. The prole mobs need to move about and reconfigure themselves in realtime without being part of "the system" lead them to the creation of a complex, multifaceted distributed server farm tracking folks’ skills and character, and while we only see peeps of it here and there the whole thing is a concept that has arrived. I think as we see more and more people cut loose from the disintegrating corporatocracy this will become vital. Rural areas just have this - everyone knows everyone, and this sort of information will become important as those with skills wish to circulate, as I am, putting them to work.
Chuck’s tastes run a bit more sci-fi: Kim Stanley Robinson’s award winning Mars Trilogy. I’ve just completed Red Mars and I’m a bit miffed – the murder of the character closest to my temperament and skills, John Boone, comes in the first few chapters, then we learn how things got that way. I guess fair is fair, Arkady Bogdanov is killed near the end, leaving his Bogdanovist movement to carry on his vision. Chuck’s selection of the name "Arkady Bogdanov" on the Stranded Wind Initiative’s web site was my very first hint that I should pay attention to this author’s works.
Chuck has all sorts of ideas that are, well, anarchist or socialist, and he has gone about mapping them into common constructs. There is already a cooperative of local folks sharing skills, contacts, tools, and equipment, and there are several other things along these lines that are about to hatch.
I have the next in the trilogy, Green Mars, sitting here awaiting my attention, but there is another work with it that I believe to be equally weighty; Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. I’ve had this book for years and always meant to read it, but now that I’m an hour away from the historic location this need has become more urgent, Oh, and I read the first twenty pages and I found quote after quote after quote ... I think this work is very deeply embedded in our national psyche, and I’m looking forward to simply wallowing in it once I’m done with the Mars Trilogy.
So ... if you had to name a piece of fiction as the most influential thing you’ve read, which would it be? Distraction definitely gets the nod from me.