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COMMUNET  February 1998, Week 4

COMMUNET February 1998, Week 4

Subject:

fyi [CITS fwd] Bruce Sterling's Closing Sppech / CFP '98

From:

Curt Priest <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Community and Civic Network discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 23 Feb 1998 11:06:10 EST

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text/plain

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--------- Begin forwarded message ----------
From: Phil Agre <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Bruce Sterling's Closing Sppech / CFP '98
Date: Mon, 23 Feb 1998 02:23:09 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <[log in to unmask]>

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Date: Sat, 21 Feb 1998 18:27:04 -0800 (PST)
From: Jim Thomas <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Bruce Sterling's Closing Speech / CFP '98

 CFP Closing Speech, Austin,  Feb 20, 1998

 Literary Freeware -- Not for Commercial Use

        Hi, my name's Bruce Sterling, I'm a local writer and a CFP
 veteran.  I'm grateful for this chance to once again bring you
 the fabulous benefits of my freelance pontifications.

      When I first got involved in the computer civil liberties
 scene, it was 1990.  We'd just had a Secret Service raid here in
 Austin that had shut down a science fiction publisher.  This was
 a strange and rude intrusion in my daily life, this was an advent
 calculated to waken me from my dogmatic slumbers.   The more I
 learned about this computer crime raid, the more peculiar and
 significant it seemed.  I ended up writing an entire book about
 it.  I was hoping the book would encourage some informed debate,
 and maybe the deeper political issues behind the computer
 revolution could somehow all be put straight.

       Now, eight years later, almost to the day, we have these
 four hundred interested and relevant parties all meeting here in
 Austin to get together face to face and thrash some of these
 things out.  And you can even earn legal credit for it.  This
 gives me a warm sense of closure, a very fulfilled feeling.

       There's plenty of thrash at CFP.  There's always a lot of
 thrash.  Very interesting thrash.

      Not a lot of permanent legal results, though.  If you glance
 back over the past eight years and examine the whole enterprise
 to date, what you see is very remarkable.  In the world of
 computers, privacy, and freedom, crises go in and out of vogue,
 but they are very rarely settled in any permanent legislative
 way.  The only real permanence is the thrash itself.  I'd go so
 far as to call this a new status quo.  Permanent technological
 revolution.  Permanent thrash.

     I was very intrigued by the remarkable presentation of our
 first keynote speaker, Mr. Kahin.  It was a very congenial and
 gentle speech:  "modest" was a word he used a lot.  I don't think
 I've ever, ever heard an Administration science and technology
 expert describe the aims of American government as "modest."
 This was a remarkable confession this gentleman was making.   In
 so many words, he said that policy development is cyberspace is
 just plain too hard to do.  There are too many competing values
 to achieve a workable political balance.  The Administration is
 simply too overwhelmed by all this random electronic thrashing,
 all this buzzing and bleeping.  So they'll simply modestly step
 back and let the mighty forces of technology and private
 enterprise thrash the situation out on their own.  And maybe
 twenty years from now, when things calm down and get safer for
 elected American politicians,  we may see some actual laws
 passed.

      Well, of course this statement is very good news for the
 techno-libertarian post-industrial contingent.  Really, there
 ought to be corks popping in the offices of WIRED magazine over
 this keynote speech.  The Bay Area WIRED folks are very into all
 this:  emergence, and market power, and bottom-up
 entrepreneurism, and the sublime beauty of nonlinear network
 economics that are profoundly Out of Control.   And let's face
 it, after that stinking Decency Act debacle, a hands-off policy
 smells terrific.

       I think you can make some good arguments that there are
 aspects of reality that governments should be very modest about.
 Our keynote speaker pointed out that the real nodes in the World
 Wide Web are words.  Hotlinked key words.  So this isn't merely
 chips and wires that we are talking about.  This is language.
 When government tries to regulate and police the structure of
 language,  this is generally considered to be double-plus ungood.
 There's a long tradition of restraint and modesty here.   The
 First Amendment may be a local ordinance, but it's clearly served
 us rather well, and the First Amendment says, "make no law."  Be
 modest.  Make no law.

      But point of view is worth eighty IQ points.   From another
 point of view, to say that American government should be modest
 in a flagship technology is a very weird thing to say.   I have
 never before heard a federal official confess that some aspect of
 industrial development is simply beyond the mental grasp of
 government.  That it just plain moves too fast to figure out, so
 we might as well throw up our hands and step back out of its way.

       This is a radical admission to make.   It's very out of the
 ordinary.  Rocket scientists are said to be pretty smart people,
 but that didn't lead the federal government to declare that NASA
 is impossible to manage politically, so that rockets should be
 best left to Westinghouse and General Dynamics.  I don't think
 there are many Congressmen who fully grasp quantum
 chromodynamics, either.   But you would never see the
 Administration say that quarks are too complex for government,
 and that relativity and subatomic physics should be left to the
 greater wisdom of the private sector.

     But that's the Internet policy.   No actual government.
 Some form of emergent self-regulating governance.   To me, that
 was the core message of CFP 98.  They really are just plain
 giving up.  That was the mellow, birdlike sound of the twilight
 of sovereignty.  The era of big government is over; the era of
 puzzled, shrunken, benignly indifferent government is at hand.

      It's the giant sucking sound of abdicated responsibility.
 So what fills the power vacuum?  I would argue that it is already
 being filled by a different and more modern political
 arrangement:  not bureaucracy, but ad-hocracy.

       I believe that the best known ad-hocracy, the classic
 version, and certainly the one that gets the most admiring press,
 is the internet engineering task force.  These guys get plenty of
 ink for their wonderful, cooperative, networking,
 non-governmental, emergent, non-hierarchical way of organizing
 their enterprise.   They're a role model, a paradigm even.  And
 that management model seems to work pretty well on the Internet.

     What do ad-hocracies look like in other contexts?  Say, a
 business context.  I would argue that Silicon Valley is a giant
 ad-hocracy.   You see a particularly virulent aspect of this, in
 weird, market-bubble, casino-economy, Silicon Valley IPOs.
 Esther Dyson wrote a quite good article about this in the New
 York Times recently, in which she pointed out that many Silicon
 Valley companies are basically digital paper-tigers.  They don't
 actually develop and sell products.   Not even software, not even
 ones and zeros.  They simply pitch high-concepts, sell stock in
 the vaporware, cash out for the venture capitalists behind the
 curtain,  and then they are acquired by larger firms.  If you
 look for an actual industrial enterprise,  something with
 deliverables and a cash flow, there's simply no there there.

       Hollywood film production companies are long-established
 ad-hocracies.  Show business has always been good at this.  The
 entertainment industry.  The military-entertainment complex.
 You're pitchforking a bunch of freelancers together, exposing
 some film, using the movie as the billboard to sell the ancillary
 rights, and after the thing gets slotted to video, everybody just
 vanishes.

      But in the political realm, I would argue that America's
 most famous and powerful ad-hocracy is that nebulous entity that
 our First Lady refers to as "the massive right-wing conspiracy."
 And here we find our flagship industry giving an odd little
 lurch.   That's the grating sound of a postindustrial iceberg
 hitting us below the waterline.   It's not pleasant to have the
 established order  seriously menaced and frightened by their
 sense of a covert conspiracy.

      I don't believe in conspiracy in the grand Joseph McCarthy
 paranoiac tradition, but I do believe in a real and powerful
 right-wing ad-hocracy of Clinton's political enemies.  I think
 it's self-evident, it doesn't challenge my credulity.  I think
 these right-wing activist people are basically very much like
 CFP.  They're all on each other's Rolodexes, they're all on each
 other's mailing lists, they all know each others' funding
 agencies, think tanks and industrial backers.   And when
 anything, no matter how far-fetched or bizarre, comes up that
 might conceivably harm the President, that information is
 disseminated around the country and around the world at lightning
 speed.  It's data-mined, and catalogued, and embroidered, and
 re-cycled, and re-circulated endlessly, and spun and spun and
 spun.

      The "massive right-wing conspiracy"  is what our friends at
 the infowar contingent at RAND corporation like to call a
 "segmented, polycephalous influence network." It's a loosely
 linked, leaderless enterprise which is constructed rather like an
 art movement, or a literary movement.  It doesn't have elections,
 laws, bylaws, a code of ethics, a code of morals, or any kind of
 brakes.   It can't be defeated militarily any more than Russians
 could defeat Afghan guerrillas or Americans defeat the Viet Cong.
 And this isn't merely a theoretical exercise.  The thing is as
 real as dirt.  It has real power.

      You don't have to stretch too far to perceive this as a
 menace to democracy.  It's certainly a real and visible menace to
 the established order, because it can throw sand in the works at
 any of a hundred different points, and there's no headquarters
 where the established order can hit back.  When the established
 order hits back, it hits back with another, rival ad-hocracy.

     You may have seen James Carville -- a very interesting and
 significant postmodern figure -- appearing on television to
 publicly declare war on the Ken Starr investigation.  I noticed
 some pundits scoffing at this declaration -- "Carville thinks
 he's in the bunker!  Carville thinks he's an army!  The Cajun's
 off his rocker!"  This scoffing has a  very hollow sound to me.
 It reminds me of Stalin asking how many divisions the Pope has.
 The Pope doesn't use divisions, Comrade Stalin.  But the Pope
 knows the ground in Poland, and he can put a stake through your
 undead heart with no problem.

     James Carville has never been elected to any office.  As far
 as I can see, James Carville has no legitimate or constitutional
 role in our society whatsoever.  All James Carville possesses is
 a deep knowledge of the media, a gift for spin, a big Rolodex,
 and a lot of people who owe him favors.   Oh, and a law degree,
 too, somewhere at the bottom of the list.   But when the Clinton
 Administration goes to the mattresses, this guy is the *first*
 guy they call.

      You're not going to see James Carville declaring large areas
 of American reality off limits because they are beyond his mental
 grasp.  You're not going to see James Carville declaring that he
 ought to be modest, and let the info-pundits and the venture
 capitalists decide what to do with digital media.  The guy will
 do with digital media what he does with *all* media, bend it to
 his own uses.

     This is what ad-hocratic political power looks like in a
 heavily mediated and thoroughly networked society.  I don't know
 what you call that form of power, but it sure doesn't look like
 anything I recognize from a high-school civics text.

        And it's not unique to the United States.   Prime Minister
 Blair has proved that it works great in Britain.  If you want to
 see how it develops in another social context -- a deeply
 non-American  context -- take a good look at postmodern Russia.
 Yeltsin's campaign manager is a man named Anatoly Chubais, the
 Carville of Russia.  This man is basically running the entire
 Russian government off of his laptop.

      I happen to have a very warm and kindly feeling about
 literary movements.  I'd hate for the government to think that my
 cyberpunk literary ad-hocracy was some kind of organized menace
 against civil order, and that we should all be grilled in
 Congress by an unAmerican activities committee.  It might be kind
 of an honor -- for a Texan writer it would be quite an honorable
 thing to walk down the trail of tears with John Henry Faulk and
 J. Frank Dobie -- but I don't think this would be a political
 plus for the American Republic.

       But I think it can be demonstrated that ad-hocracy can be a
 living menace to civil order.  Let's take the Lewinsky
 wiretapping business.  For eight years I've been to CFP, and for
 eight years I've heard the law and order contingent tell us that
 wiretapping is the only sure weapon against mafias, dope runners,
 terrorists and child pornographers.  I don't remember
 Presidential sex partners being on that list, but it's getting
 pretty clear to rest of us that they are way, way up there as
 targets of opportunity.

      Here we've got a wiretapping development that may bring down
 an Administration, annul two elections, and plunge our country
 into years of debilitating public shame and trauma.  You know, if
 terrorists or dope dealers did us a grievous harm like that, we'd
 pursue those evil sons of bitches to the ends of the earth.  But
 instead it's our Justice Department, in league with a networked
 rabble of oppo research freaks with a sick need to monitor and
 surveill people's sex lives.

      Hey, thanks a lot, Mr. Law-and-Order Body-Wire.  I'm sure my
 two innocent daughters will sleep a lot safer in their beds after
 you've ritually sacrificed the nation's chief executive in a
 neurotic orgy of national sex panic.  After this gratifying
 experience, I'm anxious to see your wiretapping powers expanded
 radically, so that more American women, and their mothers, can be
 turned into felons for lying about their sex lives.  You guys
 need more plug-in jacks and headphones, it's important for our
 nation's safety and stability.   So after you clean that prurient
 filth off your tape heads, tell me just one more time why you're
 so eager to have Digital Telephony.

        It's very much a pattern.  National moral sex panics have
 definite political advantages.   Ad-hocracies specialize in this
 sort of agitation.  The Christian right specializes in provoking
 reflexive loathing for homosexuality.  For years we've seen law
 enforcement trumpet the terrifying menace of child pornography on
 computer networks.   If a rightist adhocracy can checkmate the
 king through a mini-Profumo scandal, it's going to be open season
 on politician's sex lives for as far as the eye can see.

         What is all this about, what's the commonality here?
 It's a profoundly undemocratic process of shutting down informed
 debate by cynically exploiting sexual hot-button issues.  We're
 supposed to be so  panicked and stampeded by the specter of
 kidporn that we somehow miss the fact that the FBI is installing
 a Walkman jack in our phones.   You see, it's just plain too
 complicated and technical for us to make up our minds about!  So
 let's just panic!  At least we can provoke some vigorous action
 that way.

       There's a flipside to the government's public abdication of
 competence to regulate and judge.  It's the unspeakable,
 invisible, national-security underworld.  Wired Power without the
 inconvenience of democracy.   The taps, the tapes, the dossiers,
 ECHELON, the secret war against crypto -- none of this is
 remotely democratic.  This is a frozen Cold War underworld
 accountable to none.  If we can't regulate ourselves in an open,
 above-board fashion, spooks traditionally expand to fill the
 power vacuum.  I would argue that in a true information society,
 private spookdom is bound to flourish.  We all take on a mild
 flavor of spy.   The walls between spy, journalist, pundit,
 spin-doctor, guru, opinion leader,  and political operative
 become ever more vaporous.   Don't believe me?  Look around
 yourself.

       The day may come when powerful ad-hocracies abandon the
 pretence of legality, and simply crush public figures to death
 with the raw pressure of surveillance.  In much the same way that
 Princess Di and her scandalous boy-toy were bloodily crushed to
 death by the sheer pressure of tabloid harassment.

      Or it may be that ad-hocracies will display some real
 benefits for real-world public order.  We might see ad-hocracies
 for sewage lines, or ad-hocracies for railroads and highways and
 electrical power.  People have been talking electronic democracy
 for quite a while now.  It looks good on paper, or maybe it would
 be more accurate to say that it looks good glowing on a screen.

    But where's the demo?  I've yet to see even the smallest
 American town, or the smallest unit of actual functional
 government, becoming fully electronic.  Virtual communities --
 they don't seem to be living up to their hype.   They seem to
 work just about as well as other traditional American intentional
 communities.  Pilgrim pioneers, hippie communes, Amish
 barn-raisings... these things are hard work.  Most Americans
 prefer TVs to quilting bees.  Most Americans want to kick back in
 the suburbs and have entertainment piped in.

        And virtual communities have never worked out their bad
 apple problem, their free rider problem.  Spam has damaged USENET
 in ways that malicious hackers could only dream about.  Network
 ad-hocracies are very good at forming a hostile overlay over the
 deeper infrastructure.  They don't seem to be much good at all at
 forming structures themselves.  Because ladies and gentlemen,
 real political structures have *structure!*  They have laws,
 regulations, rights, grants of citizenship, constitutions, true
 faith and allegiance.   It's hard to fake all those things with a
 Rolodex, an email list, and a starry-eyed sense of
 techno-optimistic benevolence.

     You know, the computer revolution really loves itself.  It's
 all about publicity really, it's about moving data fast and
 cheap, so maybe it's only natural that it gets entranced by its
 own hype.  But you know, this isn't the last technological
 revolution that you and I are going to witness.  When I turn my
 eyes to the future, I really have to wonder what kind of
 precedent we're setting here.  What kind of precedent are we
 bequeathing to the organizers and attendees of "Biotech Freedom
 and Privacy?"

        Because you can smell that one on the wind.  You got the
 medical priesthood under seige by eager entrepreneurs, tremendous
 market demand, bathtub genetic sequencers, cheaper and cheaper
 equipment, cloned sheep on the front page, activists like
 Kevorkian and Richard Seed all ready to jump out of their
 basements and carry out a propaganda of the deed....   And we
 already know what outlaw pharmaceuticals look like.   These cats
 aren't like computer outlaws, guys who are nine-tenths teenage
 ideologue. These dope people have revenue streams bigger than
 countries and they play for keeps.

      I would also point out that this very week the FBI did us
 the favor of busting a couple of biowar militia freaks.  There's
 often some kind of loudly trumpeted FBI action during Computers
 Freedom and Privacy.  Usually it's a computer bust.  This time
 it's anthrax.   You can take that little chunk of data and make
 of it what you may.

      But maybe the next techno-revolution won't play out like
 this one.  It may be that there is something unique and special
 about the world of computation.  We can't seem to build permanent
 structures; so maybe we're not a permanent problem.  Come the
 year 2000, we may well find that some large percentage of the
 planet's installed computers simply cease to work.

      Computation may be America's flagship industry, but when you
 see how people live in computation, they're not like the settled
 aristocrats on the first class deck of the Titanic.  They're a
 lot like the post-iceberg Titanic.  They have a raft called the
 IBM mainframe, and then another raft called Apple II, and then a
 raft called Macintosh, and then they make a frantic leap sideways
 to Windows 95, dropping heaven only knows how much precious data
 in the transfer.  And those who somehow fall overboard, end up
 stiff and pale and bobbing in the chill dark waters of technical
 obsolescence.   Maybe that's what we have to offer to the future
 here at CFP.  Pundits destined to sink without a trace, our
 solemn pontie all take on a mild flavor of spy.   The walls
 between spy, journalist, pundit, spin-doctor, guru, opinion
 leader,  and political operative become ever more vaporous.
 Don't believe me?  Look around yourself.

       The day may come when powerful ad-hocracies abandon the
 pretence of legality, and simply crush public figures to death
 with the raw pressure of surveillance.  In much the same way that
 Princess Di and her scandalous boy-toy were bloodily crushed to
 death by the sheer pressure of tabloid harassment.

      Or it may be that ad-hocracies will display some real
 benefits for real-world public order.  We might see ad-hocracies
 for sewage lines, or ad-hocracies for railroads and highways and
 electrical power.  People have been talking electronic democracy
 for quite a while now.  It looks good on paper, or maybe it would
 be more accurate to say that it looks good glowing on a screen.

    But where's the demo?  I've yet to see even the smallest
 American town, or the smallest unit of actual functional
 government, becoming fully electronic.  Virtual communities --
 they don't seem to be living up to their hype.   They seem to
 work just about as well as other traditional American intentional
 communities.  Pilgrim pioneers, hippie communes, Amish
 barn-raisings... these things are hard work.  Most Americans
 prefer TVs to quilting bees.  Most Americans want to kick back in
 the suburbs and have entertainment piped in.

        And virtual communities have never worked out their bad
 apple problem, their free rider problem.  Spam has damaged USENET
 in ways that malicious hackers could only dream about.  Network
 ad-hocracies are very good at forming a hostile overlay over the
 deeper infrastructure.  They don't seem to be much good at all at
 forming structures themselves.  Because ladies and gentlemen,
 real political structures have *structure!*  They have laws,
 regulations, rights, grants of citizenship, constitutions, true
 faith and allegiance.   It's hard to fake all those things with a
 Rolodex, an email list, and a starry-eyed sense of
 techno-optimistic benevolence.

     You know, the computer revolution really loves itself.  It's
 all about publicity really, it's about moving data fast and
 cheap, so maybe it's only natural that it gets entranced by its
 own hype.  But you know, this isn't the last technological
 revolution that you and I are going to witness.  When I turn my
 eyes to the future, I really have to wonder what kind of
 precedent we're setting here.  What kind of precedent are we
 bequeathing to the organizers and attendees of "Biotech Freedom
 and Privacy?"

        Because you can smell that one on the wind.  You got the
 medical priesthood under seige by eager entrepreneurs, tremendous
 market demand, bathtub genetic sequencers, cheaper and cheaper
 equipment, cloned sheep on the front page, activists like
 Kevorkian and Richard Seed all ready to jump out of their
 basements and carry out a propaganda of the deed....   And we
 already know what outlaw pharmaceuticals look like.   These cats
 aren't like computer outlaws, guys who are nine-tenths teenage
 ideologue. These dope people have revenue streams bigger than
 countries and they play for keeps.

      I would also point out that this very week the FBI did us
 the favor of busting a couple of biowar militia freaks.  There's
 often some kind of loudly trumpeted FBI action during Computers
 Freedom and Privacy.  Usually it's a computer bust.  This time
 it's anthrax.   You can take that little chunk of data and make
 of it what you may.

      But maybe the next techno-revolution won't play out like
 this one.  It may be that there is something unique and special
 about the world of computation.  We can't seem to build permanent
 structures; so maybe we're not a permanent problem.  Come the
 year 2000, we may well find that some large percentage of the
 planet's installed computers simply cease to work.

      Computation may be America's flagship industry, but when you
 see how people live in computation, they're not like the settled
 aristocrats on the first class deck of the Titanic.  They're a
 lot like the post-iceberg Titanic.  They have a raft called the
 IBM mainframe, and then another raft called Apple II, and then a
 raft called Macintosh, and then they make a frantic leap sideways
 to Windows 95, dropping heaven only knows how much precious data
 in the transfer.  And those who somehow fall overboard, end up
 stiff and pale and bobbing in the chill dark waters of technical
 obsolescence.   Maybe that's what we have to offer to the future
 here at CFP.  Pundits destined to sink without a trace, our
 solemn pontifications reduced to the weightless state of so much
 long-forgotten newsgroup chatter.   No monument, just the churn.
 Floppies change shape and won't fit the new machines, CD-ROMs
 flake apart and delaminate.   And government was wisest just to
 step back and let us be.  We're glad they didn't have to warp the
 Constitution to fit our peculiar needs, because when it was all
 summed up in retrospect, we were gone like the 17-year cicada.

       But you know -- I can live with that.  I prefer evanescence
 to catastrophe.  When I think about all the scaremongering, and
 alarm stories, and gloomy predictions about computer crime that
 I've had to absorb over the past eight years, I feel very proud
 of the American republic.  I think we've done an incredible job
 of assimilating this technology.  When I went to CFP One, that
 event was a total freak scene.  There were convicted criminals
 and their arresting officers buying each other drinks in the bar.
 In newpaper stories of 1990 you had to define the word "modem."
 But here we are eight years later and websurfing is a genuinely
 popular enterprise, it's like Monday Night Football or country
 line-dancing.

       I can live with hype, as long as we have a chance to keep
 making new mistakes.    Sure, we've got ad-hocracies scurrying
 around in the woodwork destabilizing the American democratic
 process, but let's get real.   This is America we're talking
 about.   It's seen hard times and hard, hard tests.  Slavery,
 civil war.    Machine politics, the Tweed Ring, Tammany Hall,
 Chicago in the 20s.  Jim Crow.   Watergate.   Texas state
 politics.  Louisiana politics, for heaven's sake.  The railroads,
 the steel mills, the robber barons.   The military industrial
 complex.  We survived all that.  We look good now.  We have
 resilience.  We toughed it out.  We have hope as a culture, we're
 not afraid to reinvent ourselves.  We make ludicrous spectacles
 of ourselves that cause civilized people to wonder if we've lost
 our minds, but there's nothing new about that.  It's what
 Americans always do.

       Let's look at the general situation here, the big picture.
 Stock market at an all time high.  Balanced federal budget,
 practically kind of.  We even have patches of deflation.
 Deflation!  I'm a middle-aged man and I never in my life saw
 deflation, I thought it was a mythical beast.   And there's jobs,
 even!  They may be burn-out jobs in the high-end sector, with
 burger-flipping service jobs at the low end, but hey, at least
 there's work around.  The computer industry is a very strange
 flagship industry to have, but Dell is headquartered in Austin,
 and Dell just set a bunch of new sales records.  It's an
 industry!  The Texas oil industry smells really bad.  The Texas
 cattle industry has screwflies, brucellosis and droughts.  I'm
 down with this Texas chip and computer thing.  It's working out
 down here.

     In fact, I really suspect that this historical moment may be
 a little Golden Age for our community.  Compared to what else has
 been going on, and compared to what else may be coming, this
 seems like a little Belle Epoque.  We're no longer so eccentric
 that we seem freakish, and yet we have not yet settled down quite
 so much that we've become wallpaper.  The electronic frontier is
 no longer a howling wilderness, and it hasn't yet matured into a
 decaying rust-belt slum.  We've really got it good!

     When it's all said and done, my primary concern in the year
 1998 is that we ought to be enjoying this more.  I think the
 computer community just plain works too hard.  We're all wrapped
 up in the eighty-hour weeks, and the piles of mounting email, and
 the constantly bleeping cellphones.  We need to learn to kick
 back.   We need to live less like galley slaves and more like
 human beings.  We may never have it this good again.

      That's why I've made it my personal goal at this CFP to try
 and buy everybody a beer.  The con's over now, our beloved CFP
 ad-hocracy is shutting down for another twelve months.  There's
 one important thing about ad-hocracies, a charming quality they
 have.   If you just get them outside of the video surveillance,
 and away from their podiums and microphones, and add a little
 social lubricant in the form of a couple of beers, they
 spontaneously disintegrate into parties.  And I don't mean grim,
 committed, political parties.  I  mean good old-fashioned
 yahoo-style parties.

      When you come right down to it, virtual communities are a
 pretty thin and cerebral parody of actual communities.  But I can
 slap a patch on that problem right now.   You're in my home town.
 This is Austin.  Slackerville.  Berkeley on the Colorado.   Come
 on out of the public spotlight, let's mosey on over to my house
 and let our hair down.  It's not a black-tie do, it's very laid
 back and Texan.   You're gonna have to twist off your own beer
 caps and nibble your own chips and sandwiches, but at least you
 can wear whatever the hell you want.  Expectations are low, and
 the entry barriers are nonexistent.   Nancy and I will be glad to
 have you.  Let's get actually communal, let's have a little
 life-affirming celebration.  Let's tie one on.

      So I dunno about you, but I'm outta here.  Last guy out of
 the building has to log off and shut down!


--------- End forwarded message ----------

_____________________________________________________________________
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