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Topic 39 of 52: Viridian List

Fri, Oct 23, 1998 (08:56) | Paul Terry Walhus (terry)

Bruce Sterling Establishes "Viridian List"

If you watch the news, you may have noticed that we Texans
have had a summer of unprecedent heat and drought,
followed by an autumn of unprecedented floods. I have
therefore started a new, second mailing list, which will
center around 21st century Green design issues. The new
"Viridian Mailing List" seeks a historical understanding
of technology, society, and their future trends, centering
around the Greenhouse Effect. Unlike Dead Media, which
has been very calm and scholarly, this Viridian list will
probably be rather strident and opinionated. If you
would like to join the Viridian List, send me email. I
will send you the 6,633-word text of my recent San
Francisco lecture, in which I vent some of my strong
feelings on this subject.

Bruce Sterling (

136 responses total.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 1 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Oct 29, 1998 (07:48) * 26 lines 
Earlier this month, science fiction author Bruce Sterling announced the
creation of Viridian, a new technocultural art movement. Sterling's goal?
Nothing less than saving the world from environmental Armageddon.

Sterling says he won't actually launch Viridian until Jan. 3, 2000. The
new millennium, he believes, will be eagerly receptive to new ideas. (Why
Jan. 3? Well, on Jan. 1, everyone will be hung over, and on Jan. 2,
nobody's computer will work.) In the meantime, Sterling is working out the
basic principles of the movement, and has set up a moderated mailing list
for the "Viridian Greens" to hash out the details.

What's it all about? Greenhouse warming, says Sterling, is undeniable to
all save fools and fat cats, but previous "green" environmental attempts
to change the world have failed. Sterling's answer is to concoct a new
esthetic -- one that values healthy design, eschews 20th century-style
waste and flourishes through distributed, collective, networked

Sterling has dubbed himself the movement's "mad Pope-Emperor." The whole
scheme sounds suspiciously similar to the plot of a Sterling novel -- but
like Sterling's works, it's audacious, funny and eloquent. Interested
mailing list subscribers can e-mail the man himself, at
-- Andrew Leonard
SALON | Oct. 27, 1998

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 2 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Oct 29, 1998 (08:05) * 327 lines 

From Mon Oct 26 12:42:15 1998
Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1998 12:42:15 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00005
X-UIDL: 1e200ae03c3852d34df65709e47a5514

Key concepts: Viridian aesthetic; distributed networks;
mobiles; Alexander Calder (1898-1976)

Attention Conservation Notice: This is art criticism.
There are over 900 words of it.

Sources: an original composition


There are two approaches to the problem of establishing a
Viridian aesthetic: the top-down approach, and the
bottom-up. The top-down method consists of issuing
historical analogies, broad statements of principle,
sweeping aphorisms, and so forth, and trawling these
verbal devices over the landscape in the hope that they
will net something useful.

The bottom-up approach relies on assembling specific
examples, whose aggregate might suggest an emergent
future sensibility.

Since we Viridians have an expiration date looming, we
will try both approaches at once. Our first candidate for
specific analysis, the first tree in our Viridian forest
as it were, is the "mobile," invented by twentieth-
century artist Alexander Calder.

Following our "underside-first" principle, we will
start by listing the aspects of Calder's mobiles which
are NOT of a Viridian sensibility. Only then will we
relate the aspects which seem to have promise for the
early 21st century.


Alexander Calder is by no means a contemporary artist. He
was born a full one hundred years ago and died in the

Mobiles have two basic elements: colored cut-out shapes,
and the jointed network of stiff wires that attach them.
Calder's shapes are flat and metallic, and generally
painted in Mondrian-like, industrial, primary colors.

Calder sometimes employed gimmicky, dated shapes
reminiscent of bad Space Age coffee-tables.

Calder sometimes attached mobile elements to
representational objects, such as wire-framed fish and
performing seals. Compared to the eerie majesty of the
best abstract mobiles, this overly cute, toylike practice
gives one a cloying sensation.

Desktop and floor-mounted "stabiles" are much less
visually effective than air-swarming, ceiling-hung
mobiles. Unless that is, the stabiles are built on a
monumental scale, so that they can loom astoundingly
over the viewer.

The movements of mobiles are determined by laws of gravity
and local air currents, rather than some more
sophisticated interchange among the moving elements.

As art objects, mobiles are somewhat difficult to assess,
because they are both sculpture and performance. They
present different visual experiences under different
environmental circumstances.


They were invented and built by a world-class avant-garde
artist with a degree in mechanical engineering.

Calder mobiles are strongly biomorphic in both shape and

They are thriftily built of cheap, recycled materials.

Mobiles move silently and tirelessly through the use of
ambient, renewable energy.

Mobiles are sensitive indicators of local environmental

Mobiles scale up well, although the truly colossal mobiles
require some modest aid from electric motors.

The term "mobile" was coined by Marcel Duchamp, a rather
sphinxlike, timeless figure.

Thanks to Calder's iterative balancing technique, a
mobile's simple network contains a great deal of subtle
embedded judgement. Thanks to this, the movement of a
mobile is not mechanically repetitive, but pleasantly
lifelike and unpredictable.

Calder mobiles are distributed, collaborative networks in

Although mobiles can be quite large in volume, even
monumental, they are very sparing in their use of
materials. They are dependent on open space, voids, and
transparency; less mass, more data.

Mobiles have a life-affirming sense of humor. It's hard
to imagine a grim, fanatical mobile.


There has been little formal innovation in Calder mobiles
in recent decades. They remain well-known as one of the
few art forms invented by an American artist (though he
had to go to Paris to do it). Mobiles have always enjoyed
a cult following, but in terms of technique they have
become a Modernist backwater.

However, there exists the possibility of profound
advancement in the design and construction of mobiles.

Calder himself built his mobiles with string and
tinsnips, snipping a bit here and there and shortening
the wire until he felt he had the balance right. It would
not seem difficult to automate this hands-on process
through computer-based balancing algorithms. This offers
the attractive prospect of monumental CAD-CAM mobiles
containing hundreds or thousands of perfectly balanced,
interacting elements.

Mobiles could become vastly more sensitive and
responsive if they abandoned the wire and sheet-iron of
the 1930s. Thermosensitive wire and polymer might change
color and movement with temperature. Humidity-sensitive
plastics might be useful. Ultralight mobiles of foam and
cellulose might be colorful and sturdy, yet almost float
in air.

In near-term cultural conditions, mobiles could
profoundly change their meaning. Our society is obsessed
with networks and their internal balances and struggles,
while Calder's era was analog, mechanical and pre-
cybernetic. Mobiles make far more sense today than they
did in the 1930s. The "network aesthetic" of mobiles
suggests a Viridian equivalent for the Modernist "machine

A Viridian mobile made of silicon circuit-plates and
data wiring would be an objective-correlative for the Net.
Such a device could be built to any scale, and could
display any number of sophisticated responses to various
aspects of its environment == it might, for instance,
move in response to passing network traffic, rather than
air currents. A 21st-century silicon mobile might compute
its own changing internal states of balance while
simultaneously absorbing and deploying solar power. There
are a host of possibilities here, for this art-device
would have all the protean capacities of a digital

Such a mobile could be programmed to behave in
sophisticated, unprecedented ways, simply impossible
during the twentieth century. Calder's mobile would
no longer be a Modernist art object, but rather a new

Bruce Sterling (

Topic 189 [mirrorshades]: Viridian List Archive
#12 of 12: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed Oct 28 '98 (15:08) 144 lines

From Wed Oct 28 16:57:42 1998
Date: Wed, 28 Oct 1998 16:57:42 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00006
X-UIDL: 24772537af0b8584ee996a5b914f04b2

Key concepts: Floods; unnatural disasters; safety
checklists; recovery procedures; literary criticism

Attention Conservation Notice: Grimly accurate; contains
tedious, gritty minutiae about one of life's worst
experiences; comes in two parts

Source: University of Minnesota Extension Service Home


The University of Minnesota's Extension Service has been
kind enough to publish a very extensive web document about
the situation one faces after a flood.

Global warming does not mean merely that the globe
gets warmer. Climatic patterns also become more erratic.
This means anomalous rainfall and more floods. This
summer there was an area the size of Europe underwater in
Asia. As I type this, a Category 5 hurricane, the fourth-
largest every recorded, approaches much-suffering Mexico,
bearing storm surge and flood. My own home town was
copiously flooded just last week.

Floods are one of the consequences of global warming
that are most likely to directly affect your home, your
business, your possessions, your loved ones, your city,
your nation, your economy. Those of you who have never
experienced or seen a flood are increasingly likely to do

Floods are very exciting to watch (which is why young
children often die in them). They are also very
disorienting (which is why old people often die in them).
People who safely resist the exhilirating drama of a flood
will survive, to find themselves dealing with its many
tedious and dispiriting consequences.

This is where the Viridian sensibility comes in.
We're not particularly interested in the brief spectacular
period of the flood proper. But we're very interested in
what a 21st century society will feel like, and act like,
as it experiences repeated, widespread episodes of "flood

The Minnesota "After the Flood" document suggests
useful tool kits, and gives all manner of handy hints on
drying, ventilation, personal safety, insurance
documentation, home repair -- everything from mildewed
wallpaper to portable toilets: 10,253 words. I will
briefly excerpt this document in two Viridian Notes, and
subject it to literary criticism. My comments are in
triple parentheses.

(((The opening table of contents conveys the long-
lingering aroma of the flood-recovery experience.)))

After the Flood

Safety Rules and Recovery Procedures After a Natural

Restoring Electrical Service After a Flood (((The
very first order of business is to renew CO2

Disposing of Sewage and Garbage (((Floods are
unexcelled at transforming your possessions into "sewage"
and "garbage." That which does not wash away is often

Priorities for Clean-Up and Repair (((Flood recovery
is a very big job. It is a major life trial. Make a list
first. Make *several* lists.)))

Supplies and Equipment for Home Clean-Up (((We learn
that these are rubber gloves, boots, buckets, crowbars,
hammers, screwdrivers, sponges, scrub brushes, garbage
bags, brooms, shovels, hoes, wheelbarrows, washtubs == and
so on.)))

Cleaners and Disinfectants (((In traditional
societies, floods were commonly followed by plagues.
This time-honored principle will still hold true in global
areas short of cheap disinfectant.)))

Mildew-Removing Procedures (((Various damp-happy
microorganisms will attack both your health and your

Checking Damaged Buildings (((You might wade free of
rising water, but having a flood-wrecked house fall on you
is quite a different matter. Electrocutions and gas
explosions are also lively possibilities.)))

Cleaning and Repairing Flooded Basements

Finding and Repairing Leaks in Roofs

Getting Rid of Flood Odor (((Lingering stenches are
the very signature of the Greenhouse Effect.)))

Opening Flooded Windows

Replacing Broken Window Panes

Cleaning Flooded Floors And Woodwork

Treating Warped And De-Laminated Floors

Drying Walls

Cleaning Interior Walls

Repairing Exterior Siding

Patching Plaster

Installing Wallboard

Installing Paneling


(((You can struggle free of destitution and chaos in a
matter of days -- but those last eleven items show that
it's a long, long march back to conventional, G-7 style
domestic reality.)))

Bruce Sterling (

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 3 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Nov  2, 1998 (09:10) * 162 lines 

From Fri Oct 30 13:29:22 1998
Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 13:29:22 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00007
X-UIDL: 8bce68de3a736cc31614e2890cb127ed

Key concepts: Floods; unnatural disasters; safety
checklists; recovery procedures; literary criticism

Attention Conservation Notice: A continuation of Note
00006; grimly accurate; bureaucratically thorough;
contains tedious, gritty minutiae about one of life's
worst experiences

Sources: University of Minnesota Extension Service Home


(((My comments are in triple parentheses == bruces)))

Safety Rules and Recovery Procedures After a Natural

1. See that your family is safe from flood crests, fire,
or falling buildings.

2. Cooperate fully with local authorities, rescue squads,
and local Red Cross chapters.

3. Help locate shelter, food, clothing, transportation,
medical supplies, and medical help for victims.

4. Obey health regulations for personal and community
protection against disease epidemics. Report any

(((The problem of looters rarely receives mention, even though
looters are omnipresent in post-disaster situations. (The most
eager and immediate looters are children.) It is simply
*assumed* that all citizens are cooperative, fully socialized,
responsible Samaritans. Until #4 that is, when they are suddenly
urged to become vigilant informants against health violators.
Such is life when authority breaks down == full of upbeat

5. If premises have been flooded, flush plumbing fixtures
with buckets of water to be sure they are open. Have
health authorities inspect sanitary disposal systems.
Water may have backed up into the septic tank, which in
turn backs up into the plumbing system. This could be a
health hazard.

(((The gush of one's own sewage is one of many small humiliations;
but fail to deal with this, and you risk dysentery or worse.)))

6. Do not use water from private supply until health
authorities have tested it. Boil drinking water 10 minutes
or chlorinate by adding 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach per
gallon of water.

7. Do not use food that has come in to contact with flood
waters. Some foods can be salvaged if properly packaged.
Consult local health officials if in doubt.

(((Good advice. Now imagine yourself in a situation
where these "health authorities" and "local health
officials" are corrupt, absent, drowned, or simply
nonexistent. Though CO2 is mostly an industrial G7
emanation, the effects are worst in areas where the world
remains most nearly natural.)))

8. Sanitize dishes, cooking utensils, and food
preparation areas before using them. (((A Belle
Epoque sees no difficulty in *finding* food after
a disaster.)))

9. When entering damaged buildings, use flashlights only,
not matches, torches, or any open flame. Watch for nails,
splinters, holes in walls or floors, wet or falling
plaster, undermined foundations, and gas leaks.

10. Do not use electrical system until it has been checked
by an electrician. (((Presumably electricians are thick
on the ground in your area.)))

11. Wait until any flood waters are below basement level
before trying to drain or pump the basement. (((Health
hazards, bad water and personal ruination don't make
people any brighter.)))

12. Start clean-up as soon as possible. Thoroughly dry and
clean house before trying to live in it. Delay permanent
repairs until buildings are thoroughly dry. ((("Demand
the Impossible" == Situationist International)))

13. Control rodents and insects. (((Before they control

14. Remove sediment from heaters, flues, and motors before
using them. To speed drying, start stoves and furnaces as
soon as they have been checked for safety. (((Removing
sediment from a motor must be an interesting process,
especially in a design world where more and more big-
ticket items are impossible to open or service.)))

15. Take all furniture and rugs outdoors to dry. ((( A handy
practice for those nonexistent looters.)))

16. Dry and air bedding, clothing, and rugs as soon as
possible to prevent mildew.

17. Set priorities. Accomplish most important tasks first,
and avoid physical over-exertion. (((It's very human to
"set priorities" as task number 17, when you're already
worn out from labor.)))

18. Be sure children are safe and are being cared for at
all times. Never leave young children alone or allow than
to play in damaged buildings or areas that might be
unsafe. (((The rain falls on young and old alike, but
surely the author of this superior injunction has never
taken charge of young children. A wrecked house is the very
definition of attractive nuisance, and there's no better
time to escape your parents than when they're losing
everything they own.)))

19. Give special attention to cleaning children's toys,
cribs, playpens, and play equipment. Boil any items, for
10 minutes, that a toddler or baby might put in his mouth.
Discard stuffed toys, plastic toys, waterlogged toys, and
non-cleanable toys. (((A plethora of Freudian trauma here
as parents ritually destroy the child's most prized

20. Keep chemicals used for disinfecting, and poisons used
for insect and rodent control, out of the reach of
children. (((You may be in a major disaster, but that
doesn't make you bulletproof to life's many other smaller
hazards. In fact, you are worse off now, because you have no
attention to spare.)))

21. Wear protective clothing on legs, arms, feet, and
hands while cleaning up debris. Wear rubber gloves while
scrubbing flood-damaged interiors and furniture. (((And
since we'll be spending weeks on end in garb like this,
it's time for the Viridian couturier to make post-disaster
clothing that *looks and feels better.*)))

Bruce Sterling (

from jonl:
Amaze your friends! Point them to the Viridian archive, extracted to, also linked to

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 4 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Nov  5, 1998 (14:21) * 332 lines 
Topic 189 [mirrorshades]: Viridian List Archive
#17 of 17: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed Nov 4 '98 (09:18) 329 lines

From Wed Nov 4 10:48:45 1998
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998 10:48:45 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Note 00010
X-UIDL: 586e4db759e130de0dc8554824217fc4

Key concepts: Viridian Commentary: Viridian cuisine;
Viridian domain name; propaganda tactics; Viridian
Principles of Design; flood recovery; PEM fuel cells;
Viridian ranking

Attention Conservation Notice: Comments to the Viridian
moderator are ruthlessly edited. I question whether you
should read these comments from your fellow Viridians.
Can these sources be trusted? Who knows their real
agenda? These people could be anybody, even you.

From: (J. Lasser)

I was just picking up another computer book (*The Perl
Cookbook* from O'Reilly and Associates, written by Tom
Christiansen and Nathan Torkington). Imagine my surprise
when I read Larry Wall's introduction:

"Cooking is also one of the oldest of the arts. Some
modern artists would have you believe that so-called
ephemeral art is a recent invention, but cooking has
always been an ephemeral art. We can try to preserve our
art, make it last a little longer, but even the food we
bury with our pharoahs gets dug up eventually." (p. xxi)

This fulfills (literally!) the "Eat What You Kill"
dictum, the "embrace of decay" (what else would blue
cheese be?), "Planned Evanescence", and "Viridian

Depending on tastes, cooking can also be compatible
with the following Viridian principles: "The Future Is
History," "History Accumulates," "Look at the Underside
First" (look at the growth of organic foods for a
cautionary tale), "Design for the Old," "Superstition
Isn't Inspiration," "Do Less With Less," "There's No One
So Green as the Dead," "Make the Invisible Visible," "Less
Mass, More Data" (try nouvelle cuisine), "Seek the
Biomorphic and the Transorganic," and "Datamine Nature."

Cooking is not clearly incompatible with any thus-far
stated Viridian principle. Of course, it's not hard to
imagine an anti-Viridian meal == for example, a steak
raised in a burned-over rainforest.

From: (Darren Mckeeman)

If you're going to have a movement, it's not going to do
to have your URL on someone else's server. We need our own
domain name to go with the Viridian image. Based on my own
experiences, I'll go so far as to suggest a 'presence'

1) A domain name (
2) An image package (I can't help you there -- I'm all
3) a propaganda campaign to get 'Viridian' into the public
4) a document storage method (otherwise known as designing
a useful website).

The first two items are easy. First, find a graphic
designer. You can trip over them in doorways here in San
Francisco. Then you get someone to donate web space. This,
too, is easy here in San Francisco.

The second half of my list will take some work and a
small investment -- maybe $20 per flunkey. Yes, it takes
volunteers to properly lead a propaganda campaign. The
Viridian Movement needs some memetic form of propaganda,
such as peel-off stickers. I suggest brilliant neon-green
stickers with our web address. We can send a roll to each
person on this list for them to start plastering bus
stops, cars, bathroom stalls, garbage cans, personal
computers, street signs, etc. Human beings love to deface
property -- let's give in to our own inner nature!

Of course, this might appeal more to kids than to old

From: (Richard Dorsett)

Viridian Publishing: I believe one of the most important
things we should strive to change is the nature of
publishing. Whole forests die so the lumpenproletariat
can read about Rosie O'Donnell's new diet. The notion of
chopping down trees to produce romance novels, wrestling
magazines and tabloid newspapers is especially repugnant.

This idea is, of course, openly elitist. I propose a
ban on the use of physical paper to produce any document
that does not meet the strict aesthetic standards of the
Viridian Council. Of course, I realize that our sublime
edicts will have no authority whatsoever in the "real"
world, but by issuing press releases (on-line, of course),
and calling into play "reputation economics," we can focus
painful attention on publications that are absolute wastes
of paper.

As the Viridian Greens gain respect for our many fresh
ideas and futurist design scenarios, people will heed our
edicts. "Books" will once again become precious art
objects, designed to appeal to the eye, the hand, and the
mind. Magazines, perhaps printed on pure hemp rag paper,
will once again become things of beauty, following the
lead of the artists and designers of the Belle Epoque.

We can start by creating an award to give to
publishers outstanding in their greed and bad taste. I
suggest a fine parchment with a photograph of the Tunguska
blast site or Mount St. Helens, showing disaster areas
with trees laid flat for miles, with a legend such as "For
Outstanding Achievement In The Area Of Deforestation."

We could also reward publishers who design and print
lovely, worthwhile publications on a stock of older,
preferably hand-made paper. Soon, our awards will be
either feared or highly coveted.

From: (Richard Sewell)

There's a common idea in these principles :

"Eat What You Kill"
"Avoid the Timeless, Embrace Decay"
"Planned Evanescence"
"Look at the Underside First"
"Design For Evil"
"Design for the Old"

They're all facets of designing for the whole effect of a
thing on the world, over all its users and all its
lifespan. This suggests a host of similar questions. What
better but late-developing design might be stillborn if
this one is successful? What developments will this design
inspire in a few years? Will this design encourage
monopoly or competition? How will it change once it has
become successful and moved downmarket?

How do Viridian principles rub along with the economic
imperatives that seem to give industrial design its lack
of foresight? Are we just trying to shame them into doing
it better ?

Thinking about the artifacts I use and love the best,
many of them (my favourite coat, my sewing machine, my
bed, my lathe, my chair) are decades old. They work well
and last a long time, far beyond original market
requirements. They are Viridian exemplars in that they've
generated a lot of utility from a little bit of resource.
They've avoided leaving useless components behind by not
becoming irreparable or obsolete (yet). They are all
targeted at long-term needs.

From: (Greg Langille)

Hi Bruce. Fab list of principles.

As far as requests for candidates, a few obvious ones
occur in the power-generating industry. Perhaps a scale
could be used, eg.:

0 - 10 where 0 is the perfect Viridian object.

1 - wooden water turbines
5 - solar panels ( what do you do with the hardware when
it breaks?)
10 - nuclear power

Perhaps a formula could be used:

Viridian Quotient = (time in use) / ((time to create) +
(time until 100% decomposition))

This would give a "working life" figure. A broom made of
sticks would have a higher figure than the Nuclear Plant,
but lower than a song performed live by a band.

From: (Marcelo Rinesi)

Concerning the handling of flood disasters, by a member of
a flood-ridden society (Argentina).

I live in a city in the shore of the Paran'a River, in
South America, which is a zone frequently flooded. Based
on what I've seen, I believe that society simply gets used
to floods. After a time, floods become part of the
landscape, like corrupt politicians. Long term solutions
aren't pressed for. Humans just adapt.

I infer that natural disasters alone won't generate
much political pressure to change policy. We will have to
factor something else.

Societies long-exposed to certain disaster tend to be
aware of its signals. In my city's case, the river's
level makes headlines often. We should speed the creation
of the awareness for those disasters, to make society more
efficient on dealing with them. Education on climatology
and individual access to large, global, disaster-
prediction systems should be made available. This might
be a necessary step toward finding the will to prevent or
solve disasters.

A BBS-like system to post notices of natural
disasters could be implemented almost overnight. Warnings
would be issued by research scientists, and the post-fact
assessment and help could be issued directly from field
experts, especially those in other countries. That system
would be "very Viridian," as it would work almost
biologically, like a nervous system for the planet.

A nervous system seems to be very needed now, as so
far we only have some sort of "brain" (the Net).
Widespread, low-level, sensory, global nervous systems
aren't available or working yet, and maybe one of the
goals or means of the Viridian movement should be to
implement them.

Our material possessions can't be moved from the path
of disaster overnight (I sadly learned this by my own
experience), so they are particularly disaster-exposed. A
less materially-based culture, which the Viridian movement
wants, will paradoxically ease some of the effects of
natural disasters, making them less fearful and urgent.

A highly data-based culture might be ideal for an
environmentally stricken planet. It should be part of our
contingency plans in case of failure. (We are going to
have contingency plans, aren't we?)

From: (Jim Thompson)

You should do something on 'fuel cells'. The (fairly
new) Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) cells hold huge
promise for cheap, clean, safe energy (and lots of it)
from renewable sources.

Basically, a fuel cell is like a battery where you
put in some low-grade hydrocarbon (ethanol, methanol,
kerosene, LP Gas, Natural Gas, diesel, methane). You get
DC power out, with pure water and heat as the by-products.

The huge advantage to the PEM-based cells is that
they run cool (50C-120C, .versus up to 1800C for other
types) and they don't need hard-to-handle catalysts

Several companies are getting commercial-grade PEM-
based fuel cells ready for deployment around 2000.
Personally, as soon as they're available, I'm taking my
home off the grid. PEM technology is very Viridian,
since it is cute, sexy and glamorous.

There are photos at:

A 10 kilowatt stack of cells with a volume of 37 liters
(less than 2 cubic feet) weighs 65kg (about 140lbs).

Get 5-6 of those going, and you can replace the
220V/200amp service to your home. Practice a little
conservation, and you can get by with far less.

Plug Power ( is one of the
companies attempting to make a product for the consumer


Bruce Sterling remarks: Thank you for your generous help,
both in this public posting and behind the Viridian
scenes. It is much appreciated. I will now formally
distribute chevrons and stars in a glorious flurry of
Viridian reputation capital.^^^^^^*^^*^**


 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 5 of 136: TeknoSlut (tami) * Fri, Nov  6, 1998 (04:43) * 1 lines 
most interesting. I came back to Texas expecting my house to be flooded away. It wasn't so I am now following a different path than the one I anticipated. I have decided to set priorities now. Belongings stay in storage, trade in floodable house for a travel-type trailer that has a better chance of aver. I like the fuel cell idea. Alot. I need to live more simply. If I accumulate less, I have less to lose. Always carry Lysol, bleach and detergent. It's a start?

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 6 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Nov  6, 1998 (08:18) * 2 lines 
What's your favorite bleach?

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 7 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Sun, Nov  8, 1998 (10:47) * 247 lines 

From Fri Nov 6 17:56:19 1998
Date: Fri, 6 Nov 1998 17:56:19 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00011
X-UIDL: 2d652495059a63eb444b7afaa26758b8

Key concepts: Viridian mascot; design contest

Attention Conservation Notice: A Viridian design contest
is proposed. If you choose to take part, it may soak up
considerable attention and even physical labor.

Viridian Notes 1-10 have established our basic
Viridian interests. We will remain preoccupied with
general design principles, near-term trend-spotting, and
specific critical assessment of artifacts in the
arts/technology/sciences. We want to collate our findings
in some coherent statement for January 3, 2000.

But mere words in a row can't be the be-all and end-
all of a design movement. We also need to design.

Mailing lists are well-designed for zapping sermons.
But the net's wiring lacks tensile strength. It's hard
to tug the net so deftly that people will stand up in
response, leave their monitors, and do something creative.
Especially when they're not being paid.

This is an interesting challenge in net-culture. It
is no doubt fraught with all manner of unseen potholes and
troubling downsides. But we must start somewhere. So, we
will start small. Very small. Microscopic, even.

The first Viridian design project is a graphic logo,
the first official portrait of our own lovable Viridian
mascot: "Big Mike, the Viridian Bug." Big Mike is a
micro-organism, probably a decay and recycling agent of
some kind, who has the word "viridian" written across his
back. "Big Mike" is meant to feature on Viridian coffee-
cups, mouse-pads, websites, aristo-digital jewelled cuff-
links, teenage cyber-vandal adhesive stickers, and so on.
While we don't plan to go directly into multinational
manufacturing, we Viridians can manage some modest,
nonprofit, hobbyist efforts along this line. It's not for
nothing that the Viridian list emanates from, a retail outlet for cyber-slacker gizmos
and tchatchkes.


A designed logo is a piece of intellectual property, meant
for purposes of corporate identity. There is something
inherently troublesome and contradictory in using a logo
in a not-for-profit, non-incorporated, private context.
Especially when you have no intention of making a profit
through use of the logo, and *no intention whatsoever of
ever paying its creator any royalties for the use of the
image,* no matter how many times it gets used or what
weird places it ends up in.

Ever since the human race first discovered micro-organisms
through improved scientific sensors, we have been
carefully trained to regard them as dangerous, unglamorous
and icky.

Though they are very responsive and do a lot of highly
sophisticated "processing," microbes aren't real big on
thought processes of any kind.

Given the chance, certain species of microbes have
repeatedly wreaked unparalleled genocidal havoc.

Microbes sadly lack a dashing Pope-Emperor figure.


Cloned sheep may grab all the headlines, but the real
workhorses of the coming biorevolution will probably be
genetically warped microbes.

A microbe is an invisible entity made visible through
sensor technology.

Microbes do most of the heavy lifting in the ecosystem.

Microbes are the world's most senior form of life, but
they don't get old. They just keep refreshing themselves
by splitting in half.

Microbes seem to enjoy swapping packets of genetic
information among themselves, rarely bothering to undergo
any of the tiresome organizational formalities of actual

When times are right, microbes seethe forth suddenly in
untold numbers and transform everything they touch. When
that's over, they dry up and go to sleep, practicing
"Viridian inactivism" for centuries on end.

Microbes don't require budgets.

Microbes travel freely on dust specks and patches of damp,
and are notoriously indifferent to national borders,
religion, ethnic background, language barriers and other
annoyances. As for gender, microbes don't have any.

Human beings are seething with large, variegated microbe
populations inside and out, and they strongly effect our
metabolism and our daily lives whether we realize it or

Microbes "Eat What They Kill" and are largely responsible
for the fact that "There Is No One So Green As the Dead."

Microbes spin out a lot of variants, make repeated
iterative mistakes, and evolve rapidly in response to
environmental challenges.

Genetically engineered microbes are transorganic,
biomorphic and their industrial use requires one to
datamine nature.

Germs are the glamorous coming thing in the way-new,
gooey, squishy, seething, wriggling, wetware revolution.

"Big Mike's" Design Parameters

Big Mike has a flat black and white 2-D version,
suitable for ink and paper, and a color 3-D version
suitable for websites and video. You can design either or

Big Mike's transorganic body is shaped like a 2-D
Piet Hein "superellipse," or, alternately, a 3-D Piet Hein
"superegg." Piet Hein (1905-1996) was a Danish poet,
mathematician, urban planner and furniture designer. One
of these days I will get around to explaining why this
dead Danish guy is such an inspiring 21st-century figure,
but in the meantime, just take it on faith.

If you've never seen a "superellipse," look at these
web addresses. They have some lovely photos of Piet Hein's
Danish-Viridian "superellipse" designs.

Here for good measure is some of Hein's aphoristic guru-
style poetry, a source of light in the dark times of the
Nazi occupation:

Big Mike's mathematically egg-shaped body is surrounded
by cilia. Cilia are those little waving oars and tendrils
that stick out of certain protozoa. There may be a
certain graphic influence here from the Belle Epoque Art
Nouveau whiplash-line.

Big Mike's body is spotted all over with little bumps
or vacuoles. These bumps are the same size and shape as
the three dots on the dotted i's in the lower-case word
"viridian," which Big Mike bears lengthwise on his/her/its
back. The word "viridian" starts near Big Mike's
nonexistent "head," and since he is a "movement" logo, Big
Mike is depicted in motion, apparently to the viewer's

Big Mike has a cheerful, cartoonish, bouncy, animated
quality. In his nonexistent heart, Big Mike probably has
some of the European joie de vivre of the similarly
monstrous, yet somehow cute and appealing, Michelin Man.

The Graphic Requirements

You can create an image of Big Mike the Viridian Bug by
any means, digital or analog, that you consider necessary.

To enter the contest, you must place your image of Big
Mike on some web server that the rest of us can access.
Then tell me where you have put it, and I will announce
its location to the list. Do not email me a graphic
enclosure. I don't want them. The list moderator is not
going to be archiving graphic images. The Pope Emperor
has got his papal hands full with the Notes, the texts,
the correspondence, the interviews, the semi-functional
Viridian ranking system, and the sign-ups and bounces. To
enter, you have to put Big Mike up onto the Web yourself,
and you must see to it that the image remains accessible
to everyone on the list, at least until the contest ends.

If you want to place Big Mike with your other graphic
work on your website, commercial or otherwise, that's fine
with us. We don't mind a bit if you explain something to
us about your other work.

If you create an image of Big Mike and display it for
the attention of other Viridians, you will receive a star

If you create the most innately Viridian version of
Big Mike, you will receive the contest's award. Your
award will be one copy of the highly Viridian-relevant
PERSUASION 1885-1945, selections from the Wolfsonian
design museum, edited by Wendy Kaplan, Thames and Hudson
Press, 1995. This 352-page, lavishly illustrated, glossy
coffee-table book will look swell on your Danish Piet Hein
superelliptical coffee-table. (Being an impulsive
volunteer-type, you will probably buy a Piet Hein table
once you have seen what they look like). This book will be
mailed to you, at the moderator's expense, to any site on
the planet reachable by a snailmail postal service. In the
case of a tie, I will send two books.

We are particularly eager to see graphic work by
Viridians whose first language is not English. Here is
your chance to shatter the language barrier, and make your
true talents known to your many fellow Viridians (shocking
numbers of whom are influential journalists). Yes, I am
talking to you, Russians. Don't worry; if a Russian
artist somehow wins this bug-designing contest, I will get
you this DESIGNING MODERNITY book, even if I have to fetch
it over there in a string bag.

The final deadline for Big Mike submissions is one
month from today. I look forward to hearing from you and
seeing your efforts. Good luck!

Bruce Sterling (

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 8 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Nov  9, 1998 (12:12) * 5 lines 

Mitchell Porter has created an html Viridian index at

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 9 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Tue, Nov 10, 1998 (07:48) * 193 lines 

From Mon Nov 9 21:20:25 1998
Date: Mon, 9 Nov 1998 21:20:25 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00012
X-UIDL: 68fa937c1b6526302ac433955cf07628

Key concepts: Web links, Viridian ranking

Attention Conservation Notice: There is very little
content in this Note. It consists of a long list of links
that may or may not be of interest, plus the second
Viridian Ranking.

Links: it's mostly links

Someday it may be useful and constructive to have a list
of official Viridian-approved links. Or will it? People
on the Internet link with such carefree abandon that it
makes one wonder. Links are perceived somehow as an
unalloyed good. This is a sign of danger in any
technological development. A link unaccompanied by
critical assessment is a little attention-bomb. For our
successors, the novelty of links may fade; the kudzu-like
mess of links may seem stale or even poisonous. Giving
someone a list of hotlinks might be seen as vaguely
passive-aggressive, as if you had crammed his doors and
windows with endless stacks of free encyclopedias and
giveaway floppy disks.

Thanks to the kindness of alert correspondents, we
have accumulated many Viridian-associated links. But what
do they all mean? And how do they feel? And what is
their real context? Are they really worth our while?
What do they promise for the future? Who will tell us
about all this? Investigate these links, if you will.
Think about these questions. Write us a careful and
heartfelt assessment. Be frank! If your criticism makes
the list, you will earn a star >*<. You will vault toward
the top of the Viridian ranks.


The Viridian Ranking System has been hand-created
with a vintage fountain pen and fine art paper.
Scars, flaws, and imperfections add character and
are an inherent part of the product.^^^^^^^^*^^^*^^^*^^*^*^**^^^^^^^^^^^^

Bruce Sterling (

Type links and press at the OK prompt and you'll get those links
in hypertext. It's at

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 10 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Tue, Nov 10, 1998 (09:46) * 2 lines 
I emailed bruces about adding this url to the list.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 11 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Nov 11, 1998 (06:37) * 273 lines 
From Tue Nov 10 18:45:34 1998
Date: Tue, 10 Nov 1998 18:45:34 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List mailto://
From: Bruce Sterling mailto://

Key concepts: Web links, link criticism, automoderating

Attention Conservation Notice: Although it is rather
long, this Note may save some of your attention if you
were bravely preparing to examine the long list of links
in yesterday's Note 00012.


Entries in the "Big Mike" Viridian Design Contest:

From:^* (Alex Steffen)
Re: Viridian Note 00012


I took a quick stroll through the links you sent,
and while many of them are of potential interest, I would
personally find it much more useful if links were used to
provide material to fuel conversations directly. For
instance: "Check out this OECD site. They're doing
amazing things with taxes and resource pricing. Is there
a way in which Viridian design could influence the way
people think about taxes (on the principle of 'Make the
Invisible Visible')?"

Then I could know better how (or if) I wanted to absorb
this link into my info flow, which is already eating away
at the thin levees of organization I've built to contain

"No Info-Dumping" should be a Viridian principle.
Let's have less information, elegant information, useful
information, passionate information... not just more of
it. I'd rather get a haiku than a dissertation any day.

(((bruces remarks: I couldn't agree with you more, Alex,
but who exactly is supposed to be "mining the haikus" out
of all those info-dumps? Meaning and passion are not
invisible goods. Your info-levees merely export your
flood of data downstream to the rest of us.)))

From:^^* (Stefan Jones)

It might be of benefit to give links various Viridian

Import (5 - Astounding, of immense interest; 0 - Not
worthless, but certainly not a priority).

For instance, a RealTime archive of Rush Limbaugh, shaken
by news of Honduran disaster, losing it and turning into a
Green on-air, would rate a 5. Technical reports on a fuel
cell, when other more accessible articles have already
been listed, might rate a 1 or 0.

Timeliness (5 - Ephemeral, read IMMEDIATELY, 0 - Will be
there forever)

For instance,
is a series of daily entries about the Buenos Aires global
warming conference. It's rated a 4 because it will be
around only a week or so.

Aproposity (5 - Dead-on related to Viridian interests, 2 -
Tangentially related, 0 - No direct relation to

For instance
rates a 0; it's a great site, but not apropos. On the
other hand, if ran an article on mailing list
"automoderating groupware," you might mention it in a
Viridian post.

Commercial intent (5 - It's an unabashed plug, and perhaps
suspect; 4 - It's got a good description of the product,
plus a way to buy it; 0 - It's a fair and unbiased
review.) might rate 4; old-time Whole Earth Reviews a

(((bruces remarks: this puts a cheering facade of
mathematical rigor onto our problem, but we still require
invisible munchkins to do our critical assessment work and
supply us with passion and meaning. Viridians can expect
to hear a great deal more in future about the concept of
"automoderating groupware." If "automoderating groupware"
worked, the Pope-Emperor could put his feet up and save
the world by remote control.)))

From:^^^** (J Lasser)

Re Note 00012: "Someday it may be useful and
constructive to have a list of official Viridian-approved
links. Or will it?"

Of course it won't. Rather than Viridian-approved links,
we need an annotated Viridian bibliography.

Consider my friend Ed's site.

"The Critical Constant" is a weekly net-based science
publication different from most others. While most of its
articles are summaries from _Science_News_ and _Science_,
they're written for an intelligent audience which
understands scientific concepts and methods, but has no
time for the inner workings of the scientific community.
Short, well-written, and with humorous headlines, "The
Critical Constant" tells readers what they should know
about the world of science.

A sample, from issue 12 (archived at

"Scars on the sky may burn us alive!

"Jet airplanes leave contrails, those fluffy mini-clouds
of unspeakable smoke and oxidized filth. These hang in
the sky, either until they unite with water droplets and
fall, or until they spark the formation of cirrus clouds.
Cirrus clouds, for their part, warm the Earth. A
preliminary estimate suggests that 0.1C to 0.3C of the
last 30-odd years' warming might be due to these cirrus

To turn to an assessment from your list in Note 00012:

Slashdot is about as far from a Viridian website as is
possible. Youth-oriented and focused almost exclusively on
the near-term, Slashdot thinks not of the environment, nor
of the ultimate consequences of technology run amok.
Despite this, it's a model example of virtual community's
effectiveness as an organizing tool. (This despite the
Slashdot community's notorious all-talk no-code nature.)

From:^* (Michael Treece)

Review of

Your Pope-Emperorship:

I found the Carfree Times at to be well-
researched and well-thought-out. It deals with the
problems of transportation and city living from both a
macro (urban planning, use of space) and a micro level
(bus scheduling, whether or not to fence in backyards).
It uses European cities as its inspiration, in the main; a
bit too much Venice here, though. Long on solutions, and
very light on blame for the current US situation (i.e., it
does not take Firestone, General Motors, et al. to task
for the takeover and destruction of mass transit in the
1940s). Many "solutions" do depend on the building of new
cities, though adaptation of existing cities is addressed.

Website graphics are clean, spare, and adequate;
nothing moves, and no cool effects are noted. Arrangement
facilitates rapid utilization of the site, as the reader
is quickly moved from one page to the next.

The bulk of the site, with its attendant information
load, can be viewed in under one hour.

From:^^^** (Richard Sewell)

I agree with your comment in Note 00012 - a link serves a
useful purpose only if backed up with some substantial
content. I see no value in a mere list of links
(especially after wading though this lot).

In random order, then:

Freeware artificial-life app. Neat, but I see no Viridian

Fairly detailed overview of the COP-4 climate-change talks
in Buenos Aires, November 1988, with plenty of links to
official sites.

Art and art theory, including some sculpture made of
salvage and some theorising about electricity. If the
Futurists were Viridian, this guy is too, but not so much,
and he's not as interesting.

News report about biodegradable coffins. Aren't they all
made from wood anyhow? Perhaps this illustrates the
banality of environmental bandwagoning.

Online catalogue of stuff in the New Age/Save The Planet
camp - hemp scarves, water filters, worm farms, personal
sundials. Gimmicky, might contain some worthwhile stuff.

Meteorological balloons for sale.

An introduction to the large and complex world of
decorative balloons and balloon-twisting.

NASA news story about experimental aerogel manufacture on
the US Space Shuttle. Apparently, aerogels made under
gravity are not completely transparent, whereas aerogels
made in free fall can be. If transparent aerogels could be
made on Earth, they could be used to make insulating
windows. Viridian? Well, it's a neat tech which could be
used for energy-saving ends, but it looks like a bit of a
boondoggle to me. The world already has Scandinavian
triple-glazing, and mostly doesn't bother to use it.

Imperial College in Britain is installing a multi-megawatt
CHP (Combined Heat and Power) system. Some technical

At last, some relevance. This is an organisation
campaigning for, and planning for, cities without cars.
Seems like thoughtful and sensible stuff. If we don't get
fusion and electric cars, we'll need something like this
on CO2 grounds alone, and we may well need it just to
escape gridlock anyhow.

(((bruces remarks: the heroic intellectual labor of
mailto:// speaks for itself!)))

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 12 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Nov 12, 1998 (08:45) * 96 lines 
From Wed Nov 11 17:45:37 1998
Date: Wed, 11 Nov 1998 17:45:37 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00014
X-UIDL: 9f257fe7e8ce0551ad5cc12117ed79ff

Key concepts: MIT Media Lab, Remembrance Agents, just-in-
time information; context-aware applications; history-rich
digital objects; link criticism

Attention Conservation Notice: it's a way-cool, thought-
provoking rap about some digital vaporware that doesn't
actually exist in the marketplace


Entries in the "Big Mike" Viridian Design Contest:

From:^* (Alan Wexelblat)
X-NSA: radar terrorist supercomputer Qaddafi SEAL Team 6

Regarding Note 00012 and the link to:

I figure I should comment on this one, since Brad Rhodes
works in the office next to me. RA is the Remembrance
Agent, an implementation of a class of software agents
with interesting ideas/properties.

The Remembrance Agent works as a form of computerized
associative memory, a non-conventional information
retrieval agent. The Remembrance Agent is long-lived,
background-operating, and watches your current context.
One of our Media Lab sponsors, British Telecom, has
adapted it to work on PCs with Microsoft Word. In the
version on the Web, it's an Emacs editor buffer in which
you might be reading email, writing a paper, or whatever.
The principle is the same.

As you work, the Remembrace Agent watches your context
and uses keywords extracted from that context (the current
paragraph, the last page you read, etc.) to make queries
against a database of information you've given it. This
database could be your personal email files, the Science
Citation Index, the CIA World Fact Book, etc. If there
are any interesting hits from these queries, a small
summary of them (usually 1 line) is shown in a separate

You can ignore this window and keep working, or if
something catches your eye, you can click on it to get the
full text of the Remembrance hit.

Another Remembrance Agent (not yet publicly released)
is called Margin Notes. It operates as a Web proxy
server. It annotates Web pages for you on the fly with
potentially appropriate hits from your databases. These
annotations are contained in small boxes placed on the
right of the Web page, simulating the effect of "notes in
the margin" of a paper-based book.

Key phrases to remember for this work and other work
in our group (including my own Footprints tools) are:
just-in-time information; context-aware applications;
history-rich digital objects.

My own work on digital interaction history relates to
the "Avoid the Timeless, Embrace Decay" idea. In a digital
context, I believe it's erroneous to state that "History
Accumulates." Draw your own connections.

(((bruces remarks: thank you, I will. In the next
century it will be a self-evident truism that cyberspace
rots. Software decays in an unconventional, nonphysical
way, but it definitely decays and the social, commercial
and technical consequences will become more and more
painful and obvious with each passing year. Tools that
emphasize software decay and digital historicality are of
intense Viridian interest. A software agent that
partially automates human historical awareness would be a
particular Viridian darling == if it were ever out of

Alan Wexelblat MIT Media Lab - Intelligent Agents Group

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 13 of 136: Stacey Vura (stacey) * Mon, Nov 16, 1998 (16:09) * 2 lines 
man, that is an impossible amount to scroll through while telnetting.
(I mean physically imposible)

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 14 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Nov 16, 1998 (21:06) * 2 lines 
have you read read | more ?

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 15 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Nov 16, 1998 (21:07) * 3 lines 
Or r | more
That will pause every screen.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 16 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Nov 18, 1998 (10:59) * 149 lines 

From Thu Nov 12 08:12:29 1998
Date: Thu, 12 Nov 1998 08:12:29 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00015
X-UIDL: 4e34d4cc61a1d77f6bc2483a49033e88

Key concepts: Weather Violence, permanent corporate
brands, air conditioned clothes, genetic bamboo,
reflective algae, orbiting solar mirrors, floating
aircraft hubs

Attention Conservation Notice: This is highly
imaginative, wacky sci-fi speculation. It serenely
ignores real-world problems in technical development, such
as start-up costs, return on investment, technological
lock-in, lawsuits, labor unions, and corporate dominance
of the political process. It offers no hard evidence to
back its wild claims; there's not so much as a single
cocktail-napkin calculation here. Maybe it's
irresponsible, but I dote on this kind of thinking, I find
it spiritually refreshing.


Entries in the "Big Mike" Viridian Design Contest:

From:* (Michael Goldhaber)

Dear Viridian CEO Bruce,

The whole thing is a terrific idea, I certainly hope it
keeps going.

A few points.

The term "Global Warming" needs improvement.

"Global warming" sounds much too comfortable. The
core demographic of Viridian old people might imagine
themselves spared the need to move to Florida. It's not
mere "warming." It would be better described as "Global
Storming" or perhaps "Violent Weather Crime." In this
vein, explicit examples of "Criminal Weather Violence"
might help.

One small item from the 11/03/98 New York Times: the
dense atmospheric smoke from burning rain forests causes
more powerful, positively charged lightning, instead of
the usual negatively charged variety. This violent
lightning can result in more forest fires, hence more
smoke. This might create a chain reaction of accelerating
Weather Violence. Why get all excited about phantoms
like the failure of Social Security in 2030, when all us
30-60 year olds have the exciting prospect of genuine

Why favor evanescent design instead of Permanent Good
Things? Corporations believe their brands to be eternal,
and like nothing better than the idea of having their
brand-name in the landscape forever. Permanent Good
Things would definitely have cachet. A diamond is
forever, as is a Coach bag, and a Brand X something-or-
other. You could count on leaving this brand-named gizmo
to your grandchildren because it will keep working so well
and use such a tiny amount of energy! Evanescent things
require energy to make, and then are gone. Not so cool!

Banning the production of dumb books, as an earlier
comment suggested, has zero appeal. Converting forest
biomass to books is a damn sight better than burning the
forest, because it sequesters CO2. Burning books, even
ones you don't like, would be very bad. Likewise,
plastics are a better use of fossil hydrocarbons than

Here are some suitably far-out Viridian tech

Genetically engineer bamboo and grow it on-site as
walls and supports. Fast-growing vines for roofs.
Bioluminescent leaves for light at night. Direct
photosynthetic conversion of sunlight into usable energy

Sunlight is converted into infrared that is then
trapped on our overheating planet. Increasing the
earth's reflectance can diminish that problem. Engineer
a fast-growing floating alga that would produce white foam
over large sections of ocean, for instance. This alga
would likely block life-giving light from the ocean depths
and starve many surface seabirds, but those might be the
least of our problems.

You might filter the sun's rays somewhere between
earth and sun. A number of sun-shields, each a mere
hundred miles in circumference, placed in solar orbit
might do the trick. The eventual goal is human ability
to control global climate deliberately. Climate control
may seen absurd, but climate control is also of course the
implicit goal of the Kyoto Accord and Rio treaties. It's
probably easier to award government contracts for giant
orbital mirrorshades than it is to get everyone to burn

The most fecund Viridian approaches find ways to
gratify our desires with less fuel use. As we are now
delighted to carry phones with us, walkman gadgets,
portable computers and all the rest, let us go one simple
step further and air-condition our clothes. This
obviates the need for fuel to heat and cool large volumes
of space. Furthermore, everyone can enjoy their favorite
temperature without conflict.

That leaves lighting and especially transportation as
our fuel hogs. The former principle of "Just-in-time
production" must be augmented by the proposed Viridian
principle of "Where-You-Are production." Make what you
want, on the fly, from cheap materials at hand, using
general-purpose tools powered by imported recipes and

We want efficient, elegant means of travel. Aircraft
burn most of their fuel during take-off and landing
procedures. One way to finesse this is to accelerate and
decelerate planes through electromagnetic methods that
allow energy recovery upon landing.

Or, today's land-based aircraft hub system could be
replaced with giant high-altitude (hub) balloons. High-
altitude transport craft would dock at these balloons,
passengers then moving to specialized departing planes for
descent. Giant floating hubs would be far more
entertaining than today's mundane airports, especially if
they themselves moved, perhaps in a circular route above
the landscape. The high-altitude hub crew would of
course absorb many x-rays and gamma rays from cosmic
radiation. A good reason to cut back on travel.

Thanks for your attention, more later.

Michael H. Goldhaber (

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 17 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Nov 18, 1998 (11:01) * 254 lines 

From Tue Nov 17 21:49:29 1998
Date: Tue, 17 Nov 1998 21:49:29 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00016: Bio-Refineries
X-UIDL: 4d65d811e93d7dd67d981dca5310f761

Key concepts: bio-refineries, ethanol fuel, genetic
technology, microorganisms, cellulose, garbage, CO2

Attention Conservation Notice: it's somewhat technical;
there are speculative elements added; it's hard to
prettify a report about big rusty factories eating garbage

Links: none

Entries in the "Big Mike" Viridian Design Contest:

From:^^^* (David Light)

David Light remarks: I thought a reminder of cheerful
biotech trends was in order. The interesting thing about
this recent New York Times ethanol article (as opposed to
the 100 others I've skimmed over the last 20 years) is
that serious things are being financed with (mostly)
private capital at a time when oil prices are in the

"Plant Will Make Fuel Oil From Agricultural Garbage"


(((bruces remarks: I have cut the living daylights out of
Mr Wald's fine article and added a number of comments of
my own.)))

"ENNINGS, Louisiana. The plant was opened in 1977
to refine crude oil into gasoline, but when that proved
unprofitable, it was converted in 1981 to run on
molasses, and then in 1987, on grain. Bankruptcy

(((The bankruptcy of *all* oil refineries is on the 21st
century's agenda. We might replace them through clever
design, or we might simply run out of oil, but oil
refineries are goners either way. It's wise to consider
alternative uses for all this refinery hardware.)))

"Now, with rust on its tanks and pipes and grass
growing through the gravel on its paths, construction
workers are converting it yet again, to make fuel alcohol
from agricultural garbage. (...) The new owners of the
plant here, BC International Corp., with a subsidy from
the U.S. Energy Department and help from a genetically
engineered, patented bacterium, hope they are on the cusp
of a new era."

(((Staggering back from the brink of the grave, a
rust-eaten, Gothic, Cajun oil refinery becomes home of
gene-spliced voodoo gumbo. It's a new era all right --
the Dawn of the Dead.)))

"'It is a bio-refinery,' said Stephen Gatto,
president and chief executive of the company. (...)

"'The input costs are close to zero,' said Dan
Reicher, assistant secretary of energy. 'In some cases
they are less than zero, because people are paying to get
rid of these materials.'"

(((The economics of "less than zero" costs have a
nice Internet IPO feel to them == "We're selling dollars
for ninety cents each, and making it up on market

"And if it works, he said, the technology could also
reduce the accumulation of gases in the atmosphere that
are thought to cause climate change, and could lower smog.
(((It'll be a sign of intellectual life in American
journalism when this "thought to cause" phraseology
finally vanishes. Yes, the climate is changing, and yes,
gases are doing it. Cigarettes cause cancer. Politicians
have sex. Let's move on.)))

"The plant here in this south-central Louisiana town
will run on bagasse, a part of the sugar cane plant
usually considered useless, as well as on rice hulls, a
currently useless part of the rice plant. Later, it may
digest sawdust as well."

(((The American sugar industry is notorious for its
price supports. Rice hulls and sawdust, however... as
feedstock for a value-adding process, those are hard to
beat. There are few nations on earth untroubled by rice
hulls or sawdust. Or both.)))

"Around the country, energy experts have their eyes on
clippings from suburban lawns, prairie grasses and other
woody materials, as fuel for the new process. (...) In
the current generation of ethanol plants, the fuel is the
corn kernel; plants using the new technology could digest
the cob and the stalk as well. (...)"

(((We should definitely keep a wary eye out for any
entity that digests corn, plus its cobs, plus its

"These materials are made of cellulose, which
contains large amounts of sugar, the basic ingredient
required for alcohol production. But the sugar in
cellulose is in a chemical form that traditional
fermentation processes, which use yeast, cannot digest.
(...) BC's plant uses a bacterium, KO11, also used in the
pharmaceutical industry, to break down the sugars.

"The natural bacterium on which KO11 is based likes
to eat sugars and produces a chemical called acetic acid.
But then came gene splicing. Dr. Lonnie Ingram, a
microbiologist at the University of Florida's Institute
of Food and Agricultural Sciences, borrowed four genes
from another organism, Zymomonas mobilis, to make the
bacterium produce alcohol instead.

"Around the country, researchers are working with Z.
mobilis to find other approaches, but BC International's
will be the first commercial plant to make ethanol from
woody material. The plant will take about 18 months to
build and will cost $90 million, including $11 million
from the Energy Department.

"Existing ethanol plants do little to save energy or
reduce carbon build-up in the atmosphere. They can use up
to seven gallons of oil or its energy equivalent to
produce eight gallons of ethanol, experts say. The energy
is used by the coal in power plants and diesel fuel in
tractors that plant, fertilize and harvest the corn, and
in petroleum-based fertilizer. But using waste for fuel ==
especially waste that might otherwise be burned and in the
process dump carbon dioxide back into the air == could
allow production of seven gallons of ethanol from one
gallon of oil."

(((Biomass is an attractive technology, especially
for continental superpowers with plenty of spare real
estate, but these hidden carbon subsidies are troubling.
Cheap oil can make fake "alternatives" look better than
they are, lowering costs but spewing CO2. Smart germs are
no panacea. There are probably many ways to use cheap
commercial bacteria profitably, while creating CO2
pollution even worse than cheap crude oil.)))

"And whatever the feedstock, whether trees or
grasses, using it makes room for new growth, which will
draw carbon back out of the atmosphere. This would be
true, backers point out, wherever ethanol from cellulose
might catch on, in this country or abroad, especially the
Third World, where demand for motor fuel is rising."

(((Third Worlders have a healthy skepticism for
clever technologies that are said to be a bonanza for poor
people, even though they never quite work out in the
daily life of rich people.)))

"The plant here, on the banks of the Mermentau River,
is designed to produce 20 million gallons a year (...)
Several others using cellulose are planned around the
country. One company, Masada Resource, of Birmingham,
Ala., says it will break ground next year on a plant in
Middletown, N.Y., that will use the cellulose in
household garbage. In that case, sales of ethanol will not
turn a profit but will help offset the cost of garbage
disposal, in a region where a large landfill is scheduled
to close soon. It will not use KO11, but a different
proprietary process for rendering the cellulose into
digestible form."
(((This article has many fine specifics, but contains
one mysterious oversight. The subject under study here is
a bug that makes booze out of sawdust. This is a
troubling prospect. Once Cajun bootleggers swipe a few
thimblefulls of stray K011 out of the plant, we can expect
a swamplands moonshine bonanza the likes of which the
world has never seen.)))

Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company


They cost 90 million dollars each.

American sugar cane is a boondoggle.

Ethanol projects are not new and have a bad track record.

It's hard to make agricultural waste and rotting organic
garbage seem sexy.

Ethanol in fuel is a piecemeal improvement in the existent
refinery/gas station/ internal combustion complex.

Has K011 been properly "designed for evil"? How are we
supposed to police new germs? Through patent and
copyright law? That's not much help in the thriving black
markets for illegal drugs or pirate software.

The abuse potential for illegal stills that eat sawdust
and lawn clippings would seem to be pretty extreme.
Brewer's yeasts turn up in the heart of federal prisons;
even prisoner-of-war camps have illegal stills.
Prohibition wars leave police forces reeling and riddled
with corruption. This is a brand-new drug technology, and
a potential security nightmare.


They might realistically improve the CO2 situation.

They embrace decay.

They eat what they kill: it's thrifty to re-use
abandoned oil refinery stock, especially since we'll
eventually be stuck with all that hardware anyway.

Incremental improvements may not be glamorous, but they
are by no means to be despised. If ethanol works without
requiring glamour, we can save our time and attention for
promoting something else.

A working, profit-making genetic bio-refinery would open
the door to *custom-designed* genetic bio-refineries.
These could be highly novel and unusual structures with a
revolutionary impact on the chemical and refining
industries generally. To see daylight, though, they need
a money-making app in the contemporary world.

FORMATTING NOTE: Peter Denning (^^) has
pointed out that it would be easier to ignore Viridian
Notes if they came with titles. We will be titling the
Notes henceforth, and will probably go back and
retrospectively title the earlier ones. Bruce S

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 18 of 136: Stacey Vura (stacey) * Wed, Nov 18, 1998 (17:58) * 4 lines 
stop posting the huge ones Paul!
just gimme the URL!
(Thanks for the info though!)

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 19 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Nov 19, 1998 (08:56) * 2 lines 
Since when can't you handle a huge one?

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 20 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Nov 19, 1998 (12:58) * 183 lines 

From Wed Nov 18 15:32:29 1998
Date: Wed, 18 Nov 1998 15:32:29 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00017: Viridian Aphorisms
X-UIDL: e267adef767aa80bbc2df207633fec85

Key concepts: aphorisms, slogans; Viridian Ranking

Attention Conservation Notice: Though aphorisms are
laudably small in bandwidth, they can occupy shocking
amounts of attention, perhaps haunting you for life.

(See Note 00011 for details on the"Big Mike" Viridian
Design Contest. See Note 00002 for details on the
Viridian Ranking System.)

Source: Most of these aphorisms come from THE VIKING BOOK
OF APHORISMS by W. H. Auden and Louis Kronenberger, first
assembled in 1962.

Entries in the "Big Mike" Viridian Design Contest:


(((bruces remarks: we Viridians won't have time to
accumulate our own wisdom of the ages, but we can
certainly take the wisdom already to hand and put our own
vivifying spin on it. "An epoch doesn't so much reinvent
itself as reimagine its heritage" -- STERLING)))

It takes time to ruin a world, but time is all it takes.

A historian is a prophet in reverse. SCHEGEL

Persistent prophesy is a familiar way of assuring the
event. GISSING

Our ignorance of history makes us vilify our own age.

Historical textbooks always seem to make three claims
about the era they are dealing with: it was a period of
change; it was essentially a transitional epoch; and the
middle classes went on rising. EAGLETON

Each generation criticizes the unconscious assumptions
made by its parents. It may assent to them, but it brings
them out in the open. WHITEHEAD

The historian must have some conception of how men who are
not historians behave. FORSTER

Progress is the mother of problems. CHESTERTON

The obscurest epoch is today. STEVENSON

>From such crooked wood as that which man is made of,
nothing straight can be fashioned. KANT

Every luxury must be paid for, and everything is a luxury,
starting with being in the world. PAVESE

Long years must pass before the truths we have made for
ourselves become our very flesh. VALERY

To know oneself is to foresee oneself; to foresee oneself
amounts to playing a part. VALERY

How many of our daydreams would darken into nightmares,
were there any danger of their coming true. LOGAN

Among all human constructions the only ones that avoid the
dissolving hands of time are castles in the air. DE

(((More to come. People who send us a good Viridian
aphorism will earn a chevron. bruces)))


The Viridian Ranking System has been hand-created
with a vintage fountain pen and fine art paper.
Scars, flaws, and imperfections add character and
are an inherent part of the product.^^^**^^^**^^^^^^^^*^^^^^*^^*^^*^^*^^*^^*^*^********^^^^^


 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 21 of 136: Tim Guenther  (TIM) * Thu, Nov 19, 1998 (13:01) * 1 lines 
I think that you ought to open a new conference for this viridian list stuff. It's taking this one over.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 22 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Nov 19, 1998 (13:02) * 2 lines 
Well we could unlink it from cultures, where it now lives.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 23 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Sun, Nov 22, 1998 (08:06) * 99 lines 
From Sat Nov 21 17:27:19 1998
Date: Sat, 21 Nov 1998 17:27:19 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00018: the Viridian Model Family
X-UIDL: 3ffe4a80ccfc9ea6f689e63e3b526b0f

Key concepts: propaganda, self-referentiality, model

Attention Conservation Notice: Propaganda theory, and
pretty good theory, too. Lacks specifics.


Entries in the "Big Mike" Viridian Design Contest:

From:^^^** (Alex Steffen)


Big Mike is cool. I'm personally eager to have a
microbe mascot gracing the many consumer products of which
I have need.

However, to be serious about propaganda, we need
an Everyman-Hero figure, and, especially, a Model Family.
I once did a college paper analyzing common propaganda
motifs regarding lifestyle and culture. The "model family"
is a major propaganda motif because it works. People are
absolutely dying to be told what their lives ought to be

This comment is not meant to asset my own moral or
intellectual superiority. It's human nature. We learn by
modeling the behavior of others, not just in childhood,
but throughout our lives. In the absence of strong models
in our direct experience, media supplies them.

There's an interesting intensification of this process
going on in contemporary culture, for three reasons.

First, we have many more fundamental choices than our
recent ancestors, in the cultural, career and consumer
worlds. It's harder to make up our minds.

Second, our systems of aesthetic judgement and moral
instruction have broken down. Who sets the standards for
artistic beauty? In 1900 you probably could have named
ten people in charge of the job.

Third, there is intense propaganda competition
between companies providing lifestyle accoutrements. They
compete so intensely to advertise their way into our
worldview that the concept of a noncommercialized human
life has disappeared completely.

In short, people are starved for a vision of the good
life. Viridianism could give this to them, flat out.

However, we live in an age of irony. A frontal, 20th-
century-style propaganda assault (like those used by the
Nazis, Stalin and Henry Ford) won't work. We can't simply
proclaim products to be cool. People have to be let in on
the joke, allowed to realize that they are participating
in a social mores change movement.

What's cool about Viridian luxury is not just that
it's more beautiful, fun and classy than the way that mere
proles live. Not is it about the heady rush of self-love
you get by being a good eco-citizen Earthling.
Viridianism about understanding sustainable design,
fashion trends, and propaganda as a participant as well as
a consumer. You become both subject and observer, in a
healthily ironic and self-referential way.

So the Viridian Model Family, unlike the model family
of the New Deal agricultural agitprop films, is not merely
the symbolic vanguard of a better way of life. They
understand how odd and amusing this concept must be. They
crack jokes to the camera as we learn how to live our
self-aware, hedonistic eco-lifestyle. We respond in real
time and craft the script as we go.

Alex Steffen (

(((bruces remarks: Point taken. So who are these people,
and what do they look like? How do they feel, and what do
they mean?)))

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 24 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Nov 25, 1998 (06:54) * 156 lines 

From Tue Nov 24 11:55:28 1998
Date: Tue, 24 Nov 1998 11:55:28 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00019: Viridian Domains of
X-UIDL: fb4db095c088336c75e3174e33235b90


Key concepts: Viridian categories, Viridian internal
politics, automoderating groupware, anarchy, symbols,
Burning Man, Los Alamos National Laboratory Urban Security
Project, disaster response, art projects

Attention Conservation Notice: Mark Beam, who was the
host for the first Viridian speech at the Yerba Buena
Center for the Arts in San Francisco, is getting a few
various matters off his chest here. Some knowledge of the
San Francisco art scene might aid reader comprehension.

>From^* (Mark Beam)


Entries in the "Big Mike" Viridian Design Contest:

Mark Beam writes:
((and bruces comments in triple parentheses))):

As the proud host for the formal physical launch of
the Viridian Movement and the eloquent proclamation
documented in Note 00001, I offer these first

Viridian postings should be categorized for future
reference. Viridians with certain disciplinary expertise
should gather items of wisdom within a particular domain.
A disciple of economics, of energy, of networks, a
minister of propaganda, etc., could supplement the ideas
arising from the list by adding a more comprehensive
approach.. Here design becomes crucial, political and

(((Absolutely, brother.)))

Key junctures that link Viridians together could grow
future self-organizing limbs. To do so without some form
of human delegation may be possible, but would seem to
require initial filtering, sophisticated object oriented
databases and search engines.

(((Even more absolutely! Bring on the all-wise
automoderating robot! While you're at it, let's run it
for public office.)))

Disciples or ministers, recorders etc. would not
entitled to any political capital within the movement,
other than true Viridian currency == Viridian reputation
capital. This top down approach would be balanced by
having Viridians assigning emphasis/aesthetic guidance in
the particular areas both in the formation of categories
and in discovery by example (bottom-up).

(((It sounds so plausible, poetic, and beautiful, doesn't
it? )))

Regarding visually effective design principles
criticized in Note 00005, I am reminded of Larry Harvey's
two basic principles of spontaneous human organizationm
established over years of experiments in the Nevada
desert. 1) Distribute people randomly, and they will
spontaneously generate some order, first by forming
circles...not squares or triangles... but circles around a
point of interest. 2) Points of interest (attention) are
created by a) Movement of axis in space- i.e. hold
something up high, (a mobile?), or b) Movement of space
around axis- (i.e. a mobile?).

What Viridian icon do we hold up high or put in

(((How about Larry Harvey himself? But wait a minute
== I've actually met this "self-organizing anarchist"
Larry Harvey, and as the Pope-Emperor of the Burning Man
festival, Larry works harder at organization than anybody
I've ever met.)))

What does it mean to hold something up high, or to
put something in motion in Viridian terms? What does
this mean in other less networked, but high CO2 emitting
countries? Our visual icon should have global appeal.

Existing infrastructure to leverage: The Los Alamos
National Laboratory has created the Urban Security
Project, using centralized computer systems to help cities
respond to earthquakes, chemical or biological attacks,
and other unforeseen disasters.

(((Now you're talking! We need to rent one of those Urban
Security babies and put it in charge of the mailing

The researchers are currently looking at what happens
in these emergency situations to transportation, energy
distribution, weather, infrastructure, water distribution,
ecosystems, economy, geology and demographics.

(((See, it's got the problem all broken-down into
convenient Viridian categories already!)))

The program is designed to help cities anticipate
problems in their emergency response systems and make
changes to improve their overall readiness.

(((Security systems like this are of intense Viridian
interest. What are "cities," if not the people in the
cities? Systems of this sort should be promulgated
worldwide and made publicly available as a matter of
course. Every environmental hazard in one's own
environment should be made visible to you at the click of
a web button. Not only that, but you should be allowed an
honest and immediate look at how they handle these
problems in *other* cities.)))

Finally, this reminds me of a concept for an art
project I've developed. It consists of a Dow Jones-style
tickertape machine, which scrolls genuine corporate
symbols, followed by a different sort of symbolic
tally...for instance,. down three trees (symbol for
certain quantity of dead trees), up two solar powers (sun
symbol). This scheme symbolizes the true economic measure
of "growth" in terms of environmental destruction.
Perhaps this could be Viridianized to reflect CO2

Mark Beam (^*)
"Where a society is defined by its boundaries, a culture
is defined by its horizon == a phenomenon of vision." J.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 25 of 136: Udhay Shankar N  (udhay) * Thu, Nov 26, 1998 (03:07) * 1 lines 
Are all the people on the list at fringeware here as well ?

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 26 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Sat, Nov 28, 1998 (17:19) * 3 lines 
No, Uday, I think they are spread around the country. Thanks for
checking in, hope you check back!

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 27 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Tue, Dec  1, 1998 (00:49) * 136 lines 

From Mon Nov 30 21:35:30 1998
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 21:35:30 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00021: The World Is Becoming
X-UIDL: 644167522b02ca5741290a1ca28b0c2f

Uninsurable, Part 1

Key concepts: Weather violence, insurance costs

Attention Conservation Notice: Grimly accurate, can
cause feelings of despair; comes in multiple parts; is
mostly about insurance, one of the world's dullest topics


Entries in the "Big Mike" Viridian Design Contest:

The "Big Mike" contest will end in one week.

Source: Associated Press wire service,
Austin American Statesman page A7.
Saturday, November 28, 1998

"World's Weather Losses Will Set Record This Year"
"Much damage is human-inflicted, report says, citing
deforestation as key factor"
by Donna Abu-Nasr, Associated Press

"WASHINGTON == Violent weather has cost the world a record
$89 billion this year, more money than was lost from
weather-related disasters in all of the 1980s, and
researchers in a study released Friday blame human
meddling for much of it.

"Preliminary estimates put losses from storms,
floods, droughts and fires for the first 11 months of the
year 48 percent higher than the previous one-year record
of more than $60 billion in 1996.

"This year's damage was also far ahead of the $55
billion in losses for the entire decade of the 1980s.
Even when adjusted for inflation, that decade's losses, at
$82.7 billion, still fall short of the first 11 months of
this year.

"In addition to the material losses, the report said,
the disasters have killed an estimated 32,000 people and
displaced 300 million == more than the population of the
United States.

"The study is based on estimates from the Worldwatch
Institute, an environmental research group, and Munich Re,
a reinsurer based in Frankfurt, Germany, that writes
policies to protect insurance companies from the risk of
massive claims that might put them out of business.

"The report says a combination of deforestation and
climate change has caused this year's most severe
disasters, among them Hurricane Mitch, the flooding of
China's Yangtze River and Bangladesh's most extensive
flood of the century. (...) The most severe 1998
disasters listed in the report include Hurricane Mitch,
the deadliest Atlantic storm in 200 years, which has
caused more than 10,000 deaths in Honduras, Nicaragua,
Guatemala and El Salvador, and caused damage estimated at
$4 billion in Honduras and $1 billion in Nicaragua. (...)
Central American nations have experienced some of the
highest rates of deforestation in the world, losing from 2
percent to 4 percent of their remaining forest cover each
year, said the study.

"The costliest disaster of 1998, according to the
report, was the flooding of the Yangtze River in the
summer. It killed more than 3,000 people, dislocated
about 230 million people, and incurred $30 billion in
losses. (...)

"Figures include infrastructure losses and crops but
not long-term effects such as increased health costs and
environmental damage. Prices in 1998 dollars."

Bruce Sterling remarks:

This is, needless to say, a remarkably grim report.
The year is not yet over, but the evil weather of 1998 has
already caused more global havoc than was created in the
entire 1980s. Worse yet, it's a fifty percent jump from a
mere two years ago. The trend for two years hence, and
ten years hence, is anything but reassuring.

Still, it's pleasant to have some stark facts and
figures on the subject of just how badly off we are. "A
decade's worth of weather damage in a single year" --
that is a useful and provocative soundbite.

This is not armageddon. We will not be suddenly
rendered extinct because of our misdeeds with C02. Thirty-
two thousand dead people are a remarkably modest number of
dead, considering that the planet boasts about 6 billion
people now. Even a country with the limited
organizational resources of China lost a mere 3,000 lives
when floods displaced a full 230,000,000. Even $89 billion
dollars is a modest sum compared to the wealth destruction
entailed in the Asian financial crisis.

But flooding is expensive. Hence the concentrated
interest of Munich Re, the German insurance group. Munich
Re were first brought to my attention by David Light
(^^^^^*). Munich Re, also known as
Munchener Ruck, would seem to be a remarkably interesting
enterprise, for an insurance firm.

In the next Viridian Note, we will examine some of
Munich Re's analytical tools, and the company's expert
conclusions on the subject of global warming. Then we
will speculate on what this means and how it feels.

Bruce Sterling (

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 28 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Dec  3, 1998 (07:06) * 270 lines 

From Wed Dec 2 21:39:25 1998
Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 21:39:25 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00022: The World Is Becoming
X-UIDL: 74334706074459f5132b0d56c78f5e99

Uninsurable, Part 2

Key concepts: Weather violence, insurance costs

Attention Conservation Notice: Highly speculative; is
over 1,600 words long; is still about insurance, which is
still one of the dullest topics in the world


Entries in the "Big Mike" Viridian Design Contest:

As we were stating earlier in Viridian Note 00021, the
German insurance company "Munich Re" is in the business of
assessing weather violence.

I'll let The Times of London address some of
MunichRe's financial conclusions:

Source: The Times of London, November 9, 1998

"Climate disaster map pinpoints 'no-go' areas for

By Nick Nuttall, Environment Correspondent in Buenos Aires

"Vast areas of the world are becoming uninsurable as
global warming triggers devastating and costly rises in
sea levels, as well as droughts, floods and increasingly
violent storms.

"Experts fear that some nations, especially those in
the Caribbean, parts of Asia and the Pacific, face
greater economic hardship. They believe insurance cover,
vital for attracting inward investment to develop tourist
resorts and protect homes and businesses, will become
prohibitively high. In some areas it may disappear
entirely as insurers protect themselves from multibillion-
pound claims.

"The increasing concern (...) has been heightened by
the first map to pinpoint regions where natural and man-
made climate change will hit hardest.

"The climate disaster map, which is circulating among
the world's major insurance firms, has been compiled by
scientists and researchers at Munich Re, one of the
world's largest re-insurance companies.

"Dr Anselm Smolka, of Munich Re, said the map, which
couples the impacts of climatic events caused by El Nino
with those predicted to result from more atmospheric
greenhouse gas concentrations, was plotted using
information from the United Nations Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change and centres such as the Max
Planck Institute.

"Dr Julian Salt, a disaster assessment expert with
the Loss Prevention Council, which advises the Association
of British Insurers, said yesterday that the new research
was 'concentrating the minds' of insurers worldwide.

"'It shows where there is increased risk on top of
all the natural hazards. We are fast approaching the
situation where some parts of the world are becoming
uninsurable,' he said. The map shows where rising sea
levels and more frequent storms may swamp islands in the
Caribbean, Indian Ocean and the Pacific and where
reductions in rainfall, such as over the grain-growing
areas of the US, can be expected. (...)

"Dr Salt said that publicly insurers will reject
suggestions that insurance may be removed or premiums will
rise. Privately, however, these 'politically charged'
options are being considered, he said.

"He said that in countries such as the Maldives,
vulnerable to increased storms and rising sea levels,
global warming could affect tourism, the primary industry.

"Andrew Dlugolecki, a key member of a UN Environment
Programmes insurers' initiative, said there was an urgent
need for new, imaginative ways of covering vulnerable
regions and nations.

"'I am quite certain that there are some areas which
will be unprotectable and may disappear. A major problem
is brewing,' he said."


Bruce Sterling remarks:

I hope the august Times will forgive me for quoting
their remarkable article at some length. We Viridians
need not be overly concerned as to exactly how many
billions of dollars are "lost." Financial projections are
very soft and elastic, basically irrelevant to our
interests. Furthermore, we don't know how quickly the seas
will rise. Nobody does.

Viridian central interests are different: what does
this mean, and how will it feel? How will this experience
change the twentieth century's outdated vision of human
life on Earth?

It would presumably help to have a good long look at
the disaster maps. Since they are designed for insurance
agents, they are almost certain to be ugly graphic
disasters, but I've ordered one anyway. I'm eager for a
personal view.

For those who would like to join me, here is a
Teutonically thorough price list, direct from Munich Re.

"If you are interested in our publication 'World Map
of Natural Hazards' we can provide you several products:

"Special publication with catastrophe catalogue and
folding map, Price DM 20
"Wall map (122 cm x 86 cm) with special publication,
Price DM 50
"Globe of Natural Hazards (diameter 33 cm), plexiglass
stand Price DM 250"

Munich Reinsurance Company
Geoscience Research Group (REF/Geo)
107 Koeniginstrasse, Munich, Germany
D-80791 Munich
Tel.: +49-89-3891-5292
Fax 1: +49-89-3891-75292
Fax 2: +49-89-3891-5696 (central)

This plexiglass globe sounds like an especial Viridian
darling. Imagine being the first on your block to
impress your friends with your very own Unnatural Hazards

Let's try to understand how citizens of the 21st
century will regard their situation, once they have been
disabused of the 20th century's shibboleths.

First, unlike us, they will fully and bluntly
recognize that large areas of the planet are, in fact,
uninsurable. They're either flooding incessantly from
weather violence, or gently slipping underwater due to
rising seas. Once this phenomenon is well under way, it
will become a classic King Canute situation: a stark fact
utterly impossible to disguise or talk away, no matter how
many courtiers and spin doctors may stand behind the

Similarly, no amount of UN-mandated "new, imaginative
ways of covering vulnerable regions and nations" is going
to conjure away rising seawater. We might somehow jury-
rig the insurance system to camouflage the depredations of
the Greenhouse Effect. This is "perverse subsidy," and
can only intensify losses in the long run. This is by no
means a solution; it's akin to powdering over the little
red veins of alcoholism so you can cruise the bars.

Basically, the free market is telling us something
very interesting in this MunichRe report. The free market
is informing us that certain parts of the planet will no
longer support free market activities. This planet is
becoming unfit for investment. The market is too good for
this world.

Let's examine one scenario in some detail.

Long before the waters seep in, the imperilled lands
will be left to a subtle form of economic wreckage. It
will no longer be financially possible for legitimate
industries and governments to set up business there.

But this doesn't mean these damp, dodgy areas will
lack people. A good modern-day analog might be tidal-
water Bangladesh. Flooding in Bangladesh in the 1970s
produced a huge compassionate response; far worse flooding
in 1998 produced a page-three status well behind the
plight of China and Central America. They don't get much
insurance in Bangladesh. No one will give them any. Nor
do they get G-7 style development investment. They're
there anyway. They are staying there.

In this Bangladesh scenario, vast, swampy slums
spread worldwide. They are monster ghettos and favelas,
unspeakably septic, high-crime, squatter metropolises,
created off-the-books. Some are old, abandoned seaside
areas newly occupied by the poor and the disaffected;
others are new, built from castoffs and driftwood.

Since these marginal areas have no insurance and are
periodically drenched, they lack street signs, plumbing,
zoning, quarantines, health services, properly financed
fire and police forces, and all the other blessings of
proper urban organization. Interestingly, they are by no
means restricted to the Third World. They can spring up
on any continental margin where insurance has fled.
Offshore barrier islands for instance; or half-wrecked
seaside retirement communities; or the mildewed mansions
of Martha's Vineyard.

Many island governments become governments-in-exile.
The people of Mauritius, Maldives and so on all stumble,
as a climatic diaspora, through the 21st century. Without
any false hope of a return to their drowned Jerusalem,
they remain "nations" because no one wants to officially
assimilate their refugee populations. So, in a nightmare
of the Twilight of Sovereignty, they still clutch their
ludicrous currencies, and their hand-me-down seat at the
U.N. They still possess citizens, and constitutions, and
flags, and their many solemn treaties and multilateral
security arrangements, maybe even their national airline.
They have bank accounts, maybe some Kyoto-style conscience
money. But they have no homeland. They live in camps and
on damp pilings. They have become The Uninsurable.

I have my doubts about this scenario == not because
it's implausible to me, but because it's *too* plausible.
In many ways, this damp, cobbled-together, outlaw slum is
the gold standard of the postmodern urban vision. It's
perversely attractive to us, it gratifies a fin-de-siecle
sensibility. It has a driftwood-Gothic charm, an I-told-
you-so quality; it's a penance regime, full of nemesis and

Postmodernity loves to dwell in the dishonored bones
of the dead Modernist project. We prefer almost any
humiliation to the severe mental challenge of building a
new and original order all our own.

In some strange sense, wrecked cities made of
washed-up scrap are clearly what we *want.* The Burning
Man festival looks rather like this; a dense, enthusiastic
cluster of termite anarchists, drifting someplace,
patching together their own little world, for an orgiastic
three-day weekend. This scenario borrows the highly
popular set design from Blade Runner and Mad Max. We
twentieth-century types would all know how to behave
there; we'd be trading our black leather jackets for
black-market gasoline without ever missing a beat.

People who were native-born in that situation would
have very different feelings about it. Our next Note
will try to envision the situation anew.

Bruce Sterling (

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 29 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Tue, Dec  8, 1998 (12:03) * 159 lines 

From Mon Dec 7 19:48:57 1998
Date: Mon, 7 Dec 1998 19:48:57 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00025
X-UIDL: 7e2174b69e51c1e8e6c74577abcb39fc

Key concepts: energy policy, German Greens, Munich
futurism, Soviet nuclear plants

Attention Conservation Notice: It's about German
politics. It might use terms such as "Forschungsgruppe


Entries in the "Big Mike" Viridian Design Contest:
Attention warning: 3D "Big Mike" animation may confuse some browsers.

From:* (Doug Merrill)

Doug Merrill remarks:

How Viridian are the German Greens?

The short answer is, unfortunately, not very.

The German Greens, while certainly enjoying a taste of
power, and providing Europe with its only interesting
foreign minister, are coming face to face with real power,
as your remarks on the non-phaseout of Swedish nuclear
plants point out (Note 00020). So far, real power is

Real power is winning in some cases because it
represents responsibility, common sense and the will of
the people. Example: keeping Germany in NATO.

Real power also wins where it merely represents common
sense and the will of the people. Example: not making
gasoline in Germany cost three times as much as any other
country in Europe.

And in some cases, real power is winning from the will
of the people alone. Example: no speed limits on the

One of the reasons that the Greens are not very
Viridian is that large chunks of them are still quite
technophobic. At the grass roots level, many German Greens
believe that technology is inherently dehumanizing, and
they pretend that they can just say 'nein danke' to the
whole thing.

Greens are good at picket signs, and they're getting
better at parliaments, but they're not going to invent
anything that changes the world. Furthermore, after so
many years in opposition, they're much better at stopping
things than advancing them. A Viridian era needs more.

There are, however, some good signs. The Greens are
showing more discipline than their industrial-era
coalition partners. The Greens are willing to take on
sacred cows. And the Greens are showing more signs of
learning than the other parties. All of these traits give
them Viridian potential.

At the level of specific policies, however, expect
progress to be slow. Changing a third of Germany's energy
sources in eight years is ambitious, headline-grabbing,
and almost certainly impossible. This is a country that
took the better part of ten years to extend permissible
shopping hours by ninety minutes. Germany has just
significantly modified its citizenship laws for the first
time since a Kaiser ruled in Berlin. Besides, the only
thing Germany would replace nuclear power with right now
is more carbon-based fuel. (It's one thing for the Swedes
to buy wind power from the Danes; it's quite another
trying to run the world's third largest economy on

Another test of Green strength would be phasing out
subsidies to coal miners. German taxpayers support a tidy
living for German miners, paying lots of marks to keep up
an industry that's both loss-making and polluting. But
miners are heroes to social democrats, so the Greens
probably lose this one as well.

Germany will probably introduce some form of 'eco-
tax' this coming year, probably a consumption tax on fuels
somewhat like the BTU tax that died such a painful death
in the US. An eco-tax has become fashionable in the very
German duty- and guilt-ridden sense. It's not attractive,
it's simply understood in the orthodoxy that this is
something you have to do. This may be politically
effective, but I find it unappealing. (I'm also already
paying 45% taxes on a researcher's salary, so the notion
of any further taxation offends me terribly.) Guilt
doesn't strike me as very Viridian.

Those are the key points. I'll see if I can get a
digital picture of Munich Re for you, to go along with
those sexy articles on insurance.


Doug Merrill

Research Group on the Global Future
Center for Applied Policy Research
University of Munich

Bruce Sterling remarks:

How very useful and interesting. Thank you very much.

Now, for further insight on the European energy policy
scene, we quote a recent installment of the column "Europe
This Week" by veteran British journalist Martin Walker.

Source: Manchester Guardian Weekly. November 29, 1998,
page 6.

"To begin with the horror stories: the $900 million
earmarked by the EU for repairing and making safe the
nuclear power plants of the old Soviet Bloc has been
either wasted, lost, defrauded or left unspent. 'It is
particularly worrying that, at the end of 1997, it was not
possible to judge whether there had been any actual
progress in terms of nuclear safety,' Bernhard Friedmann,
president of the Court of Auditors, told the European

"The nuclear scandal was simply the most chilling of a
series of accounting disasters and bungles afflicting
every aspect of Europe's finances. It was also the most
shaming, because the EU sought and won the agreement of
the Group of Seven leading industrial nations to manage
the international community's rescue efforts for the 65
sick and dangerous Soviet nuclear power plants. Trusted
by its allies and Russians alike, the EU bungled the job."

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 30 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Sun, Dec 13, 1998 (21:02) * 164 lines 
From Sat Dec 12 12:17:16 1998
Date: Sat, 12 Dec 1998 12:17:16 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00028: Viridian Gardening
X-UIDL: ca936c2890a92a1b6459f50ec175df9f

Key concepts: Gardens; aging populations; Viridian Inactivism;
horticulture; allotment movement; urban decay; xeriscaping

Attention Conservation Notice: The term "Gardening" may be
too dull to engage anyone's interests. Presumptuous and
patronising assumptions regarding the tastes of the elderly.
Elements of fiddling while Rome burns.


Danny O'Brien remarks:

Gardening is an obvious Viridian pursuit. It's ephemeral; it is a
labour-intensive act that somehow manages to convince its
practicers that they are relaxing; and anyone who has lovingly
tended a compost heap has truly grasped the principle of
"Embrace Decay." For sundry reasons, gardening is also a
massive attention sink for retirees.

Could gardening be tuned even further to comply with
Viridian principles?

The ALLOTMENT MOVEMENT in the UK is a political tradition
dating back to the enclosure acts of the 19th century. After
protests by the suffering working class, concerned politicians
allocated small patches of land that could be rented cheaply by
dispossessed commoners. These smallholdings still exist today
== they're generally hidden away in urban areas, are around 30-
300 square yards per plot, and are supplied with water and
supplies for growing foodstuffs.

They've recently enjoyed a boom that tracks the ageing of the
British population.
(good Viridian URL, that)

Encouraging gardening to spill out from the private gardens
of the gated aged, and into small micro-plots scattered across
urban environments, would provide a number of advantages:

* Conspicuous conservation
* Personal stewardship of public space, which looks to be a
Viridian meme
* Prevents the isolation of the affluent, powerful older age
* Useful as a reinforcer of climate indicators: a sparse network
of small plots, provided with enough amateur sensors (human
eyes and ears, even), would provide a useful set of local
pollution sensors as well as re-enforcing climate change
indicators to its patrons.

As it is, both the allotment movement and the nearest
equivalent I can discover in the US, the Urban Gardening
movement (, suffer from one major
limitation. They're both, currently, chokingly dull. The whole
topic stinks of granola.

May I suggest an investigation into the possibilities of a
mutated Allotment movement: namely, Guerrilla Gardening
(alternate titles: Biosquatting, Random Acts of Forestation).
This would involve small groups of Viridian non-activists
selecting a disused location, and targetting it as their
"allotment." The organisation of the gardeners would be as a
paramilitary cell: individual members of the cell would not
necessarily know the identities of other members, nor how
many plots were in existence. Tasks would be minimal: work
would be shared between enough inactivists for it to demand
little, and degrade gracefully if apathy killed off a chunk of the

All they would see is that, for minimal involvement, an area
of the public landscape would go from a barren lot to blooming
greenery. And, of course, with some suitable appearance of "Big
Mike," the area would also become an advertisement for the
Viridian movement.

The unofficial tending of a public space may well lend itself
to decentralised management, with limited involvement by the
forces of law-enforcement, while nonetheless carrying the
cachet of an illicit prank.

Why "Guerrilla Gardening" is Not Viridian

The gardening instinct among senior citizens is already
super-served by their own fine gardens.

"Guerrilla" element unashamedly stolen from youth

The tacit encouragement of unrestricted bioengineering may
be contrary to Viridian precepts.

Recreational fiddling with fringes of urban ecology may be
poor use of time and attention. The revitalisation of the urban
center is a "problem" that may have already bottomed-out in
developed countries. Developing countries may lack the
necessary affluent, aged, middle class. It might be better to
explore other potential horticultural extensions.

(((Bruce Sterling remarks: I concur that gardening sounds
mighty dull, but trying to jazz it up by making gardening illegal
merely attracts the kind of sad yahoo who is reflexively
fascinated by anything illegal. If anyone is going to form
militarized cells and throw weed seeds around, it ought to be
*cops and soldiers.* Cops in particular frequently find
themselves tagging shooting victims in vacant urban lots. If
they had a packet of mixed local wildflower seeds on their
utility belt along with the baton and pepper-gas, they could do a
lot of good over a multi-year period.

(((There is a deeper Viridian aesthetic issue here. In America
in particular, most people have no idea what the native
vegetation of their area looks like. Instead, they try
desperately to re-create the rolled lawns of Britain on the soil
of an alien continent, despite the grim fact that this involves
huge energy-consuming subsidies of fertilizer, water,
notoriously polluting lawnmower engines, and so forth. This
highly counterproductive activity really should be made illegal.

(((Of course, if you simply abandon your American lawn
through complete inactivism, you will find it taken over by
alien invader weed species, most of which are of Asian and
European origin. These species may be even more noxious than
the original monocultured lawn. But xeriscape groups are
flourishing among the wealthy-aged demographic, and it is in
fact still possible to restore whatever small landscape you
possess to a tamer mimicry of the original pre-Colombian
landscape (minus the many wild species that sting, scratch and
stink). A pocket of biodiversity soon sets in. You find the
place swarming with butterflies, beetles, small birds and so
forth. Replacing fuel-supported, bland monoculture with
colorful, insect-rich, inactivist biodiversity is an intrinsically
laudable act. We certainly must declare this activity 'very
Viridian.' Weirdly, in many urban areas, natural xeriscaping is,
in fact, illegal. Imagine the cachet and the illicit thrill!

(((Unfortunately, given trends in climate change, natural
xeriscaping may become impossible. Colorful, exquisitely
adapted, original native plants will no longer be able to thrive in
their original biomes, because they'll die from the Greenhouse
heat. Once can then imagine a future gardening movement,
probably government-mandated, that methodically replants all
urban areas with natural species that had formerly existed
*many hundreds of miles to the south.* Farfetched? People
are harvesting bananas in Austin this winter.)))

Danny O'Brien (*)

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 31 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Tue, Dec 15, 1998 (21:03) * 282 lines 
From Mon Dec 14 22:59:27 1998
Date: Mon, 14 Dec 1998 22:59:27 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00029: The Interfund
X-UIDL: f29b7f334149a7b5bbd38b60a646d8fe

Key concepts: art movements, Internet, reputation economics,
arts grants, Europe, Interfund

Attention Conservation Notice: It's not about Viridians. It's
about a group of European digital artists with a strange
entrepreneurial scheme. Writers' original language not English.
Written in postmodernese. Of interest mostly to
net.organizational specialists. There's a manifesto tacked on at
the end.

Entries in the Viridian "Fungal Typography" Contest:

(((Parenthetical comments by

Source: Syndicate list; Xchange list; nettime list;
Rasa Smite
Diana McCarty
Eric Kluitenberg

[Interfund] - Create Your Own Solutions

Interfund meeting @ Xchange Unlimited, Riga November 29,

During the Xchange Unlimited Baltic New Media Culture Festival
in Riga, a meeting was held to discuss the creation of the
Interfund. The participants were Diana McCarty, Rasa Smite,
Manu Luksch, Pit Schultz, Eric Kluitenberg, and others.

* What is the Interfund?

The Interfund does not actually exist yet.

(((Beta pre-release! I love it already!)))

The Interfund should be many things at the same time, a self
funding project, a tool to create open spaces for sovereign
experimentation in the digital networks. Neither a network nor
a community, it should be a means for collaboration and

(((Fabulous! It sounds divine!)))

The Interfund was envisioned in Riga as a co-operative,
decentralised, non-located, virtual but real, self-support
structure for small and independent initiatives in the field of
culture and digital media.

(((Sheer poetry! I couldn't have said this better myself!)))

What follows is a summary of the ideas that were discussed
and the problems raised in connection with the possible shape
of the Interfund.


First of all, the Interfund is an idea to create better ways to
access funding and create funding possibilities of itself. The
Interfund can also act as a redistributor of financial resources
from the affluent enclaves to the impecunious. Funding and
financing, however, is only one of the tools the Interfund will
employ to achieve its aims.

(((Wait a minute -- you're giving away *free money* in your
movement, and you expect this to be just *one* of your

The Interfund should rather act as a "Resource Pool", shared by
each of its members. These resources encompass a wide range
of tools:

* knowledge & know-how
* skills (a.o. translations in local languages)
* software
* open source development
* access to servers, especially for streaming media in the net
* reserving bandwidth and protocols (for example the
registration for web multicasting, domain names, etc.)
* support in dealing with official structures;
= finding appropriate funding for projects
= visa requirements
= official letters of support, both in English and the local
= official invitations
= official endorsements;
* access to surveys and information sources about activities in
the field of culture and digital media.

One practical way in which actual funding might work is that
the Interfund creates its own capital to give micro-funding to
individual projects. The organiser can then claim that the
project in question is supported financially by the Interfund
(complete with a letter of acceptance by the "board" of the
fund). Funding may be as little as US$ 10 for a project, but can
help to create interest from official institutions and structures.

(((A really clever idea here. They want to game the
international art world by using a tiny amount of actual capital
to create impressive, net-based, Interfund-conveyed,
reputation capital. "Hi, I'm from Riga and I was sent here by
Interfund! Look at this gold-plated, 256-color *Letter of
Acceptance!*" "Really?! Wow! Let me see what the conference
can do for you in the way of picking up that hotel tab!")))

Moreover the actual amount of funding by the Interfund need
not be specified in all cases.

(((The tactic's even more effective when you boldly lie about

The possibilities for acquiring donations (not sponsorship)
to extend the financial basis of the Interfund will be an area of

(((Boy, I bet it will! Attention galore! We call that stuff
"accounting" here in the USA.... So, are you bold pirates taking
Yankee funds? The Pope-Emperor is totally down with your
daring scheme! I got one of our goofy new 20-
dollar bills for you, right here!)))

(...) (((considerable pious Euro arts/culture jabber deleted)))

* Form:

Though the Interfund will not have a fixed physical location, it
should become a real virtual organisation (it is not a
simulation). For this purpose a letterhead and design for the
Interfund will be developed, as well as a web-site, e-mail
address, a logo.... and... (a local Latvian speciality) an official
Interfund stamp.

(((Why not a *mascot?* We Viridians got a mascot! And our
own typography! The *Latvian stamp,* though, we envy that
more than we can say....)))

All graphical elements will be made down-loadable from the
Interfund site for its members (PDF files). The Interfund will be
run as a strictly virtual office (a decentralised centre).

Possible legal forms and their implications for establishing
the Interfund as an international state-less entity are currently
investigated. Should it become a registered society, a charity,
a foundation, or yet something else? (...)

By dealing with official structures, the Interfund is an attempt
to prevent artists'-run and independent initiatives from
becoming institutionalised themselves. It should act as an
effective bureaucracy protection shield.

The emphasis of the Interfund will lie on horizontal co-
operation, which is anti-hierarchical and fundamentally
decentralised. Nonetheless the question cannot be escaped who
will take responsibility for making the structure work, co-
ordinate activities, deal with requests, etc. (who is doing

(((I know the answer, I know! Try theocratic

This division of responsibilities should be worked out. The
Interfund will have to be multi-nodal.

(((A lovely phrase, and an obvious recipe for instant

To develop the Interfund as a democratic structure, a voting
system will have to be considered, for instance when accepting
individuals to the "board" of the Interfund. The membership of
this board would then be temporary and rotating between

(((That sure sounds like instant bureaucracy to me, but what do I
know -- I'm just a lonely absolute dictator.)))

The Interfund should always be open to new members.
However, every new member has to commit him- or her-self to
contributing to the shared pool of resources in some way, by
donating skills, knowledge, non-propriety software, financial
means if possible, and a willingness to multilateral co-

((("From each according to his abilities, to each according to his
needs" -- but what is the *medium of exchange* between all
these skill sets? You're trying to set up a barter economy with
no gold standard.)))

These issues of membership, representation and expertise have
to be clarified.

(((Yes they do. Obviously. Good luck getting that done before

* Actions:

* Contacts will be established to other cultural activists in the
new media scene, via networks such as Xchange, Syndicate,
Rhizome, , etc.

* In the local Nordic/Baltic context, where this initiative was
discussed, connections will be established to existing and
emerging cultural networks in the region (BIN, PCC, Nordic Arts
Council, etc.), and other parties who share similar or related
interests (a.o. the EFF).

(((This might actually work if you got some kindly Scandinavian
government to give you some start-up money. The Swedes, for
instance == they're probably no better at closing arts councils
than they are at closing nuclear power plants.)))

* For the Next 5 Minutes conference, March 12-14, in
Amsterdam and Rotterdam, a meeting will be prepared to lay
the foundation for the Interfund.

(((Another excellent reason to visit Holland before it vanishes
underwater. I certainly hope to hear more about Interfund;
despite my skepticism, I have the friendliest feelings about this
idea, and would love to see it, somehow, against all odds,
actually work.)))

Rasa Smite
Diana McCarty
Eric Kluitenberg

(((And now for a good-old-fashioned Interfund arts manifesto:)))

The Interfund initiators finally wish to make the following

* Work of artists and independent cultural initiatives in the
field of digital media, including innovative technical
experimentation, should be considered as valuable in and of
itself. This work should not be supported solely if it fits within
an established policy framework (like social innovation,
employment, etc..).

(((Art pour l'art! You betcha! We Viridians want to see
*science* and *engineering* work like that!)))

* Technology should be seen as an integral part of
contemporary culture.

(((Couldn't agree with you more!)))

* The Interfund demands less politicisation of culture. What
independent new media culture needs is support, not political
rhetorics or questionable historical narratives.

(((Right on! Let's start a committee to make sure art's not
politicized, and to weed out all the historical narratives that are

* No competitions.


* Create your own solutions.

(((We'll do our best, and do let us know if you find any of your

Thank you very much for your attention.

[*The Interfund*]
(under construction)

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 32 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Dec 16, 1998 (19:52) * 259 lines 

From Wed Dec 16 15:19:37 1998
Date: Wed, 16 Dec 1998 15:19:37 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00030: The View From Ecotopia
X-UIDL: e5c06c0962b15a07fe19ed8e2abbca0a

Key concepts: Weather violence, clean energy, industrial
policy, Washington State, media coverage

Attention Conservation Notice: It's about regional
American politics and state-centered industrial policy.
Grim assessment, can cause feelings of despair. Direct
from Wonkville.

Entries in the Viridian "Fungal Typography" Contest:

Sources: Seattle Times, Thursday, December 3, 1998;^^^* (Patrick Mazza)

Patrick Mazza is senior writer-researcher for
Atmosphere Alliance, an environmental/industrial policy
group based in Olympia, Washington. The book NINE NATIONS
OF NORTH AMERICA, by journalist and urban theorist Joel
Garreau, once described Mr. Mazza's area of the continent
as "Ecotopia." Green political sentiment is powerful in
the Pacific Northwest, and better yet, they have big,
sophisticated, cybernetic industries that aren't tied at
the wrists and ankles to smokestacks. Mr. Mazza has some
interesting insights and approaches to offer us.
(((Parenthetical comments by

Patrick Mazza remarks:

The European insurance companies have been out in front on
climate change, while we have not heard much from U.S.
companies. Reason? Federal flood insurance. Here, we
socialize the losses, insure the uninsurable, so they can
build again on their floodplains.

((("America: More Socialist Than Europe." Call the

Here, in the heart of the problem, the USA, the source
of 1/4 of the world's greenhouse gases, our wealth masks
the consequences. The feedback loop does not connect. It
does in places such as Bangladesh and Central America,
where the perception that this is a stable, safe world is
long gone, if it ever was there in the first place. But it
is not the perceptions of those people that count. It is
the perceptions of the people here, in the insulated rich

(((Well put, though it's not our "perceptions" that are
emitting the carbon dioxide. Mostly, it's our wall-plugs
and gas pedals.)))

So what will break the spell? Perhaps an Andrew, Hugo,
Mitch and Camille hitting the US mainland in one year.
Perhaps a several year drought in the Midwest that, as it
did in the late '80s, reduces US grain production below
consumption. Grain reserves around 1995 were at a record
low, and accelerating global population keeps pressuring

(((Last time the carbon-dioxide spell was broken was
during the Great Depression, when there was a sustained
dip in CO2 emissions because everybody was broke and in
the streets. If we are enduring biblical catastrophes and
famines of the kind you are suggesting here, we're not
going to be sustaining today's booming consumer economy.
That will be over. We'll be living in a post-catastrophe
emergency regime. Paradise for eco-regulators maybe, but
no picnic for the rest of us.)))

The new stats for the 97-98 El Nino are $33 billion
in losses (something like 1.3 percent of Gross World
Product), 20,000 deaths, 120,000 injuries and 5 million
displaced. It caused apocalyptic fires in Indonesia,
Brazil, Mexico and Florida, droughts and killer heat waves
in Texas and Africa, monstrous flooding in Peru. Sometimes
in the media reports the El Nino connection was made.
Sometimes it wasn't. But only rarely was the possible
connection between El Nino and global warming drawn. There
is a crucial disconnect, a place the feedback loop is
being broken. The media holds a critical responsibility
for alerting the public to the connection between the
weather disruptions it reports and the probable connection
of the overall pattern to greenhouse gas emissions. It is
failing. A movement of artists and communicators must fill
that gap.

(((This connection isn't hard to find in the media.
It's all over the place (though I can't help but notice
that the various media-cited 1998 catastrophe statistics
vary by whole orders of magnitude). I suspect that the
tactics of the GCC will shift soon, from their current
bland denial of global warming, to the vigorous assertion
that global warming is real and is *good for us.*
Farfetched? Wait and see.

(((Speaking as an "artist and communicator," I would
like to take this moment to formally declare myself "the
media." We've all got modems, there's a new century at
hand, so let's put our cards on the table and all be
"media" from now on. Every attack I've ever seen against
"the media" involves people who are already "media" by any
sane definition, and who are anxious to seize more
attention and bandwidth at the expense of rival users of
"media." Louche, irresponsible, scandal-hungry, trivial,
stumbling blindly toward catastrophe, firmly in the
pockets of corporate interests == that's not "the media",
that's an honest portrait of global humanity.)))

(((Mr. Mazza has also seen fit to favor us with a copy
of his recent op-ed piece in the *Seattle Times,* which is
a swell piece of rhetorical work, even though Mr. Mazza is
himself, apparently, not "media." Some excerpts

Washington, D.C., is demonstrating it's not up to
seriously addressing global warming. But states are
beginning to fill the leadership vacuum by seizing the
tremendous economic opportunities of the coming clean-
energy revolution.

The U.S. fossil fuel industry and its allies depict
serious emissions reductions as economically disastrous.
Precisely the opposite is true. Converting the energy
system, now the major greenhouse gas source, to climate-
friendly energy is one of the great economic opportunities
of the 21st century.

(((I can only agree. It's got to happen one way or the
other == the only question is how gray and smelly the sky
gets, first.)))

Even now, solar and wind are the world's fastest-
growing energy sources, each growing over 25 percent
annually. Increased production is generating economies of
scale that lower prices and enlarge the market, such as
has occurred with computer chips. Shell researchers
conservatively project clean sources could supply half the
world's energy by 2050. The key issue is whether clean
energy will ramp up fast enough to stave off global

(((Absolutely, man! Ramp up faster! Let's hear it for
those righteous fellow-travellers at Shell

This is why public support is crucial.

(((Huh? Why bring the public into this? You just
admitted that the US government is utterly hopeless.)))

Driven by national security concerns, onetime infant
aerospace and computer industries were built into giants
by military and space programs. Climatic disruption is as
genuine a security threat as we've ever faced. Clean
energy is our frontline defense, and should gain the same
kind of boost.

(((Rather than re-routing the Pentagon's Cold War money
into the pockets of postindustrial Greens, wouldn't it be
simpler for you to just *join the army?* After all, if we
hit the wall with a genuine eco-catastrophe, you'll have
plenty of company in uniform. We'll all be drafted, and
heaving sandbags at the angry rising foam.)))

The Europeans and Japanese are nurturing their clean-
energy firms.

(((Now this rhetorical tactic could *work.* "We must
close the solar-panel gap with the Germans!" Cold War II,
here we come! War is the health of the state, not to
mention the health of Boeing and General Dynamics.)))

California is spending one-half billion dollars on
its clean-energy companies. Washington (((state))) also
has the stuff to be a global contender.

(((Don't feel badly, Europeans; we'll pick a fight with
California, if we have to!)))

The state is already a budding clean-energy Silicon
Valley boasting hundreds of companies grossing nearly $1
billion annually. We are the world production center for
the electronic systems that all solar panels need to feed
electricity into homes and power grids. At its Vancouver,
Wash., plant, Siemens, the world's top solar company,
refines the silicon from which it makes all its solar
cells. Applied Power Corporation of Lacey is a finalist
to build the world's largest solar power plant.

(((Why not cut the government entirely out of the feedback
loop, and just buy stock in Siemens, Applied Power, and
Shell? Let's make friends with their on-staff industrial
designers. Let's ask them to design something sexier.)))

Washington's substantial clean-energy industry has
huge potential for cross-fertilization with its world-
leading high-tech firms. Asia, our primary trade partner,
represents the largest potential new clean-energy market.
As the industry grows, solar energy equipment could easily
join apples, airliners and software as signature
Washington products. But to secure our position, we need
five elements of public support:

* A clean energy investment fund - to match California's -
created by a surcharge on electricity shipped through
power lines;

* Economic-development priority given to clean-energy

* A clean-energy R&D initiative by the state's public and
private institutions;

* High-visibility clean-energy equipment purchases by

* Direct cash assistance for private clean-energy
equipment purchases.

(((If it were up to me, I'd kick the props out from under
the carbon industry's subsidies *before* I tried to build
new subsidies for solar. This is where you find the
missing element in this article: genuine market-demand for
renewable energy. It may be politically easier to ask for
a new little solar pork-barrel than it is to demolish a
gigantic, time-honored carbon one. It badly needs to be
done,though, and would save us a lot of money. But even
German Greens fear the coal-miners.)))

We must aggressively shift our public policies to
favor clean energy. With so little leadership coming from
Washington, D.C., it is time for this Washington to lead
the clean-energy revolution that is the only hope for
avoiding a disastrous disruption of the world's climate.

(((The clean-energy revolution will never happen if it's
"the only hope." It has to happen because it's *attractive.*
It smells better. It tastes better. It's more romantic,
it's sexier. It's gizmos are cooler and more sophisticated
than big, crude, greasy gizmos. It doesn't kill you
stone-dead if you turn it on and sit inside its garage
for half-an-hour. It's *prettier.* It is an artifact of
a more advanced, more beautiful world. Dare I say it?
It's Progress.)))

Patrick Mazza (^^^*)

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 33 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Dec 17, 1998 (17:34) * 114 lines 
From Thu Dec 17 16:41:16 1998
Date: Thu, 17 Dec 1998 16:41:16 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00031: Self-destructive Jungles
X-UIDL: 40cc4519cfe3966095137656592114f2

Key concepts: drought, dying forests, burning forests, El
Nino, CO2 load in biosphere, Chiapas Smoke Plume

Attention Conservation Notice: Confuses the issue.
Oxymoronic. Paradoxical. Terrifying. Hopefully, rather


Entries in the Viridian "Fungal Typography" Contest:

Sources: Hanqin Tian, NATURE magazine
Article by Joseph B. Verrengia, Associated Press
Austin American Statesman, Dec. 17, 1998

"Forests add greenhouse gases during El Nino, scientists

By Joseph B. Verrengia

"Instead of inhaling extra carbon dioxide, Brazil's rain
forest does the opposite in an El Nino year, exhaling
millions of tons of the heat-trapping gas and potentially
adding to global warming, scientists say.

"The rain forest, under normal conditions, acts as the
'lungs' of the planet. Its thousands of square miles of
trees release oxygen and absorb as much as 700 million
tons of carbon dioxide a year.

"But when global climate conditions are scrambled by
El Nino and the rain forest becomes parched, scientists
from the Woods Hole Research Laboratory in Massachusetts
determined, the Amazon Basin produces as much as 200
million tons of excess carbon dioxide a year. The
calculation by Hanqin Tian and others are published in
today's issue of the journal NATURE." (...)

"In the Amazon, it (((El Nino))) causes severe
droughts. Under such drought stress, the rain forest
can't adequately photosynthesize and store carbon dioxide,
Tian said."

(((This grim discovery makes perfect sense, once you think
about it. No water, no photosynthesis. No rain, no
green. Simple as that. And what does the Amazon jungle do
then? It coughs up a couple of hundred million tons.

(((So much for the divine wisdom of Mother Nature. Could
it be that Gaia is even more wacky and shortsighted than
we are? Is she blindly willing to choke on her own spew
just like the G-7 Advanced Industrial Nations? Well, why
not? All the inhabitants of the biosphere have a perfect
moral right to pitch right in and screw things up with us

(((Upon digesting this appalling news, I suppose we
could swiftly muster the Kevin Kelly Memorial Bulldozer
Brigade (see Viridian Note 00024) and dash out there to
saw the jungle down before it does us even more harm than
Exxon-Mobil. But (a) we'll lose the benefit we get if we
ever get another year that isn't an El Nino, (b) we
probably need the oxygen even more urgently than we don't
need the carbon dioxide, and (c) we needn't bother,
because a parched rain forest will spontaneously *burn.*
Combustion is when forests really spew the soot, and they
do themselves a level of harm that lumberjacks can only
envy. This blazing activity does not require any surprise
discoveries by Woods Hole, and in fact it couldn't be more
obvious, as the links in this Note suggest.

(((These links,

show writhing Mexican jungle smoke covering my home town,
as revealed by both American and European satellite
sensors. I am looking for the *prettiest* and *most
graphically compelling* online picture of the 1998 Chiapas
smoke plume. This is defininitely one of those core
Viridian graphic documents that we Viridians need to be
meditating upon, in our ivied, lingering, contemplative
fashion. Please send me the address of the "most
Viridian-looking" plume map or photo you can find on the
web, and you will receive a chevron.

(((What does this news mean? Well, perhaps nothing much;
it may be news to us humans, but El Nino is not an
entirely new phenomenon, and presumably Brazil has been
belching up natural carbon for millennia. But not,
perhaps, with today's unprecedented levels of psychotic
enthusiasm, where vast swathes of dying jungle might
conceivably auto-alter the planet climate, in a shrieking
biofeedback, in a dysfunctional Gaian auto-da-fe'. Let's
just bookmark this one as a small but distinct
possibility: we could cease all human C02 emission
tomorrow, and still find ourselves forced to spend the
next thousand years trying to keep Mother Nature from
ripping her hair out and immolating herself.)))

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 34 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Dec 21, 1998 (10:10) * 164 lines 

From Sat Dec 19 10:37:36 1998
Date: Sat, 19 Dec 1998 10:37:36 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00032: The Viridian Refueling
X-UIDL: 559e2642910641265bde1e194cecc5cd


Key concepts: fuel cells, Proton Exchange Membranes,
decentralized energy networks

Attention Conservation Notice: Of interest mostly to
technical specialists. Written in engineering jargon.
Contains even more black humor than Note 00031.


Entries in the Viridian "Fungal Typography" Contest:

From:* (Eric Hughes)

In Viridian Note 00010, Jim Thompson
wrote about fuel cells. Here's his two-sentence

"Basically, a fuel cell is like a battery where you put in
some low-grade hydrocarbon (ethanol, methanol, kerosene,
LP Gas, Natural Gas, diesel, methane). You get DC power
out, with pure water and heat as the by-products."

So far, so good. But then I wondered. Carbon goes in,
but no carbon seems to come out of the cell. Something's

Here are some results of my looking around for it.

1) The Proton Exchange Membrane fuel cell uses hydrogen
(or hydrogen rich gas) as a primary fuel. There's no
carbon in, so no carbon out. That's good, but there's no
hydrogen fuel infrastructure today.

2) More practical fuel cell packages (Plug Power's for
instance) generate hydrogen by converting it from a
hydrocarbon fuel. These conversion devices are generally
called "fuel reformers." Unfortunately, fuel reformers do
pollute. They appear to pollute in a less noxious way
than combustion pollutes, but they still make carbon
dioxide. These points are not at all obvious on websites
attempting to sell fuel cells.

A cell with a fuel reformer is a combustion process
after all. Combustion in the presence of a catalyst is
cleaner than combustion inside an engine cylinder, but in
terms of carbon loading of the atmosphere, it's identical.
The eventual output is oxides of carbon. And what about
possible nitrogen oxide emissions? And what about
impurities in the fuel? You can bet that the CO -> CO2
converter is not 100% efficient; and carbon monoxide
happens to be a potent greenhouse gas.

Answers are by no means easy to find in a first-pass
investigation of various fuel-cell websites. Here are
some tentative conclusions.

(1) Until we somehow build a hydrogen infrastructure,
fuel cells will be a marginal improvement on internal
combustion. However, fuel cells might finesse the system-
bootstrap problem toward a true hydrogen economy, by
creating an installed base of hydrogen demand, which also
works on fossil hydrocarbons. Once the fossil fuels go,
someone can figure out better sources of hydrogen supply.

(2) Spreading out energy generation through use of fuel
cells is a big systemic win. It greatly reduces energy
distribution cost and lost efficiency. Fuel cells may
have certain long-term problems, but they spread the
network's power away from the center, and toward
distributed endpoints. This is good. We can make the
analogy: new power is to old power, as internet is to

In my self-appointed capacity as pro tem. Viridian
Minister of Science (duration: 1 message), I now suggest
the possible development of a Viridian Fuel Reformer.

This device would have the following characteristics.

Like oxidizing fuel reformers, the Viridian Fuel
Reformer will accept low grade hydrocarbon inputs,
typically biomass. However, the VFR does not produce
carbon dioxide gas.

Catalytic oxidation reformers strip hydrogen ions
(i.e. protons) off carbon by binding the carbon to oxygen.
The Viridian Fuel Reformer will strip off hydrogen by
binding carbon atoms *to each other.* Now this requires
energy, so the fuel conversion ratio for Viridian
converters will be lower. We admit this problem; but we
have a higher aim.

When you bind two hydrocarbon chains to each other, a
hydrogen atom and a single longer hydrocarbon results.
This is the reverse of the standard "cracking" reactions
used in oil refineries. The Viridian Fuel Reformer is a
relentless fuel *fossilizer.* The Stage One VFR outputs
heavy hydrocarbons and leftover fuel impurities. In other
words, it exudes a heavy, viscous black gunk that looks
and acts very much like crude oil.

The Stage Two VFR strips even more hydrogen from this
goo, and leaves big dirty lumps of congealed carbon, in a
solid form much like coal.

In the fine tradition of satirical mimicry, the future
Viridian Hydrogen Economy will dispose of its waste
products by *dumping them back into the earth.* Waste
"oil" will be carefully pumped into many convenient
underground reservoirs, already formed by the pumping out
of natural oil.

Waste "coal" will be used as landfill for strip
mines, and in the cautious shoring up of abandoned mine
shafts. The end result of the Viridian Fuel Cell System
is the restocking of the earth's fossil fuel supply.

In this way, we not only save our atmosphere, but we
wisely prepare our species for a possible complete
breakdown of high-tech civilization. A store of carbon-
rich re-fossilized fuel is a storehouse of wealth, that
can be easily tapped to re-develop the knowledge and
industrial bases of society, after some unfortunate
collapse and a dark age.

We may have already carried our short-sighted energy
policies past the point of no return. Through the
Viridian Refueling Project, however, we gracefully
acknowledge our own impotence and incompetence in the face
of Nemesis. The VRP is a serious and solemn enterprise.
It is a funeral preparation for our collapsing industrial
society, a sepulchral storehouse to accompany modern
humanity into the bosom of the Earth, a tomb offering for
distant generations. A constant memento mori for
industrial hubris, it is a wellspring of enduring Viridian

(((Ladies and gentlemen: the one, the only, Eric Hughes

Eric Hughes (

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 35 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Tue, Dec 22, 1998 (09:08) * 172 lines 
From Mon Dec 21 21:04:38 1998
Date: Mon, 21 Dec 1998 21:04:38 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00033: Viridian Aesthetics: Andy
X-UIDL: d5a3d83f35245e7ee7a966e8cf4ea931


Key concepts: Viridian aesthetics, Andy Goldsworthy

Attention Conservation Notice: It's art criticism.


Entries in the Viridian "Fungal Typography" Contest
(((See Note 00027 for instructions on this contest.)))

Our newly-coined Viridian Motto: "Gimme Chevron"

Bruce Sterling remarks:

The difficult question of "what looks Viridian" is
central to our interests. We now examine the work of
British artist Andy Goldsworthy.

Andy Goldworthy (1956 -- ) is a British artist
resident in Scotland. His artwork occupies a rather ill-
defined and unique area, uniting sculpture, performance
art, gardening, nature studies, and photography. He has
done installations in a museum context, large-scale
landscape engineering, and sculptures. He also does
posters and books.

Most of his work, however, is site-specific.
Goldsworthy wanders barehanded into some chosen site out-
of-doors (including France, Australia, Japan, the USA and
even the North Pole) and artfully rearranges whatever he
finds at hand. Goldsworthy's "media" have included mud,
sand, sticks, thorns, rocks, boulders, leaves, flowers,
feathers, bones, reeds, bark, branches, snow, rain, ice,
and his own spit. After assembling the temporary
sculpture and waiting for proper lighting conditions, he
carefully photographs the ensemble, and then leaves it to

Why Andy Goldsworthy Is Not Viridian

He doesn't loudly and publicly complain about carbon

His work is not "transorganic;" it looks very pastoral
and edenic, until you realize he's done something
extremely remarkable to the landscape through rearranging
stray flowers and twigs by using his hands and teeth.

His art is biological rather than biomorphic (except for
that memorable episode when he artfully stacked up those
rusting steel plates in the deserted, weed-grown foundry).

Why Andy Goldsworth is Viridian

He has enormous artistic talent that commands awestruck
attention. His feeling for coloration and graphic
composition are especially impressive. Though his
approach might sound odd or gimmicky in mere description,
his work is always striking, often dramatic and sometimes

His art doesn't appear "technological," but would be
impossible without the mediation of cameras.

Most of his work is temporary; the usual aim is
photographic documentation of some crucial instant, not a
permanent transformation of the landscape.

His art embraces decay. He is particularly insistent
about this.

He datamines nature.

He makes the invisible visible.

He is very aware of historical process and refers to it
repeatedly in his writings.

He "walks through walls of knowledge guilds" by combining
approaches of several art genres in a unique, historically
rooted, but strangely timeless art practice.

His work is biological, not logical. Through iterative
actions, and an intuitive, interactive, hands-on approach,
he creates a tableau that could not be pre-designed from a
standing start. A Goldsworthy photograph displays human
will, great persistence, great beauty, and intentionality,
but not rational planning. The result does not resemble
engineering, the imposition of human plans on raw
materials. Instead, it resembles teleology: twigs and
branches suddenly become dramatic actors, boulders find
themselves clad in finery, pebbles somehow look the way
that pebbles have "always wanted to look." Rational
analysis can't follow him, but he is going to some very
interesting and effective places: this is genuine and
powerful art practice.

His work is not confrontational, deconstructive or
subversive. It is innovative and serene.

In his books and writings, Goldworthy has many interesting
things to say about his sensibility and approach.

Andy Goldsworthy: "I am not playing the primitive. I use
my hands because this is the best way to do most of my
work. If I need tools then I will use them. Technology,
travel and tools are part of my life and if needed should
be part of my work also. A camera is used to document, an
excavator to move earth, snowballs are carried cross
country by articulated truck."

Goldsworthy is not a decorative artist or nature
sentimentalist: "It is easy to make a mess. I want my
work to be taut and am not interested in making weak
arrangements of nature in the pretence of being

He is interested in the interaction of human and nature,
not in wildernesss per se:

"Although I occasionally work in wildernesses, it is the
areas where people live and work that draw me most. I do
not need to be the first or only person in a place. That
no-one has gone before me would be a reason for me not to
go there and I usually feel such places are best left. I
am drawn to wildness but do not have to be in a wilderness
to find it."

He makes the invisible visible:

"I want to get under the surface. When I work with a
leaf, rock, stick, it is not just that material in
itself, it is an opening into the processes of life
within and around it. When I leave it, these processes

He embraces decay:

"Each work grows, stays, decays == integral parts of a
cycle which the photograph shows at its height, marking
the moment when the work is most alive. There is an
tensity about the work at its peak that I hope is
expressed in the image. Process and decay are

This is an artist and an aesthetic of primary interest
and importance to us.

Bruce Sterling (

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 36 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Jan 25, 1999 (10:04) * 83 lines 

From Sat Jan 23 19:20:22 1999
Date: Sat, 23 Jan 1999 19:20:22 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00043: the Viridian Electrical
X-UIDL: c0cb991f59d314c94c2397ed9d50ea5a


Key concepts: imaginary products, electrical meters

Attention Conservation Notice: It's another whimsical
"product" that doesn't yet exist, but might end up in a
Viridian catalog someday.

Entries in the Viridian "Fungal Typography" Contest:
This contest embraces decay on January 31, 01999.
For contest instructions see Note 00027.

"The Viridian Electrical Meter"

Concept:^^^^** (Stefan Jones)

Ad copy: (Bruce Sterling)

"One of the most offensive artifacts of the
twentieth century is the standard household energy meter.
This ugly gizmo clings like a barnacle to the outside of
your home, readable only by functionaries. Clumsily
painted in battleship gray, this network spy device
features creepy, illegible little clock-dials, under an
ungainly glass dome. Look a bit closer, and this user-
hostile interface deliberately insults you, with a hateful
anti-theft warning, and a foul little lockbox.

"This crass device is designed to leave you in
stellar ignorance of your own energy usage. It publicly
brands you as a helpless peon, a technically-illiterate
source of cash for remote, uncaring utility lords.

"But today, thanks to the Viridian Electrical
Meter, the tables are turned. The Viridian Meter is not
some utility spy device, but a user-owned art object!
Based on the popular 'plasma globe,' this interactive
meter/installation will grace any 21st-century living
room. The attractively sizzling 'Magic Sphere' perches on
a beautiful, visionary plant-stand, inspired by noted
designers Hector Guimard and Albert Paley!

"The Viridian Meter is pre-set with the standard
demographic energy consumption of your biome and climatic
area. Network brownouts and spikes produce visible,
spitting anomolies, quickly warning you to protect your
valuable household gizmos from the incompetent vagaries of
the local utility. When your home's energy use grows
excessive, the plasma-globe arcs up with a warning red
crackle. Best of all, feeding energy from your home into
the grid causes the Viridian Meter to reverse its
polarity, displaying its internal aurora in a cool, lovely
green! Guests in your home will soon see that your solar
panels (and/or fuel cells and windmills) free our planet
from the nasty burdens of fossil-fuel. When your child
comes home from school, all long-faced about environmental
decline and horrific weather anomalies, your conscience
will be certifiably clear! 'See our Meter, honey? Look!
It runs green!'"

Stefan Jones (
Bruce Sterling (

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 37 of 136: wer  (KitchenManager) * Tue, Jan 26, 1999 (18:41) * 1 lines 
I want one!

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 38 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Jan 29, 1999 (10:06) * 96 lines 

From Thu Jan 28 18:32:01 1999
Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 18:32:01 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00044: The Viridian Service
X-UIDL: 06b7871e52d457994b7db7c37d004a9a


Key concepts: imaginary products, electric cars, gas
stations, electric vehicles, upscale consumption patterns

Attention Conservation Notice: It's yet another whimsical
"product" that doesn't exist. We may fill a catalog yet.
Even though they're not real products, this is *still*
going to end up being a lot of work for somebody.

Entries in the Viridian "Fungal Typography" Contest:
This contest embraces decay on January 31, 01999.
For contest instructions see Note 00027.

Concept:^^^^*** (Stefan Jones)

Ad copy:^^^^*** (Stefan Jones)

Viridian Service Station: "Get Charged!"

Starting at a single location in a former Blockbuster
Video store, the "Get Charged!" chain of upscale
electrical car charging stations have spread across the
nation in the span of a few years.

Besides providing fast, convenient charging and
routine maintenance of electrical vehicles, "Get Charged!"
locations feature lounge areas whose decor, cuisine and
beverage offerings are aggressively targeted at an upscale
consumer who is environmentally conscious, yet unwilling
to accept a diminished quality of life.

The first "Get Charged!" location in East Palo Alto,
California was chosen to service both the local market of
upscale consumers and environmentally hip Bay Area
residents commuting between San Francisco and Silicon
Valley. Using clean electricity from a windmill farm in
the Altamont Pass, and providing shuttle service to nearby
major employers in its own fleet of electric minivans, the
station quickly won good grades from the area's vocal
environmentalist contingent.

However, the location did not "come alive" until the
opening of its signature Greenhouse Lounge(TM).

Part indoor nursery, part art gallery, part cyber-
espresso bar, the Greenhouse Lounge quickly attracted a
regular clientele. Indeed, the bistro was soon overrun by
people arriving at "Get Charged!" Franchise #1 in cheap,
ugly, gasoline powered vehicles. Thereafter, patronage
was strictly limited to the owners and passengers of
electric cars. When a major venture capital firm made the
location its preferred lunch spot, sales of electric
vehicles in San Mateo county doubled in the space of a

(((Our story continues with a stirring sidebar concerning
a legendary tech discovery taking place in the Greenhouse
Lounge; Stamford geeks show off solar energy / biomass
hack; VCs at next table immediately buy into it))))

(((Readings, signings by authors take place at Lounges)))

((((Lounge as multimedia showplace for video display,
imaging hacks))))

((((Showrooms become upscale version of Greek diners that
sell "starving artist" paintings right off the wall....
At other "Get Charged!" franchises: Solar, biomass,
hydrocarbon fuel cells.... I'd like to write more about
this, but I'm getting into a creepy, enthusiastic, MBA
student sort of mood... I'll just have to stop now...
You'll have to spin it for yourselves.)))

Stefan Jones (

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 39 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Sat, Feb  6, 1999 (10:05) * 247 lines 
From Fri Feb 5 19:12:04 1999
Date: Fri, 5 Feb 1999 19:12:04 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00047: Viridian Imaginary
X-UIDL: 0492c31693795a40d8d304a6d9cbf4c3

Products Exhibition

Key concepts: Viridian Imaginary Products Exhibition,
Viridian Teakettle Contest

Attention Conservation Notice: This proposed scheme is
particularly ambitious and time-consuming.

Entries in the Viridian "Fungal Typography" Contest:

The winner of the Viridian Fungal Typography Contest is:
Hinne Burmeister (^^^^*)
AKA: DJB, Django Blades, Denon Kleo, THE Sound!
Inhabitant of Projekt Kochstrasse
Member of Comite de Musique Deluxe (CMD)
Co-founder of SPACEWAYS Management & Production

On mature consideration, Hinne Burmeister's entry at:
was judged "Most Fungal."
Hinne Burmeister has been sent a well-deserved copy of the
contest prize book, *Hot Designers Make Cool Fonts.*

And now, for the details of our third Viridian design
contest, which is our most ambitious yet.

As we all know, the Viridian Design Movement does not
in fact exist. The long torrent of rhetoric consuming
your attention to date is a mere *beta pre-release* of a
*possible* 21st century design movement.

Real design movements ship. They create actual
designed products. A real-world Viridian product design
company would be a very fine thing. I even understand how
one goes about founding and running such an enterprise.
It has a lot to do with tedious minutiae such as
"prototyping," "licensing," "sourcing," "pricing,"
"distribution," and "advertising," not to mention
employee relations, taxes, incorporation, trademarks,
patents, and return-on-investment. Running a commercial
manufacturing firm is an attention-vampire of the first
order. Becoming the CEO of a design firm is just not
within the Pope-Emperor's realm of possible activity.

However. Real designers also throw public exhibits
where they gallantly show off their wares. Here we
perceive some interesting Viridian potential. While we
can't manufacture and sell commercial products, creating
fake *mockups* of *imaginary Viridian products* might well
be within our grasp.

Sometime in the year 02000 (assuming we make our
ideological deliverables on January 3), we might
conceivably create and throw a public Viridian exhibit, a
futurist conceptual-art parody of a real design show.
This "Viridian Imaginary Products Exhibit" would be open
to the public. It might be rather similar in spirit to
the "Art of Star Wars" show, where everyone knows that the
rayguns and blast-shields aren't real or functional, but
they all go anyway, just because everything looks so cool.

Finding a friendly gallerist and a suitable display
space is not beyond our ability. This effort would be
time-consuming; it would require funding, budgeting,
coordination and a lot of organizational overhead; but not
crushing amounts. Best of all, the project would be
swiftly over with.

The central challenge here is finding Viridian product
designers, and, especially, some hands-on Viridian model-
makers. People, in other words, who can dream this stuff
up, and successfully fake it for us, so that physical
Viridian objets d'conceptual art can be shipped to some
central locale for public display.

To manage this proposed event, we would have to
assemble a core "Star Chamber" of inner-circle Viridian
volunteers. This means investing large amounts of
creative effort and attention. We would endeavour to
supply some glory and prestige to volunteers. Your name
would prominently pasted on the vitrine, you'd receive
some groovy citation in the accompanying glossy
catalog.... And, who knows, there might be weird and
the designer/builder team could sell the model afterwards
for a hefty sum to some crazed sci-fi collector.

There might be some modest sums of expense money
involved in throwing this event, but I can almost
guarantee you that the money would not make it worth your

Is such an event in fact possible for us? Well,
we'll never find out without experimenting. The third
Viridian Contest is meant to winkle out public-spirited
people who might have what it takes to put such an effort

Hence, the Viridian Teakettle Contest.

Teakettles are, of course, highly cliched designer
objects. Everybody in the world has done the teakettle,
the chair, and the CD-rack. I've heard it said by
designers I respect that anyone who does another teakettle
should be immediately shot. But! Teakettles have the
advantage of being well understood and something of a

This contest is not about designing a real
teakettle. We don't need a teakettle that works. *None*
of the Imaginary Viridian Products are going to work.
What we want at this point in time is a website *picture*
of a teakettle, a schematic diagram of sorts, a graphic
guide for a teakettle model-maker. In this contest, we
want you to *set-design* a fake teakettle.

This 21st-century Viridian teakettle has to look
*like no teakettle has ever looked before.* We don't want
clip-art, a pastiche, or a cut-and-paste postmodern
object. No. Our noble purpose here to publicly exhibit a
*previously unimaginable Viridian design aesthetic.*

Here is the design philosophy behind the teakettle;
your character motivation, as it were.

To quote our Viridian principles (see Note 00003):
"Seek the Biomorphic and the Transorganic." "Datamine
Nature." "The Biological Isn't Logical."

Like the century-old designs of Art Nouveau, the
Viridian Teakettle seeks aesthetic novelty through the
exploitation and adaption of forms found in nature. We
then must ask: what forms of nature have never before been
used as design elements? And where in nature is there
anything remotely like a teakettle?

The answer to both questions is: abyssal vents. I
refer to hot volcanic crevices at the bottom of the ocean,
surrounded by previously unknown, chemosynthetic life
forms. These unique and extremely weird biomes were not
even discovered by the human race until 1979. I can
absolutely guarantee you that Belle Epoque designers had
never heard of these particular forms in nature. These
are artistically unexploited natural forms.

The unique creatures in abyssal vents exist in
crushing pressure, in total darkness (except for the
sinister glow of hot lava), and sure enough, just like
teakettles, the vents sit there piping out boiling water
through long stone spouts, in a cheerful, complex chemical
stew. Life thrives there, devouring microbial sulfur,
and bathing round-the-clock in clean geothermal energy.

Here are a pair of websites where you can acquaint
yourself with such inspirational abyssal anomalies as:
clams full of hemoglobin, giant tubeworms that have no
mouths or guts, dandelion jellyfish, "black smoker"
volvanic vents, and big blind prawns.

One might further note that arcane sulfur-gobbling
chemosynthesis is quite the inspiration for a high-tech
21st century "teakettle." In the future, crude, vegetal,
semi-toxic tea leaves will be forced to undergo unheard-of
osmotic, catalytic and filtration processes inside our
chemically sophisticated, fully-monitored, 21st-century,
teakettle brewing-chambers.

Please don't worry about stark Modernist efficiency
here. "The Biological Isn't Logical." Go wild. We want
a show-stopper with this teakettle, an item of stunning
astonishment. Push the technonatural envelope. Your only
design constraint is that your design can't be a mere
cyberspatial fantasy. We require a product design that
can plausibly exist in 3 dimensions and fit inside a glass

If this contest works out, we will follow it with a
new and unprecedented Viridian Construction Contest, where
we try to persuade people to *build a physical model* of
your design.

Now for the valuable winner's prize. It is: ART
NOUVEAU by Gabriele Fahr-Becker. This Teutonically
thorough and richly illustrated 425-page tome is the best
single book I've ever seen on the Art Nouveau movement.
It covers the whole Belle Epoque crowd and their fellow
travellers: Charles Rennie Macintosh, Hector Guimard,
Rene Lalique, Alfonse Mucha, Emile Galle', Louis
Majorelle, Victor Horta, the rather little-known but
seriously incredible Carlo Bugatti, Antoni Gaudi, Peter
Behrens, Henry van de Velde, Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Louis
Comfort Tiffany, Otto Wagner, etc etc... Plus a
bibliography,a glossary, and set of brief artist's bios
that pretty much beats the band.

We're getting into deep hot water now, so this is our
finest contest prize to date. Why, I can scarcely lift
this great, whopping, expensive, glossy book, and better
yet, it's out of print. Put your teakettle design up on
the web where we can all see it and marvel. The creator
of the most biomorphic, transorganic, visually
unprecedented, geothermal-abyssal teakettle will take this
book away.

All other contest contributors will, as usual, receive
a handsome star >*< for their log-in name.

If you have no idea what these Art Nouveau guys were
up to, or just how odd and refreshing artifacts can look
when they take organic forms seriously, then I suggest
running those above artists' names through a search
engine. (Especially Gaudi and Guimard.) Or you can start

This contest embraces decay on March 6, 01999. I look
forward to seeing your effort. Good luck!

Bruce Sterling (

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 40 of 136: wer  (KitchenManager) * Sun, Feb  7, 1999 (22:51) * 1 lines 
hey, Terry, how do I get on this list?

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 41 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Feb  8, 1999 (06:02) * 3 lines 
Email and ask him to put you on the list.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 42 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Feb  8, 1999 (06:53) * 288 lines 

From Sat Feb 6 21:27:37 1999
Date: Sat, 6 Feb 1999 21:27:37 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00048: Viridian Aphorisms
X-UIDL: 11ac57c85ba2fb5a007870f552af9006

Key concepts: Viridian Aphorisms, Viridian Ranking System

Attention Conservation Notice: it's mostly the moderator's
housekeeping, except for the customary attention-grabbing
wit and wisdom that we swiped from famous people.

The proudly Danish website adding new functionality and
rumbling toward a digital-art launch
Mitchell Porter's Australian archive kept impressively up-
Antediluvian Sterling homepage undergoing dusting and
cleaning. Now in the automated business of selling
various books. Increasingly infested with Viridian
graphics, takes forever to load. Massive Improvements Real
Soon Now.

MODERATOR'S NOTE. My travel schedule is very heavy this
month and through early March. Expect Viridian traffic to
slow drastically. This is not a malfunction; do not
adjust your set. I am in possession of some excellent
Viridian material, and will likely set a blistering pace
of editing and distribution, when and if I return.

Viridian Aphorisms

Contribute a useful Viridian aphorism, and you will
receive an attractive chevron >< for your log-in name.

"Even the voice of conscience undergoes mutation."
Stanislaus Lec

"That which we call sin in others is experiment for us."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Think. It ain't illegal yet." George Clinton

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more
complex, and more violent." E. F. Schumacher

"What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will
to find out, which is the exact opposite." Bertrand

"Most of the evils of life arise from man's being unable
to sit still in a room." Blaise Pascal

"The natural environment is doctored up continuously and
warped by the acts of the human brain." Richard Neutra

"Those who will not labor mightily on their own behalf
shall be given other masters." Xenophon

"If you can talk brilliantly enough about a problem, it
can create the consoling illusion that it has been
mastered." Stanley Kubrick

"It is no use saying, 'We are doing our best.' You have
got to succeed in doing what is necessary." Winston

"Nothing has an uglier look to us than reason, when it is
not of our side." Lord Halifax

"If we were not all so excessively interested in
ourselves, life would be so uninteresting that none of us
would be able to endure it." Schopenhauer

"Man does not live long enough to profit from his faults."
Jean de La Bruyere

(((Since I have often been asked, allow me to reiterate
the difference between a "star" and a "chevron." You
receive a star when some personal work of your own is
published before the entire Viridian list. You are on
public display and courting a public reaction; therefore,
you "star." A chevron acknowledges some helpful Viridian
act which does not appear publicly.)))


The Viridian Ranking System has been hand-created
with a vintage fountain pen and fine art paper.
Scars, flaws, and imperfections add character and
are an inherent part of the product.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 43 of 136: Mike Lynn  (MikeLynn) * Tue, Feb  9, 1999 (02:21) * 1 lines 
Anyone seen the listing of the Viridian Greens in the 'Wired' column of Wired Magazine's latest issue's Tired/Wired list ?

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 44 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Tue, Feb  9, 1999 (07:05) * 1 lines 
Nope, I assume it's "wired" and what is it's "tired" counterpart?

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 45 of 136: Adam C. Lipscomb  (AdamLipscomb) * Tue, Feb  9, 1999 (20:54) * 2 lines 
Tired? That would be the Luddite Greens. Technology is the only thing that can extract us from our current predicament and still allow something resembling our current leisure-rich lifestyle.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 46 of 136: wer  (KitchenManager) * Tue, Feb  9, 1999 (22:06) * 1 lines 
Long Live Technocracy!

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 47 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Fri, Feb 26, 1999 (12:18) * 1 lines 
Huh, thanks fer the invitation to this here place, Terry - where's the fridge? Or, in other words: Haven't heard anything from the fearless viridian leader. Is he still in front? Or wherever, as front is 20thCent-think, right? Or rather, not (as right is a political concept, which is very much 20thCent in flave)? Uh, all this makes me dizzy. May I have some more of it?

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 48 of 136: Stacey Vura (stacey) * Fri, Feb 26, 1999 (12:27) * 2 lines 
spin the other way now Alexander...
it'll get you dizzy in the other direction too!

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 49 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Feb 26, 1999 (13:21) * 3 lines 
Bruce? He's traveling for a while. Expect a flurry of updates soon

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 50 of 136: wer  (KitchenManager) * Sat, Feb 27, 1999 (10:57) * 2 lines 
and welcome, Alexander!

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 51 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Tue, Mar  2, 1999 (15:23) * 3 lines 
Thanks for the friendly welcome, here, too. Hey, Stacey, hey, Kitchen - how come you're whereever I go in this here Spring?
Uh, Stacey, the award goes straight to you - first person here to figure I'm dizzy in more than one direction.
Terry, Does The Fearless Leader hafta tour for his book (again), or is he having fun? ;=}

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 52 of 136: Stacey Vura (stacey) * Tue, Mar  2, 1999 (15:52) * 12 lines 
WER and I (and I speak for him allthe time so don't fret!) are unshakable forces within the Spring...
or maybe we're the shakiest forces within the Spring...

how 'bout
we're forceful within the Spring and like to shake... shakes taken by force?

Alas... perhaps there is no answer to the question "why are WER and Stacey everywhere" perhaps there is only the fact of our large base of existance.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 53 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Tue, Mar  2, 1999 (20:11) * 5 lines 
They're ubiquitous. Book Tour? Would hafta write a book first. But keep
the rumor circulating anyway. Glad you're checking out the Viridian list,
what do you think of the content and concepts so far? Can you explain it
to us all?

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 54 of 136: wer  (KitchenManager) * Tue, Mar  2, 1999 (21:25) * 3 lines 
think Alexander and you have currently got you and Bruce Sterling confused...

(whereas Stacey and I are always confused everywhere...)

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 55 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Mar  4, 1999 (06:38) * 2 lines 
Stacey is Bruce Sterling.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 56 of 136: Stacey Vura (stacey) * Thu, Mar  4, 1999 (09:01) * 1 lines 
ah ha!!!

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 57 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Fri, Mar  5, 1999 (08:27) * 14 lines 
Well, seems not only this here reader got the dizzies...

Sorry to confuse you, Terry, but with Fearless Leader I meant Stacey Sterling. and with book I was referring to Distraction. Or Bruce Vura. Or else. Also read below:

* Glad you're checking out the Viridian list,

Well, how could I refuse your invitation? I'm on the mailing list, too, so I wouldn't want to miss the fun on this one.

*what do you think of the content and concepts so far?

Hmh, you really care about what I think? It takes long to load. Newest stuff should load topmost first, maybe. Somehow, there should be a distinction between the papal transmissions and our completely irrelevant mumblings.

*Can you explain it to us all? Listen, buster - any time I feel like making a complete idiot of myself, I'm gonna do it. But I don't let anyone push me on that one. ;=}
Honest, what or who do you think I am? It's very kind of you to ask me, as this somehow indicates that from whatever facts you collected from my rumblings on the Spring, you dedicated I would have something to say. Maybe even something meaningful. Well, I don't. Sorry.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 58 of 136: anon  (visitor) * Fri, Mar  5, 1999 (09:04) * 1 lines 
and, I have nothing to post and I'm going to post it just once.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 59 of 136: Stacey Vura  (stacey) * Fri, Mar  5, 1999 (15:26) * 1 lines 
Aaaaaaaa- men!

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 60 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Mar 11, 1999 (09:58) * 216 lines 
Catch the party invite at the end!

Bruce Sterling (bruces) Mon Mar 8 '99 (15:29) 210 lines

From Mon Mar 8 17:08:46 1999
Date: Mon, 8 Mar 1999 17:08:46 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00051: Viridian Commentary
X-UIDL: 9f17f04fd746fcf64311a06b7a3c1672

Key concepts: pedal-powered buses, hurricane names, wind-
up browsers, table-of-contents Viridian Notes 00025-00050,
party invitation to Bruce Sterling's house

Attention Conservation Notice: It rambles a lot, but you
get invited to a nice party with free beer.

Entries in the Viridian Teakettle Design Contest:
This contest ends March 20, 01999.

Subject: Pedal-powered bus

Date: Tuesday, January 26, 1999 10:26:49 AM

Bagelhole1 (, under
construction, calls for collaborators, globally, to share
ideas as to the best ways (design, mediums, etc) we can
think of to build a bus for about 50 people, that is a
hybrid, run both by pedal power and electrical (generated
by the pedal power and the turbine on top), equipped with
sail. There would be a driver who steers, changes gears,
and brakes. Music, perhaps, to inspire the
pedal/passengers, maybe made from bamboo partially. All
passengers ride/pedal for free, of course. Electric kicks
in, when there are not enough pedal/riders.

Every city could have such a bus to bring attention to
people to aid in soliciting low-tech, homemade style ideas
for self-sustainability, thinking in terms of small
neighborhoods, in mutual co-operation with each other, as
a way to really kick off community contingency
preparation, globally. This needs to be done very
quickly. So please heed, if you hear the call.

(((bruces remarks: I rather like this nutty, innocent
scheme, as long as we can make sure that these giant urban
rickshaws are restricted to highly-developed countries,
and powered exclusively by rich, well-educated, overweight

From:^^ (Jamais Cascio)
Subject: Weather Violence Terminology

>From the Rachel ( newsletter #634:

"We favor the idea, floated early last year, to stop
naming hurricanes after individual humans and start naming
them after oil companies. In place of Hurricane Alice or
Hurricane Hugo, we would have Hurricane Mobil and
Hurricane Exxon. A headline like 'Exxon Kills 10,000,
Leaves 50,000 Homeless' would have a certain salutary ring
of truth to it."

(((bruces remarks: Yes, of course, but.... "Shell" would
get off lightly due to the alphabetical listings, while
the new "Amoco/British Petroleum" hybrid would catch more
than its fair share of abuse.)))

>From^^^^^^^^^** (Dr. Alan Wexelblat)
Subject: Wind-Up Browsers for Ten Dollars

These people don't know it, but they are Viridian...

From: Joe Jacobson
Subject: Windup Browsers Seminar

Seminar - MAS 968 (H level)
Fridays 10-12, E15-468H

Design of Information Appliances for the Third World:
Windup Browsers

The WIND-UP Browser seminar will be geared towards
designing and building an information appliance for
developing nations. The sole constraints are that 1] It
must change the world 2] It must have a manufacturing cost
of $10.

Week 1: Introduction to the Problem
Assignment: Map of literacy and access to information
around the globe

Week 2: Introduction to low cost information technologies
Full survey of everything in existence from displays to
radio receivers to hand-crank generators that could be
cobbled together to make a $10 device.

Week 3: In class design session of self contained reader

Week 4: presentation of self contained reader.

Week 5: Economic models - how can third world peoples
supplement their income: Contract programming, inventing
etc. over the web.

Week 6: In class design and presentation of an economic
model for supplemental income. Brainstorm on how to build
1 Billion wind-up browsers.

Week 7: In class design of linked information device

Week 8: Presentation of linked information device

Week 9: Final project.

(((bruces remarks: Here's another stirring step-forward
for the philosophy that wants every Saharan Tuareg to
carry his own solar-powered satdish and boombox. A ten-
dollar browser will change the world, all right == it'll
change the world to a place that will gladly pay ten
*million* dollars for any device that will *eliminate* web
browsers, in say, a five-mile radius.)))

From:^* (Paul D. Ouderkirk)
Subject: Re: Correction to Viridian Note 00045

Bruce Sterling wrote: " The US Armed Forces can no longer
fully command their own dedicated industrial base ==
they're forced to use common off-the-shelf stuff now, the
poor wretches even have to run battleships on Windows

If you're referring to that Navy ship that "crashed"
during testing several months ago, it was running a mix of
Unix and NT systems. NT at least pretends (and pretends
is the operative word here) to be a mission-critical OS,
where Windows 95 certainly has no place anywhere that
lives are on the line. Later, Paul.

(((bruces remarks: I should cure myself of this
freewheeling poetic license when I know that there are
programmers reading this list. Okay, I formally retract
that sad blunder: "the poor wretches even have to run
their various weapons platforms on a mission-critical OS
mix of UNIX and Windows NT"....)))

Table of Contents 25-50

Viridian Notes
00026: Viridian Aphorisms
00027: Viridian Graphics
00028: Viridian Gardening
00029: The Interfund
00030: The View From Ecotopia
00031: Self-destructive Jungles
00032: The Viridian Refueling Project
00033: Viridian Aesthetics: Andy Goldsworthy
00034: Researching Andy Goldsworthy
00035: Viridian Aesthetics: Landscape Transformation
00036: Offshore Wind Power
00037: Viridian Commentary
00038: Viridian Aphorisms
00039: Starck's New Catalog
00040: German Politics
00041: The Viridian Product Catalog
00042: the Viridian Alcohol Cellphone
00043: the Viridian Electrical Meter
00044: The Viridian Service Station
00045: Twentieth-century Thinking
00046: German Bankers Love German Greens
00047: Viridian Imaginary Products Exhibition
00048: Viridian Aphorisms
00049: Submerging Carbon
00050: Wired Urban Forests


In totally informal conjunction with the annual South By
SouthWest Multimedia Festival, my wife Nancy and I are
throwing another Open House Party on the evening of March
16th, Tuesday, starting, say, 7:30 pm or so. If you're
on the Viridian List, please consider this your formal
invitation to attend. Bring anybody you trust. There
will be cold beer. And (even more astonishing and
provocative) there will be cigarettes.

If you've never been to my house before (once memorably
described by TIME magazine as "the leafy tranquillity of
Sterling's well-appointed Austin, Texas home"), send email
and I'll ship you the directions and a phone number.

Mind you, the SXSW Multimedia Party we threw last time was
not half shabby. These digital-arts people are
definitely a self-starting crowd. No Charades or Twister
was required to break the ice, and a good time was had
by all.

Bruce Sterling (

It's at 3410 Cedar Street, near Guadalupe and 33rd.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 61 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Fri, Mar 12, 1999 (02:18) * 115 lines 
Thu, 11 Mar 1999 20:22:40 -0600 (CST)
Viridian List
Bruce Sterling Add to Address Book

Viridian Note 00052: Human-Assisted Wildlife


Key Concepts: Emergency global heat strategy;
multinational ecostructures; Post-Pleistocene landscape
designs; totemic ambassadors; distributive intellect;
decentralized aesthetic appreciation

Attention Conservation Notice: Peter Warshall, editor of
Whole Earth Review, wrote us this Note. You're not likely
to find a Viridian screed more "whole-earthy" than this

Entries in the Viridian Teakettle Design Contest:
This contest ends March 20, 01999.

From:* (Peter Warshall)

Sources: Among others, Whole Earth magazine's issue on
modern landscape ecology (Number 93). Many net sites for
groups (see issue) that monitor greenhouse changes and
impacts on our extended selves == the animal kingdom.

Email becomes ecological. Ecostructures equal
infrastructures. Prophesy includes Monarch butterflies,
jaguars, unlimited ducks, and a sub-movement == the
Cerulean Movement. Beauty and paying attention lead to

Citizen science is already happening. Kids and oldsters
are tracking the great heating of the planet by tracking
NAFTA zoology. Monarch butterflies that move from Canada
to Michoacan are tracked by kids and volunteers who tell
who's arrived or departed on the web. They spot the
hottest spots where the milkweeds (Monarch fueling
stations) have gone extinct and fragmented the tri-
national corridor.

They monitor the results of the World Trade
Organization (without saying it). So when the US stops
genetically engineered soybeans from being labelled as
such, and GE soybeans spread through the soy/corn belt,
and milkweed in the fields or along the roadways is
herbicided with RoundUp, they know, and the news surges
over the net.

The same for ducks that travel from Canada to Mejico.
And wood warblers.

But, global warming is sending the subtropical
critters north. Armadillos in Texas, jaguars in New
Mexico/Arizona, elegant trogans, coatimundis...all heading
north with the heat.

Ecostructure is to nature, what infrastructure is to
humans. It's the corridors and composition of the
corridors that help trees or animals move with the heat.
Jaguars used to be as far north as the Grand Canyon. That
mom and cubs are stuffed in New York, in the American
Museum of Natural History (1905). Jaguars used to be in
Louisiana. Now, with the heat and forest fires and
clearcutting, they're heading north and need corridors.

So old fart ranchers and hunters and multiple-aged
maniacal naturalists have tracked the ecostructure needed
and are preparing for 2012 and beyond. Supplying a space
to move that is Viridian, since jaguars and coatis have a
hard time in sand dunes.

Add to this, the Cerulean Movement which knows that
the greenhouse effect will raise the seas and mudflats and
lagoons will drown. So, the NAFTA effect on shorebirds who
will find few places to land and fuel up by pick, jab, and
stab at spineless inverts. No ecostructure. Either they
will become albatrosses or perish. The NAFTA critters
include greywhales and sea turtles. They used to include
steelhead and sea otters.

In short, the webbing of the Earth (ecostructure)
parallels the webbing of the human invention (roads,
wires). No college scientist nor the NSF can track these
changes in grounded and oceanic ecostructure and
movements. It's beyond the scope of satellites. Yet the
non-humans carry the news. They are allies of the
prophets. By believing in their intelligence, the future
can be known. To do all this requires a distributive
intellect and integrated decentralized observation
network. Its only citizens in love with looking and
feeding their love (an aesthetic if there is one) into the
net that is cheap and joyful. A new viridian science that
will allow focused finances to see the landscape breaks
and gaps and heal them.

This movement too has an automatic end. Stop global
warming, connect the dots, and end the movement.

Peter Warshall, Whole Earth Quarterly
1408 Mission Avenue
San Rafael, CA 94901 USA
Phone 415-256-2800, ext. 224
Fax 415-256-2808

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 62 of 136: wer  (KitchenManager) * Mon, Mar 15, 1999 (00:36) * 1 lines 
interesting little piece there...hmmm...

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 63 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Mar 15, 1999 (10:50) * 10 lines 
Someones thinking about ecostructure.

Matrix Group, inc. (ECOSTRUCTURE-DOM)
4701 Keswick Road
Baltimore, MD 21210


 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 64 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Tue, Mar 16, 1999 (19:10) * 174 lines 
From Sat Mar 13 23:32:14 1999
Date: Sat, 13 Mar 1999 23:32:14 -0600 (CST)
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note OOO53: The Ecosystem Game
X-UIDL: af47508cf91b9df9d6fd34d440d9b49b

Key concepts: imaginary products, computer games,
ecosystem design

Attention Conservation Notice: This imaginary product
does not exist, but this long, fake product-pitch is
worked out in such scary, meticulous detail that the whole
screed seems quite convincing.

Tor Kristensen remarks: I've added searching
functionality to the Viridian archive! An easier way to
find that kernel of wisdom from 12 messages back.

Entries in the Viridian Teakettle Design Contest:
We have a Russian entry on the way...
This contest ends March 20, 01999.

The EcoSystem Game

by Alex Steffen (^^^^^^^^^^^***)

Okanogan County, WA

The hottest computer game of the year isn't about blowing
apart zombies with a shotgun, or trying to land a virtual
lunar shuttle on the deck of an aircraft carrier in
pitching seas. No, the latest sensation in the gaming
world comes down to a 26 year-old biology PhD candidate
standing up to her hips in a mountain stream, skimming
bugs of the surface with a mesh net.

"I'm doing an aquatic insect count," the biologist,
Sarah Greene, explains. "This will give us a rough
estimation of how healthy this habitat is, whether
or not it's providing sufficient food for wild salmon."

By itself, counting bugs is not very exciting. It's
what happens to the count that has made this odd game a

You see, in this game, "EcoSystem" the "board" is a
real place == a three-hundred-fifty-thousand acre system
of valleys here in rural Washington, in a county larger
than the state of Connecticut. The actions of the
"players" == tens of thousands of paying customers from
around the planet == control all the management decisions
for this vast tract of land.

It's a real-world, real-time, high-tech videogame,
where things are actually born and eaten, flourish or
dwindle, based on the players' mouse-clicks == and often
in front of their very eyes.

After identifying and counting the insect population,
Greene feeds the information into a computer, which
tabulates the data and puts it up on the game's website.
There, it is added to and cross-referenced with literally
millions of other pieces of information to present a
picture of how the EcoSystem is doing.

Some of the information is arcane, like Youst's bug
count. Some is more personal, like another grad student's
daily observations and video about the habits and behavior
of the valley's only spotted owl brood. Members post
thousands of queries about this data, make notes on GIS
maps, make and debate motions about how to manage the
land, even plot coups and counter-coups in the management

Debates often become quite heated, such as a recent
quarrel over whether to introduce a pack of wolves into
the valley (the wolf-fans won).

In exchange, the EcoSystem team is able to meet three
of its goals: the preservation of a vast tract of land
(ranging from logged-over scabland to a few isolated
patches of ancient forest) at a time when public money for
wilderness preservation has all but dried up; the
restoration of portions of the ecosystem using
experimental techniques; and the chance to study the
workings of an entire ecosystem in a level of detail never
before attempted.

This last is due largely to the availability of large
numbers of grants through the company for graduate work in
the area, but EcoSystem president Jack Muir says none of
the project would be possible without recent advances in
computer and telecommunications technology.

"Not only do we have hundreds of employees and
thousands of customers, all connected via networks," Muir
says, "but we also have thousands of remote sensing
devices of all different kinds, all going 24-7, measuring
a wealth of data which has never been practical to
consider before."

But technology has made the game possible in a more
direct sense as well. Part of the $30,000 entry fee to
play includes the interface screen and equipment, a large
flat-display screen which receives a direct feed from the
valley, allowing players to show off pictures from any
number of robot cameras (the camera on the owls is
particularly popular), as well as track any number of
information streams. The EcoSystem, many players say, is a
part of their daily lives.

To some this might sound boring, but most of the
players this writer spoke with claimed it was quite the
opposite: some say they experience a deep connection to
the EcoSystem which they feel for no other land. Others
recount powerful on-line experiences, such as the time
cameras captured the wolf pack bringing down an elk and
thousands across the world stopped their lives for hours
to watch as the wolves fed. Still others recount personal
visits to the valleys, great parties with fellow players,
growing knowledge of environmental science, etc.

There have even been some insurgencies to make it
interesting, like the small group of players lead by a
disgruntled former timber executive who received the game
from his daughter. He decided to advocate clearcutting
the EcoSystem. The rebels called their plan "Fresh Start."
The effort was eventually contained within a small patch
of experimental sustainable forestry on the area's

Another effort, to allow limited hunting, was

But it is the exclusivity of the EcoSystem (only
researchers and players may visit, and then only under
strict controls) which has helped make memberships in
theGame a hot status item. Though a few players have
"scholarships" based in large part on some past service to
the EcoSystem, the vast majority are well-heeled,
environmentally-aware professionals for whom membership is
a badge of distinction.

As word has spread and membership grown, the
EcoSystem has been able to increase the intensity of study
and add more parcels of land, growing 250,000 acres in
four years.

Now the game is planning to branch out into
surrounding more settled areas. New projects will work
with the EcoSystem, such as the purchase of a ranch and
several farms, which (it is hoped) will be experiments in
rural sustainability. Players will engage in a
participatory design process to create a series of
completely sustainable visitor centers to accommodate the
growing membership. A nearby hydropower dam will be
purchased and removed from the surrounding land. There is
even development of a "green" retirement community for
EcoSystem players, planned for a nearby town.

Copyright 1999 Alex Steffen, all commercial rights
reserved. Permission for non-commercial free distribution

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 65 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Mar 17, 1999 (09:44) * 64 lines 
And now for something a bit different but relevant in an oblique way, from
Justin Hall's diary:

we wandered over somehow to bruce sterling's house - he'd invited the
near-whole of south by southwest to his 1912/frank lloyd writey custom
designed/build admirable family pad. respected but unread pat cadigan
science fiction author i should know better, bruce sterling holding court
in his office, showing off computer crime books, ru serius and his
wonderful welcome-matt-flinging ladyfriend eve, demi-stars and the 13 year
old dj, who may have put on eminem more than once, though it may have been
carl. adam powell told me about fugazi with the most incredible fervent
look in his eyes, as he is want to do describing a trip to eat a burrito.
paul with recent videos of me gathered persistenly at threw out occasional questions, still in his rather
large but not laden vest-of-many pockets. jon lebkowsky i've felt somehow
has been most host-behind-the-scenes all along and he was there looking
quite impish in eyebrows and friendly in his belly, smiled much and
suggested i think seriously about repurposing my web ramblings into a
sellable book. his tome on netpolitics should be rescued from academic
press in time for a presidential-era publishing this november if possible
i suggested. joey anuff of suck did the usual rib-tickling rundown of
myself or whoever availed. the woman from the ACTlab here described the
collaboratively written opera she'd organized and had just seen performed.
never having done opera before she was prompted by sandy stone to do
something new first and therein find the necessary knomwledge. bruce
sterling's youngest daughter of maybe 3 was eating candy necklace beads
that had been already separated from the string. i sat near her on the
wooden stairs and tried mimicry to initiate play - she had none of it and
steadily rolled away from my ovations of friendship, beginning a slow moan
that threatened to become a cry. a guy who's name slips me and i'm too
tired to find his card had long red hair and a longer attention span than
i for the subject at hand between us - managing web site collections of
links. another fellow, jeff? can't recall; he mentioned wanting to auction
me off on ebay. joey said a famous VC had auctioned off an hour of his
time there and i should try that too. of my party carl david and ariana
were leaving after 10 minutes. they invited my departure as well but i
could not stand to leave a nice group gathered here under a writerly
umbrella for casual chatting in pleasant audible surroundings so i
abandoned any party hopping for 90 minutes wandering happy at the

his office was lined with books, many his, many cyber, much eclectica.
sterling has a quite old mac (fewer wiz bang - maybe more work), while his
daughter of 3 has a powerful PC that he is sure to be kicked off of if she
catches him on it when she has work to do.

over his desk, much like howard, strikingly like howard, sterling had a
large ganesha. at first he dodged acknowledging the significance, but he
came to share a dream of a visitation by a three foot high rat in some
clothes the day he cleaned and installed the large painted statue (rat
being the messenger of ganesh and the title of a story by a fellow i did
not note and do not recall).

later i paused in the kitchen a moment to say thanks yous ands goods byes
to him my host. i introduced myself and sterling mentioned my hair change.
somehow origin came up and he mentioned that garriot was an astronaut's
sun who had famous halloween parties every few years.

there was a large hammock outside between the house and my ride. i jumped
in, it was a broad sweep, many feet between the anchors. amidst my
late-evening breeze riding sterling ran by and snatched up an attached
rope to pull me to exciting heights cackling something resembling
"appropriate use"

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 66 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Wed, Mar 17, 1999 (11:59) * 3 lines 
Huh, see, Wer, that's what I call something to say. Wished I'd been there, though, and could have watched people.

Well, I got treated to a Granfaloon Bus concert on Monday, so I did have some life, too.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 67 of 136: Adam C. Lipscomb  (AdamLipscomb) * Wed, Mar 17, 1999 (18:21) * 3 lines 
Definitely a good party. I dropped in for a couple of hours, talked Telcomm with a couple of guys formerly of Motorola, chatted with Paul, then got in an involved coversation with a chap from Australia comparing/contrasting Amerind/Aborigine treatment by the US and Australia, and media portrayals of the same relations over the years.

I've decided to sell my soul if that's what it takes to be as good at throwing parties as the inimitable Mr. Sterling.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 68 of 136: Adam C. Lipscomb  (AdamLipscomb) * Wed, Mar 17, 1999 (18:25) * 1 lines 
Ooops - also forgot a brief discussion with our host re: debating Viridian Manifestos. I'm getting in on the ground floor of a virtual community based in the UK, and I'm mining every interesting topic I can for ideas for a debate forum. Any Viridian concepts that you guys consider especially arguable? I'm looking for ones that are controversial and mind-grabbing.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 69 of 136: wer  (KitchenManager) * Wed, Mar 17, 1999 (23:50) * 1 lines 
you ought to talk to Mike since he's our "resident" Englishman...

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 70 of 136: Adam C. Lipscomb  (AdamLipscomb) * Thu, Mar 18, 1999 (00:00) * 3 lines 
OK. Mike? Any ideas as to provocative concepts for discussion on the other side of the pond?

I like the idea of a "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" for polluters, a la South Africa.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 71 of 136: wer  (KitchenManager) * Thu, Apr  8, 1999 (01:34) * 1 lines 
explain, please...

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 72 of 136: Adam C. Lipscomb  (AdamLipscomb) * Thu, Apr  8, 1999 (20:45) * 4 lines 
Sterling suggested something along these lines in one of his first Viridian mailings. Basically, like Mandela's government, a commission would be set up to hold hearings, getting all the information possible on major polluters. Cooperation with the commission would reflect favorably on those who did so, according to the amount of information they were willing to give. In some cases, immunity from prosecution would be granted, but not automatically. This would serve to bring into the open all the dirty
little secrets of all of the corporate polluters, in a framework that encourages openness and some sort of reconciliation without simply delving into the realm of bloodthirsty vengeance.

It *seems* to be working so far in South Africa, but time will tell....

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 73 of 136: wer  (KitchenManager) * Thu, Apr  8, 1999 (23:35) * 1 lines 
kinda partial to bloodthirsty vengeance myself...thanks for the details!

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 74 of 136: Adam C. Lipscomb  (AdamLipscomb) * Sun, Apr 11, 1999 (18:47) * 3 lines 
Don't get me wrong - vengeance is good, and I'm sure enough polluters will refuse to cooperate to satisfy our bloodlust...

But this way, we can at least get more information. Information that will help prosecute other polluters....

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 75 of 136: wer  (wer) * Sun, Apr 11, 1999 (21:52) * 2 lines 
hey, I understand!
more of the transparent society kinda stuff...

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 76 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Thu, Apr 15, 1999 (12:46) * 85 lines 
Subject: Viridian Note 00060: Viridian Strategy

Key concepts: catalogs, design shows, imaginary products, fundraising, money and organizational problems

Attention Conservation Notice: If you read these notes because they're funny and they have weird news clippings, then you'd better skip this one.

A woman who makes pottery out of deep-sea abyssal mud. Teakettles anyone?

After the Viridian Teakettle Contest, I have had some time to ponder Viridian imaginary products and possible Viridian events.

I believe we Viridians have hit a nerve with this imaginary products theme. The response is strong. Viridian Notes with "imaginary products" provoke a lot of list feedback. They also stir up media interest.

Grim reportage of melting Antarctic ice packs is all well and good, but we're preaching to the converted as we track the climate news. These made-up gizmos of ours, by contrast, really seem to suit the contemporary temperament. It's an age which is profoundly weary of ideology and hates to face the facts, but it's still touchingly eager for a technical fix, especially if it's
personal, intimate, and can be FedExed in with a single website click.

So I'd like to see the Viridian Movement invest some serious effort in this promising direction. Expressing one's desire for righteous knicknacks is an effective political tactic, much less shopworn than protest signs,
peptalks, or dire prognostications.

I believe our tactics here should echo those of the Canadian publication ADBUSTERS. ADBUSTERS violently loathes the advertising industry and all its works. A typical ADBUSTERS fake ad is "Joe Chemo," a chainsmoking camel undergoing chemotherapy. The uniform subtext of all ADBUSTERS fake ads is that you, the viewer, are a victim of mental pollution and corporate false-consciousness. ADBUSTERS tries to hammer you into a more socially-
advanced awareness by revealing the machineries of
consumer manipulation.

This is doubtless a virtuous and useful message, but there's already a group energetically doing this, ie. ADBUSTERS. Given our limited resources and innate Viridian Inactivism, we lazy Viridians could never out-do

However, I think we could detourne advertising in another way. Our Viridian version of fake ads should strongly suggest to the viewer that he lives in an *entire culture* which is so crass, so crude, so filthy, and so lacking in refinement, that he or she is being *cruelly denied* these very valuable and attractive consumer items. Viridian Imaginary Products should look as luscious,
guilt-free and enticing as possible. They're utterly wonderful -- cheap, too!

So, we Viridians do NOT want to urge the pampered consumer to behave in a more adult, reponsible fashion, consuming less, consuming correctly, and spending more time in (for instance) sprout-eating and transcendental
meditation. No, our basic intent here is to provoke a trance-rupturing *consumer tantrum.* Our intent with these fake ads is to *push the contradictions* -- to exacerbate an atmosphere of *consumer hysteria.*

We Viridians want consumers to be instantly afflicted with a terrible, tantalized greed for these marvelous items that they *simply cannot possess.* This is because Viridian imaginary products are, by their very nature, products inherent to a *superior and more advanced 21st century civilization.* Stupid 20th-century cultures vilely smothering in their own CO2 trash cannot manufacture items this cool. Desire that item, therefore, and you find yourself, will-nilly, desiring some better culture.

As an important corollary, we want actual, contemporary product manufacturers to suffer severe pangs of future-shock and competitive anxiety when they see our imaginary ads. That's because our imaginary ads make all
their actual, real-life, coal-powered products *look really bad and ugly.*

Now, if we had a sufficient number of these imaginary ads in production, we could assemble an entire Viridian Imaginary Products Catalog. I surmise that this publication would look and act rather like a SHARPER IMAGE catalog, only, well, very Viridian. This catalog would be a visionary work of science fiction (without of course, identifying itself as "science fiction" in any way). In
order to get it into as many hands as possible, we would sell it commercially. It would probably be retailed in alternative bookstores, fanzine outlets, by mail-order, and so forth.

If this publication created useful interest and did not bankrupt our so-called organization, then a Viridian Exhibit would be in order. We would create mock-ups and models of our Imaginary Products, and take the show on the
road. Like the magazine, this would be a commercial effort. Entry fees would be charged in host galleries, and, to cover our costs, it is quite likely that the fake products would be auctioned off to eager sci-fi collectors at the end of the event.

Should we reach this exalted, ambitious stage, many further opportunities beckon. Personally, I would probably write a Viridian book. Other Viridian spinoffs by other Viridians seem plausible. At this point, the term
"Viridian" would probably go into public domain. There would be press coverage, and bandwagon hopping, and many derivative rip-offs, and perhaps some actual real-life working artifacts, and basically, we would be witnessing an authentic little 21st century design movement, leaping up from deep obscurity to wreak whatever temporary havoc these things can.

To get there from here requires cumulative steps. Given our narrow resource base, any misstep can do us serious harm, and the first and most important misstep, I believe, would be muddying the waters between the Internet
gift economy and for-profit activity. It is fatally easy to cause great ill-will by mishandling this issue. For instance, this is likely to happen when Grandma gives you a bicycle out of the loving goodness of her kindly heart,
and she spots you flogging her bike for cash in a flea market, one week later. At that point, even the kindliest of Grandmas is likely to whip out her umbrella
and lay into you. And justly so.

Much can be done outside the money economy. I'm a great believer in distributed systems and gift economies. But magazines, and especially, gallery shows, just don't work without funding.

A natural dividing line suggests itself, however. Inside cyberspace: outside cyberspace. This will be our operating principle. Inside the Net, we will continue the Viridian List just as it has gone to date: it will be done
entirely with noncommercial cajoling, ideological exhortations, prestigious dingbats for your log-in name, and occasional cool art-books as door prizes.

However, when it comes to moving atoms rather than bits: say, layout, shipping, publishing, and making Viridian rayguns out of Fimo, we need to be on a firm commercial basis. In other words, I plan to pay contributors. Not very much, I hasten to add. Just barely enough to convince you that you are not being baldly ripped-off.

If "Viridianism" ever somehow becomes truly "fashionable," then somebody somewhere, very likely including me, is going to get a lot of money. In the
culture industry, if you make any perceptible cultural difference, you will definitely be burdened with a lot of money, whether you want it or not. I have witnessed this happening hundreds of times to hundreds of people. They always seem surprised about it, but that's because they're artists, and nobody ever trained them to think ahead. This is the stark operational reality of recuperative, co-optational capitalism. We Viridians have just got to get used to that dynamic and its consequences, because if
we buckle under such an elementary gambit, we don't deserve to live.

If, in future, you somehow make a lot of money because you got famous in the "Viridian Movement," I would suggest that you blow it on better software, strange artwork and cool designer crap. Then you'll be broke again, and just
as lean, mean, and virtuous as you were before, except your apartment will be full of cool weird furniture.
Somebody's gotta keep Philippe Starck in business, you

Now: we will have some time to ponder and debate these matters. This spring, I'm very busy completing a novel. But once summer is here in Texas, I expect to be working on Viridian issues with much intensity. Because I expect to endure an extremely, lethally hot Texan summer this year. I'll be spending a lot of time hunched over my computer in the laboring air conditioning, grimly waiting for big swathes of Mexico to catch fire.

I welcome your feedback on this matter of imaginary products. Specifically, I would like to create four lists of Viridian volunteers.

A. People who want to work on these advertisements and the catalog, with the firm understanding that this is a for-hire, piecework-style, design job. Because we need these fake ads to look *good.* We want them to intrigue and alarm normal people who read real, no-kidding magazines. A billboard or two likely wouldn't kill us, either.

B. You're not a copywriter, designer or graphics type, but you'd like to take on some of the organizational work, such as shipping stuff around and bugging total strangers to meet deadlines. It's awful, unglamorous drudgery. We'll pick up your postage costs and probably give you, I dunno, a Big Mike sweatshirt or something.

C. People who are too damn lazy do any work for us, but who have lots of money, and want to give some to us so we can create mischief with it. If one of you software moguls on this list wants to pony up ten grand, for instance, I can guarantee you some entertaining fireworks by the end of summer.

D. Modelmakers, gallerists and other fellow-travellers.

Send email if you think you are up to tackling this.

The next Viridian Note will have a new design contest, for a very nifty new prize.

Bruce Sterling

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 77 of 136: wer  (KitchenManager) * Fri, Apr 16, 1999 (12:46) * 2 lines 
Now this sounds like fun.
You gonna run any of the ads in SUPERSTAR, Alexander?

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 78 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Fri, Apr 16, 1999 (13:08) * 8 lines 
Haha, somebody just mailed me and wrote
Subject: Re: Viridian Note 00060: Viridian Strategy / superstar

I definitely like the idea of these "ads" being translated
into German and printed in Superstar. It's a great notion.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 79 of 136: wer  (KitchenManager) * Fri, Apr 16, 1999 (13:36) * 1 lines 

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 80 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Fri, Apr 16, 1999 (13:56) * 1 lines 
Well, I volunteered that... Somebody liked it... Pretty much the idea behind the whole thing...

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 81 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Thu, Apr 29, 1999 (02:41) * 197 lines 
--- Bruce Sterling wrote:
Date: Tue, 27 Apr 1999 15:16:54 -0500
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00062: What I Did for Earth Day

Key concepts: Earth Day, solar power, politics, Austin,
Texas, carbon dioxide ascii symbolism, Earth Day 2000

Attention Conservation Notice: It's political.
There's a lot of it.

The Viridian Products listing at has
recently doubled in size.

Entries in the Viridian Power Banner Contest:
(note dino animation at bottom of page)
This contest expires May 31, 01999

Today was Earth Day 1999. My home town, Austin
Texas, opened a new solar facility, its third and largest.
This is the biggest solar generating unit I've ever
personally seen. Black tilted wings of glassy silicon cover
maybe a quarter-acre at our new airport, and they can
generate a hearty 111 kilowatts in the blistering Texas sun.

I attended the formal opening. It was a windy,
clouded day. There was a crowd of about forty there to help
snip the ribbon, most of them city functionaries.

The mayor gave a brief speech extolling
Austin's high-tech, quality of life, competitive advantages.
He's an okay mayor. I've seen quite of few of them in my
27 years here. We Austinites have done a lot worse
than this guy.

Austin has a city-owned electrical utility.
If you volunteer to pay extra each month on your city
electrical bills, you can buy 50-watt "blocks" of solar power.

Therefore I do -- I splurged and bought 200 watts,
or somewhat less than 4 light-bulb's worth. About one
thousand other earnest volunteers also pay extra for
solar. Thanks to these and other laudable fringe
initiatives, the City of Austin now has 450 peak
kilowatts of green, renewable power. That's about one percent
of our local capacity. It may not sound like much, but
the national American average is two-tenths of one
percent, so (if you are another Yankee) that probably makes us
at least five times more virtuous than you. And

The chief of our local utility, also there,
shouted into an ironically power-dead microphone that his outfit
is moving forward "aggressively." This city is
spending a full million dollars a year on renewable,
sustainable power. By 2005, therefore, we'll possess a full
*five percent* renewable!

What does this mean? Well, imagine that this
piece of electrical email (Viridian Note 00062, direct
from green, high-tech Austin Texas) had
truth-in-labelling about its sources of power.

As^^^^^^*** artfully suggests:

"All emails sent using a server not specifically
known to use a renewable energy source ought to have a
border of CO2 molecules following the message, thus:

0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0

"And perhaps a short written statement above, like:

0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0

or a simpler:

0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0"

Whiz has a fine idea, so let's extend his
suggestion further. If one of his vile CO2 molecule ascii
symbols represented one percent of the electricity I used to
compose this heartening piece of Earth Day news, the
result would look like this:

Subject: Viridian Note 00062
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 * 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0

While five years and five million dollars from
now, it will radically improve to *this!*

Subject: Viridian Note 28765
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 * * * * * 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0

Still, it's surely better to light even one solar
candle than to merely curse that black, oily darkness.

Meanwhile, in national Earth Day news, the CO2
issue stumbles front and center in the gerontocratic green


1st leader to head 'Earth Day 2000'

By Patrick McMahon, USA TODAY

SEATTLE - It's an environmental back-to-the-future.

The earnest student activist who was the national
coordinator of the first Earth Day in 1970 is back
for more. His project at age 54: "Earth Day 2000: New
Energy for A New Era."

"In 1990, we had on the order of 70 million people
participating in Earth Day activities, and some 200
million worldwide," says Denis Hayes, now a
foundation executive here. "We are confident that Earth Day
2000 is going to be bigger still."

It is drawing support. "I think we can get people
excited again," says environmental pioneer David Brower, 86.
(((Yes people, that's right: Earth Day hippies are
now million-year-old geezers. Hope the renewed
excitement doesn't stop this fine old gentleman's heart.)))

Earth Day campus organizer Ian Burke, 22, thinks
"there are strong stirrings on college campuses" and
predicts that college students will help "revitalize this
movement that's gotten a little crusty after all these
(((A *little* crusty? That guy is four times your

Mitch Friedman, 35, a forest conservation leader in
the Northwest, recalls being at the Earth Day 1990
celebration. (...) "You come to realize that while
'Earth Day everyday' is a nice idea, every decade or so
it's powerful to get 10 million people in the street,"
Friedman says.

(((Okay, I can only concur == in the Year 2000, any
excuse to get 10 million people in the street is pretty
much bound to be useful.)))

The 2000 campaign - to be launched this week as part
of 1999 Earth Day events - will focus on energy use and
its connection to global warming. With a "clean energy
agenda," organizers envision a month of lectures,
rallies and concerts next April, culminating in what they
hope will be the largest demonstration in history on
Earth Day on Saturday, April 22, 2000.

Clean, renewable energy use is "an issue with
sweeping implications" in almost every area, Hayes says.
"It's tough to find a better issue to rally around."

((('Largest demonstration in history?' Well, why
not? It's 2000! Count me in!)))

Bruce Sterling (

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 82 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Thu, Apr 29, 1999 (02:42) * 139 lines 
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 19:37:43 -0500
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00063: Real-World Projects

Key concepts: imaginary products, ad campaigns, Viridian
Curia, solar power banners, Viridian commentary,
organizational problems

Attention Conservation Notice: It's mostly about products
that don't exist. Lots of rambling.


Entries in the Viridian Power Banner Contest:
(note dino animation at bottom of page)
This contest expires May 31, 01999

On the subject of solar banners, Cor Van de Water
(*) remarks:

"I have my own web pages, although not my own server. I
also do generate my own power. The Solar system that I am
powering my home with is on display on my web pages. Last
40 days I (my solar system) generated 250 kWh while I (my
appliances at home) used only 200. The rest is surplus,
back into the grid. Theoretically this could be used by
the server that my web pages are on, resulting in a green-
powered site. Although in practice I think it is just my
PC, where I make my web pages, which is powered 100% green
AND the neighbour's dish-washer (or something like that).
Anyway, I did make a banner (actually for Linkexchange)
where I feature some solar cells and the address of my
page, supported by the slogan: "No time to waste PV".

If you want to look at the banner:
My solar pages are located at:
Kind regards,
Cor van de Water
the Netherlands"

(((bruces remarks: This is yet another fine example of
the Viridian practice known as "predicting the

Roger Weeks (^^^?) offers a new idea for
a Viridian Imaginary Product:

"I'm working on another idea for the Imaginary Products
catalog == the Viridian Home. Not all of the ideas are
conceptualized yet, but it features the following:

"Rain-collection system that serves as the primary
irrigation and water source.
"Septic tank is fitted with microbes that eat waste and
output pure H2O.
"The house is a single-story set into a hill, with
indigenous flora planted on the roof. This keeps the
house cool in summer and blends into the landscape.
"Wind-up washer and dryer.
"Power is supplied either from solar, wind, or fuel cells.
"Construction is from entirely recycled cellulose or other
"Walls are extremely thick, at least 18-24 inches, again
for insulation.
"Skylights provide all daytime light.
"Nighttime lights are provided by bacteria or fungi that
give off natural light. Ideally, these would be the same
microbes that eat waste. Perhaps their other byproduct
would be light.
"No cathode ray tubes. All displays in the model Viridian
house are smart ink displays.
"Wireless or satellite data connections to the world net.
No copper cable or telco lines in the future.

"We should get someone with 3D design skills to mock up a
demo. This would make a great Viridian gallery piece.
Visitors could walk marvelling through a 3D full-size
house that *they can't purchase.*"

Bruce Sterling remarks:

I am eager for more suggestions along this line. We
have now assembled a group of Viridian Volunteers, known
as "the Viridian Curia," who want to work on Viridian
imaginary ad campaigns. Members of the Curia are the
highest-ranking Viridians, and have their elite status
denominated by a Viridian "bishop's crook" by their
log-in name.

If you would like to join the Curia and engage in the
rough-and-tumble of undertaking ad projects, send me your
snailmail address, and a 100-word biography indicating
your areas of creative interest. Note that there are
about thirty Curia members already. Manpower is not our

Here is a summary list of Viridian Imaginary Products
suggested to date. I've not yet decided which project
will be first, how to divvy up authority within the Curia,
how to coordinate volunteers, what to do with the "ad"
when we have it, or how to pay for any of this. This is
why Viridian life is rich and full. Perhaps we will
divide the Curia into rival design teams, depending on
popular response to potential products.

Attention please, Curia members: if you find any of
these notions particularly attractive, let me know and I
will make careful note of it.

The Viridian EcoSystem Game (Note 00053)
The Viridian Alcohol Cellphone (Note 00042)
The Viridian Electrical Meter (Note 00043)
The Viridian Service Station (Note 00044)
The Viridian Teakettle (we have our design; this is a
model-building project)
The Viridian Model Home (Note 00063)
The Viridian Model Family (Note 00018)
The Viridian Genetically Reconstituted Mammoth-Fur Sweater
Viridian "Fungal Brew" Relaxant De-Stressing Beverage
Viridian Swag: temporary tattoos, giveaway pencils, T-
shirts, foul-weather gear, Big Mike logo'd decontamination
Tyvek jumpsuits, bumper stickers, etc.

0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0
0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0 0=o=0

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 83 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Thu, May 27, 1999 (02:20) * 195 lines 
Date: Wed, 26 May 1999 22:33:59 -0500
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00068: Household Localizers

Key concepts: housekeeping, ubiquitous computing, tangible
cyberspace, digital localizers, anti-theft tags, ACM

Attention Conservation Notice: It's not a custom-written
Viridian note, but a brief speech recently delivered to
2,500 computer-human interface designers.

The Viridian Library:

Entries in the Viridian Power Banner Contest:
(note dino animation at bottom of page)
This contest expires May 31, 01999

Presentation at SIGCHI 99
Association for Computing Machinery
Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction
Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, USA
May 18, 01999

by Bruce Sterling

For my mercifully brief presentation today, I'd like
to talk in a rather unromantic, practical way about the
interface between humanity and its stuff. My humble topic
is that ancient curse, humanity's most basic task:

First, let's try to get the technological big picture,
and then we'll get into some practical, everyday

I'll use myself and my own life as a cogent example
here. I think I'm rather typical of most SIGCHI attendees
in that I now have two classes of possessions: actual
possessions, and virtual possessions. Over the last
twenty years, I've gotten my hot little hands on much more
of both classes, but mostly, an explosive increase in the
second class, virtual stuff. I own a hell of a lot of
virtual stuff now. A Guatemalan family of four could live
an upwardly mobile life on the revenue I spend on data
flows. Especially if you count my cable TV, phone bills,
Internet hookup, software, modems, PCs and the household
security system.

So, if there's a difference between my two classes of
possessions, it isn't the money involved. No, the truly
remarkable thing about my virtual stuff is its anomalous
relationship to property law. Is it my property, or isn't
it my property? Who knows? I sure don't know. I've got
virtual stuff that is freeware, it's shareware, it's cut-
and-pasted from heaven knows where. It's personal, it's
public, I made some of it myself, and every flavor of so

Even the stuff I bought direct from Steve Jobs and Bill
Gates doesn't actually belong to me. It came almost
mummified in complicated shrinkwrap declarations, so even
though I paid real money, carried the box home, and
installed the contents myself, I don't actually own this
stuff. I kind of license it, or rent it, apparently.

The Software Publishers Association says that I'm to
regard this purchased virtual property as something like a
chair. I'm supposed to believe that software is a
physical, sacred property that will stay in one place and
under one legal identity, forever. Or until release 2.0,
whichever comes first. Even though, for instance, I used
Netscape for years, when it was college freeware, and then
a booming corporation, and then open-source code, and then
a division of AOL, and then, probably, nothing at all but
a memory, except that I'll still be using Netscape,
because I'm really lazy.

Here's my pitch in a nutshell: I can't imagine
virtual property becoming anything much like a chair.
Butt I can easily imagine chairs becoming much, much more
like virtual property.

This idea is probably best filed under the grand
conceptual heading of "tangible cyberspace," i.e., the
process in which the products, programs, and innate nature
of virtuality spill out of the computer screen and infect
the physical world.

People used to talk about "wiring the home." This is
old-fashioned rhetoric now. Turn the term inside out, and
it becomes "sheltering your network." It all becomes clear
if you postulate that the net always comes first. My
physical possessions are an aspect of the net.

Today, right now, if you objectively compare my
virtual possessions to my actual possessions, it rapidly
becomes obvious that my actual possessions are violently
out of control. I have all kinds of searching and
cataloging devices and services for my desktop machine,
and for the Internet. But I've been known to hunt for my
socks or my car keys for almost an hour.

My house is an awful mess, because my actual
possessions are very stupid. They don't know what they
are, they don't know where they are, and they don't know
where they belong.

All this could change with a small, cheap, network
peripheral which is, I believe, just barely over the
technical horizon. The device I imagine is very similar to
a common antitheft device, but much smarter. We could
call it a "tab," or a "localizer," or a "locator ID tag."

I imagine this locator ID tag having about a hundred k
of memory and costing about ten cents. It probably runs
on household temperature fluctuations. Its primary
activity is to emit a unique radio chirp every two seconds
or so. This chirp is triangulated by a network of
receivers in my house and my lawn. Basically, the chip
says, "I'm what I am, and here's where I am," in other
words, "I am Bruce Sterling's left cowboy boot, and here I
am under the couch where the cat dragged me."

Fine, you think: you're tagging everything you own,
how anal and geeky of you. No, that's not how this works.
I'm way too lazy to work that hard. Instead, I pay a
professional interior designer to come in and tag
everything for me. I pay this guy (most likely she's a
very smart woman actually), to catalog and tag everything
I own, and put it where it sensibly belongs == and record
that data, and embed it in my system for me.

Now I know nothing, but my house knows where all my
stuff is. My possessions know what they are, and where
they belong. Unskilled labor can enter my home, and
restore everything to perfect order in maybe an hour.

And of course no one can steal any of it, because
it's all security tagged, automatically.

Everything I own is a police sting. These tags are
really small, you see? The size of a fingernail paring,
and tougher than a tenpenny nail. Cops always say to put
an ID on your bicycle, but everything I own has a very
smart, active ID.

You might think that I find it kind of distasteful
to have strangers going through all my stuff. Sure, there
are some things I worry about, like my bong, my vibrator,
and my ball-gag, but most of this nervous anxiety about
the safety of my possessions is just ingrained habit. If
I always know where it is, and I can never lose it, and
it answers whenever I call for it, then it just surrounds
me in an undistinguished haze of cyberstuff. I don't worry
about it any more than I worry about the exact location of
the segments on my hard drive.

I never have to remember where I put anything again.
"Things are in the saddle, and ride mankind," as Ralph
Waldo Emerson used to say, but in this case, I am
triumphantly clearing the processing space in my own head
of literally thousands of unconscious catalogs. How many
scissors do I have, how many staplers do I have? I never
really use more than one at a time.

My materialist obsession becomes a de-materialist
obsession. There's just as much money around as there
ever was, I accomplish everything I did before, but
there's a lot less junk underfoot. Less mass == more

It sounds like heaven, doesn't it?

O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 84 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Tue, Jun 29, 1999 (13:06) * 289 lines 
Subject: Viridian Note 00073: Viridian Commentary

Key concepts: household localizers, the coal-burning net,
energy consumption practices

Attention Conservation Notice: Who are these people?
Viridian commentary is ruthlessly edited for reader

Entries in the Viridian Couture Contest:
This contest expires July 21, 01999.


From: Pete Kaiser (
Subject: Re: Viridian Note 00068: Household Localizers


"Your household localizers actually have existed for
years, even though they're rather large and they cost more
than ten cents. I have experience with one variety, the
ones called 'active badges,' developed by Olivetti at its
Cambridge (UK) research lab and elaborated by Olivetti and
Digital Equipment.

"The classic active badge has about the area of a
credit card and is about 8mm thick, in a housing of black
plastic. It has a single button on the front, plus an
almost unnoticeable little infrared emitter and a similar
little receiver. Inside is a battery and a tiny circuit
consisting mostly of a unique identity number in ROM. The
badge responds with that number when it gets a signal, or
when the button is pressed.

"Every second or so a ceiling-mounted box emits a low-
powered infrared pulse, and every active badge in range
responds with its identity. The box then emits a message
that says "I'm box A, and I have these badge identities in
range: x, y, z, ...". A computer collects that
information and, on request, can tell you "Bruce Sterling
[wearer of badge x] is in his living room [near detector
box A]."

"People can be tracked all over a campus or factory;
and since the computer knows where you are, it can see to
it that your incoming phone calls ring where you *are.*
Suppose you don't *want* people to know where you are?
Simple: you hide your badge in your pocket, and you become
invisible to the system.

"You can also glue active badges to valuable pieces
of equipment, or better yet, build badges into their

"This technology is quite old. When last I was in
contact with it, they were trying to make the devices
smarter and smaller.

"So much for the Oh-Wow! factor. Active badges
haven't been a market success because, it turns out,
people don't *want* to be locatable all the time. People
want to be able to be unlocatable without explicitly
signalling that they're unlocatable, for reasons that may
range from the mundane (using the toilet) to the
clandestine (eating at restaurants instead of the company

"We have to think seriously about whether we really
want to know where all our stuff is. Suppose one's spouse
discovers the existence of certain small, prized objects
you've kept hidden since you bought them out of the petty

"What would be the real repercussions of knowing
where everything is? There must be any number of second
and third-order social problems that we would never
discover without performing the experiment.

"Finally: real Viridian localizers would be
intrinsically part of the objects localized, and would
have more than one function. In many cases, like the
Viridian teapot, the tags would grow along with the
object, or form within it like the crystalline interior of
a geode. They might cover the exterior like tiny buds.
The same for locator detectors. After all, biology is
much better at producing emitters and detectors than we
are at designing them from scratch."

(((bruces remarks: No wonder these clunky "active badges"
were a market failure: why the heck should I pay one thin
dime to let *Olivetti* know where *I* am? Furthermore,
if some political regime dares to put an Orwellian locator
dog-tag on me, then it's obviously time to raise the black
flag and start shooting. This "market problem" is a
straightforward power question of who owns the means of
information. Power may be subtler nowadays, but beware
any digital consumer-marketing company that blithely
offers to cheaply catalog everything you possess.)))

(((Viridian Note 00070: The Coal-Burning Net, on the
subject of how much CO2 is produced by the Net, aroused
much response.)))

From: Peter Denning (

"In Viridian Note 00070, you quoted a Forbes piece
quantifying the electrical consumption of computers. I've
seen one or two other papers recently of the same ilk.
Many years ago, when people proposed founding paper
journals about the coming age of paperless offices, I said
'The only difference between a computer and a book is the
age of the trees.' Others heard that as a quip, but now
they are measuring it.

From: Charles Raymond (

"I've never read Forbes magazine, but after this
Viridian Note, I don't think I ever will. *My* power is
generated solely by moving water. Sixteen concrete-
enclosed turbines, half of the project. The other half
serves Ontario.

"I have to wonder how many cubic tons of poison gas,
liquid and solid pollutants are produced each month for
the production of Forbes magazine. Not to mention the co-
author's personal web page, which wastes all that
electricity. And what happens to their publication after
use? Is every issue is recycled from the previous issue?
When incinerated, do the inks burn clean? Ha!"

From: Matthew Rubenstein (

"The supposed scientific basis for that Forbes article
is the 10/16/1998 *Science* paper titled "A Large
Terrestrial Carbon Sink in North America Implied by
Atmospheric and Oceanic Carbon Dioxide Data and Models."
But as even James Watt noted, trees (and the rest of
nature) are a leading source of greenhouse gases. Forest
that sink carbon can also produce carbon (just as I live
and breathe).

"Nutty amelioration schemes that teach a fish to
bicycle seem to be the rising message of polluters. A
two-page glossy Chevron ad in a recent issue of *Harpers*
magazine suggests that we should colonize undersea deserts
with carbon-sucking lifeforms. This is clearly the way to
follow up our success with rabbits in Australia and
lampreys in the Great Lakes."

From: Raul Miller (

"I noticed that this Forbes article assumes that
there are several routers and such for each personal
computer. So why are PCs cheap commodity items while
routers aren't?"

From: "Laura Stinson" (

"You know, I tire of this computer bashing, and I deem the
stats quoted at Forbes to be of dubious credibility. Try
these stats instead:

"'...a heated water bed can consume more electricity than
an efficient refrigerator. Altogether, the nation's water
beds consume the electricity produced by two large power

"'Aquariums can be huge energy guzzlers == a 180-gallon
coral reef tank can use more energy than a residential
central electric heating system and refrigerator

"'We project that consumer electronics and halogen
torchiere lamps together will account for 70 percent of
the forecasted miscellaneous growth,' says Jonathan
Koomey, leader of the Energy End-Use Forecasting Group....

"'The following ten product types (listed in priority
order based on absolute projected growth==the first
product listed having the highest forecasted energy
growth) are projected to account for 60% of forecasted
miscellaneous growth from 1996 to 2010:
Torchiere lamp
Color television
Security system
Compact audio system
Microwave oven
Projection television
Satellite television
Pool pump
Home computer ..."

(Note the absence of waterbeds and aquaria on the above

"Seems to me that even if the dismal Forbes statistics
were remotely close, we could still easily pay for our
digital vice by giving up a few torchieres and
televisions. (Don't even talk to me about heated swimming

From: Jeremy Porter (

"This Note hits close to home, so I will admit to a
bias here. I worked at a Fortune 500 computer company not
too long ago, and I worked with the EPA 'Energy
Star/Green PC program' at that company.

"This Forbes chart you cited declares that non-
Internet computer usage remains constant, while Internet
computer usage grows. How could that be? Also,
Internet use directly competes with other energy-using
activities, such as automobiles and television. If
leisure time is constant, then Forbes fails to show that
total CO2 levels are increased by Internet use.

"Forbes also declares: 'Under the PC's hood, demand
for horsepower doubles every couple of years.' This fails
under the most simplistic examination. PC's in 1994
before Energy Star mandates: average power used by
operational system, 50-100 watts. Average power used by
operational PCs today: 50-100 watts.

"At 17 watts, integrated chips give off so much
waste heat that their ceramic carriers can crack from
thermal expansion. There are real limits to the amount of
energy that cheap, lightweight, mostly plastic personal
computers can use and burn off safely. Power utilization
has not increased in computers. As for special purpose
micro-controllers (which Forbes also decries). these
chips tend to dramatically increase energy efficiency in
any machine they are installed in.

Forbes says 'Your typical PC and its peripherals
require about 1,000 watts of power.(...) That kind of
usage implies about 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electrical
consumption in a year.'

"A normal PC power supply is rated at a maximum
capacity of about 200 watts, and a large monitor (17in-
19in) is about 100 watts maximum. Typical utilization is
about 25% when active, and power consumption can drop by
50% or more when idle. Expected power utilization of a PC
based on the (Forbes-estimated) 12 hour week (at 100 watts
active) is 4,320,000 joules. I work this out to 1.2
kilowatt hours /week, or 62.4 kilowatt/hours/year.

"In other words, Forbes is off by a factor of 16.
We should throw out their figures at this point.

"But there's better news yet. Since most modern
computers are Energy Star rated, idle power MUST drop to
less than 50 watts for the chassis, 50 watts for the
monitor and 25 watts for the printer, when idle. I've
seen designs that easily drop to 5 watts for the monitor,
2 for the printer, and about 10 for the PC. Not only
that, unlike a light bulb, the PC knows when it's idle and
turns itself off. You want to save energy? Turn off your
computer's energy-gobbling screen-saver, and when you
surf, turn off a light bulb and surf in the dark!

"If we had clean, smart Viridian power, Internet sites
wouldn't need today's huge, uninterruptible power
supplies. They wouldn't need distant generators with
tremendous conversion losses (10-20% or more). Putting
smart power into the electric grid would mean big savings
in coal and oil.

"The old-fashioned electric utility grid has the same
problems competing with the Internet that phone companies
do. Big centralized control networks cannot be upgraded
in a piecemeal fashion. The control theory used for
congestion avoidance and control is fundamentally
incompatible with decentralized control.

"We need a Viridian Windows desktop theme with the
trash can as a coal bucket."

O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 85 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Jul  2, 1999 (01:53) * 207 lines 

From Thu Jul 1 15:24:56 1999
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1999 16:30:34 -0500
To: Viridian List
From: Bruce Sterling
Subject: Viridian Note 00075: Kyoto Politics
X-UIDL: ab75fafc2d1e207a2094d0ae29b9b219

Key concepts: inadequate government, Kyoto Protocol, US

Attention Conservation Notice: it's entirely and utterly
political. There are 1,300 words of it.

Links: Alliance to Save Energy
Senator Thad Cochran, Republican from Mississippi
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(includes full text of Kyoto Protocol):
Republican Senators Resent Clinton's Temerity on Kyoto:
Kirk Fordice, Governor of Mississippi, on Kyoto Protocol:
Horrific EPA graph of growing climate temperature

Entries in the Viridian Couture Contest:
None. Greenhouse heat wave in effect, Viridians
reduced to shabby sombreros and gym shorts.
This contest expires July 21, 01999.

In Viridian Note 00074: "Browning the US Govt," we
described how Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi tried to
stop the President of the United States from mandating
less CO2 use in the federal government. On the face of
it, the Senator's act seems incredibly stupid, vindictive
and pointless, and was promptly denounced as

While politics are of tangential interest to the
Viridian movement, it's important to understand why the US
government has become so dysfunctional in climate issues.
Why have even simple, "no-brainer" reform efforts that
actually *save taxpayers money* become areas of partisan

Why did Thad Cochran do this apparently ludicrous
thing? Let's speculate, shall we?

It would be too simple to denounce Senator Cochran as
a corrupt puppet of the carbon-mining industries. This
kind of polarizing demogoguery is boring and
counterproductive. It's been done to death.

Obviously the carbon industries are major players in
the energy process. It could scarcely be otherwise. For
instance, the recent Interior Appropriations Bill (which
Senator Cochran deliberately amended in order to frustrate
the President), contains about 300 million dollars in
Energy Department federal subsidies for oil and coal.

But the carbon industries don't own Thad Cochran.
Mississippi isn't Kuwait. He's never been an out-and-out
oil man, unlike, for instance, George Bush. There's some
oil and a whole lot of foul, soft-lignite coal in
Mississippi, with mining representing maybe 2 percent of
the state's economy, but Senator Cochran's main
legislative interest is catfish farming.

Maybe the guy is just incomprehensibly mean-spirited.
Perhaps he hates Bill Clinton so much that, like many
Republican zealots, he's willing to slash his own wrists
to bleed on Clinton's shoes. But no. Thad Cochran is a
former Eagle Scout, a white-haired Baptist lawyer from
Mississippi whose demeanour is commonly described as
"courtly." Cochran is the senior Senator from
Mississippi, a career pol who wins his re-elections by
large, cozy margins. Cochran pre-dates the savage trench-
warfare epoch of his junior Senator, Trent Lott, and the
politically extinguished Newt Gingrich. The Senator has
been in power a long time. He is not childish, and he
doesn't make trouble merely for trouble's sake.

The Alliance to Save Energy artfully suggests that
Senator Cochran is attempting to fleece the American
taxpayer while stuffing fat back into the government. If
mere pork was the goal, Senator Cochran would be doing
what he specializes in doing, i.e., rural Mississippi
water projects.

No, Thad Cochran has two basic reasons to do what
he did. Defending the Senate's privileges, and
ideological pressure.

First, the jealous Senate. In introducing his
amendment, the Senator irately declared that the
President's action was a "thinly disguised effort to
implement the Kyoto Agreement." Why does he consider
this a bad thing? Because it makes the Senate into a
potted plant, that's why. The Senate believes it has
already successfully dealt with Kyoto. The Senate, in the
bipartisan persons of Senators Byrd and Hagel, carried out
a maneuver, back in 1997, called "putting the treaty in
the parking lot."

The Senate didn't want a straight-up,
confrontational vote on the Kyoto treaty, because this
might cause political stress. So, they simply stuck the
treaty into permanent limbo, by passing the "Byrd-Hagel
Resolution." This resolution states, more or less, that
the US Senate is not going to consider the Kyoto Protocol
unless it's firmly established from the get-go that the
United States comes out on top in the UN negotiations no
matter what.

Byrd-Hagel is a silly resolution, but the text of
the resolution isn't really important. The resolution's
formal text is just vapid rhetorical dogfood for various
economic and military American interest groups. The
point of the Byrd-Hagel resolution is to exploit the
Senate's privilege to "advise and consent" on foreign

In practice, "advising and consenting" has become a
procedural brake. The Senate can quietly pocket
treaties, and do basically nothing, forever, while
avoiding any serious political costs. The legislative
woods are full of vital yet uncertified international
treaties stuck permanently in the US Senate, such as
nuclear arms accords. US Administrations and their State
Departments, in despair, have come to act as if the
treaties were in force anyway.

It is demeaning for the Senate to have their bluff
called in this way. It's highly irritating to have Bill
Clinton do what little he can to behave as if the Kyoto
treaty were in force. Therefore, Cochran threw a
procedural spanner into the works, by shifting the ground
to a different area, where the Senate controls the purse

Cochran's been made to look bad == after all, it's
true that he is wasting money unnecessarily, and surprise
amendments are always a cheap shot, and when you come
right down to it, Senator Cochran is not a very bright man
== but he can afford it, and he probably considers the
humiliation worth it. His point was to make Clinton pay a
price for encroaching on the balance of powers.

Then there's the second matter: rabid anti-Kyoto
ideology. I frankly doubt that Senator Cochran himself
cares much about the substance of the Kyoto Accords one
way or the other. He's never made a major issue of global
warming, and the Senate has pretty well set it up so that
he'll never have to take a public stand. But back home in
Mississippi, the Republican Governor, Kirk Fordice,
regards Kyoto as tantamount to foreign invasion and
economic catastrophe. And the Governor has said so,
loudly, and brought pressure on his state's Senators.

As we have stated in previous Notes (see Note 00009)
we Viridians aren't big fans of the Kyoto Protocol.
Assuming the treaty is ratified (it won't be), even
assuming it's efficiently enforced worldwide (it can't
be), Kyoto is basically the industrial status quo of 1988,
forever. That is way, way too much carbon dioxide.
Kyoto's proposed scheme appears better than exploding
growth rates in carbon dioxide, but Kyoto's bogus solution
is nowhere near enough to get the planet off the hook.
Carbon use has to crash drastically, fast. It has to
wiped out by the same process that created it, industrial

Kyoto is a bland assertion, by 173 separate national
governments, that rickety confederations can control
global industry. Kyoto is all about ration-tickets, caste
systems, and national-boundary bailiwicks. The Kyoto
Protocol looks like a document from a vanished epoch.
Governments can't even control their own currencies any
more, much less offshore maquilladorasx and carbon moguls
like Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein. Even the well-organized
and financed American government has blundered drastically
with its state-sponsored emissions standards == America's
best smog-control efforts gave rise to ghastly mutants
like the Sport Utility Vehicle.

Kyoto represents alien political control of the
untrammeled pioneer spirit of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison
and John D. Rockefeller, legendary American heroes who
are, without question, the three sinister godfathers of
the Greenhouse Effect. The implications of Kyoto are just
too much for certain people to take, and Kyoto is
especially too much for particularly unpleasant, paranoid

In further Notes, we will examine some of Kyoto's
most virulent enemies.

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O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 86 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Sat, Jul  3, 1999 (01:53) * 2 lines 

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 87 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Jul  9, 1999 (11:08) * 418 lines 

Key concepts: lobbying groups, political power structure
in USA, Viridian Notes Table of Contents 00001-00075

Attention Conservation Notice: It's political. It goes on
quite a while.

Entries in the Viridian Couture Contest:
Prada's Fall 99 "EcoWarrior" get-up, pirate-scanned out of
July 01999 issue of VOGUE:
(((Thanks for showing us how the pros do it, Miuccia!
Everybody go click the banner ads in gratitude at!)))

Summer 1999 issue of Whole Earth magazine has lead article
on "Viridian Manifesto"
Tor Kristensen remarks:
"The links in the Viridian Notes are now
active (clickable). Please notify the Viridian public that
I need an Archive Administrator to update the Viridian
archive while I'm in Alaska. It's dead simple. Copy,
Paste, Click 'submit.'"
Tor Kristensen^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^***?

Sources: FORTUNE magazine December 01997

When you're baking in inhuman heat beneath an angry sky,
just as, for instance, millions of inhabitants of the East
Coast of the United States are doing as I write this, the
carbon dioxide problem can seem monstrous and unstoppable.
After all, the planet's entire atmosphere has been soiled.
There's no place left for anyone to hide. It's easy to
feel helpless and to become very paranoid.

No entity anywhere seems to be helping climate matters
much. Especially in politics. The National Wildlife
Federation's *Conservation Directory* (44th edition) lists
no fewer than 3,000 government and private environmental
groups, in the USA and Canada alone. Many of them have
been beavering along in the halls of power for decades
now. Yet we're still roasting in our own exhaust spew,
just like the turkeys we are.

But in fact, to date, CO2 has never become a central
political issue. The Kyoto treaty is buried under the US
Senate's carpet. Even the political anti-Kyoto forces,
(and there are plenty of them with plenty of funds) are
very much fringe amateur small-fry, power-politically
speaking. Before I tear into the anti-Kyoto groups as if
they were causing the end of the world (as in point of
fact they may be), it's useful to put CO2 politics into a
broader political perspective.

We'll stick to an American political perspective for
the time being, because I haven't found good data yet for
other juridictions, and the Americans clearly play a
major, starring role in the planet's CO2 crisis.

Who actually runs the American political system?
Could it be CIA/NSA/FBI? The Military-Industrial Complex?
Freemasons? The ultra-rich? The Skull and Bones Society?
The 4,312 guys on the grassy knoll who shot Jack Kennedy?
Alas no!

In December 01997, FORTUNE magazine took the
trouble to conduct a formal poll of members of Congress,
Congressional staffers, and White House officials. The
magazine, aided by two professional pollsters, asked 2,200
politicians to rank American interest groups in terms of
their political clout. These were America's top
politicians, talking about the people who tell them what
to do. Who can get their way from the US government? Who
do American politicians fear to cross? Who really compels
their political attention?

Interest groups have their ups and downs, just like
all other aspects of industrial democracy. It's only a
year and a half since the FORTUNE poll though, and we're
still in the same Administration. So this is a viable
snapshot of the American political landscape, seen from
the top of the system.

FORTUNE did the ranking, but I'm doing my own helpful
commentary. I hope that non-Americans may find this list
of particular use.

1. American Association of Retired Persons
Old people who vote faithfully and have plenty to gain and
lose by government subsidy.
2. American Israel Public Affairs Committee
Wealthy, discreet alien sympathizers with a focussed
Largest labor union. Historically dominates Democratic
4. National Federation of Independent Business
The small-business lobby.
5. Association of Trial Lawyers of America
The privileged legal caste. They know how legislators
think and act because many of them are future, current or
former legislators.

6. National Rifle Association of America
Notoriously zealous American armed-populace freaks and the
industries that supply their ammo. The classic single-
issue pressure group.
7. Christian Coalition
TV-satellite evangelical empire. Good at grass-roots
attacks on Republican party structure.
8. American Medical Association
The privileged medical caste.
9. National Education Association
Huge numbers of government-employed teachers.
10. National Right to Life Committee
Abortion zealots.

11. National Association of Realtors
Huge real-estate industry is highly vulnerable to changes
in federal tax structure.
12. American Bankers Association
The privileged financial caste.
13. National Association of Manufacturers
Classic iron-bending industrial lobby.
14. American Federation of State, County,
and Municipal Employees
Government workers who have everything to gain and lose by
activities and budgets of governments.
15. Chamber of Commerce of the U.S.A.
Broad-scale business lobby.

16. Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States
Caste of military veterans. Formerly in government
uniform, receive many formal privileges, have own Cabinet
17. American Farm Bureau Federation
18. Motion Picture Association of America
American global entertainment complex: movie, video, DVD
and ancillary rights subdivision.
19. National Association of Home Builders of the U.S.
Home construction industry.
20. National Association of Broadcasters
Traditional broadcast television lobby.

21. American Hospital Association
Lower and industrial ranks of medical caste
22. National Governors' Association
Fifty state executives below federal level, common source
of Presidential candidates.
23. American Legion
Military caste.
24. National Restaurant Association
Food/entertainment industry.
25. International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Large,scary labor union notorious for organized-crime

*26 United Auto Workers
Labor union, and the very first group in the listing that
might have any direct interest in CO2 issues.
27 Independent Insurance Agents of America
Insurance industry.
28 National Retail Federation
Retailing industry.
*29 American Trucking Associations Inc.
Transportation lobby, another group of CO2 interest.
30 Health Insurance Association of America
USA is unique in having no government health policy,
creating anomolous boom situation among medical lobbyists.

*31 American Automobile Manufacturers Assn.
Auto lobby. Major CO2 greenhouse interests.
32 Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association
Yet more medical lobbyists.
33 Business Roundtable
Ultra-wealthy business caste.
34 National Beer Wholesalers Association
Drug industry, heavily regulated, still remembers
America's "noble experiment" with alcohol prohibition.
35 Natl. Com. to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
Elderly demographic group protecting cross-generational

*36 National Automobile Dealers Association
Car salespeople. They sell large devices that spew CO2.
*37 Sierra Club
First environmental group on the list, finally in at
number 37. Old, wealthy, well-organized. But you could
fill a banquet hall with powerful Washington lobbyists
before the first environmentalist got a Birkenstocked foot
in the door.
38 American Federation of Teachers
Another teacher's lobby.
39 Pharm. Research & Manufacturers of America
Pharmaceutical lobby.
40 Children's Defense Fund
Social-welfare lobby beloved of Hillary Clinton and

*41 American Petroleum Institute
The first Washington lobby that can be unhesitatingly
classified as a Viridian class-enemy, with direct
responsibility for climate damage, and compelling,
unavoidable reasons to damage more and more.
42 American Insurance Association
Yet another insurance lobby.
Reproductive rights zealots.
44 American Council of Life Insurance
More insurance.
45 Recording Industry Association
American global music entertainment complex.

46 American Bar Association
Legal caste.
47 Securities Industry Association
Financial caste.
48 National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors
Business distributor lobby
49 National Assn. of Letter Carriers of the U.S.
Postal employee lobby.
50 Tobacco Institute
Nicotine drug industry.

So much for the top fifty power players. As you can see,
climate scarcely ranks at all. This is not without its
benefits, as, if things work out the way we Viridians hope
they will, climate will quickly cease to matter
politically. We don't *want* a permanent political
interest in CO2 issues. That might be fatal. If climate
spins so drastically out of control that climate becomes a
long-term, central political crisis, it probably means
catastrophe for civilization.

Just for fun, here's a swarm of the following fifty minor
players, where the situation remains very the same.

51 National Cable Television Association
52 National Council of Senior Citizens
53 Communications Workers of America
54 Service Employees International Union
55 Independent Bankers Association of America

*56 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
Labor union including electric utilities.
57 United Steelworkers of America
58 Associated General Contractors of America
*59 National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
Electric utilities, possible solar, wind
60 Mortgage Bankers Association of America

61 American Cancer Society
*62 Citizens for a Sound Economy
Anti-environmental group
63 Intl. Assoc. of Machinists & Aerospace Workers
64 Grocery Manufacturers of America
65 Planned Parenthood Federation of America

66 Americans for Tax Reform
67 National Association of Life Underwriters
68 Handgun Control Inc.
69 Beer Institute
70 Credit Union National Association

*71 League of Conservation Voters
Environmental group
72 United States Conference of Mayors
73 National League of Cities
*74 Chemical Manufacturers Association
*75 Independent Petroleum Assn. of America
Oil drillers, carbon miners

*76 National Cattlemen's Beef Association
Methane problems, highly energy-intensive industry.
77 National Association of Independent Insurers
78 American Nurses Association
79 Natural Resources Defense Council
80 United States Telephone Association

81 Food Marketing Institute
*82 United Mine Workers of America
Carbon mining a major sub-industry.
83 National Association of Securities Dealers
84 Bond Market Association
85 Hotel Empl. and Restaurant Empl. Intl. Union

*86 Environmental Defense Fund
Legal arm, carries out class-action lawsuits.
*87 American Forest and Paper Association
Cuts trees and plants them.
*88 National Wildlife Federation
*89 American Lung Association
Anti-soot group.
*90 Edison Electric Institute
Electrical power lobby.

91 Common Cause
92 American Heart Association
93 League of Women Voters
94 Federation of American Health Systems
95 Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S.

96 National Association of Counties
97 Newspaper Association of America
98 Air Line Pilots Association International
99 Union of Needletrades, Ind., and Tex. Empl.
100 Electronic Industries Association

You'll notice that the "Viridian Design Movement" is
nowhere listed. But on the other hand, neither is the
"Global Climate Coalition," with their vile assertions
that CO2 is just great for Mom and apple pie. It's still
hand-to-hand battle among small clusters of savages, out
on the CO2 frontier. And with luck, it will stay that way
until no one has to worry about it any more.

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Table of Contents 1-75
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Viridian Notes 1-75 (complete with titles, some
retroactively bestowed):

00001: Viridian Design Speech
00002: Viridian List Mechanics
00003: Viridian Design Principles
00004: Historical Awareness
00005: Viridian Aesthetics
00006: Floods 1
00007: Floods 2
00008: The Science Press on Global Warming
00009: The Science Press on Global Warming, Rewritten
00010: Comments from Viridians
00011: Viridian Mascot Contest
00012: Web Links
00013: Link Criticism
00014: Remembrance Agents
00015: Weather Violence
00016: Bio-Refineries
00017: Viridian Aphorisms
00018: The Viridian Model Family
00019: Viridian Domains of Interest
00020: Energy Reform, the Swedish "Solution"
00021: The World Is Becoming Uninsurable, Part 1
00022: The World Is Becoming Uninsurable, Part 2
00023: The World is Becoming Uninsurable, Part 3
00024: Kelly's Koan
00025: German Greens

00026: Viridian Aphorisms
00027: Viridian Graphics
00028: Viridian Gardening
00029: The Interfund
00030: The View From Ecotopia
00031: Self-destructive Jungles
00032: The Viridian Refueling Project
00033: Viridian Aesthetics: Andy Goldsworthy
00034: Researching Andy Goldsworthy
00035: Viridian Aesthetics: Landscape Transformation
00036: Offshore Wind Power
00037: Viridian Commentary
00038: Viridian Aphorisms
00039: Starck's New Catalog
00040: German Politics
00041: The Viridian Product Catalog
00042: the Viridian Alcohol Cellphone
00043: the Viridian Electrical Meter
00044: The Viridian Service Station
00045: Twentieth-century Thinking
00046: German Bankers Love German Greens
00047: Viridian Imaginary Products Exhibition
00048: Viridian Aphorisms
00049: Submerging Carbon
00050: Wired Urban Forests

00051: Viridian Commentary
00052: Human-Assisted Wildlife Migration
OOO53: The Ecosystem Game
OOO54: The Festo Stingray
OOO55: Biodiversity Maps
OOO56: Viridian Commentary
00057: Extinct Megafauna
00058: Grass Gas
00059: Viridian Aphorisms
00060: Viridian Strategy
00061: Web-site Power Banner Contest
00062: What I Did for Earth Day
00063: Real-World Projects
00064: Viridian Finances
00065: Burning Man Festival
00066: Freeplay's Wind-Up Power
00067: Eco-Disaster Tourism
00068: Household Localizers
00069: Viridian Aphorisms
00070: The Coal-Burning Net
00071: Greening the US Govt.
00072: Viridian Couture Contest
00073: Viridian Commentary
00074: Browning the US Govt.
00075: Kyoto Politics

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thick black icky death beneath electric wings of light
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 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 88 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Thu, Aug 26, 1999 (17:32) * 581 lines 
Below is of interest for gamers, game designers, and anybody residing in virtual communities or virtual community builders (= YOU!).


Date: Tue, 24 Aug 1999 18:36:01 -0500

Subject: Viridian Note 00090: Design Principles for Virtual Worlds

Key concepts: virtual communities, computer gaming,
virtual politics, virtual economics, violence, automation,
virtual personae, entertainment industry

Attention Conservation Notice: Almost 3,000 words. Of
interest mostly to net.organizational specialists.
Written in subcultural jargon of computer gaming industry.
Unlike most tracts on virtual community, reflects actual,
sustained, hard-won experience with its subject matter.
Has little to do with CO2 emissions, except that 125,000
computer gamers whacking imaginary dragons with imaginary
swords are emitting a lot of actual carbon dioxide.

Entries in the Viridian Summer Health Warning Contest:

This contest expires on September 1, 01999.


(((Raphael Koster (*) was lead
designer for Ultima Online, an interactive virtual world
with over 125,000 subscribers. He and his colleagues have
come up with a set of principles and rules of thumb for
managing these complex interactive environments. ==

The Laws of Online World Design

by Raphael Koster

These are taken from both experience and from the writings
of others. Many who have done this sort of game design
take some of these rules for granted, but other rules may
be less intuitive. Many of the laws here were actually
stated as such by others, and not by me.

A Caveat

Ola's Law About Laws:
"Any general law about virtual worlds should be read as a
challenge rather than as a guideline." You'll learn more
from attacking it than from accepting it.

Design Rules

The secrets to a really long-lived, goal-oriented, online
game of wide appeal:

* Have multiple paths of advancement (individual features
are nice, but making them ladders is better);

* Make it easy to switch between paths of advancement
(ideally, without having to start over)

* Make sure the milestones in the path of advancement are
clear, visible, and significant (having 600 meaningless
milestones doesn't help);

* Ideally, give your game a sense of limitless significant
milestones (try to make your ladder feel infinite).

Modes of expression

You're trying to provide as many modes of expression as
possible in your online world. "Character classes" are
just modes of expression, after all.

Persistence means it never goes away

Once you open your online world, expect to keep your team
on it indefinitely. Some of these games have never closed.
And closing one prematurely may result in losing the faith
of your customers, damaging the prospects for other games
in the same genre.

Macroing, botting, and automation

No matter what you do, someone is going to automate the
process of playing your world.

Corollary: Looking at what parts of your game players
tend to automate is a good way to determine which parts of
the game are tedious and/or not fun.

Game systems:

No matter what you do, players will decode every formula,
statistic, and algorithm in your world via

It is always more rewarding to kill other players than to
kill whatever the game sets up as a target.

A given player of level x can slay multiple creatures of
level y. Therefore, killing a player of level x yields
(n)y reward in purely in-game reward terms. Killing
players will therefore always be more rewarding in game
terms than killing monsters of comparable difficulty.
However, there's also the fact that players will be more
challenging and exciting to fight than monsters, no matter
what you do.

Never trust the client.
Never put anything on the client machine. The client is in
the hands of the enemy. Never, ever, ever forget this.

J. C. Lawrence's "do it everywhere" law:

"If you do it one place, you have to do it everywhere."
Players like clever things and will search them out. Once
they find a clever thing, they will search for other
similar or related clever things that seem to be implied
by what they found, and will get pissed off if they don't
find them.

Hyrup's "do it everywhere" Corollary:

"The more detailed you make the world, the more players
will want to break away from the classical mold."

Dr Cat's Stamp Collecting Dilemma:

"Lots of people might like stamp collecting in your
virtual world. But those who like stamps will never play
with those who like other features. Should you have stamp
collecting in your world?"

We know that there are a wide range of features that
people find enjoyable in online worlds. We also know that
some of these features are in conflict with one another.
Given the above, we don't yet know if it is possible to
have a successful world that incorporates all the
features, or whether the design must choose to exclude
some design elements in order to keep the players happy.

"Koster's Law" (Mike Sellers was actually the one to dub
it thus): "The quality of roleplaying is inversely
proportional to the number of people playing."

Hyrup's Counter-observation: "The higher the fee, the
better the roleplayers." (And of course, the higher the
fee, the smaller the playerbase.)

Enforcing roleplaying

A roleplay-mandated world is essentially a fascist state.
Whether or not this accords with your goals in making such
a world is a decision you yourself will have to make.

Storytelling versus simulation

If you write a static story (or indeed include any static
element) in your game, everyone in the world will know how
the story ends in a matter of days. Mathematically, it is
not possible for a design team to create stories fast
enough to supply everyone playing.

This is the traditional approach to this sort of game
nonetheless. You can try a sim-style game which doesn't
supply stories but instead supplies freedom to make them.
This is a lot harder and arguably has never been done

Players have higher expectations of the virtual world

The expectations are higher than of similar actions in the
real world. For example: players will expect all labor to
result in profit; they will expect life to be fair; they
will expect to be protected from aggression before the
fact, and not just to seek redress after the fact; they
will expect problems to be resolved quickly; they will
expect that their integrity will be assumed to be beyond
reproach; in other words, they will expect too much, and
you will not be able to supply it all.

The trick is to manage the expectations.

Online game economies are hard

A faucet->drain economy is one where you spawn new stuff,
let it pool in the "sink" that is the game, and then have
a concomitant drain. Players will hate having this drain,
but if you do not enforce ongoing expenditures, you will
have "Monty Haul syndrome," infinite accumulation of
wealth, overall rise in the "standard of living" and
capabilities of the average player, and thus imbalance in
the game design and poor game longevity.

Ownership is key

You have to give players a sense of ownership in the game.
This is what will make them stay==it is a "barrier to

Social bonds are not enough, because good social bonds
extend outside the game. Instead, it is context. If they
can build their own buildings, build a character, own
possessions, hold down a job, feel a sense of
responsibility to something that cannot be removed from
the game==then you have ownership.

If your game is narrow, it will fail

Your game design must be expansive. Even the coolest
game mechanic becomes tiresome after a time. You have to
supply alternate ways of playing, or alternate ways of
experiencing the world. Otherwise, the players will go to
another world where they can have new experiences.

This means new additions, or better yet, completely
different subgames embedded in the actual game.

Lambert's Laws:
"As a virtual world's 'realism' increases, the pool
of possible character actions increases."

The opportunities for exploitation and subversion are
directly proportional to the pool size of possible
character actions.

A bored player is a potential and willing subversive.

Players will eventually find the shortest path to the


No matter how many new features you have or add, the
players will always want more.

Pleasing your Players

Despite your best intentions, any change will be looked
upon as a bad change to a large percentage of your
players. Even to those who forgot that they asked for the
change themselves.

Hyrup's Loophole Law:
"If something can be abused, it will be."

Murphy's Law:
"Servers only crash and don't restart when you go out of

Dr Cat's Theorem:
"Attention is the currency of the future."

Dr Cat's Theorem as expressed by J C Lawrence
"The basic medium of multiplayer games is communication."

Hanarra's Laws:

"Over time, your playerbase will become the group of
people who most enjoy the style of play that your world
offers. The others will eventually move to another game."

"It is very hard to attract players of different
gaming styles after the playerbase has been established.
Any changes to promote different styles of play almost
always conflict with the established desires of the
current playerbase."

"The ultimate goal of a virtual world is to create a
place where people of all styles of play can contribute to
the world in a manner that makes the game more satisfying
for everyone."

"The new players who enter the world for the first
time are the best critics of it."

"The opinions of those who leave are the hardest to
obtain, but give the best indication of what changes need
to be made to reach that ultimate goal."

Elmqvist's Law:

"In an online game, players find it rewarding to save
the world. They find it more rewarding to save the world
together, with lots of other people."

A corollary to Elmqvist's Law
"In general, adding features to an online game that
prevent people from playing together is a bad idea."

A caveat to the corollary to Elmqvist's Law:

"The exception would be features that enhance the sense of
identity of groups of players, such as player languages."

Baron's Design Dichotomy

According to Jonathan Baron, there are two kinds of online
games: "Achievement Oriented," and "Cumulative Character."
In the "Achievement Oriented" game, the players who "win"
do so because they they are the best at whatever the game
offers. Their glory is achieved by shaming other players.

In the "Cumulative Character" game, anyone can reach the
pinnacle of achievement by mere persistence; the game is
driven by sheer unadulterated capitalism.

Online identity

We spend a lot of time enabling people to have a very
strong personal identity in our worlds (letting them
define themselves in great detail, down to eye color). But
identity is portable. How many of you have been playing
the same character in RPGs for 15 years, like me? You
cannot count on a sense of identity, of character
building, to keep someone in your game.

In-game calendars

It's nice to have an in-game calendar. But emotional
resonances will never accrue to in-game holidays. The only
calendar that really matters is the real world one.

Don't worry about breaking fiction==online games are about
social interaction, not about fictional consistency.

Social Laws

Koster's Theorem:

"Virtual social bonds evolve from the fictional towards
real social bonds."

If you have good community ties, they will be out-of-
character ties, not in-character ties. In other words,
friendships will migrate right out of your virtual world
into email, real-life gatherings, etc.

Baron's Theorem:

"Hate is good." This is because conflict drives the
formation of social bonds and thus of communities. Hate is
an engine that brings players closer together.

Baron's Law:
"Glory is the reason why people play online; shame is what
keeps them from playing online." Neither is possible
without other people being present.

Mike Sellers' Hypothesis:

"The more persistence a game tries to have; the longer it
is set up to last; the greater number (and broader
variety) of people it tries to attract; and the more
immersive it attempts to be--then the more breadth and
depth of human experience it needs to support."

If you try to create a deeply immersive, broadly
appealing, long-lasting world that does not adequately
provide for human tendencies such as violence,
acquisition, justice, family, community, exploration, etc
(and I would contend we are nowhere close to doing this),
you will see two results.

First, individuals in the population will begin to display
a wide range of predictable socially pathological
behaviors (including general malaise, complaining,
excessive bullying and/or Player-Killing, harassment,
territoriality, inappropriate aggression, and open
rebellion against those who run the game).

Second, people will eventually vote with their feet==but
only after having passionately cast 'a pox on both your
houses.' In essence, if you set people up for an
experience they deeply crave (and mostly cannot find in
real life) and then don't deliver, they will become like
spurned lovers==some become sullen and aggressive or
neurotic. Eventually almost all leave.

Schubert's Law of Player Expectations:

"A new player's expectations of a virtual world are driven
by his expectations of single-player games."

In particular, he expects a narrow, predictable plotline
with well-defined quests and a carefully sculpted role for
himself as the hero. He also expects no interference or
disruption from other players.

These are difficult, and sometimes impossible,
expectations for a virtual world to actually meet.

Violence is inevitable

You're going to have violence done to people no matter
what facilities exist in the game. Violence may be a
combat system, theft, blocking entrances, trapping
monsters, stealing kills to get experience, pestering,
harassment, verbal violence, or just rudeness.

Is it a game?

A virtual world is a SERVICE. Not a game. It's a WORLD.
Not a game. It's a COMMUNITY. Not a game. Anyone who says,
"it's just a game" is missing the point.

Player Identity

You will NEVER have a solid unique identity for your
problematic players. They essentially have complete
anonymity because of the Internet. Even addresses, credit
cards, and so on can be faked==and will be.

Jeff Kesselman's Theorem:

"A MUD universe is all about psychology." After all, there
IS no physicality. It's all psych and group dynamics.

Psychological disinhibition

People act like jerks more easily online, because
anonymity is intoxicating. It is easier to objectify other
people and therefore to treat them badly. The only way to
combat this is to get them to empathize more with other

Mass market facts

It's disturbing for those used to smaller environments,
but: administrative problems increase EXPONENTIALLY
instead of linearly, as your playerbase digs deeper into
the mass market.

Traditional approaches start to fail. Your playerbase
probably isn't ready or willing to police itself.

Anonymity and in-game administrators

The in-game admin faces a bizarre problem. He is
exercising power that the ordinary virtual citizen cannot.
And he is looked to in many ways to provide a certain
atmosphere and level of civility in the environment.

Yet the fact remains that no matter how scrupulously
honest he is, no matter how just he shows himself to be,
no matter how committed to the welfare of the virtual
space he may prove himself, people will hate his guts.

They will mistrust him precisely because he has power, and
they can never know him. There will be false accusations
galore, many insinuations of nefarious motives, and former
friends will turn against him.

It may be that the old saying about power and absolute
power is just too ingrained in the psyche of most people;
whatever the reasons, there has never been an online game
whose admins could say with a straight face that all their
players really trusted them (and by the way, it gets worse
once you take money!).

Community size
Ideal community size is no larger than 250. Past that, you
really get subcommunities.

Hans Henrik Staerfeldt's Law of Player/Admin Relations:
"The amount of whining players do is positively
proportional to how much you pamper them."

Many players whine if they see any kind of bonus in it for
them. It will simply be another way for them to achieve
their goals. As an admin, you hold the key to many of the
goals that they have concerning the virtual environment
you control. If you do not pamper the players and let them
know that whining will not help them, the whining will

Hal Black's Elaboration:

"The more responsive an admin is to user feedback of a
given type, the more of that type the admin will get."

Specifically, as an admin implements features from
user suggestions, the more ideas for features will be
submitted. Likewise, the more an admin coddles whiners,
the more whining will ensue.

J C Lawrence's "stating the obvious" law

"The more people you get, the more versions of 'what
we're really doing' you're going to get."

John Hanke's Law (cited by Mike Sellers):

"In every aggregation of people online, there is an
irreducible proportion of ... jerks" (he used a different
word :-)

Rewarding players

It is not possible to run a scenario or award player
actions without other players crying favoritism.


The longer your game runs, the less often you get kudos
for your efforts.

J C Lawrence on Utopias;

"Don't strive for perfection, strive for expressive
fertility." You can't create utopia, and if you did,
nobody would want to live there.

Who contributed (purposely or inadvertently!), sorted

Myself, of course.
Richard Bartle: along with Roy Trubshaw, developed
the first MUD.
Jonathan Baron: producer & designer for Air Warrior.
Hal Black: And another MUD-Dev member!
Dr Cat: the man behind Dragonspires and Furcadia.
Niklas Elmqvist: another active MUD-Dev member.
Ola Frosheim Grostad: researcher into virtual spaces,
MUD-Dev member.
Marion Griffith: leads the !Overlord Project.
Hanarra, aka Jason Wilson,: of Nightfall.
Darrin Hyrup: designer and/or programmer for
Gemstone, Dragon's Gate, Darkness Falls, and Magestorm.
Jeff Kesselman: helped run Dark Sun Online, and is
developing DSO2.
Amy Jo Kim: consultant and web designer.
Jon A. Lambert: active MUD-Dev member.
J C Lawrence: moderator for the MUD-Dev mailing list.
Damion Schubert: a key designer for Meridian 59,
Might & Magic Online, and Ultima Online.
Mike Sellers: a prime mover behind Meridian 59.
Hans-Henrik Staerfeldt: one of the guys who wrote the
original DikuMUD.
And all the members of the MUD-Dev list as well.

O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 89 of 136: Marcia (MarciaH) * Thu, Aug 26, 1999 (20:47) * 1 lines 
1998 must have been an year to forget...or from which to learn. How miserable.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 90 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Fri, Aug 27, 1999 (15:47) * 5 lines 
Yeah, but what about the ideas on how to motivate people in MUDs?

That's the industry's experts, and they tell us what makes places like that - and the Spring, which is basically a bit like online roleplaying, too - work over a while (and in their cases, SPEND MONEY!)...

Springfolks, comment!

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 91 of 136: Barry Kort  (moulton) * Sat, Aug 28, 1999 (09:51) * 4 lines 
ideas on how to motivate people in MUDs?

Bring a Candle, Not a Sparkler

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 92 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Tue, Aug 31, 1999 (03:12) * 216 lines 
Date: Mon, 30 Aug 1999 18:07:40 -0500

Subject: Viridian Note 00093: The Deep Hot Biosphere

Key concepts: non-biological petroleum, chemosynthetic
bacteria, deep hot biosphere, Thomas Gold

Attention Conservation Notice: Geologists have somehow
managed to ignore this heretic for thirty years, so why
should we be listening to him now? Provokes cognitive
dissonance of the first order. Paradigm-rupturing.

Entries in the Viridian Summer Health Warning Contest:

This contest expires very soon: September 1, 01999.

Viridian Individual Projects:

A new Viridian Individual Project by Will Munslow
(((Will Munslow remarks: "I was fiddling around with Perl
and ripped off some nice scripts that I reworked. A small
Viridian Version of Dunno if anyone is
interested, but if the amount of information headed to you
is as big as I expect, people might enjoy having a
different place to display it.")))

*Viridian T-shirts for sale, $15 each
We're Shipping the First Ones Out the Door Right Now.

*The Deep Hot Biosphere:* "a renowned scientist's
revolutionary theory of a vast subterranean habitat and
its significance for life's origins on our planet and the
possibility of live elsewhere in the universe"
by Thomas Gold
Copernicus, Springer-Verlag, 1999.
ISBN 0-387-98546-8

Well, this new book of Thomas Gold's is getting a lot
of play. I just read it. All 208 pages of it. And I'll
say this for it: if it's true, it's certainly is

Here's the pitch. "Fossil fuels" aren't fossils. They
don't come from squished dinosaurs or ancient buried
vegetation. Hydrocarbons like methane and crude oil are
inherent planetary substances. They're basically the same
material as the "carbonaceous chondrites" seen in
asteroids, or the methane and ethane seen in Jupiter and
its moons. The earth is heavily loaded with various
primeval oils and tarry goos, which have been slowly
cooked out of its crust over the eons by radioactive heat
from the core.

Here's where it gets weirder. The substances we know
as oil and natural gas have been streaming up toward the
planet's surface since the planet first formed. When this
hydrocarbon muck is still about ten kilometers down, it
gets caught within pores of the stone by primeval archaic
bacteria. These bugs live inside rock, they eat this
primeval asteroid goo, and they turn it into the stuff we
call "coal" and "crude oil." They are chemosynthetic
organisms, and they thrive in extremely high, oxygen-free
temperatures, in vast, impossible numbers. They're
probably the original form of life on Earth.

Primitive earthly life probably started inside the
Earth, in these flowing high-energy streams of goo and
muck, long before the surface was colonizable. Oil and
gas looks like organic products to a biochemist, but
that's not because they are fossilized. It's because
they've been basically fermented by a previously
unsuspected ecosystem of archaic bacteria. These ancient
bugs basically saturate the entire rocky crust of the
planet. By weight, they're probably eighty percent of all
living things on Earth.

And that's just the start of Gold's theory. These
primeval bugs give off enough fizzy foul-smelling gas to
break rocks and start earthquakes. Most metal deposits:
gold, zinc, silver etc == are not caused by flowing water
or lava, but by flowing hydrocarbons filtered and
transformed by bugs.

Even though coal sometimes has fossils in it, coal is
not fossil material. Basically, coal is mats of peat that
got into the way of an ongoing hydrocarbon flow, and have
been fossilized with carbon the way a petrified tree is
fossilized with silicon.

Most planets in the solar system share Earth's
origins, so if they have life, it is probably single-
celled and subterranean. And they probably do have life.
Whole gooey tons of life.

We're never going to "run out of oil." It's not
possible. Left to themselves long enough, most depleted
oil patches will slowly fill back up. Because they're not
buried deposits. They're lakes, backed up from streams
originating far deeper down. The planet would have
smothered in its own CO2 like Venus a long time ago,
except that the surface biosphere has been laboring
mightly to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, and save it in
massive fossil chalkbeds up on the surface.

Even if we *did* run out of oil, there are enough
methane hydrates oozing up in ocean sediments to make all
known oil reserves on Earth seem minor. There's probably
"oil" or "coal" under almost *everything*, any kind of
non-porous rock that can catch the flow and hold it down
for a while. It's just that mistaken geological
assumptions have led us to drill for oil in a minor
variety of places.

Who is Thomas Gold? Well, he's not an insane crank.
He's a physicist, and a very blue-sky thinker. Gold was
the first guy to theorize that pulsars were rotating
neutron stars. He theorized that the early Earth might
have flipped its axis of rotation (which, apparently, it
did). Gold has been saying for quite a long time that oil
and gas are basic planetary substances, not fossils. But
now he's put together his best arguments in book length,
and his thesis is considerably embroidered with many sub-
theories and bizarre implications.

Here are some reasons not to dismiss the whole scheme

1. Plate tectonics is a weirder idea than this, and that
wasn't accepted until the 1960s.

2. Geology's full of ancient dogma because geology's a
very old science. We thought we understood the earth long
before we caught on to the truth about the other planets.
Planets and asteroids have plenty of goop that looks like
coal, natural gas, and oil.

3. If oil is a fossil, then how come oil beds are so
often full of helium? Helium is an astrophysics thing;
there aren't any plants or animals that metabolize helium.

4. It took us until the 1970s to realize that the earth
has chemosynthetic life forms. But these creatures live
around the tectonic rifts that girdle the whole planet.
That's the biggest habitat on earth. These vent creatures
are totally dependent on weird, thermophile bacteria.
And they're not just based on volcanic seeps either,
because these biota have also been discovered around
underwater oil seeps.

5. Once people started looking for subterranean bacteria,
they've have been able to find living bacteria as far down
as they've been able to drill.

Extraordinary statements require extraordinary
evidence. There's a lot less evidence than I'd like to
see in this book. For one counter-argument, I couldn't
help but notice that Gold's "pores" in the stony Earth
have whatever qualities he needs, whenever he needs them
to make his case. Sometimes they're fast, sometimes
they're slow, sometimes they're chemical filters,
sometimes they're high-speed conduits, sometimes they're
tiny, sometimes they're oceanic, sometimes they're steady-
state, sometimes they're catastrophic, and so on. Granted,
the Earth has a lot of natural variety, but that's not for
our rhetorical convenience.

But if he's half-right about any of the stuff he says
here, the human race knows nothing worth knowing about the
biosphere and carbon dioxide. If he's right, we've been
utterly ignorance throughout the twentieth century about
the most basic facts of planetary life.

O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 93 of 136: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Aug 31, 1999 (09:50) * 2 lines 
How very curious. Think I just might run some of this past a real Geeologist to see what he thinks of this theory. I hope this guy did a lot of footnoting, because it is easy to make statements. Backing them up is quite
another thing.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 94 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Sep  2, 1999 (10:14) * 4 lines 
Let us know what the geologist thinks. I guess the implications are that
oil is forever?

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 95 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Sat, Sep  4, 1999 (10:17) * 3 lines 
If using this stuff is bad, and the supply of them is (nearly) infinite, doesn't that make even worse news?

Marcia, have that rock-science-son of yours investigate the matter!

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 96 of 136: Marcia (MarciaH) * Mon, Sep  6, 1999 (20:42) * 3 lines 
It is a good thing I telnet on occasion. It makes me go through all new posts
includeing this one which I had forgotten. I willpaste him the article athis
office tomorrow. (please excuse the poor typing...)

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 97 of 136: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Sep  7, 1999 (17:38) * 5 lines 
I asked son David (the Geologist) to comment on the review of Gold's book.
Terse and to the point, he said:

" I have heard of (the book) before and I think it is horse pucky."

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 98 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Wed, Sep  8, 1999 (13:31) * 5 lines 
Thanks for this funny quote, hehe... "Pucky" - is that Hawaiian or Geologistian ?

The reviewer makes a point of showing that this author has been thought wrong often... Circumstances proved that not be be correct at times...

I wish we could some opinion from a knowledgeable person who had actually read this - HEY TEXANS! Y'all have dem oil-science boys, right? How about it?

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 99 of 136: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Sep  8, 1999 (13:46) * 1 lines 
For what it's worth, David's main job is purging old gas station sites of residual oil and petroleum in the soil after the leaky tanks and other stuff was removed. He does know about oil and things related to it, but not these critters. "pucky" is a euphemism clean enought ot send to his Mother...self-invented, I think.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 100 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Sep  9, 1999 (00:27) * 3 lines 
Mmm, viridian horse pucky revealed. Any details?

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 101 of 136: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Sep  9, 1999 (00:45) * 1 lines 
None yet...just a quick note from his cubicle at work. Will try to pry more out of him over the weekend.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 102 of 136: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Sep  9, 1999 (08:06) * 5 lines 
I love would love to hear a detailed critique of that piece. It's so
radical in it's implications and to the unknowing it may have a certain
plausibility. I mean, what is the evidence that dinos decayed in to oil?

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 103 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Thu, Sep  9, 1999 (11:47) * 68 lines 
Right, Terry, it makes us ole conspiracy theoretists-cum-fanatical-viridina-pose really nervous, like "I want to believe!", and "The Truth is down there!".

The up-side is: Don't worry, there'll be enough as long as you and your kids live.

The down-side: Keep using this, and you're not gonna live as long as you thought... Neither might the kids...

But there is fun stuff out there IN ABUNDANCE (like the French-developed car running on compressed air...). From Pointcast:

The Little Engine that Might
by Leander Kahney

3:00a.m.9.Sep.99.PDT -- Taking on the world's giant energy business, a tiny startup is set to launch an engine that requires no fuel, produces no pollution, and is free to run.

Naturally, the experts think it's too good to be true -- although they can't exactly say why. [I LOVE that line... A.]


See also: Plasma-Powered Trip to the Stars

Entropy Systems, a seven-person startup based in Youngstown, Ohio, is scheduled to launch the Entropy engine early next year, said the technology's inventor, Sanjay Amin, a mechanical engineer and co-founder of the company.

The Entropy engine acts like a heat sponge, absorbing heat in the atmosphere and converting it to power, Amin said. Since it consumes no fossil fuels, nuclear fuels, or electrical power, it produces no emissions, directly or indirectly. Its only byproduct is cold air.

Initially, the technology will be used to create an outboard motor for small pleasure boats, simply because it's the easiest market to break into, Amin said. But as it is developed, the technology could be used to run refrigerators, air conditioners, generators -- even automobiles.

"There's no reason it can't power a car," Amin said.

So far, Amin has built a prototype, which he said generates one-tenth of one horsepower. The outboard motor -- yet to be built -- will produce between two and three horsepower.

It will be roughly the same size as a conventional outboard motor and only marginally more expensive. But, apart from routine maintenance and lubrication, the engine will be free to run.

Named after the unit in physics that describes the amount of available energy in a system, the Entropy engine consists of a central chamber, filled with air, that has a piston in the center, Amin said.

The engine operates on a cycle. First, a starter motor spins the engine to a high speed, which pushes the gas to the edge of the central chamber, as in a centrifuge. As the gas moves to the edge, it creates a partial vacuum in the center that draws the piston out, compressing the gas.

In the second part of the cycle, the engine is slowed, and the gas redistributes itself throughout the chamber, which increases the pressure on the piston. Heat trapped in the gas is converted into the energy that moves the piston, which cools the air in the engine chamber.
The engine will run year-round in any climate, even sub-zero temperatures. Although it operates better in warmer climates, it will work in any environment above absolute zero (minus 273 degrees Kelvin).

"In physical terms, even ice has a lot of heat," Amin said.

Amin claims to have patented the technology in the United States, Australia, and Europe. He said he has published a book on thermodynamics and in 1996 received an Engineer of the Year award from the American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin.

Always obsessed with engines, Amin built steam engines as a teenager. He has devoted more than a decade to the Entropy engine. He began by looking at gravity as a power source, which eventually led to the idea of using atmospheric heat.

The technology was developed in part when Amin was studying at Youngstown State University, which helped launch the fledgling company.

Bill Dunn, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said that while he hasn't seen the engine in action, he has examined the materials on Entropy's Web site. He said the logic appears sound, but the outcome -- free power -- doesn't make sense.

"It's the end result -- that you can create power from heat at ambient temperature -- that flies in the face of the basic laws of physics," said Dunn, who acknowledges that he hasn't devoted time to figure out why the engine shouldn't work.

"To track down where his thinking may be flawed is a difficult thing to do," Dunn said.

In Amin's favor, Dunn noted that he has attracted backing from "some very intelligent people."

Hedging his bets, Dunn said breakthrough technologies have frequently been greeted with skepticism. "Every time someone suggests something like this, you should at least give them the benefit of an open mind."

Iain MacGill, an energy campaigner at Greenpeace, said that because vehicle pollution makes up about a third of US greenhouse gas emissions, a pollution-free engine would be an incredible breakthrough. Nevertheless, it sounds to him like fiction.

"It's got a flavor of 'too-good-to-be-true' about it," he said. "I'm a wee bit skeptical."

Copyright 1994-98 Wired Digital Inc. All rights reserved.

The principle behind sounds like a Sterling engine turned inside-out... STERLING! Haha...

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 104 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Thu, Sep  9, 1999 (11:49) * 1 lines 
BTW, THAT Sterling was only a pastor, Austin's is Pope-Emperor of a world-wide movement. Just FYI.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 105 of 136: Marcia (MarciaH) * Thu, Sep  9, 1999 (15:12) * 1 lines 
Geez, you don't get much higher in the order on this Earth that the Pope-Emperor. I AM impressed!

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 106 of 136: Barry Kort  (moulton) * Fri, Sep 10, 1999 (18:44) * 3 lines 
To absorb heat from the atmosphere, the engine has to be cooled below ambient temperature. To cool it requires the refrigeration cycle performed by the "starter motor." But the starter motor will need to be powered from some conventional source of power, and will draw more power than the rest of the system produces.

There just ain't no way to get free energy.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 107 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Sun, Sep 12, 1999 (04:55) * 3 lines 
Do you know the principle of the Sterling engine? Creates power from temperature differences... No other fuel, just air-filled cylinders.

This technology is 19th-cent., current use is - to my best knowledge - as heatsink or cooler in satellites (possibly by exploiting the heat to have it slush around coolant).

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 108 of 136: Barry Kort  (moulton) * Mon, Sep 13, 1999 (09:52) * 3 lines 
You need a natural source of temperature difference. This can be based on the temperature difference between the air and the ground, which relies on the way the sun's heating work. That makes it a kind of solar energy.

Most thermodynamic engines burn fuel to create the hot zone. The problem with relying on natural temperature differences is that the differential temperatures aren't very far apart, so the differential pressures (needed to move pistons) isn't very great. Still one can build a small Sterling engine, perhaps enough to power a fan.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 109 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Wed, Sep 15, 1999 (11:55) * 3 lines 
Yes, you can order working miniature Sterling machines to show off on your desk, powered by a small flame. You can also power Sterling machines by using sun's power, collected with a convex collector mirror.

But Amin's idea is like that somehow turned inside-out. Once it's started, the compressed gas creates heat, that causes the gas to expand again. And the starter could be a crank or rope, like lawn-mowers or small boat-engines. Hmh, Terry, drag out Ray to take a look at this, please.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 110 of 136: Barry Kort  (moulton) * Wed, Sep 15, 1999 (23:19) * 1 lines 
Trust me. I have a Ph.D. in engineering. I actually sweated my way through Thermodynamics back in college. Once you stop pumping in energy with the starter motor, the thing comes to equilibrium and stops moving. You push on the piston and compress the gas. The gas pushes back. You let go of the piston, and the gas pushes the piston out, expands, and cools. End of cycle. Nothing happens after that unless you push on the piston again. Which is where the energy is coming from.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 111 of 136: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Sep 15, 1999 (23:24) * 1 lines 
There is, in fact, no perpetual motion machine, then?!

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 112 of 136: Barry Kort  (moulton) * Wed, Sep 15, 1999 (23:33) * 3 lines 
Not one based on thermodynamic cycles, no. They need a supply of thermal energy.

But the motion of an electron in orbit about a nucleus is a perpetual motion system. Of course like all such perpetual motion systems, you can't extract energy from it.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 113 of 136: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Sep 15, 1999 (23:41) * 1 lines 
Oh yes, there's the rub. That your degree says you have searched for the highest knowledge does not mean you have managed to find every bit of it...that is still out there awaiting discovery!

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 114 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Thu, Sep 16, 1999 (12:02) * 3 lines 
Barry, thank you for your patience. Hmh, I know your arguments are valid, but this idea has one thing that makes me unsure about writing it off 100% - these folks seem to be into engineering, too, and still they think they might have something there...

Not that I want to compare this to Einstein or Freud - who were nutcracks, too, for their contemporaries -, but - what if it works? Could gravitational pull or centripetal forces be the missing link?

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 115 of 136: Barry Kort  (moulton) * Thu, Sep 16, 1999 (20:13) * 7 lines 
If you set up an engine in the ambient, you can draw energy out of it based on fluctuations in the ambient over time. For example, there is a perpetual clock that works by drawing energy from the day-to-day fluctuations in the barometric pressure. It has a sealed chamber with a diaphragm that moves in and out with changes atmospheric pressure. This motion is enough to power the clock.

An engine with a thermal mass that stayed at the average temperature could operate by sinking one side of the piston into the thermal mass and letting the other ride in the open air. If the air temperature fluctuates faster than the rate of cooling of the thermal mass, you could power a small Sterling cycle engine.

But this is not true perpetual motion. It's based on the diurnal heating of the earth between day and night, so it's a form of solar energy.

Ocean buoys can draw energy from the bobbing waves. That's how they sound their wails, for example. Air is drawn in and out of a chamber as the bob. There is lots of ambient energy that one can draw on, but only for small amounts of power, perhaps enough to power a clock or some electronics.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 116 of 136: Barry Kort  (moulton) * Fri, Sep 17, 1999 (06:55) * 1 lines 
By the way, if the notion of measuring energy seems inaccessible, take a look at the movie "Apollo 13." It has a great scene where the engineers are trying to figure out how to power up the capsule for re-entry without exceeding the energy budget of the available power -- something like 8 amps as I recall. Budgeting for energy is like any kind of economy. You can't spend more than you got. It's just one of God's laws.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 117 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Sat, Sep 18, 1999 (15:04) * 1 lines 
Huh, and you went into engineering because you can't stand laws, right? ;=}

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 118 of 136: Barry Kort  (moulton) * Sun, Sep 19, 1999 (10:16) * 1 lines 
I love discovering God's Natural Laws. I have no love for those laws of man which are instituted by algolagnic control freaks who delight in damaging people who break them.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 119 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Mon, Sep 20, 1999 (12:43) * 1 lines 

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 120 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Mon, Sep 20, 1999 (12:46) * 3 lines 
For me, the "laws" of nature and the "laws" of societies both are simply agreements on how to handle things. Compromises. And history has shown that both categories can be changed upon short notice, and that some offers are only good while supplies last.

The problem is that most people think them unchangeable. They aren't, though.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 121 of 136: Barry Kort  (moulton) * Tue, Sep 21, 1999 (08:01) * 3 lines 
To the best of my knowledge, no human agreed to the Inverse Square Law of Gravity, or Maxwell's Equations. Those were recently discovered, not legislated.

Algolagnic means to derive emotional gratification by inflicting pain and suffering. It's commonly found in competitive cultures such as ours.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 122 of 136: Barry Kort  (moulton) * Tue, Sep 21, 1999 (08:04) * 1 lines 
I seek not merely to edit the laws of man. I seek to abolish the belief that society is well-regulated by means of rules and laws enforced by sanctions and punishments. There is good scientific reason to believe that such a regulatory mechanism is ineffective at best and counterprodutive at worst. Moreover, there are superior regulatory models which are proven to work without inflicting deliberate self-damage on the system.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 123 of 136: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Tue, Sep 21, 1999 (11:41) * 17 lines 
By now, I know about your position re: changing the system (a bit at least), but I don't see what you believe why these things were accepted first place, and what became of these reasons.

I understand from your post above, that you don't take offense with the concept of laws themselves - perhaps they are even a valuable invention in your mind? -, but that it's the enforcement that upsets you (besides obviously ridiculous and unjust laws, of course). I feel that both the content of laws as well as consequences of not abiding these rules are subject to change by cultures. E.g. is it perfectly okay to kill people in the US or Japan that where senteced to death penalty. These cultures think de
th penalty is okay and has its place in their culture. What we know is, it's a very old tradition that's being kept up there, but has been abandoned in other countries, which have abolished the death penalty. Change is possible if a society changes their set of values. Right now there is e.g. a discussion in Germany to revise sentences for crimes against things and against people. If you steal somebody's car, here you're punished harder than if you'd beaten him up. This still reflects feudal times, where
he possessing classes were protecting their stuff, but people now feel attacks upon health and honour are worse than against possessions. More changes to come...

When I said that the laws of nature are not unchangeable and eternal, I mean e.g. that there have been many "discovered", or rather, "invented". Think of cosmology, how that changed. And at any time, scientist were sure to know the "obvious" truth, which everybody accepted until some bloke came up with Truth 1.5 or even 2.0, and Bang!, the world was not the center anymore, mankind not the crown of creation, the universe infinite or not... Nothing faster than light, or at least nearly nothing, etc.

Science interprets not "nature" or the "truth", but the subjective image of how things appear to us - filtered through our sensoric means and neurological processing, and describes them in a vocabulary agreed upon by usage within the scientific community.

These things are approximations, working models, until some fault is found, and other explanations are accepted. Science is to nature what laws are to a society's morals: Approximations that mimick observations, and either are with a time-lag revised when obvious and urgent need be, or ignored and kept unchanged, even after having survived the cause they served.

Hmh, what do you say?

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 124 of 136: Barry Kort  (moulton) * Fri, Oct  1, 1999 (14:38) * 1 lines 
I say our system of laws is immoral, unethical, unjust, corrupt, evil and tacky.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 125 of 136: Alexander  (aschuth) * Fri, Oct  1, 1999 (15:22) * 1 lines 
Ok, lemme see "our system" is the problem, not the "laws", or at least the concept of laws as such?

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 126 of 136: Barry Kort  (moulton) * Fri, Oct  1, 1999 (22:57) * 1 lines 
The concept of goals or guidelines is fine. The concept of rules, laws, or foul lines which entitle the state to visit authorized and sanctioned damage is not fine. It's an idiotic idea which doesn't work and causes a world of hurt. Whoever is praying to the god that invented that system is praying to a false god.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 127 of 136: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Oct  1, 1999 (23:09) * 1 lines 
Perhaps that god is the one created in his own image - the image of the worshipper, that is, rather than the reverse!

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 128 of 136: Barry Kort  (moulton) * Sat, Oct  2, 1999 (06:48) * 3 lines 
The irony is that of all the various gods in our culture, the one who gave us rules and laws enforced by state-sponsored sanctions and punishments is one whose name we do not know. We do know the name of that god's chief prophet: Nicholas Machiavelli.

But more people pray to that unnamed god and practice that god's religion than follow the alternative (and logically superior) models of Moses, Buddha, or Jesus.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 129 of 136: Marcia (MarciaH) * Sun, Oct  3, 1999 (22:22) * 1 lines 
too true to argue with you on that point! ( also pertinent point about Machiavelli and his results...we are still contending with them, are we not!

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 130 of 136: Barry Kort  (moulton) * Mon, Oct  4, 1999 (09:21) * 1 lines 
I just wish we could get Machiavelli's religion designated as one, so that we could then invoke separation of church and state, and outlaw that pernicious brand of state-sponsored religion. Perhap's the name of Machiavelli's god is Molokh. That god once held sway in Gey-Hinnom, the rubbish dump south of the old city of Jerusalem, where worshippers of Molokh sometimes sacrificed their disobedient children by burning them in the hellfires of the rubbish dump.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 131 of 136: Marcia (MarciaH) * Tue, Oct  5, 1999 (18:38) * 1 lines 
What a brilliant idea (not the Molokh one)...I am delighted with the idea.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 132 of 136: Barry Kort  (moulton) * Thu, Oct  7, 1999 (07:51) * 1 lines 
The neat thing about Machiavelli's religion is that, unlike other theologies, this one can actually be disproven by scientific research. There is overwhelming empirical evidence and theoretical analysis to show that his method of social regulation is ineffective at best and counter-productive at worst, leading to a world of suffering. But we kinda knew that, now, didn't we?

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 133 of 136: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Oct  7, 1999 (12:34) * 2 lines 
It would seem that we should have been aware of this long ago. It is counter-productive, indeed, but his followers blindly procede in the direction in which he pointed them all those years ago. As we spiral downward we seem unable to do anything about it...or, worse, accept it as the way things must be!
(And, yes! We did kinda knew that all along...)

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 134 of 136: Barry Kort  (moulton) * Fri, Oct  8, 1999 (13:41) * 4 lines 
The interesting part of this analysis is that it ties together deep thinking from systems science, theology, psychology, and literary analysis. I tumbled onto this confluence of thought by way of a book by Gil Bailie, _Violence Unveiled: Humanity at the Crossroads_. I had just finished reading it when the Columbine school shootings occurred, so I took the opportunity to apply the theory to that tragedy. But it actually applies more broadly to competition, conflict, drama, and violence throughout the cu

Anyway, my first essay is called Thinking About Violence In Our Schools.

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 135 of 136: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Tue, Jul  3, 2001 (12:39) * 63 lines 
This subject is still on going ....I found the following of which I will put the synopsis here and leave you to follow the link to get the whole article.

The Manifesto of January 3, 2000
Part 4
By Bruce Sterling
A brief sketch may help establish some parameters.
Here I conclude with a set of general cultural changes that a Viridian movement would likely promulgate in specific sectors of society. For the sake of brevity, these suggestions come in three parts. (Today) is the situation as it exists now. (What We Want) is the situation as we would like to see it. (The Trend) the way the situation will probably develop if it follows contemporary trends without any intelligent intervention.

The Media
Today. Publishing and broadcasting cartels surrounded by a haze of poorly financed subcultural microchannels.
What We Want. More bandwidth for civil society, multicultural variety, and better-designed systems of popular many-to-many communication, in multiple languages through multiple channels.
The Trend. A spy-heavy, commercial Internet. A Yankee entertainment complex that entirely obliterates many non-Anglophone cultures.

The Military
Today. G-7 Hegemony backed by the American military.
What We Want. A wider and deeper majority hegemony with a military that can deter adventurism, but specializes in meeting the immediate crises through civil engineering, public health and disaster relief.
The Trend. Nuclear and biological proliferation among minor powers.
Today. Currency traders rule banking system by fiat; extreme instability in markets; capital flight but no labor mobility; unsustainable energy base
What We Want. Nonmaterial industries; vastly increased leisure; vastly increased labor mobility; sustainable energy and resources
The Trend. commodity totalitarianism, crony capitalism, criminalized banking systems, sweatshops

Industrial Design
Today. very rapid model obsolescence, intense effort in packaging; CAD/CAM
What We Want: intensely glamourous environmentally sound products; entirely new objects of entirely new materials; replacing material substance with information; a new relationship between the cybernetic and the material
The Trend: two design worlds for rich and poor comsumers; a varnish on barbarism
Gender Issues
Today: more commercial work required of women; social problems exported into family life as invisible costs
What We Want: declining birth rates, declining birth defects, less work for anyone, lavish support for anyone willing to drop out of industry and consume less
The Trend: more women in prison; fundamentalist and ethnic-separatist ideologies that target women specifically.

Today: large-scale American special-effects spectacle supported by huge casts and multi-million-dollar tie-in enterprises
What We Want: glamour and drama; avant-garde adventurism; a borderless culture industry bent on Green social engineering
The Trend: annihilation of serious culture except in a few non-Anglophone societies

International Justice
Today: dysfunctional but gamely persistent War Crimes tribunals
What We Want: Environmental Crime tribunals
The Trend: justice for sale; intensified drug war
Today: MacJobs, burn-out track, massive structural unemployment in Europe
What We Want: Less work with no stigma; radically expanded leisure; compulsory leisure for workaholics; guaranteed support for people consuming less resources; new forms of survival entirely outside the conventional economy
The Trend: increased class division; massive income disparity; surplus flesh and virtual class

Today: failing public-supported schools
What We Want: intellectual freedom, instant cheap access to information, better taste, a more advanced aesthetic, autonomous research collectives, lifelong education, and dignity and pleasure for the very large segment of the human population who are and will forever be basically illiterate and innumerate
The trend: children are raw blobs of potential revenue-generating machinery; universities exist to supply middle-management
Public Health
Today: general success; worrying chronic trends in AIDS, tuberculosis, antibiotic resistance; massive mortality in nonindustrial world
What We Want: unprecedently healthy old people; plagues exterminated worldwide; sophisticated treatment of microbes; artificial food
The Trend: Massive dieback in Third World, septic poor quarantined from nervous rich in G-7 countries, return of 19th century sepsis, world's fattest and most substance-dependent populations

Today: basic science sacrificed for immediate commercial gain; malaise in academe; bureaucratic overhead in government support
What We Want: procedural rigor, intellectual honesty, reproducible results; peer review, block grants, massively increased research funding, massively reduced procedural overhead; genius grants; single-author papers; abandonment of passive construction and the third person plural; "Science" reformed so as to lose its Platonic and crypto-Christian elements as the "pure" pursuit of disembodied male minds; armistice in Science wars
The Trend: "Big Science" dwindles into short-term industrial research or military applications; "scientists" as a class forced to share imperilled, marginal condition of English professors and French deconstructionists.

I would like to conclude by suggesting some specific areas for immediate artistic work. I see these as crying public needs that should be met by bravura displays of raw ingenuity.
But there isn't time for that. Not just yet.
Bruce Sterling (

 Topic 39 of 52 [spirit]: Viridian List
 Response 136 of 136: Culcha (terry) * Thu, Aug 30, 2001 (16:21) * 120 lines 

For release: 29 August 2001


New Ideas About Energy Consumption, Cultural Values and Reinventing the
"American Dream" to Challenge Policies of the Bush Administration

Phoenix...24 August...Sustainable alternatives to the "short-sighted"
steps of the Bush administration will be explored at the 21-23 September
Paradox Conference by Paolo Soleri, Ph.D., philosopher and pioneer of more
livable, environmentally-intelligent cities; Joe Firmage, scientist and
technology entrepreneur; and Paul H. Ray, Ph.D., co-author of the
influential book The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are
Changing the World.

The third in the biannual Paradox series, the September program continues
the ongoing inquiry into the paradoxes in the increasing interplay between
physical and cyber reality. This year's conference focuses on
"Third-Millennium Habitats" that integrate sustainable habitats,
cyberspace and new forms of community. New- and old-economy business
executives, architects and urban planners, cybernauts and students are
expected to attend.

Dr. Soleri to Address the Need to Redefine the "American Dream"

Paolo Soleri, Italian-born architect and associate of Frank Lloyd Wright,
is hosting Paradox III at his Arcosanti habitat 65 miles north of Phoenix.
A self-contained community in the Arizona desert, Arcosanti embodies Dr.
Soleri's theory of "arcology," or the marriage of architecture and ecology
to create urban habitats that conserve resources and blend harmoniously
with the environment.

"Unless we moderate, unless we reinvent the 'American dream,'" Soleri
explained in a 26 July interview with The New York Times, "then it's not
going to be a dream. It's going to be doomsday." Soleri estimates that if
the standards of the American dream were applied to every nation, the
resources of 19 earths would be required to maintain the resulting levels
of consumption and pollution. "The American Dream physically embodied in
the single family house has to be reinvented in terms which are coherent
with the human biospheric reality."

Mr. Firmage to Explore Alternative Energy Resources

"Technologies are possible that could make daily use of energy nearly free
within perhaps 20 years, but they receive almost no R&D funding" states
Mr. Joe Firmage, a panelist who has made significant investments in the
development of alternative energy resources. "The Bush administration's
energy plan does little to address efficiency and renewable programs; yet,
it includes a two-billion-dollar subsidy for the coal industry."

"In short, capitalism does not see the value in innovations that would
drop prices to nearly zero, since such prices would decimate revenue lines
of P&Ls," says Firmage, who will discuss potential breakthroughs in
green-energy technologies. "Energy-generation industries have been
controlling supply to prop up profits for decades; meanwhile, the price of
subsistence-level energy consumption exceeds the earning power of much of
the world's population."

Firmage is founder of Motion Sciences Organization and co-founder and
chairman of International Space Sciences Organization (ISSO), established
in 1998 to sponsor research and development of new technologies derived
from the emerging principles of modern physics. In 1995, Firmage founded
USWeb, the world's largest Internet professional-services company. Until
1998, he served as CEO and chief strategist of the three-billion-dollar
company and received recognition as Ernst & Young's 1997 "Young
Entrepreneur of the Year."

Dr. Ray to Examine the Values of a New Civilization

"Our civilization is in the midst of an epochal change, caught between
globalization, accelerating technologies and a deteriorating planetary
ecology," concludes Dr. Paul H. Ray in his book, The Cultural Creatives,
which examines the growing number of people who want to see deep changes
in the cultures that have evolved in industrialized nations. "A creative
minority can have enormous leverage to carry us into a new renaissance
instead of a disastrous fall."

Ray will lead a panel discussion on the need to develop shifting cultural
values. He explains: "Seventy percent of all Americans and 70 percent of
all homebuyers in America are unhappy with suburbs as they are. They ask,
'Why can't we have good, sustainable urban places that we want to live

Ray, who is CEO of Integral Partnerships LLC consulting firm, started his
career in urbanism: sociology, planning and policy analysis. As former
chief of policy research on energy conservation for the Canadian
Government, he headed the largest evaluation-research project conducted in
Canada on home energy conservation. He has led over 100 values-oriented
research projects in such areas as housing, ecological sustainability,
energy, cars, food, recreation vacation travel, finances, health, good
causes, media, altruism, and innovation. Project sponsors have been mostly
foundations, state and national governments, and Fortune 500 corporations.

Paradox III will feature many leaders in sustainable development and
ecological urban design. The conference fee is $195 and will increase to
$295 on 1 September. For complete conference information, call 415 865
0481 or 520 632 7135 or see

Co-directors are Ron Anastasia ( and Michael Gosney

Linda Roby
520 632 7135

Judi Skalsky
The Jerde Partnership International
310 459 6361

Verbum, Inc.
285 Ninth Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
415-865-0481 fax 415-865-0509

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