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Bruce Sterling's Final Prediction

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the so-long-Nostradamus dept.

The Internet 162

In Bruce Sterling's final column for Wired, he summarizes the output of a survey of Net prognosticators conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The piece is peppered with Sterling's trademarked stop-you-in-your-tracks imagery. An example: "The bubble-era vision of a Utopian Internet is dented and dirty... The Lexus has collided with the olive tree, and its crumpled hulk spins in a ditch as the orchard smolders."

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162 comments

Batshit Insane (5, Funny)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 7 years ago | (#17222888)

"The bubble-era vision of a Utopian Internet is dented and dirty... The Lexus has collided with the olive tree, and its crumpled hulk spins in a ditch as the orchard smolders."

This metaphor is a can of Pringles, and its vigor is enhanced by venomous ducks that flip it daily with a caterpillar that just won't shut up.

Seriously... what?

Re:Batshit Insane (2, Informative)

CaffeineAddict2001 (518485) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223026)

It made perfect sense to me. "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" isn't that obscure a reference. Wasn't this book a bestseller?

Re:Batshit Insane (0, Offtopic)

somersault (912633) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223200)

[o/t]I don't see why you'd want a Lexus anyway. Most ugly tail lights ever conceived. Strange how people actually copy them and stick them on other brands of car..

Re:Batshit Insane (1)

phaggood (690955) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223316)

> ugliest tail lights

Ugly is the new glamorous ( Uggs Boots, Paris Hilton)

Didn't you get the memo?

Re:Batshit Insane (2, Funny)

Zen (8377) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223298)

Nah, wrong genre. It was music, and it was "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" (KT Tunstall)

Re:Batshit Insane (0, Offtopic)

slashbob22 (918040) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223304)

Indeed, though this is Slashdot and most of us dont RTFA let alone a book. Do you have a summary?

Re:Batshit Insane (4, Informative)

Bastian (66383) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223584)

It was a book on globalization that came out several years back. The book-a-minute version I'd give for it is, "You can't stop globalization, but that's OK, because might makes right." The author tries to argue that the modern incarnation of free-market capitalism is a Good Thing, basically a remix of the old "rising tide that lifts all boats" combined with the pollyannaish implication that it must be good simply because it's happening.

There were a few good points in there, but all in all I think that deep down inside The Lexus and the Olive Tree there was a clear and concise essay screaming to get out and being smothered by 200 pages of ad-hoc musings that were thrown in as filler.

Re:Batshit Insane (1)

NDPTAL85 (260093) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224530)

On its own merits and not because its happening, Globalization IS a good thing. Unless of course your one of those folks who prefers whole regions of the earth remain impoverished for some unknown reason.

Re:Batshit Insane (3, Informative)

Bastian (66383) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224966)

I should clarify. The book was, more or less, trying to argue that the whole globalization package - not gust the general idea of the world opening up, but all of the details of how it is happening right now - is optimal.

While pretty much everyone agrees that the general idea of globalization is good, there's still some room for debate over whether the particulars of how its happening are actually benefitting impoverished regions or if it's just forcing them into a "race to the bottom" (and possibly dragging developed and developing nations along for the ride, too). The situation with the garment industry in Cambodia is a current popular conversation topic along this line.

I guess a (stretched) analogy would be that while it's good to let some fresh air into your house, knocking out the windows with bricks isn't necessarily the best way to do it.

Re:Batshit Insane (4, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224054)

Yet, it still doesn't. The book centers around the Lexus -- globalization -- and the olive tree -- tradition. I don't see how the Internet as it is today has anything to do with the collision of the Lexus and the olive tree. In my mind, the Internet is a $70,000 4.7L V8-powered 4WD Lexus LX SUV mowing down the entire olive tree orchard, while the trees scream in protest. Either that it's just a bunch of tubes, I haven't figured out which...

Re:Batshit Insane (1)

spellraiser (764337) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223218)

It's actually code language. It means: "I have the documents you requested. Meet me tomorrow night at 20:00 by the statue of Lincoln. Bring some hot chocolate."

Re:Batshit Insane (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17223274)

Hey, I've been watching Prison Break (via BT) and I know Michael doesnt drink hot chocolate. Its a trap!

Re:Batshit Insane (0)

torpor (458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223356)

Seriously... what?



Umm .. yes, exactly Bruces' point. ".. what?"

Lexus == smart 'new thing of the rich taking over from the previously rich' (its a riff, yo)
Olive Tree == The Collective Living Of All Of Us On The 'Net .. presumably where 'peace' is from..

The point is, you never know what 'fresh new thing of the rich' is going to crash and burn at the base of tha' 'nternets ..

Re:Batshit Insane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17223576)

Wow. You just totally got that wrong.

Re:Batshit Insane (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223636)

Matt Taibbi's review of "The World is Flat" by Thomas Freidman [nypress.com] :

This would be a small thing were it not for the overall pattern. Thomas Friedman does not get these things right even by accident. It's not that he occasionally screws up and fails to make his metaphors and images agree. It's that he always screws it up. He has an anti-ear, and it's absolutely infallible; he is a Joyce or a Flaubert in reverse, incapable of rendering even the smallest details without genius. The difference between Friedman and an ordinary bad writer is that an ordinary bad writer will, say, call some businessman a shark and have him say some tired, uninspired piece of dialogue: Friedman will have him spout it. And that's guaranteed, every single time. He never misses.

Re:Batshit Insane (1)

corecaptain (135407) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224296)

Thanks for the link. Taibbi's review is great - one of the funniest pieces of sarcasm
I have read this year.

Re:Batshit Insane (4, Funny)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223702)

THe orchard-lexus metaphor is one of many literary constructs in its time-honored genre:

"Is there anything more beautiful than a beautiful, beautiful flamingo, flying across in front of a beautiful sunset? And he's carrying a beautiful rose in his beak, and also he's carrying a very beautiful painting with his feet. And also, you're drunk."
-- Jack Handey

"Love is like racing across the frozen tundra on a snowmobile which flips over, trapping you underneath. At night, the ice-weasels come."
-- Matt Groening

Unfortunately, I don't think Mr Sterling was trying to be funny.

Re:Batshit Insane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17223900)

That metaphor works on so many deep, deep levels. Clearly the Lexus represents rampant consumerism, or the corporation, take your pick. The olive tree, which represents universal man (no really, I don't make this stuff up), has totally been worked over by that nasty Lexus.

I'm not sure how the crashed hulk of the car could be spinning in the ditch though. It kind of falls apart right there.

To paraphrase a Queen song, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17224680)

Sterling is not quite the shilling today ;).

metaphor (1, Insightful)

Orp (6583) | more than 7 years ago | (#17222892)

"The bubble-era vision of a Utopian Internet is dented and dirty... The Lexus has collided with the olive tree, and its crumpled hulk spins in a ditch as the orchard smolders."

Yeah, this stops me on the tracks alright - I'd rather the train run me over than read a book full of this lousy attempt at metaphor.

Re:metaphor (1)

Larus (983617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224666)

Fifteen minutes of fame gone, the author tries to justify existence by announcing publicly his farewell. Nothing he mentioned in TFA is worth the time readers spent reading; the metaphor sux for both plagiarism and extrapolation ad absurdum. Plus, his futurism was just a regurgitation of what /. people knew for a long time.

They said the toughest challenge for a hero is knowing when to die. Doubly so for a writer.

More meds, fewer metaphores, please (0)

slughead (592713) | more than 7 years ago | (#17222894)

The Lexus has collided with the olive tree, and its crumpled hulk spins in a ditch as the orchard smolders.

I ruined the internet while driving a chevy, thanks very much.

To gauge the Net's trajectory, the Pew Internet & American Life Project polled 742 experts for its Future of the Internet II study. ... So I'm well aware that, like a lot of hardworking techies, they tend to be wacky geeks with unfettered imaginations. Throw 'em together in one survey, though, and they bell-curve right out.

Proof that 742 wrongs make a right!

A Question In Parting (3, Funny)

Giant Ape Skeleton (638834) | more than 7 years ago | (#17222900)

That column leaves me with one question for Bruce:

Who is your meth dealer, and does he make house calls?

Re:A Question In Parting (2, Funny)

jrwr00 (1035020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17222934)

I don't even think meth can fuck you up that badly

Re:A Question In Parting (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224420)

You have apparently never met a meth head before - naked, in a Starbucks, disassembling their clock radio "to let all the little people out"...

Bruse (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17222942)

Despite his extensive work on behalf of the Open Source community I still hold a strong distrust of Bruce.


Consider the possibility that rather than being a true advocate of Open Source ideals he has simply latched on to the movement to make a name for himself and put some cash into his pocket. He primarily writes very generic books praising OSS, he does not code and he does not maintain and projects. Even worse, the book themselves aren't licensed through Creative Commons, LGPL, or any other Free method. He publishes them in dead tree format through Prentice Hall, ensuring that both he and his publisher get rich by leveraging copyright.

Further, the man has had to stop down from his position at Open Source Risk Management due to conflicts over software patents. If the man were truly about OSS he would not have anything to do with Freedom stealing software patents. He also holds considerable stock in a Linux company, which is fine except that is a major conflict of risk for a person who is in a strong authority position in the community and can throw their weight behind a particular distro, getting it preferential treatment in large corporate deployments. All distros should be equal.

So think a little before you get into the typical OSS hero worship mode. Look what happened with ESR!

Re:Bruse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17223268)

Uhm, you're thinking of Bruce Perens, not this guy right??

Re:Bruse (0, Flamebait)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223272)

Pacman say "Wakka wakka wakka wakka wakka wakka wakka wakka wakka wakka"

This incoherence brought to you intentionally, rather than by accident.

Re:Bruse (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223324)

All distros should be equal.
Equal how? They hopefully will all be suited to a certain purpose, and if one distro suits business, or is one that the guy has a financial interest in, why shouldn't he be allowed to promote it? Not that I really think he sounds like a good guy from what you're saying.

I also don't see why someone shouldn't make any money off of a book that they've spent weeks of their life writing, no matter what the subject is..? If it was about how books should all be free then it could be a little hypocritical.

This will probably be modded as flamebait, but someone has to say something to those damn anonymous cowardly hippies!

Wrong Bruce! (3, Informative)

CheeseTroll (696413) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223924)

This just in: there are >1 persons named Bruce.

This is Bruce Sterling, the sci-fi author, not Bruce Perens, the OSS advocate.

Re:Wrong Bruce! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17224146)

The GP made no indication that the post was about any specific Bruce, so I don't know how you can claim it was about the wrong Bruce.


I though it was about Bruce Scheiner myself.

Re:Wrong Bruce! (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224394)

The GP made no indication that the post was about any specific Bruce, so I don't know how you can claim it was about the wrong Bruce.

Oh yeah? So how many Bruces do you know of that had a position at Open Source Risk Management ?

I though it was about Bruce Scheiner myself.

Sarcasm?

IMHO (5, Insightful)

El Cabri (13930) | more than 7 years ago | (#17222972)

Wired is an overrated collection of BS. I read it for a while during the bubble extasia, found it was crap, stopped reading it. I picked up an issue (that one with the atheists) a few weeks ago to see if it had matured : in my opinion it has not. People who write for Wired should get out and do something useful.

Re:IMHO (2, Interesting)

pubjames (468013) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223270)

Wired is an overrated collection of BS.

Wired was great once. It went down hill when the internet bubble started to grow and money went to their heads, and then went downhill as it became a catalogue of the latest gadgets to buy and puff-pieces about Hollywood movies. Until about 1996 or 7, it rocked.

Re:IMHO (2, Interesting)

esconsult1 (203878) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223372)

Wired still rocks. Sometimes.

I find myself traveling around once per month, and its the one zine that you can totally engross yourself if you have no interruptions for an hour or so. Science. Technology. Culture. Totally directed to the geek technorati, and one of the last bastions of the long-form tech article that you'll find anywhere.

The writing is a little less cocky and in-your-face since the last few months, and that's a good thing. They've started to report more on the subject of the articles instead of telling us readers what's good for us. A subtle shift, but well overdue.

Overall I'll keep my subscription going.

Re:IMHO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17223734)

...the geek technorati...

I would never have guessed that you read Wired.

Prediction not in TFA (2, Funny)

DaveCar (189300) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223410)


In the future, "Wired" will not suck.

I think I still have some early vintage copies from when it first got published in the UK (~1995?). Any takers?

No, thought not.

Re:IMHO (1)

Rhys (96510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223422)

Have you considered that concentrating themselves at wired may be the most useful thing for them to do? Much like the incompetent sysadmin who you'd rather sit in their office and look at porn than try (and fail) to do actual work on important systems.

Re:IMHO (2, Interesting)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223806)

Wired is an overrated collection of BS. I read it for a while during the bubble extasia, found it was crap, stopped reading it. I picked up an issue (that one with the atheists) a few weeks ago to see if it had matured : in my opinion it has not. People who write for Wired should get out and do something useful.
Same here. I read it Way Back When, and now (unfortunately) we ended up with a subscription when my wife was forced to chose something as part of subscribing to Salon.com. I tried to read the first issue last night. You can't tell where the ads start and the over-graphic-ized articles begin. There's still too few words, too much "artsy" blank space. The only difference is that now there they have more ads than they used to. It's pretty much all crap. Plus the stink of the ink fumes gave me a headache after 20-odd pages.

Re:IMHO (5, Insightful)

twifosp (532320) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223958)

People who write for Wired should get out and do something useful.
What, like post on Slashdot criticizing other people's work, rather than creating something of your own?

Re:IMHO (1)

freeweed (309734) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224894)

I'd say that in this case, the criticism is far more useful than the object being criticised.

In essence, the GP *has* created something of their own.

Wired has some great works! (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224358)

Wired is an overrated collection of BS.

If there was a single adjective I'd use to describe Wired, it would be "inconsistent". Because some works of pure genius came out of Wired, too.

For example, The Transparent Society [wired.com] is perhaps the best, clear, concise description of the privacy issues we face, and has the sharpest resolution picture of the best way to approach it.

Seriously - this article was prescient when it came out (now almost exactly 10 years ago!) and has altered my opinions about freedom and privacy forever.

Re:IMHO (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224672)

I think that perhaps Conde Nast being their parent company has something to do with it. It's all about selling the advertising space. It does have a few good writers though, or did. Bruce was certainly one of the better ones.

"lexus and olive tree" Is a Tom Friedman reference (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17223030)

Thomas Friedman used this visualization in a book I read about 4 years ago on Globalization. Wikipedia it.

The synopsis holds true... (2, Funny)

PingSpike (947548) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223034)

Most people do stop in their tracks when they suffer an unstoppable urge to vomit.

Re:The synopsis holds true... (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223064)

For me, it's simple rubbernecking. How the fuck can a successful, published author squeeze out a turd of metaphor that would get a freshman english student hit repeatedly with a rolled up newspaper?

Re:The synopsis holds true... (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223260)

John Dolan Reviews "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" by Thomas Freidman [blogspot.com] :

Friedman doesn't seem to know that cattle herds aren't usually guided by bloodhounds. But the clumsiness of his metaphors is part of his job. He's here to threaten those who seem reluctant to join the herd. Who wants subtlety from a leg-breaker? The cruder the metaphor, the more frightening. Good poets don't make good goons. And Friedman is pure goon, brass-knuckled platitudes all the way. Like a Naked Gun voiceover, he lets his violent metaphors stampede where they will. One of the most ham-handed metaphorical panics is what happens to this "electronic herd." Within pages of its introduction, the "herd" is transformed from cattle to wildebeest, grazing the Savannah. Ah, but that's only the beginning.

Re:The synopsis holds true... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223980)

There are two types of people in the world, people who think Thomas Friedman is an idiot, and other idiots.

Who do you read? (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223660)

I like the over-wrought imagry Sterling produces. Schismatrix is still my favorite work.collection of his.

The short version (1)

TheWoozle (984500) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223090)

"Futurists" are full of crap. The Internet is neither a technological panacea nor the beginnings of Skynet; it's just another conduit for human communication. Wired still takes themselves too seriously.

*yawn*

Re:The short version (1, Insightful)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224074)

Dear God, this article is awful.
Low-cost connections will proliferate, encouraging creativity, collaboration
No, really? I could have sworn that's already happening.

and telecommuting.
To an extent, maybe. But I know a couple sysadmins who are able to work from home (I refuse to use pointless buzzwords) but choose not to. I just can't see many businesses or employees wanting to do this, except in fringe cases. In-person communication is usually vastly more efficient than electronic communication.

If you're under 21, you likely don't care much about any supposed difference between virtual and actual, online and off.
I'm 21, and you're a fucking moron. Yes, young people tend to use the Internet. Some spend way too much time documenting their shallow lives and stalking others on MySpace. This doesn't mean that they have difficulty telling the difference. For example, it is extraordinarily difficult to have sex online.

Like the real world, the Net will be increasingly international and decreasingly reliant on English.
Uh, we're already there. Try to keep up.

It will be wrapped in a Chinese kung fu outfit, intoned in an Indian accent, oozing Brazilian sex appeal.
What? If this means anything, it escapes me.

Now a TypePad account is a license to deliver nose-to-the-pavement perspective with an attitude.
The Internet allows for easy communication. Fancy that. It doesn't mean anyone will listen to you or give a crap about your "perspective with an attitude" (I assume it's also EXTREEEEME!)

Today's Internet-savvy futurist is more likely to describe himself as a strategy consultant or venture capital researcher. That development doesn't surprise me. Frankly, I saw it coming.
Again, you make a statement that doesn't really mean anything, then pat yourself on the back for "predicting" it? Yes, people who can accurately predict trends will do well in business. Wow.

Re:The short version (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224720)

>>It will be wrapped in a Chinese kung fu outfit, intoned in an Indian accent, oozing Brazilian sex appeal.

>What? If this means anything, it escapes me.
It means the wanker has seen my administrative assistant.

Re:The short version (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17224828)

Damn you are one edgy young man!!!!

Somebody should give you a role on a blog!

Seriously, man (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17223102)

Seriously: Fuck that Lexus.

English 2.0 (4, Funny)

dintech (998802) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223156)

The bubble-era vision of a Utopian Internet is dented and dirty... The Lexus has collided with the olive tree, and its crumpled hulk spins in a ditch as the orchard smolders.

I think he's using that new-fangled English 2.0 thingy.

Style (1)

77Punker (673758) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223174)

If more people wrote like this, more stuff would be worth reading. In the dismal cavern of the internet, vivid style is the only glimmer of hope remaining.

Re:Style (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17223396)

Wearing a black shirt, black pants, dark sunglasses, and a black trenchcoat everywhere is style. You look like an idiot while you remain proudly convinced you're asserting your 'individuality', but it's style.

This is the verbal equivalent.

Re:Style (1)

datablaster (999781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224264)

...there's a difference between vivid "style" and overblown imagery for its own sake that has no real power...and yeah, a freshman English Comp professor would probably hand this one back with the words "pointlessly melodramatic" written in red... ...but I guess it's good to be the Bruce

Lexus and the Olive Tree (5, Informative)

CubeRootOf (849787) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223212)

This refers to toms friedmans book ' Lexus vs the Olive Tree ' or close, look it up - its a good book.

Here is the summary:

The Lexus represents modern life, aka - globalization, the internet, computers etc etc, and our love for these things and conveinces which make our lives better.

The Olive Tree is our long standing traditions, communities, churches, families, the ties that bind us to each other and to the places we live.

I have not RTFA, but from the summary, I can see this guy is a good writer... although he does lean somewhat heavily on an informed audience.

This metaphor is actually pretty good - Our modern culture is clashing with our values, and its not pretty. Video game violence legislation, computure monotiring etc etc, all of the things we rail about on slashdot... the majority of them are a direct result of this clash.

Read the book, and understand your world better.

Don't read the book, trash authors because you don't get it, and look like an idiot.

Re:Lexus and the Olive Tree (1)

Trespass (225077) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223496)

There's a huge difference between what the values of most cultures are and what they pretend they are. Of course 'The Lexus vs. The Sword' doesn't sound quite right, I suppose. Or at the least wouldn't play to the audience very well.

Re:Lexus and the Olive Tree (2, Insightful)

Bastian (66383) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224376)

Of course 'The Lexus vs. The Sword' doesn't sound quite right

Probably because a pathological obsession with violence isn't the exclusive provice of "olive tree" people.

Re:Lexus and the Olive Tree (1)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223740)

This refers to toms friedmans book ' Lexus vs the Olive Tree ' or close, look it up - its a good book.


Oh, OK. Thanks. I wasn't familiar with the reference, so when I read the statement, I thought that Mr. sterling had gone bat shit insane. Now it know that it's actually Toms Friedman that's the one who is bat shit insane.

Re:Lexus and the Olive Tree (1)

Cyno (85911) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223932)

Our modern culture is clashing with our values

Modern culture? More like technology and science is clashing with moral values, which are derived from religion and a bit from tradition, but mostly sustained by the media.

Our technology and understanding of reality, right and wrong, ethics and how they are different than morals, is what is clashing against the old tired traditions of women working in the kitchen and raising the kids and men doing the hard work at the mill. Now we all sit in cubes or have most of the heavy lifting done with tools. And our understanding of psychology has led us to drop a lot of the misconception a lot of us still hold dear. So the problem is more one of the Lexus driver being drunk at the wheel than the olive tree getting in the way.

Re:Lexus and the Olive Tree (1)

stinkbomb (238228) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224572)

I think most people get the simile, it's just that it's a pointless.
Why not just say that our technology obsessed culture clashes with our values. That seems pretty clear.

Re:Lexus and the Olive Tree (3, Insightful)

Wicked Zen (1006745) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224716)

While the original metaphor of the Lexus versus the olive tree might have been good, Sterling's reference to it is not. It is common in poor writers reference good work in an effort to make one's own seem better than it is.

"The Lexus has collided with the olive tree,"

Fine. He ought to have stopped right there.

"...and its crumpled hulk spins in a ditch as the orchard smolders."

Appalling. This Lexus has collided with an olive tree so violently that it has got the orchard (not just the tree) smoldering while the vehicle itself, now a crumpled hulk, is still spinning in a ditch. What got the smoldering staerted? Did the gas tank rupture and spew already-burning fuel all over it? It just doesn't make sense. Mr. Sterling has taken a perfectly apt metaphor and mangled it.

How one can draw the conclusion from this bit of tortured writing that the "guy is a good writer," I loath to guess. Taking that point of view, I would suppose that every movie that has a character utter "Here's looking at you kid," is a good one. It simply isn't the case.

Somewhere out there (5, Funny)

CaffeineAddict2001 (518485) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223252)

"The bubble-era vision of a Utopian Internet is dented and dirty... The Lexus has collided with the olive tree, and its crumpled hulk spins in a ditch as the orchard smolders..."

William Gibson and Chuck Palahniuk are saying to themselves: "Oh god, *I* don't sound like that, do I?"

I don't get it (1)

$pearhead (1021201) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223256)

First he rants about the "futurists" and their visions, but then goes on with:
Low-cost connections will proliferate, encouraging creativity, collaboration, and telecommuting. The Net itself will recede into the background. If you're under 21, you likely don't care much about any supposed difference between virtual and actual, online and off. That's because the two realms are penetrating each other; Google Earth mingles with Google Maps, and daily life shows up on Flickr. Like the real world, the Net will be increasingly international and decreasingly reliant on English. It will be wrapped in a Chinese kung fu outfit, intoned in an Indian accent, oozing Brazilian sex appeal.
All of which pretty much seems like "bubble-era vision" IMHO.

I happen to Agree. (0, Troll)

BlahSnarto (45250) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223368)

Give the guy a break, and look a little deeper into whats
been said. The jabs at drug use and batshit insane are
unwarranted..

I dont know, but i kinda understand what he had to say
it doesnt make me insane or a drug user..

Why so popular? (1)

Dareth (47614) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223400)

All he did was invent the stirling engine... and even then he wasn't smart enough to spell his own name correctly when he named it after himself!

Sherlock would be so proud of him (1)

scotbot (906561) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223464)

my last little act of prediction in this space: I don't have a poll or a single shred of evidence to back it up, but I believe more good things are in store, and some are bound to come from the tangled, ubiquitous, personal, and possibly unpredictable Net

So he predicts the internet is basically unpredictable. Not exactly earth shattering news, is it. That's something most normal people have known for quite some time.

The only thing that's remained constant for the past 10 years of the Net, is the ubiquity of pr0n. Homepages have become blogs, search engines have become advertising media. Not much else has stayed the same, although there is prolly plenty of amateur crap still kicking about.

Still at least he didn't mention Web 2.0 or heaven forbid Web 3.0.

translation (3, Interesting)

bomb_number_20 (168641) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223476)

I got it! I got it! Here's my interpretation of his little... interpretation...

The internet is the olive tree. In the bubble, people thought the internet was going to solve everything- probably even cure cancer. Overall, techies saw it as a great equalizer, bringing 'peace' and 'equality' to the world. Still with me?

The Lexus is big business, big money and big investments, turning the internet into tv and basically ruining it while squabbling with one another over who gets to 'own' whatever part of things.

The Lexus colliding with the olive tree is the clash of ideals between how corporations think the internet should be run and, you know, the rest of us.

He sounds pretty pissed off and worn out to me. I can't say I blame him, though.

Of course, I didn't even read TFA.

Insightful? (1)

NiteShaed (315799) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224998)

As a number of people have pointed out, The Lexus and the Olive Tree refers to a book on globalization by Thomas Friedman. While I actually like your interpretation of Sterling's metaphor, perhaps more than what he actually seemed to mean, it's still wrong.....

The Lexus & The Olive Tree (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223676)

Isn't a very good metaphor really, most cars do not spontaneously explode on impact so it's not very realistic to suppose the Orchard would set on fire following a near by car accident.

UMMMMMM (1)

SydBarrett (65592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223784)

So technology changes stuff.

Yeah, thats deep.

And more people will write blogs no one will read.

Thanks for using all those words to say pretty much nothing.

And that "Lexus/Tree" metaphor is horrible, like it's Maya Angelou bad.

Wahooo! (1)

notagraphicartist (841754) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223798)

In Bruce Sterling's final column for Wired...

YES! If Bruce with his strained hybole and just absolutely horrific writing are gone maybe I can read Wired again! Seriously - Bruce writes like the tech version of the trash my 13 year old wanna-be-goth niece reads. Bad. Much bad.

Bad Metaphor (5, Funny)

superid (46543) | more than 7 years ago | (#17223854)

A bad metaphor is like a leaky screwdriver.

(shamelessly stolen from someone's /. sig)

Re:Bad Metaphor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17224668)

That's a SIMILE you nerf-herder!

Thanks for the quote (1)

noewun (591275) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224020)

The bubble-era vision of a Utopian Internet is dented and dirty... The Lexus has collided with the olive tree, and its crumpled hulk spins in a ditch as the orchard smolders. . .

Reminds me why I don't read Sterling. Just because you can string a lot of images together doesn't mean you should string a lot of images together.

It's the Belgrade backlash! (1)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224034)

Warning: too much time in the Balkans can lead to a serious case of dysphoria,... and a fondness for drinking slivovitz too quickly :)

(no, this isn't off-topic; Bruce Sterling's married to Jasmina Tesanovic, an outstanding "citizen of the ghost republic" [wikipedia.org] , aka Serbia, and I believe has spent a fair bit of time over there recently.)

(Hey, doesn't Slashcode cope with Unicode or non-ASCII charsets? shame!!)

twisted metaphors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17224174)

Whatever.

Prediction of war (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224306)

His metaphor is clearly a prediction of war. Olive trees are native to the Mediterranean region, and Lexus is of course Japanese. So it is obvious he believes there will be a war between Japan and various Mediterranean countries, resulting in widespread destruction.

I'm just not quite sure what that has to do with the internet.

Dan East

Or... (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224464)

It could just be a mishmash written by an overrated writer who is trying too hard.

Or maybe I should start hoarding extra virgin olive oil.

And extra virgins.

my predictions (1)

argoff (142580) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224526)

I predict that the internet means the death of the copyright system. It also means the death of the US dollar and the financial system - the games that they play with lying to people about the value of their money are about to come to an ugly end thanks to the information age. The internet also means terrorisim all over the world as cultures everywhere continue to come into unrestricted, unmonitored, and uninhibited information many will lash out at the US and US culture as they experience a culture shock of their own. It is even a culture shock in the US, which for the most part was allready adapted to unrestricted information in the press. I also predict the eventual death of google, ebay, youtube, and more as these services will eventually be all pure p2p software. I predict that it also means a massive migration around the world of talent and culture, as western engineers find out that they live like a king making 30K in Chile rather than 130K in the US. Also, future workers at McDonnalds may be robots remotely controlled from India. This will break down all immigration controls and tend to even out all pay globally.

Unless he is dead, (1)

one_shooter (931988) | more than 7 years ago | (#17224604)

it is not his final prediction. Just the last regular article for Wired. He will still write, blog and otherwise contiue prognostication in print. It should have said final Wired article.
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