The worst-case scenario for Detroit would be that the architecture of the Internet as it is now continues, and Detroiters’ stories, voices, lives, are absent. And the New York Times story about the creative class saving Detroit, or the documentary about the abandonment and wholesale destruction of Detroit that portrays it as a wasteland and a blank canvas ready for entrepreneurial exploitation, that those stories are defining the national, the global imagination of what Detroit is. And that those stories, they don’t use influence people’s desire to come here and do those things and live that life, though that’s part of it, but it also shapes the perception of people inside the city.
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I see a set of constraints facing us in the future, and they’re all going to be very expensive. First is funding retirements for the Baby Boom generation. Second is continuing increases in the costs of healthcare. The third is replacing decaying infrastructure. The fourth is adapting to climate change and repairing environmental damage. The fifth is developing new sources of energy. The sixth is what I see as in all likelihood continuing high military costs. The seventh is the costs of innovation.
I enjoy clean air and clean water as much as the most rabid environmental person. I just think we can have the products of society, as well as having these things. Progress is a good thing. I’m just simply a realist. And I’m just trying to enjoy life, enjoy family, enjoy friends, and contribute to society as best I can. And I think providing energy, I think providing the metals that society consumes, that people have in their their iPads, in their iPods, in their iPhones… I think that’s an honorable thing to do. What else would you do? You know, why fight that?
This quote’s from Andy Warhol. He was looking at America and saying America’s different. He’s saying, “Well, Elizabeth Taylor’s drinking Coke and I’m drinking Coke and the bum on the street’s drinking Coke, and it’s all the same thing.” For the first time in history, mass market culture has allowed us all to enjoy the same thing. This is not champagne. The bum on the street can’t afford champagne.
As we’re giving our homes this new layer of smartness and intelligence, we’re giving away its ownership to very large organizations. And as we become a generation of renters, what I’m very interested in is how do landlords respond to that?
The Someone Else’s Problem Field around infrastructure is, ironically enough, a measure of infrastructure’s ubiquity and success. You don’t think about infrastructure because you don’t need to. It just works. And when it doesn’t, there’s a phone number you can not bother calling, because they’ll only put you on hold anyway, and by the time you get through it’ll probably have fixed itself, so why bother?
Geek culture and hacker culture used to be relatively apolitical, but now every action that you take and every piece of code that you write has political effects. You may may intend some of these effects, you may not intend most of these effects, but they’re there and we need to start thinking about and understanding these changes.
So much of the work that is being done by the government is actually being done by third parties, and it’s a very lucrative business. So I went to this office park and kind of just walked around it, and it’s boring. It’s really kind of weird and boring and it’s weird to think about the fact that these companies that are enormous and involved in pretty unseemly shit appear like this, like this kind of crappy building with this kind of crappy public art.