June 10th, 2002

Random notes from Xcom 2002

Today (well yesterday, now) was NTK's Festival of Inappropriate Technology, I took along a laptop and took some notes at a couple of the panels. I'll post more tomorrow, along with an EtherPEG or two of the event.

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Xcom 2002 and other happenings...

This weekend brought a new event to the UK scene, in the shape of NTK's intriguing crossover event, Extreme Computing. I call it a crossover event, as it appealed to several different and distict communities - from SF fandom, through computer cvil liberties and general geekery, all the way to computer mediated arts. As I tend to hang out in three of those different areas, it was rather fun to introduce fannish folk to some of my tech friends and to some of my IT journalist colleagues, and to just spend time having both wide ranging and deeply focused conversations. To a certain extent, it felt a little like the BSFA/Foundation event "Signs Of Life". The beer wasn't too bad either...

Structured as a one day convention, Xcom included large scale panel discussions, a dealers area, and breakout kaffeeklatsches in a nearby pub. Unfortunately the acoustics in the Camden Centre were terrible, and it was difficult to hear the panels - especially George and Freeman Dyson's interview by Pat Cadigan. Next time, they really ought to seperate panel, social and dealer spaces. But, hey - this was their first convention, and everyone makes mistakes. Certainly the breakouts in the pub were a great success, even if the conversation sometimes got a little incestuous - at one point it seemed that everyone there was a technology journalist who had a sideline blog. I've posted snapshot notes from the event in another entry, so I won't go into them in any detail here - tho' I must requote George Dyson on NASA and Orion (via Charlie's blog):
Original ARPA contract to build 4000-ton nuclear powered interplanetary spacecraft in 1958: 27 pages.

New NASA contract to supply 1800-odd photocopied pages of old NASA files for NASA archives (at six cents per page): 32 pages.
Plus ca change...

As there was going to be wireless connectivity on site, I took along the iBook. The night before I compiled up a fresh copy of EtherPEG, a neat MacOS X hack that sniffs wireless networks for images, and turns them into a interesting little collage. Running it during the event I captured this slice of the Xcom memespace:

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I bumped into James Wallis from Hogshead after what must be six years, so we ended up having dinner with him, Charlie and Feorag at a conveyer belt sushi bar. There's a possiblity that James will be starting a writing workshop soon, and I've said I'll go along. One thing, it'll make me actually finish "Tigers" and "Breaking The Wheel", and to get to work on other stories that have been knocking around in my head...

The night before, marypcb and I met up with Charlie, Feorag and Cory Doctorow at a rather interesting little vegan chinese restaurant in Knightsbridge. We pigged out, and ended up with a superb meal for less than £20 a head. Good company, good food. We'll have to do it again at ConJose.
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Thinking about Singularities...

...they go both ways. Yes, we can read about our ancestors, thanks to the extended memories of media - but it's almost impossible to imagine being them.

So what would a transhuman or a posthuman think of us?
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