@cstross - Correct on RULE 34. One of the things that intrigued me about that novel is that, at first glance, it appears that's a completely alien way of looking at consciousness and identity. But in fact people's minds work that way ALL THE TIME -- the stage mother, the patriot willing to die for his or her country, or the priest for his or her religion.
Mitch, you're talking about "Rule 34", right? Yes. ATHENA was written as a typoe of AI that didn't fall into the stereotyped HAL 9000 "brain in a box" model -- one that lacked its own agency but was designed to augment the abilities of human beings. Or, in ATHENA's case, to divert their actions back towards the legally permissible norm.
Yes, that's more than 5 mins. But for more on that novel, see here: http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2013/07/crib-sheet-419rule-34.html
Here's a big one, might be too much for a single quesiton: In one of your recent novels, you explore the idea of intelligence that takes its identity from other people. At first, that seemed hard to grasp, but then I realized that as human beings we do that all the time: The stereotypical stage mother, for example, who derives her sense of accomplishment from the success of her child.... Did I understand that novel correctly?
Mitch, I typically write 1-1.5 novels a year, and possibly a shorter story as well. But I only ever work on one project at a time (plus, possibly, email interviews). So there's a huge difference in how my work pattern is structured.
@cstross - This may be a project of book publishing vs. Internet publishing. You do, what, two or three projects a year? I'm working on seven or eight projects at any one time. This is not to suggest that I'm working harder than you, or that my work is more difficult -- it's just structured differently.
Mitch, this assumes that searching is part of your workflow. I do use searching ... within specific projects. For which, Scrivener is a fine tool. But Evernote doesn't interoperate with Scriv, and I never really got the hang of using any clippings system more complex than a simple notepad.
I know that sounds like I'm being a wiseguy, but it's a valid question. Orchestras survive the death of their leader, but rock bands tend not to survive the departure of their singer. See THE DOORS -- even though most of the talent of that group was Ray Manzarek rather than Jim Morrison.
These days, as I get older, I'm more concerned with tech that doesn't get in my way or stop me getting things done. Hence the Mac ecosystem thing. But I keep one eye peeled for risk of lock-in; my exit strategy is, of course, linux.
@aum007: Apple's creativity didn't die with Jobs because $1Bn products don't spring fully-formed from the brow of a single creative giant. They're team efforts. When the orchestra conductor dies you can expect some confusion while they sort out a replacement, but it doesn't mean they're never going to play a symphony again.
@aum007 - Bear in mind that Apple has had an extraordinary run of innovation, and the current lull is by no means unusual for them. It's been three years since the iPad came out. The gap between iPad and iPhone was a similar duration.
@aum007 - I wouldn't say all of Apple's creativity died with Jobs. That remains to be seen. But they do seem to be in a hiatus now. Ask me again in a year to 18 months and I'll have a more definitive answer for you.
@aum007 - I wonder if what we're seeing now with Apple is the after-effect of Steve Jobs's terminal illness. The products shipping now are ones that he would have worked on developing. If he was distracted in his final months or year, we could be seeing that now.
@cstross - Anecdotally, I know a lot of people who own both an iPad and mini and stopped using the iPad when they got the mini. For me, I was ready to upgrade when the Nexus 7 came out and there was no new iPad available at that time. Now, the next-gen Nexus 7 is coming out, and once again there is no new iPad available. As long as the Nexus 7 stays a few months ahead of the iPad in its upgrade cycle, I expect I'll stick with it. There are some thing I miss in the iPad, chiefly the ability to integrate with desktop Mac apps.
Alison, funny thing, I read books voraciously but I've never cared much about the physical sensation of it and the craftsmanship of bookbinding. I often feel like I'm in a minority for that, at least among people of our generation.
Mitch: yeah, I know. I may get the 5G full-size; my current full size iPad is an original heavy power-hogging Retina iPad (the "New iPad" that isn't so new). I am thinking a 30% weight reduction and narrower bezel would make that screen a lot more attractive. As it is, I end up using the iPad mini instead simply because it's so much lighter/more portable.
I buy a lot of ebooks but primarily new authors; so-so writers who I enjoy reading once; non-fiction, and books I'm unsure about. But if it's something by one of my very favorite five or six authors, I want that new-book smell and the crack of the spine.
Alison - I buy everything in ebooks when I can. I've bought maybe two or three physical books in the past two years, since I started reading ebooks. that's one of the reasons I was so distressed when I cracked the bezel on my Nexus 7 -- it's my ebook reader.
@aum007: nothing happens. I'm under contract to Tor for the next three books, i.e. the next couple of years' work. This business moves more slowly than you might expect, and for good reasons (we read books about a thousand times faster than it takes to write, edit, and produce them).
@Alison: ebooks are the new disposable literature, replacing paperbacks. What they bring is instant availability, and they decouple constraints such as book-binding and printing costs from the length of novels -- which will have interesting effects in years to come. Also, they lowered the barrier to entry for self-publishing, which is mostly good, but has some bad aspects too (most authors have an over-inflated opinion of their own writing quality: self-published authors often self-publish unwisely prematurely). But I don't see them as being as revolutionary as some people seem to think.
Ah, I think you're talking about the Ubuntu Edge phone, the one they're crowdfunding. Yes, I think it does convert to a desktop. I love that idea. We are at a point now where I could *almost* see using a convertible tablet as a primary computer.
@Mitch: the Ubuntu phone is made out of PURE SEX. Ahem. Sapphire screen! Harder-than-titanium alloy body! Even if the Ubuntu software is crap, it's a bleeding edge Android device. And after civilization collapses, it'll make a wonderful hand-axe.
@Alison: self-publishing isn't for me. I like writing, not playing at being a publisher, and I believe in division of labour, and as long as I've got big publishers like Penguin and Hachette who want to promote my books I'm happy to let them. (Of course, this stance is liable to change if the big five go under. And it makes sense only from my current reasonably successful position.)
I will not be getting a new Nexus 7. Android apps on tablets all look like they've been beaten with the Ugly Stick. I am happy with an iPad Mini for consumption; debating whether to get a 5th gen iPad with retina display, or an iPad Mini Retina. (The full-size one is more use for writing, and Scrivener for iOS is due out in a few months; the small one is better for reading ebooks etc.)
I will confess, though, that I pre-ordered an Ubuntu phone ...
I was talking with a friend the other day who is very wise in current events, and I asked him if he thought the current trends toward catastrophe would reverse. He instead answered HOW they might be reversed. I found that interesting -- I was taking the view that history was inevitable, but he was definitely a full-throated small-D democrat.
I'm writing right now on my main laptop -- a 15" Retina Macbook Pro (because my eyeballs are crap). I have a 13" Macbook air for travel (the 11" is just too small for real work.)
Writing environment: Scrivener ( http://www.literatureandlatte.com/ ) and LibreOffice when I have to use an old-fashioned word processor and BBEdit as a text editor. Scrivener is to word processors as a modern IDE is to an old-school text editor, except for writing long compound documents rather than developing software applications.
I wonder, are more people reading sci-fi today now that more of us rely on tech devices for so many aspects of our life? I mean, some of the things sci-fi authors write about won't seem far-fetched to regular people who don't work in tech, robotics, engineering, etc. Maybe they're excited or scared about where all this tech is taking us and enjoy sci-fi because of authors' POVs?
Charlie, one area we didn't have much of a chance to discuss is your use of technology. What are you using for writing nowadays? What mobile tech do you like? I know you liked the Nexus 7 a year ago -- going to get the new one?
I think teleological views of history are a serious trap. Alas, too many people don't understand that our history is just a drunkard's walk. Mind you, lots of people don't understand evolution, either ...
Of course, history itself is relatively recent. It goes back 10,000 years. The human race has been around 200K years. So for far more than 99 percent of the species existence, we were hunter-gatherers, each generation unchanging.
Mapping out a book: I'm lazy! I often go by the seat of my pants. However, before I write a book I've generally had a couple of years to think about the points I want to cover in it. So I start out already having a bunch of ideas set aside. The writing begins with a character and a setting, and then start to explore the setting and see what the impact of those ideas is when the character bumps their head on them.
Question: If you buy into the grand narrative of history theory, it's also easy to buy into the idea that it will stop--reach stasis. Lots of people have, from Hegel to Fukuyama, but they've never been right. Aren't there completely other ways of looking at how history develops? Alternatives to progress/stasis?
@cstross - Very true about commerce, international trade, and relations. Perhaps the culture wars are so hard fought because they are the only area where you can find significant differences between the major candidates.
@Mitch: the culture wars in US politics tend to obscure the general consensus on the way commerce and international trade and international relations should be handed. The difference -- from a foreign viewpoint -- between a Democrat or Republican administration is one of nuance, not of approach.
English home counties: about 100 miles. Half the Boston/NY distance, in other words.
The social networks books makes the point that much of what we see on social networks isn't actually new. Coffeehouses were the social networks of the 18th Century. Peopel sat around and played games and argued about the news of the day.
i disagree with this whole philosophy. Each period thinks their time is -- to paraphrase Dickens -- the best of times, the worst of times. Humans adapt. We advance our technologies. So although I'm no expert about this concept, from what little I've just heard, it goes against my overall philosophy of life.
In a way, the way he's describing space sounds like the way the oceans used to be -- and still are in some regions of the world. That similarity has struck me before, especially when I'm 100 miles off-shore, with nothing around me.
You've heard the expression, "Out of the frying pan, into the fire?" Amazon lives in the fire. The e-tailer wins by keeping things hot for its competitors, employees, and itself, according to a new book.
Positec, a manufacturer of power tools for homes and commercial applications, achieves greater customer service flexibility and cuts hold times in half by using a cloud-based service to manage its call center.
Big-data and analytics tools enable marketers to understand customers as individuals, identifying unmet needs and addressing each customer as a "segment of one," says John Kennedy, VP corporate marketing, IBM.
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