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...maybe new ideas will come.
May 7, 2006 11:37 PM   Subscribe

A talk given by Matt Webb on fictional futures, and a whole lot besides. Just some text and some pictures, but he takes you on a most excellent brain adventure, from Italo Calvino to a map of all the biochemical reactions on Earth to Vannevar Bush’s machine, the Memex with dozens of stops in between. One of my favorite parts -- and the coolest use of RSS I've ever seen -- is a tool to subscribe to your personal lightcone. [via]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken (18 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Most recent item in my lightcone feed:
Rho Cancri is 40.9 light years away and only 4 weeks from the outer surface of your light cone - your ever-growing sphere of potential causality...
I don't know about you, but I think that's pretty cool.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:45 PM on May 7, 2006


Those biochem pathways are really interesting, and it's eerie how similar they are to computer logic. It's easy to imagine building a computer-type device out of them.
posted by delmoi at 11:45 PM on May 7, 2006


When I first read the term 'fictional futures' I thought it was some kind of crazy new trading scheme.
posted by delmoi at 11:47 PM on May 7, 2006


um, wow.

I was going to sleep an hour ago. Now I've (finally) got an RSS reader and am looking forward to enveloping HR6416 in three weeks. Sweet.

Note to self: must read Cosmicomics.
posted by kechi at 12:29 AM on May 8, 2006


Tea teats!

Best post in at least a month, fascinating stuff, but that's the image that's sticking in my mind as I go to sleep.

The presentation of all this is really elegant.
posted by furiousthought at 1:21 AM on May 8, 2006


Delmoi, apologies for the self-link, but I thought that this book might be of interest.
posted by gene_machine at 4:20 AM on May 8, 2006


I think "Webb" is not this guy's real name. He must've changed it to go with his mind.
posted by DenOfSizer at 4:43 AM on May 8, 2006


Congratulations! You've all now had the pleasure of immersing yourself in Matt Webb Thought.

The light cone of my acquaintance with Matt hasn't quite reached A. Centaurus yet, but it's unusually dense and vivid. (The work he's doing with Ben Cerveny on Playsh, the playful shell, is just as trippy and eye-opening, but in a completely different direction. I don't know too many who can pull that trick off.)

You should totally hear him present if you have the chance.
posted by adamgreenfield at 5:23 AM on May 8, 2006


Food for thought! Props for referencing Le Guin, Calvino and Greg Egan in the same presentation...

I'd love to play the Tranquility game.
posted by pharm at 6:18 AM on May 8, 2006


You can play Tranquility for free. There is a new demo space generated on the server every day.
posted by solipse at 6:50 AM on May 8, 2006


>Those biochem pathways are really interesting, and it's eerie how similar they are to computer logic. It's easy to imagine building a computer-type device out of them.

What was that thing, "when the only tool you have is a hammer..."
posted by gsb at 7:35 AM on May 8, 2006


I love the lightcone feed. Interesting to see that Matt sometimes notes the last star his cone has enveloped, too - I've been doing that since I subscribed (Gamma Leporis is only six weeks away!).

The presentation is just fantastic and all - fizzy with ideas.
posted by jack_mo at 7:45 AM on May 8, 2006


I really like the idea-abundance of this. Can you think of any books that have a similar heuristic-happy quality? Is his mind hacks book worth getting?
posted by kensanway at 12:04 PM on May 8, 2006


I just signed up my 1-month old cousin for the RSS feed.

Now I am anxiously waiting until his light-cone crosses Alpha Centauri...when he's 4 years old!! :)
posted by vacapinta at 3:02 PM on May 8, 2006


This is why I come to MeFi. The only thing I have experienced that comes even close to the freewheeling rush of feeling I get when reading through Webb's presentation was a series of documentary television programs called "Connections", hosted by James Burke. Burke also had a column in Scientific American by the same name. Site on Burke here. While Burke tried hard to keep the complexity of his programs to a palatable high school level, each episode I watched set off an explosion of entire weekends in the library reading about all of the concepts he expounded. That and the year I discovered Philip Dick. For sure the best post on MeFi in months...
posted by piedrasyluz at 6:41 PM on May 8, 2006


w00t - 3 days til 50 stars in my new empire of Celestial Conic Causality! Tremble, puny inhabitants of 12 Ophiuchi!
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:09 PM on May 8, 2006


The only thing I have experienced that comes even close to the freewheeling rush of feeling I get when reading through Webb's presentation was a series of documentary television programs called "Connections", hosted by James Burke.

Funny you should say that.
posted by holgate at 10:14 PM on May 8, 2006


Webb is a strange and wrong man, and his teats are terrifying enough already, frankly. He also writes rather gorgeous short fiction at Masochuticon.
They Follow Each Other on the Wind is one of my favourite reads so far this year.
posted by tannhauser at 9:27 AM on May 9, 2006


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