After seeing a link to this video of Bruce Sterling‘s presentation to Google’s Tech Talk on April 30, 2007 on the RSS feed for George Siemens’ always-interesting blog elearnspace, I decided to watch the 49+ minute presentation about spimes. It was one of those experiences that I have from time to time that I feel stretches my mind. I’ll admit I have no immediate practical use for the knowledge I gained from watching it, but I have no doubt it will make me a better Trivial Pursuit player at some point in the future.
If nothing else, I found Sterling’s speaking style to be interesting, a little over the top but interesting nonetheless. The idea he explores in this talk is the concept of what he calls “The Internet of Things” where he envisions a world in which objects have identifiers, in the form of RFID tags, that can be cataloged and searched, such that the ability to keep track of them in this way contributes to the sustainability of the planet. Sterling thinks of himself as essentially a science fiction writer rather than a technologist or designer, but those who conceive of the-not-yet-created sometimes lay the groundwork for those more practically-oriented people who convert fantasy into reality. Spending the better part of an hour in this kind of activity and focusing on the ideas he presented is one means, it seems to me, to keep my mind from atrophying and a good way to stay aware of that what may someday come to be. I found it to be far more entertaining than spending the same amount of time watching daytime television.