Welcome back. REM: November 8th, Election... November 25~27, LOSCON... www.loscon.org
I've done this sort of thing several times now, each time from a different angle.
I have a dream ... of a time when we have the credibility matrix that I suggested publically in 1999 at ICANN
Then, everything of public significance that happens at a venue such as LOSCON will be collated, indexed, linked, interpolated and made permanently available for access to that public:
It has long been asserted that most working scientists were avid sf readers as kids. It is definitely the case that a high proportion of LOSCON attendees work in science and technology.
But meanwhile, in mundane life, sf has infiltrated the culture from a multitude of directions:
Gaming, Cinema, VR, Coding, Virtual Art - we are living what most people used to think of as fantasy or weirdness and the distressing thing, I suppose, for those of us who were on that cutting edge in the 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's is that what we used to regard as our private domain - nanotech, singularity, Fermi, LINUX, AI, VR, AR, gaming, etc. - is now the new normal.
I recall struggling to get schools and teachers to do computers in the classroom and get it right! (I rarely succeeded) Damn it! But, through the mid-'90's, computers were boy toys and most lower grade teachers were women who would be aghast at the idea of being perceived as a dreaded NERD. Then the social media came along, and you know the rest. Everyone - including now a majority women - computes, links, fbs, games, etc.
And the mundane kids now know ten times what I could ever have claimed. Any time I need to go beyond the simple stuff on my SmartPhone or address the OS on my computer at work, I have to call in someone two generations younger to hold my hand - I, who used to cover VR for major computer magazines in the early '90's. I feel like an IBM360 programmer with his FORTRAN stack of punch cards trying to slide them into the DVD tray. So what?
So, what is the difference? Have the kids today, who have grown up in a digital world where daily progress in STEM is nearly miraculous, adopted a new mindset? Are they truly the spirit siblings of my generation of nerds, who grew up on tube technology and tinkered with CB or HAM radios? Who bought the KIM 1s and Altairs and VIC20's and carved out the digital empires? Or are they more like the car enthusiasts of the '50's? Or neither?
LOSCON is one place where I look for those kinds of questions and occasional answers. What's next? And after that? Where are we NOT looking? What really matters?
Is there something fundamentally different about the mindset that the typical LOSCON/sf con attendee brings? Could we make a stab at identifying and analyzing what that might be? Or are we simply seeing our final triumph, as the world adopts our values and perspectives? One thing that I do seem to notice at work is that although there is a high level of personal confidence on the part of the kids, there is less confidence in the concept of challenging the system(s). There seems to be an unsettling willingness to go with the flow. As long as you play the game, you're safe. Will this suffice in the face of the global challenges we're facing?