When a disruptive technology is about to bloom, lawyers get nervous. This has been the case with 3-D printers, but there is one project that it pushing the boundaries: Defense Distributed. Defense Distributed wants to make the “WikiWeapon,” which will be a file. But, it’s the implications of this file that makes this feel like the Crypto Revolution as told by Steven Levy. Eventually, with this file and a 3-D printer, one could print all of the mechanical components for a gun.
But according to this article, Stratasys, whose 3-D printer Defense Distributed wanted to use, pulled out on the deal citing a legal “gray area.” This is the gray area that reads like a Cyberpunk story. In fact, this sounds a lot like Bruce Sterling’s Kiosk. I hope that Defense Distributed is successful. It’s not that I want to live in Revolution-like world (ok, that doesn’t really work but I’m loving that new tv-show, at least until HIMYM Season 7 is available on Netflix), but 3-D printing and Open-source Hardware stands to change our cultural DNA, just like open-source software has. Honestly, it’s not even about the guns, because Defense Distributed wants to make the recipe, which could make a gun. Just like someone could publish a book, or a blog post, on how to make a gun, or model airplane or whatever.
After almost two months, I finally finished Gravity’s Rainbow, which happened on the train into Manhattan. It was certainly an experience (the book that is, not the train. Although once someone did once throw a bra at me on a bus…) and was one of the most challenging books that I’ve read.
The plot follows the main character through early post WW-II Europe on a quest for the S-Gerät, a mysterious component to a German Rocket. But most of the almost 800 pages contain episodes of interconnected ancillary subplots dealing with pavlovian experimentation, graphic S&M, black market drug dealings, technical details of aerodynamics and adventures in a Rocketman costume. It is purposely obfuscated; often it is unclear to the reader who is speaking and events aren’t clarified until pages after they have occurred. Even then, I wasn’t sure if what I had previously read was what really happened. The description of post-war Europe, “the Zone,” felt a lot like cyberpunk to me where non-existent governments gave away to organizations with the most power.
But, with GR now behind me, I went to Brooklyn. Starting off with a coconut fried donut and chicken Swharma at Smorgasburg, my wife and I went to tour the Brooklyn Brewery. Just a few blocks from Smorgasburg, not only is this tour free, but you can grab a draft beer and bring in (or have delivered) your own pizza to enjoy
in the warehouse pub. The half-hour tour is more of a one-room explanation since they are currently in an expansion phase, but the guide provides an entertaining history of the company as well as an overview of the brewing process. One of owners learned to home-brew in a bathtub while he was a journalist in a beer-verboten islamic land and decided to make a company out of it (with real equipment). With a logo designed by Milton Glaser, (the I love NY guy), the brewery has a local, casual feel and is at home next to the East River, surrounded by studios and cafés. I felt right around the corner I could stumble onto the Gabriel Hounds jacket from William Gibson’s Zero History.
Baudolino was lying around, so I’ll pick that up for the weekend, but after this Brooklyn trip, I’m going to catch up on the latest cyberpunk with Gothic High-Tech.