I was watching Andrew Keen speak at SXSW Sunday. Heâ€™s the author of The Cult of the Amateurâ€”a book that could be subtitled â€œeverything Jason does is evil and destroying the fabric of American culture,â€ so I was not exactly an unbiased audience member. It was a surprisingly small room for someone as renowned as Keen, but then again, no one at SXSW was likely to be too hip to his message.
I arrived late, and slid into a seat in the back. In front of me were a couple watching intently as Keen blathered on in black and white terms about the evils of the modern Internet and how we were all doomed.
Keen kept referring to â€œBruce has saidâ€¦â€ and â€œIn Bruceâ€™s article, he writes thatâ€¦â€ At one point the woman in front of me leaned over to her companion and whispered â€œBruceâ€ in what I took to be a questioning tone of voice. The man shrugged his shoulders, attention still fixed on Keen. Now, being the helpful kitty that I am, and thinking that they did not know who Keen meant, I leaned forward and whispered that Keen was referring to Bruce Sterling. Bruce Sterling turned around and told me that he knew who Keen meant.
If you donâ€™t know, Bruce Sterling is one of the most famous and influential Sci-fi authors alive today. Bruce was one of the major voices in the cyberpunk sub-genre which predicted much of the culture you are experiencing today. If you havenâ€™t read his books, I highly recommend you do. Iâ€™m a fan and have seen him speak on several occasions, so, when I saw his face, I recognized him immediately.
I was mortified, mumbled an apology, shook his hand, and told him it was a great honor. Fortunately,Â I didn’t also say “I’m not worthy.”
After the session, I left post-haste, but it was like when you buy a new car: suddenly you start seeing that car everywhere you go. We passed in the hall within feet of each other three times that day. The next night, Iâ€™m at a totally random party, and who should walk past me but Bruce.
Now, Iâ€™m not saying Bruce Sterling was stalking me, Iâ€™m just saying that guy really gets around.