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.
Andrew Keen in the middle. Bruce Sterling's head is in the bottom right corner.
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.