To follow up on this: I finished the book on the way back from Montreal, and had a while to think it over by now.
@Robbt's statement that the second half of the book is less brain dump and more plotted sci-fi is actually true, and for me that made the second half much easier to get through. Although @Dominic is right, too, that the whole upload plot is really just a pretext for conflict. That part of the plot is the least relevant to anything, and scientifically also waaay out there, so whatever.
Overall, my impression from the 50% mark holds: the book introduces/develops/explains a ton of interesting material, but it is lacking in other important ways. I agree with @Alanna that the non-issue style of displaying the relationships is one of the most powerful utopian moves Doctorow plays, normalizing (today's) non-mainstream lifestyles pretty effectively. It's really just the actual sex scenes that I take issue with. Not because of what's displayed. I just think he doesn't do a very good job at making it believable; it comes across more as fan-fiction written by a teenage boy. Which is fine, not every writer needs to be great at everything, but IMHO, it would have been better to just imply the entire scenes, or axe some of them entirely, especially since none of them actually seems to advance the plot at all. This is especially true for the scene between Iceweasel and Nadie. That scene just didn't have to happen, at least not on the page, since it had no consequences for the plot at all. And if it was there to make a meta-point about the normality of homosexuality, a "kiss, fondle, next scene" would have been enough.
If you think (like me) that this makes me sound a bit like a prude: it's not constrained to the sex scenes. Many of the "brain dump" dialogues throughout the book feel very staged, unnatural. I get that the purpose is to explain this or that concept to the reader. But if I can tell that that's the (only) point, for me that's already a sign of lazy writing, and it makes me feel manipulated. I'm okay with a book (or any other medium) being subversive/manipulative, in fact that was one of the main points of reading this book: being confronted with new ideas, and hopefully learning something in the process. But if you're gonna present your ideas as a novel, better keep me entertained.
Bottom line: I'm glad I read this book, because it did contain very interesting ideas and things to think about. I just wish Doctorow had made a better book out of them...
I liked Walkaway. I am so tired of dystopias, and it seems like 99.5% of the sci-fi genre is dystopian. Even the utopian sci-fi's focus on a tiny island of utopia surrounded by a dystopian sea (eg. The Dispossessed and The Fifth Sacred Thing). If people can recommend more utopian books, please do.
Yes there were aspects to the writing style of Walkaway that were kind of annoying. I only vaguely remember the plot. It wasn't that important. I remember the ideas. None of which were totally new to me, but the scope of application was. Like how automated manufacturing could change fundamental aspects of society (like the obsession with ownership and property). And the likely role of abject violence in the coming revolution, even the utopian pick-a-path version.
For me, another really key thing were the characters, or rather the personas. As someone who's been living in a sort of Walkway-esque bubble within our current reality for quite some time (housing co-ops, Burning Man, livelihood through anarchist hacker networks) I recognised so many "types" that I've encountered in real life. I haven't read another book so obviously written by someone who lives and works in environments similar enough to me that they can peg the stereotypes so accurately, and play them up for dramatic effect. Like the contrast between the woman leader who actually builds shit and the leaderboard dude who does not get it at all (sorry, I forget everyone's names). Classic. Most people who write about these kinds of social dynamics have no lived experience of them, so they get it wrong, but not Walkaway.
Interesting that you mention the sexual liberation aspect as odd or over the top. I'm not a fan of sexual gratuity in books, generally. Yet, I see the sex and gender realm as where many experience the dystopian aspects of our current reality most often and most personally, so it makes sense that it would be a key area you'd contrast a utopian alternative. Like, what would your daily life, preferences, and relationships be like free from capitalist and patriarchal oppression? Sex and gender are right up front. How I remember that showing up in Walkaway is when the story treats things like they aren't a big deal, as opposed to going over the top. Like when one of the main characters gets together with a transgender person and it's just, like, not a thing, like the most normal thing in the world, barely even mentioned. That's utopian.
@Daan (the other one) You make some very salient points. It's been a while since I read Walkaway, but what I remember liking about the book was the social commentary. I think Doctorow used fiction to make a critique of modern capitalism that, had he done it in a nonfiction form, would have come across as an angry rant.
I've enjoyed it fully and I'm eager for more. But then, I've read all of Doctorow books and I'm used to his style.
I agree with @Daan (the other one) that Doctorow's language style has made me think refrain from recommending it to non-native english speakers, but on different grounds. For technical terms you can readily look them up. But the sheer amount of slang and cultural references make it really hard for english-as-a-second-language readers.
A book like this is really about ideas, but it embeds it in a plot to make those ideas more digestable.
Like @Dominic , I think of this book more about the ideas then about the plot. When you get the references, slang and technical terms down, the book is very enjoyable.
Now something that might be a spoiler (scroll down if you like), for some of those ideas...
The brain dump idea was nice and in line with his Down and out of the Magic Kindom book. For those that would really like to see the brain dump concept stretched to infinity I recommend his Rapture of the nerds novel.
The critique of our current mode of working was superb! Doctorow tells a story while discussing copyrights, patents, corporate weight on governments, concentration of wealth, disregard for privacy, true name requirements, automated vigilance systems, technology lockdown, free and open source software movement, anarchism/anagorism and he even pokes some fun at our current neo-McCarthyism (the "communist party" as a uber antagonist to our era).
I hadn't thought of that one. Especially since lately I'm getting a bit fed up with political #podcasts because they're all f**king depressing
@Daan (the other one) As a fellow slow reader, I can recommend the audiobook.
Wow, judging from its imdb score, @Dominic is probably the only one who had a passing view of it as a movie with some sort of real message. Too bad you had to fly back I guess.
I enjoyed Walkaway, but I got it on the release date, and read it over the weekend with hardly a break...so I didn't really have much hype or expectation except for having read a bunch of Corey's other works. I personally like his style, although I agree his character development is pretty shallow and mostly as a vehicle to introduce jargon.
I'm looking forward to Thomas Pynchon's first Solar Punk novel. Against the Day had moments for me that were close. Herland feels a bit in the right direction, although to achieve their eco-utopia men had to be removed from the picture.
I already suspected that other people would quite enjoy the "infodump" feel of the book. Great wording from @Robbt, it really fits. Personally, for this kind of thing I'd have preferred non-fiction, or even (*gets out the big guns*) a Bible-like structure of multiple loosely connected stories and parables.
I feel a bit better with myself now. Like @kas, I also had feelings of "perhaps it's just me?"
I'll report back when I finish or finally give up on it. :P
Oh and thanks to @moid, @Dominic, and @elavoie for the suggestions, my reading list just got a big boost. I wasn't aware of those threads, another example of why ssb rocks! I want solarpunk to be a thing soooo badly, I just haven't read anything yet that really tickles me... literally...? Literaturally...? Well, whatever the adverb for literature is. :)
@Daan (the other one) I have read John Michael Greer's Retrotopia novel on his former blog, it is now published as book. Maybe you can find it online in one of the mirrors of the old blog. If my memory does not fail me, the story was influenced by Ecotopia, which I only read the plot on Wikpedia. Both seem like interesting takes on a future that is not Star Trek, Kurzweil's Singularity, or Elon Musk's Mars colonization/hyperloop.
@kas - I read it last year during the holidays, over a weekend. I was also somewhat disappointed, I think because I was expecting a lot more given the hype and I've enjoyed Doctorow's essays, talks, etc. It's the first and only book of his I've read.
The plot was all too predictable, the references to open source programming, the leader that doesn't want to lead, the girl with dad issues, etc...
I had also just read Gravity's Rainbow prior to Walkaway, which was awesome but a very hard read. After that Walkaway seemed rather pedestrian.
Ok, so I had a different take on it, I personally enjoyed the characters going on long monologues and felt annoyed that there was a plot that kept getting in the way of the setting. This wasn't the case during the beginning where the characters are basically introduced to the walkaway world.
I like Doctorow's writing but it is definitely idea based and focused on a concept vs. a well streamlined novel focused on characters. I feel like the characters were about as meaningful as the presences we maintain on social media.
I honestly felt like the plot and the sci-fi that took over the second half of the book (not going to post any spoilers) wasn't as good as the infodump driven vision that the book began with. Maybe you'll enjoy it more but if you just get through the beginning and the basic idea of walkaway society and the culture and values they have then probably got enough out of the book in my opinion.
I was thinking that #solarpunk would be a cool genre of fiction to develop. I have been imagining various low-tech post-collapse or post-civ settings and started writing some years ago but I have to this point been a very undisciplined author and I don't know of any utopian settings yet.
I liked pirate cinema by Doctorow, it was more contemporary and less speculative but more plot and character driven. Honestly I think one of the issues that Walkaway had from a readers point of view was it was very much an ensemble cast and seemed to jump from the Herbert character to IceWeasel and there was never a whole lot of investment in any particular humans experience.
I finished Walkaway in one extended reading session though, but thought I'd share my thoughts.
Addendum: if someone has recommendations for good (i.e. well-written/plotted) exploratory near-future utopian sci-fi, I'm taking suggestions. I get that I'm asking pretty narrowly, but I figure if that kind of writing exists, here ( #scuttlebutt / #walkaway ) is the place to find it. :)
I'm reading Walkaway the book at the moment.
There are parts I really (want to) like, but the style and plot really put me off. I guess I'll try and soldier on through the book, if only to not have a partly-formed opinion about it. But it's painful, especially because I'm a slow reader and every page read is an investment.
Hey walkaways and walkaway-interested :)
I'm reading the Walkaway the book at the moment, pretty much exactly half-way through right now.
I thought I'd share some thoughts, mostly because I'm not sure I'm gonna be able to finish it.
I find the book extremely hard to read. I really want to like it, and there definitely are aspects I do like.
Maybe it's best I start with those:
First observation: A book that puts very concrete technical advancements within the next few decades front and center is refreshing, and Doctorow does this with 3D/wet printing and many other concepts of rapid manufacturing.
And just discussing different ways of organizing a planet scale society is worthwhile, even if one comes out of it thinking them unfeasible or not desirable. Input for thought is never a bad thing per se.
I find the writing to not feel natural at all. Characters will plunge deep into monologue or dialogue with lengthy explanations over and over, when the situation really doesn't warrant it.
Sometimes it feels like Doctorow can't decide between two metaphors to use, and just keeps both of them, like in the "covered dish / shotgun" and "stag hunting" explanations for game theory.
Overall, the story reads much more as a vehicle for a sermon than a novel, really. I don't want to be mean to Doctorow (I did enjoy Little Brother for example, as well as Information doesn't want to be free) but this really reminded me of The Celestine Prophecy in a very eerie way. If you don't know what I'm talking about: don't read it. It's not worth the time IMHO. Having a message and an attitude towards society is okay, in fact it's the thing I was looking for in Walkaway. But it's not an excuse for (what I consider) sloppy writing and preaching.
The sexual aspect of so many relationships in the story so far seems a bit odd and over the top at times, but I guess that comes with the terrain, and also with my own perspective/population sample. I recently read the first three Ringworld novels, and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Heinlein. Both also have this aspect of sexual liberation, as does e.g. Imperial Earth. So far I had put that off as an artifact of the prudery of the 60s/70s, and the fact that it's still present in current day novels seems anachronistic at first glance. But thinking about how the topic still rubs people the wrong way, that it's still a topic for sci-fi, shows that we've come a long way, but that we're not there. So that's a nice aspect to mull over.
The language Doctorow uses puts me off at times. There are many, many instances of neologisms like using "tldr" in dialog, or speaking of Markov Chains, that will most likely get many reader lost. I feel like I get them, because I happen to have a masters degree in computer science, but I couldn't really recommend the book to anyone less technical than programmer / bachelor level. Missing one of these references might not mean much. But in aggregate, I can imagine them confusing a hell of a lot of people. For a book that feels so preachy (see above) it seems odd to use language that might disqualify huge parts of the potential target audience, and it makes the book feel very circle-jerky. Techies will understand it, and can tell each other to read it and talk about it, but it leaves many others out of the loop. Then again, I might be totally off on this one.
We have a fair share of non / less technical people here, so I'd love to hear feedback on this, like on all of this!
I had the same experience. Somehow the topics on the scuttleverse are so different from my regular everyday internet that many posts just seem like some sort of secret language. :P
It's sooo exciting!
@MistyWrites here's a brief explainer. an edited version will go in the channel description when channel wiki makes its way into patch*
@nanomonkey and @bobhaugen
There are definite differences for earth building techiques depending on how wet the climate is. It has something to do with the mixture of earth vs. clay vs. something else. The Cal Earth Institute mentioned in another thread talks about this and I think they talk about it in the books they offer?
@Robbt Mike's book, The 50$ Underhouse Ground.... one. I read that years ago. My desire to go out into the back yard or up into the hills and start digging was a major issue between me and the spouse I had at the time. I admit, I still haven't attempted it. It's a very inspiring book.
I'm in Utah. My camper is sitting on a giant rock surrounded by dirt, shrubs and short trees. I also happen to have a GIANT mound of earth just waiting to be used for #earthbag shelters. I can't build one on my own though. I figured that out. I can't get the time off work needed to do it either. Weekends are not guaranteed. I could do a 14' diameter one without a building permit. Cost? Maybe 500$ do it yourself work. ...
My friend also wants to use the giant mound of earth for a firing range or an overly elaborate root cellar. Ha. Ha. But since neither of us has the time or resources to make what we want out of that mound of earth, it just kind of sits there. I'd love to have 3 of them out here. Ok, four. One to sleep in, one for supplies, and one for a bathhouse of sorts. The fourth one would be for my friend when he realizes he DOES want one to sleep in too.
Thinking outloud -- if I had six months off, all the bills were paid during that time, I could build one out here, maybe two.
So I've just been looking through the #walkaway channel and am not really find the answer to something super basic. And I know I'm just finding it, but the answer must be somewhere.
What is it?
@nanomonkey I don't know how to account for those differences in experience either. I expect it is more like the places where people have done earthen structures in wet climates learned some techniques that the people including me who built the structures that failed did not know.
@bobhaugen I'm not trying to be contradictory, just trying to figure out the disparage between the stories you tell and what I've seen myself. There are thousand year old cob houses in Ireland whose only maintenance has been regular updates to their roof and a lime wash. I have to expect that earthen structures are suitable to wet climates, they just need appropriate considerations.
Any organic material and mold also settles on dust on any other material. Doesn't matter if it is connected to the floor or not.
You mentioned a dome. It's possible that only vertical structures are appropriate for rainy climates...and also not being in a flood plain where the house would wash away. I'd also imagine that a yearly brush down to remove dust and grime if not a fresh coating of adobe/lime would be useful. Alternately one could go the sod route and use a living system to maintain the integrity of the earth wall, in which case the addition of more organic matter is a bonus.
I built a rocket stove with compressed earth blocks with some added magnesium-cement stabilizer and put it on a stone floor with washed gravel under it, under a roof, and it started to crumble the first year.
A stove is an entirely different beast, it goes through thermal cycling quite a bit more intense the a house would. From my understanding, from the few cob ovens that I've seen built and used, is that you try and build a more insulating vessel, utilizing straw, sawdust pulp or perlite to reduce the thermal conductance. The material is often brought to the bisque phase of firing so that the organic material is burned out resulting in empty space increasing the insulating properties. Rammed earth might have been too compact and rigid...a great thermal mass, but likely to conductive to not undergo thermal stress. I've also yet to see a cob stove that didn't have some cracks that weren't built with refractive liners (metal barrel or bricks).
All said, I agree with you. Don't build a traditional english A-frame house in the desert where the attic will trap too much heat and the wood and latex paint will degrade rapidly in the sun...and don't expect your wattle and daub construction to stand up to rain.
I'm sure your methods of dealing with dealing with human and animal dung (ie composting) wouldn't work in a dry environment where the dung just dries out and sits...instead burning it as a fuel might be a better solution...something that would never work in a wetter environment.
But @nanomonkey that was a lovely turf building in Iceland...
I'm not sure what would rot in a properly built earthen structure.
Any organic material and mold also settles on dust on any other material. Doesn't matter if it is connected to the floor or not.
I've made adobe bricks for a living in New Mexico where an adobe house can last for centuries. Where we live now, in southwest Wisonsin, I built a rocket stove with compressed earth blocks with some added magnesium-cement stabilizer and put it on a stone floor with washed gravel under it, under a roof, and it started to crumble the first year. Now rebuilding with bricks.
We've also had three "100-year floods" in the area in the last 10 years. One town moved itself uphill, and two other towns are talking about doing so.
@nanomonkey "Iceland...plenty of weather there"
This just gave me a ROFL
@Tulsi Yes, in the past. They used to have a minimum purchase price of something like $350, now it appears to be $50 at a drop off point, so a couple of friends of mine would do group buys of 30 or 50 lb bags of beans, rice, flour and what not. Everything is organic and non-GMO, etc. which is pretty nice. They pretty much stock anything you'd get at a nature food store.
@nanomonkey Hadn't heard of Azure. That's pretty cool. Have you ordered from them?
the big challenges are supply-chain things around food and other crucial materials.
Azure Standards has several drop points in the SLC area. You can get bulk goods supplied through them and cut down on your costs and number of supply runs.
@bobhaugen I'm not sure what would rot in a properly built earthen structure. For one, there is usually a stone or concrete foundation with french drains built up to the water splash line, the rest of the structure is usually covered with high lime adobe, or sod, which breathes, allowing proper moisture loss. Wood will also rot, if not given a correct footing.
Here is an example of the footing in a Turf house built in Iceland...plenty of weather there:
One more summary tidbit and then I will shut up:
- appropriate type of low-tech cheap indigenous building depends on your ecosystem and direction of climate change where you are.
I helped to build a half-Mandan-earthlodge in a dryer part of Wisconsin maybe 30 years ago. My last understanding as of maybe 2010 was that the other building we constructed, which was a timber-frame straw-insulated half-built-into-the-hill structure, was still standing, but the half-earthlodge had crumbled into the hill.
@xj9 mirco/nano grids have come up before:
A major reason that "tinyhomes" often have wheels is it shifts it into a different legislative category, and the paperwork becomes much simpler or disappears all together.
Of course there are also advantages to being able to move something, having an easily movable format (such as shipping container). Then you could have a community that grew easily, even moving the entire thing to a new location.
With a big enough plastic sheet and a fan, you can just blow air into it and get an instant dome, how big the fan needs to be depends on the leaks of course. hmm, leaks would scale with respect to surface area but volume is the cube of that, hmm... A mobile home inside a bubble would be very solarpunk I think.
However, the same earth domes would be hell on earth in a climate like ours in Wisconsin now. Everything would rot. Everything. You and everything you have. It would all rot.
The thing about earth domes and some of the other earthen houses is they could be super-insulated and use fuel like buffalo or cow chips (dried poop). Or you could dig lignite, a form of soft coal that was about one step beyond peat, from stream banks with a shovel as my grandparents did.
Wood-as-fuel is renewable depending on the climate and ecosystem. It works well where we are in Wisconsin, especially as climate change makes it wetter, but would suck in western North Dakota where I was born. Out there, the people who understood the ecosystem built earth domes to live in. https://www.nps.gov/knri/learn/historyculture/earthlodge.htm
Later European immigrants who were savvy built with similar-but-different methods: https://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/articles/newspapers/news/architecture.html
A wood burner is renewable if you also plant trees, also fallen branches are just gonna rot an (therefore release their carbon) so burning those isn't less carbon footprint than letting them rot. (although obviously lots of fungus and bacteria and thus the forest benefits from that)
My last attempt to go off the grid resulted in a straw bale cabin being built in Autumn and finished enough that I could have lived in it if I needed too but there were also some flaws in the design regarding insulating the floor, air-flow, humidity etc and so it only got comfortable about 3 feet above the ground.
I think going off the grid makes sense as a community project and any attempt to do so as a solo project is ultimately as meaningful as you interpret your experience. It could be a form of self-sacrifice and meditation in suffering/adaption. I don't imagine a mobile home would be designed to weather winter without relying upon some form of combustion. Migrating to a warmer climate during winter most likely makes more sense than hunkering down in a mobile home. If you are tied to the NW Utah/Wyoming area - underground houses are a good idea. Mike Oehler now older built a ton of houses - wrote the 50$ underground house book but now you can see his buildings on youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8B6xR3T37gI
mobile homes are attractive because they can be installed without a permanent foundation, which significantly reduces their impact on the housing site...
@Dominic Yes! I now have all electrical components, I will experiment with multiple versions of trailers to test the solar panels and batteries in multiple trips. Then we will see! I will get to the aerodynamics eventually!
I'm thinking through how to build an electric car-bike / mobile home combo at the moment based on concepts taken from the open source xyz space frame bikes , the twike, recently announced self propelling trailer etc..
There are thoughts constantly popping to my head about reclaiming public parking space with your trailer aka mobile power harvester, a lifestyle where you only travel the distances the sun will take you or starting a foundation that can provide certifications for self-built machinery to actually use them (in germany).
It's bit annoying actually because I should write my thesis right now ;) but after I pushed myself through that I will eventually write up a summary of that stuff.
There is the super helpful elweb wiki but sadly it's only available in german. Maybe some translation service can output some useful information.
@xj9 thanks for starting this thread, got pretty interesting. And probly not over yet...
mobility is appealing, but i'll admit that i still have a lot of research to do before i can make an informed decision on this topic. thanks for the links/feedback!
honestly, this community is an amazing resource. thank you for being here
@xj9 Have you thought about a greenhouse as your first "home" structure? You may not need a permit to put one up, and you can use it to start vegetables during the winter.
A tent or yurt inside of greenhouse during the winter stays pretty cozy. Or you can use a stove inside the greenhouse, and/or water containers to capture daytime warmth. If the area of Utah you are in gets too hot/sunny during the summer you can throw 50% shade cloth up and make it into a shade structure.
I'd also look into earthen structures such as Earthbag construction or Super Adobe such as Cal Earth teaches?
In the process of building a solar bike, I have realized that the energy capacity of Li-ion bike batteries (300-850 Wh) is perfect for a full day or two of autonomy for portable electronic devices. Having the electrical infrastructure built around those would serve both for transportation and home usage.
Be careful purchasing a mobile home, most are made from fairly toxic substances: pressed wood high in formaldehyde and plastics that off gas VOCs. Also every time a mobile home is moved it settles the insulation and often breaks caulking seals which will lower your insulation value considerably. It may be worth your while to look into building a small cabin, or a tiny home on a trailer using solid wood or metal. If using metal, I'd look into the new aerogel insulations as they are incredibly thin and high R values.
taking a step away from 100% DIY, it might be worth exploring mobile homes as an alternative housing option for walkaway communities. they have a market outside of our niche, but also fit many of the unique requirements that we have. there are some challenges (at least historically) with insulation, but that shouldn't be too difficult to fix aftermarket. the renewability of the manufacturing process depends on the manufacturer, but it may be possible to start a cooperative to do this ourselves at some point in the future.
mobile homes are attractive because they can be installed without a permanent foundation, which significantly reduces their impact on the housing site, they are relatively inexpensive compared to traditional housing options, and they require much less DIY work to be livable. in terms of developing a fully off-grid housing option, they also make it easy to experiment in a grid-adjacent location before pulling the plug and going independent.
in a community setting, it would be interesting to develop a distributed smart grid that can balance energy reserves across the community automatically. this would apply equally to trailer-mounted solar, other available renewables, and backup energy sources (such as bio-diesel generators).
it might take stripping off the siding and replacing it with more efficient materials. i'm hoping a newer trailer will have good insulation to start with, but that's still something that i need to look into.
@xj9 is it possible to super-insulate a mobile home from the outside?
i've been thinking about what intermediate steps i can take to prepare to go walkaway. a lot of things are completely solved problems: portable, low-impact housing, generating/storing solar energy. the big challenges are supply-chain things around food and other crucial materials. winter is a tough one. for the sake of my health and saftey, i'd like to spend at least one winter in a fail-safe test mode where the grid is still available as a backup just in case i miscalculate some things.
to get started, i'm planning to buy a mobile home. i'm still debating on the extact model, but a single-wide with 1 or 2 bedrooms is approximately what i'm looking for. trailer parks are pretty common in my area so i can keep working on walkaway utah while i work on my quarters. i've been in conctact with some maunfacturers, but i still need to shop around and see what used options there are.
once i've proven the concept and upgraded my trailer appropriately i can move it to a more permanent off-grid location (hopefully) with some other #solarpunk peeps i find at the meetup.
Park Models 2018 Wyoming.pdf
Building is really fun. Mixing cob can be done by dancing/stomping the materials + water on a tarp. Building is grabbing chunks of mixed claylike material, and stacking it on top of the walls being built and working it in with your hands or sticks. Building is also accessible to anyone of any shape, age, size, or ability since there are no standard sizes of materials you have to be able to lift and maneuver, and the worksite is safe and fun the whole time. At the end there is no waste/packaging material to haul away and the only impact on the surroundings was a hole that all the clay was dug out of, which could be filled in with any leftover sand.
I really like this take.
@mlg yes, definitely. I think he did succeed greatly at inspiring many people (my self included) but if we are actually gonna carry that forward, we need to combine that optimism with a better "business model" i.e. a more realistic plan to develop and roll it out. hence, we have to start somewhere.
@Dominic Yes! I now have all electrical components, I will experiment with multiple versions of trailers to test the solar panels and batteries in multiple trips. Then we will see! I will get to the aerodynamics eventually!
Bad businessman was a self-admitted fault, IIRC from one of his books. I think the explanation was he realized early on that it could take decades for a new invention to get introduced, tested, certified, and accepted by society before it could be produced and he preferred to continue inventing as much of the technology his vision/goal would require (my interpretation/summary of the goal is: all physical needs met for all humanity while remaining within the energy budget of the planet's incoming solar energy, via creation of technological "artifacts').
Sadly he seemingly missed the mark on how receptive society would be to the ideas he was throwing out. He produced a ton of material and I've only scratched the surface, and I've got to believe there are at least a few ideas buried in his work that are worth revisiting with todays technology. An example, a ~$15k 3d printer can print carbon fiber reinforced plastic that has strength:weight ratios comparable with aluminum.
Maybe put a fresh coat of paint to fit modern tastes a little more than the Jetsons aesthetic. Keep the functionality of the dome but put a new skin on it.
With cob, some builders make a very powerful and beautiful appeal to for using only human labor that intertwines state of mind, minimization of reliance on industrial products, community inclusivity, etc. It's very poetic and I couldn't do it justice with my own words since I'm not a writer, but i'd highly recommend 'hand sculpted house'.
There is also a lot of interest in cob that is more purely practical and economical, and from what I've read heavy machinery like tractors/bobcats are the ideal and can mix enough in a few hours for an entire building if all the materials are available and there's space. On a slightly smaller scale are cement/mortar mixers or tillers which are less effective and less labor saving. My opinion is the mixing is where you'd want to invest money/fossil fuel energy to save labor, building with hands is really fun and could be pretty quick if you had unlimited mixed cob.
Even though cob was my gateway as I said before, the more I learn about different styles of natural building the more I'm convinced there are certain techniques suited to different climates, local resource availability and people's preference.
I think it would be sad for humanity if we burn up the last of our fossil fuels manufacturing drywall and cement and shipping it across the planet to build walls instead of using that energy to build solar panels, wind turbines, etc. and keeping dino juice as emergency backup.
High tech buildings are probably necessary for labs, workshops, and that sort of building.
But for my home I'd just like solid walls, roof, nice climate, and maybe some light. I'd like to do that and keep it maintained with minimally manufactured products, and maximally local products.
The dymaxion house was a great idea but a terrible business plan - it depended on mass manufacturing to bring the cost down, but it's obviously gonna be a very niche product, what crazy person wants to live in a circular silver house? (I would, but I am a crazy person, most people are much more conservative) to really succeed most plans need to either work on a small scale, be viable and useful for a small group of dedicated crazies (bootstrapping - "have to start somewhere") and then scale up gradually. OR, make a massive gamble on a huge upfront investment, but of course 9/10 of these fail, so for this plan to work it needs to plausibly offer a return of 100x, at least. If the pitch is "affordable housing for all" I'm not sure if the later strategy is viable, because there is already so much money to be made from the current system of artificially scarce housing.
Maybe there is a middle ground, like, cob house 3d printer? okay that's going too far, maybe just a machine that does the mixing, enabling you to build more quickly? I imagine it would be very satisfying to occupy a house you built using nothing but your own physical labour though!
@elavoie you should build a cardboard fairing for your bike and see how much difference it makes! my bet: a surprising amount!
I am a complete fanatic for cob, and natural building in general. "Hand sculpted house" was perhaps my gateway drug into a completely new lifestyle. The first project I was involved in was building a backyard garden shed/greenhouse structure over a summer. We bought a few yards of sand and ~6-8 bales of straw and roof panels. Everything else was salvaged waste like broken sidewalk (urbanite), wood from pallets, old doors. 0 power tools used, only electricity consumption was playing music while building.
Building is really fun. Mixing cob can be done by dancing/stomping the materials + water on a tarp. Building is grabbing chunks of mixed claylike material, and stacking it on top of the walls being built and working it in with your hands or sticks. Building is also accessible to anyone of any shape, age, size, or ability since there are no standard sizes of materials you have to be able to lift and maneuver, and the worksite is safe and fun the whole time. At the end there is no waste/packaging material to haul away and the only impact on the surroundings was a hole that all the clay was dug out of, which could be filled in with any leftover sand. The whole process felt so much sane to me than spending at least 10 times more money for manufactured material shipped from the other side of the world to act as walls.
However, I also sometimes feel conflicted because I'm also generally very interested in the ideas of Buckminster Fuller. His take on housing, the Dymaxion House, was to repurpose military and aerospace manufacturing capacity to build super high tech, efficient, mass produced housing. ANd even though it offends all of my natural building principles, I have to admit something high-tech like the Dymaxion House does seem pretty cool and probably appealing to some people.
While I of course dream of living in a natural building, my current path has me living in a doublewide manufactured home, and while it isn't high tech or as well thought out or dome shaped, it does have a certain cheapness and efficiency that's easy for a tasteless person like myself to appreciate. So in the immediate term I've decided to stick with the existing functional shelter, and start with a few other projects that I'm more excited about getting started with.
DIY Cheap Optical Table Parts and Femtosecond Laser Lab
The Thought Emporium is really fucking awesome btw. originally sumbled on their work via biohack.me
@Tulsi i haven't, but i've added it to my reading list!
maybe the solution isn't harnessing more energy, but using it more efficiently?
From my point of view, this is the key challenge. If we aim for a 10-100x reduction in energy/resource usage, I believe we will be in the right ballpark. For example, an electric bike uses 300x less batteries than a Tesla, or said differently you can equip 300 people with electric bikes rather than a single one with a Tesla. A 15 kg bike uses also 100x less material than a 1.5 ton car.
The most efficient velomobiles can go 34 km/h with 100W (reasonable effort for an average person). When you factor in the time you spend stuck in traffic when driving a car, that's only a factor of 2-3 slower than a car on average.
But building a velomobile is labour intensive and the market is too small for mass production. So I think the key to make them accessible to the nascent solarpunk community is to train people to learn how to make their own and have accessible and cheap, potentially nomad, makerhubs to build them. The Atomic Zombie plans are a great place to learn how to build your own bike from inexpensive components.
I guess what I don't understand is if the diy- and "self-sufficient small communities"-aspect of solarpunk is coming from "we have to start somewhere" or "that is a good overall principle for the society". Would be glad if you could point me in some direction there.
Speaking for my self, I think it's a bit of both.
There is certainly a big aspect for "we have to start somewhere", because we do. Even if we were the ones who decided how the world was organized, and could unilaterally order everyone, "hey we gotta live efficiently within the planet's resources" we'd still need to carefully roll things out one step at a time. Also, because we don't even know what will work well yet! So we need to experiment, and it's way easier to do a small scale experiment!
Secondly, I think there is an aspect of "good overall principle" at least, there is something in that sort of lifestyle that is intrinsically appealing. But, on the other hand, again, smallness gives the freedom to experiment. I also don't think you should take this too literally: instead take it metaphorically: it's about the social relations that hold society together, and that being explicitly village like, or something like that. So I think we are attracted to the idea of solarpunk because we want something different. But this too is a have-to-start-somewhere, really, because a community of radicals who want to do everything differently, will become very different when lots of people start to get on board.
But the idea that everyone on earth should live in a little village and grow their own food, (anarchoprimitivist model) I'd say: No. I'm pretty sure no one waving the "solarpunk" flag advocates that as the singular solution to the world's problems (especially since solarpunk is explicitly tech-positive), although that's not to say that there are not people who do want to live like that.
@xj9 You ever read the Telling by Le Guin? Reminds of the recording device in that book.
The Arch Mission Foundation is funding research and development into new storage media and technologies for preserving and spreading human data and knowledge across long distances in time and space.
they use these cool 5D memory crystal disks to build their arks. you need special lasers to write to these things. i don't know how much femtosecond lasers cost, but assuming its cost-effective its a really cool concept for archiving and sharing large amounts of data.
The memory crystal is capable of storing up to 360 terabytes worth of data for billions of years
things like library genesis and sci-hub that are mostly append-only, would be great candidates for this kind of archival storage. if the reader can be made cheaply enough, we could write as many copies as needed and distribute the reader+memory crystal to anyone who needs it.
There's a tension in solarpunk between it being aspirational, and it being prescriptive. If it's treated as a traditional genre, it has to somehow have a common look and feel, but treated as a goal, a much more messy space of many different approaches opens up. So I don't get much out of the illustrations that all feel somehow the same.
i'm far from an expert here, but it seems like energy is a big obstacle for certain kinds of tasks. i wonder what alternative energy sources are out there that we could harness for solarpunk settlements? %cKL5BuY...
maybe the solution isn't harnessing more energy, but using it more efficiently? what are the limits there?
@nanomonkey 🤔 i suppose the bootstrap point can be in a different place than i'm thinking. i guess part of the question is how much does it cost to build one community powered entirely by renewable energy? the problem is that a lot of modern society is built on inefficient patterns. if you really want to build a new kind of sustainble culture, it seems like you have to give up a lot of the stuff that we consider "normal" and replace it with substitutes that provide the needed function without the unaccounted externalities.
@luroc i think self-sufficiency is a valuable pattern for promoting more efficient use of energy. i can't find a convicing reason for shipping food half way across the planet when there is enough local produce to go around. there are places where this isn't true, but ideally that is a problem we can solve with hydroponics and other agro-tech. seems like the same logic would apply to building materials, with exceptions for essentials like solar and other advanced resources.
going to print of a handful of these (on recycled paper) and post them around town. please forward this to anyone you know in Salt Lake City, Utah who might be interested in joining.
Glass is actually a pretty decent material to work with, it is infinitely recyclable, transmits light and can be sandwiched to provide insulation. I've seen some greenhouse designs where a layer of bubbles are injected in for night time insulation.
To your point, I don't think there is a universal house design for all climates and environments. A key element should be to work with what you have on hand, instead of shipping materials from half way across a continent/world. This is why earthen structures are so amazing...you just use the earth from the land you're building upon. If it's a wet environment, you stabilize it with heat or chemical means (bricks, lye or portland cement) and use sufficient drainage. In dry environments one can often go without these precautions.
In Napa Valley, I had the pleasure of visiting a vineyard who had built a giant tunnel into the ground and back out. Outside temps were around 105 F (40 C), while inside was around 60 F (15 C) naturally. So nice!
Solar sintered ceramics and glass seem like a solar punk building material to me...
Every time I start thinking about solarpunk I really end up wondering what kind of infrastructure and society you would assume. Is there some kind of common ground in the community? (I haven't read enough about solarpunk yet to be honest)
If you take the supply chain of energy generation for granted, I guess you could also take the supply chain for laminated timber beams('glulam') for granted which you can go quite wild with and get results quite similar to the picture in a rather ecological way, and if solarpunk is meant as a vision for the whole society i guess you would want to start building high rise buildings at some point to have settlements not sprawling too much into the wilderness.
I mean the building in the picture is still ineffective of course for reasons like not having good thermal properties which you touched upon...
I guess what I don't understand is if the diy- and "self-sufficient small communities"-aspect of solarpunk is coming from "we have to start somewhere" or "that is a good overall principle for the society". Would be glad if you could point me in some direction there.
@xj9 good direction.Your principles make sense if adjusted for climates.
In our area (southwest Wisconsin) wood is, as of now and the foreseeable future, a perpetual resource if you follow sustainable forestry principles. Which means we can use it for construction, fuel, and energy generation using combos of solar, wind, and wood-fired electrical generators, if we are careful to regenerate the wood. Which is not a given, but people know how to do it.
We are in one of those regions which climate change is making wetter rather than dryer.
When I was living in west Dakota or New Mexico, adobe and cob were great building materials. Here, I tried earth blocks, even with stabilizers, and they just crumbled into dust, even under a roof. A Mandan-style dome built into a hill, which I have built before in other climates, would just rot into the ground here. But overground wood is great, and we could make bricks in wood-fired kilns. And a lot of stone, and we could use http://www.greenhomebuilding.com/articles/ceramicrete.htm
thinking about solarpunk settlements
solarpunk concept art is not realistic at all. like, how the are you going to make those flowing glass structures? that's a lot of metal and glass in some crazy shapes. i get that it looks pretty, but that is really advanced construction. just to work on the metal, you need an established energy grid so you can power welding equipment! no way you're just going to walk into the woods and build these futuristic glass towers. even then, where do you get the metals and glass? that is a very complex supply chain!
i understand that certain materials will have to be purchased in order to have a functional #solarpunk settlement, at least at first. solar panels are very advanced materials and energy is a crucial resource so we can make an exception until better options become available. the same applies to batteries, computers, communication equipment, &c. that said, i highly doubt the wisdom of going with advanced materials for everything.
wood, cob, and other natrual materials seem like a better fit for this kind of thing. they aren't as "future world" as flowing glass and metal structrures, but the chances that you can afford to build a home with these simple materials is a lot higher. especially considering the bootstrap process, where your access to energy will be very limited until you can assemble enough infrastructure to start producing electricity.
food prep, storage, and production
electric ranges draw a lot of energy, but the alternative is a dependence on some kind of fossil fuel for cooking. on the balance, forming habits around the availability of daylight is probably a more sustainable solution. refigeration can be very energy intensive, especially if you want to be able to store relatively large quantities of food. one possible solution is a cellar. this would be a labor intensive project, but a cellar can stay quite cool year around. it isn't a fridge or freezer, but there are a lot of preservation techniques that are compatible with the temperature ranges you could expect from a cellar.
ideally you could farm outside, but depending on the climate hydroponics or greenhouses may be necessary to produce enough food for the community. indoor/vertical farming can draw a lot of energy, especially in winter, so this might not be a viable option if the only energy source is solar. wind would help, but without a friendly climate this looks like it could be a big obstacle for solarpunk / walkaway communities in northern lattitudes. of course, people did manage to survive in these places before modern farming and energy production existed. maybe it would be worthwhile to see how they managed to provide for themselves.
@mix If you use zero-knowledge proofs correctly, and if you have a defined list of participants who are allowed to vote agree on the questions, I think you should be able to tell that a critical number of people have voted agree without being able to tell who they are.
I'm not sure how you would structure the reveal step, though.
more wiki talk %BRyvrLd... %3woQ9BG... %2HYP9MQ...
I did a fair amount of fiddling around with fedwiki, to which I was introduced by Mike Caulfield (see https://hapgood.us/tag/federated-wiki/page/1/) Mike implemented some of the same functionality in a WordPress project he called wikity. (http://wikity.cc/) My understanding is that Ward Cunningham developed fedwiki (fed.wiki.org) in part because the original wiki ended up very consensus driven and there was a perceived need for something that was less so.
because it captures the changes on a shared artifact, I am not sure it would be useful in ActivityPub conversations, as they are not really the same thing.
Thanks for the explanation of what is happening there and how it (does not) apply to AP. I get it now, and agree.
And I just realised that @bobhaugen is actually looking for the source of that utility.
I was actually trying to understand what it meant. I think I don't understand how to use fedwiki well enuf to get it, though. Some day when I get time I'll come back and explore more and see if I can understand.
For example, I couldn't figure out how to get this to work:
if you double click on the part of a Recent Changes page you can put in parameters.
My interest here is if this kind of view would be useful in (for example) the ActivityPub fediverse (as another example of a federated network).
@ev hot. i'll have to check it out
@interfect what? ^^
mmmm, Finkle McGraw seems more like the trickster because he's actively subversive. I this that word summarises a core thread of the trickers nicely.
I think Walkaway resontes so well with people in this neighbourhood because this is a corner of people who are idealistic AND active. Like the walkaways, being a tricker isn't a primary driver, it's more of a hobby. Most notably the I think the trickster is only relevant in a context that needs breaking or reforming, whereas if you're already reforming you don't need as much trickster.... or rather the role of trickster becomes more one of maintenance - maintaining vigillance against lazy thinking or silly old patterns coming in.
btw my model for the fool archetype is a character written by Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy called literally The Fool.
Excellent series, amazing character. The Fool is revealed to have prophetic / catalytic powers, but is destined to not know the meaning or direction of what it is they're bringing into being.
hmmm, I trusted the narrtion given to us, either because that's how I explore a story, or because there was enough distance in the narratin to believe it was more 'objective' (hah!).
[SPOILERS] - bail out of this thread and read Diamond Age if you've not already
I think what people find integral to stories is an important story in itself. We've already had an experience where you and I read different things from Cat's Craddle. I felt the drummers were important, they definitelt inserted a magical / surreal aspect to the world. It was ultimately unclear whether the drummers were driving the this revolution, or had been co-opted / hacked. I think that the Seed will emerge from the a subconscious trance space is relevant.
I think you like stories about trickers (so do I) but I didn't read that. I read the story of the fool more. (is the fool a trickers?... maybe, they have similar powers and a tricker isn't always in control or aware of the ramifications of their tricks). I think of hackworth as a fool because while he's critical of the neovictorians, he's also selfish - he hacks the book for his daughter initially yes ... and then gets caught in some blackmail, then slips and falls into a cult orgy computation pit. In the end the story feels like it overtakes him. He was just an uncionscious or accidental catalyst who had very few degrees of freedom after the first couple of chapters.
Certainly while TDA talks about social patterns, the journeys are much more individualistic, whereas in Walkaway you get to stand in the middle of archetypal social dynamics as they unfold... like you're being innoculated to be able to see e.g. scoreboard advocates.
ok, you've convinced me @dominic. I really like your point about subjective perspective of the narrator(s).
I think part of me admired the aspiration of the neovictorians to reform themselves, even if they fucked it up. The thing that creeped me out about the drummers was the shit in your body, subverting you vibe, but now has me asking a couple of questions:
- does the ends justify the means?
- if the drummers are the revolutionary catalyst which delivers a post-scarcity future ... is zombieing and burning up a few humans ok?
- how is the mind / body control of the drummers that different to the insidious parts of society already polluting my mind / body?
- I eat a heap of food which has all sorts of ingredients I probably should trust
- I consume media which promotes/ endorses shitty patterns (e.g. gender norms)
- I perpetuate crappy patterns al lthe time (by buying things, by lending power to institutions)
that diamond age breakdown is interesting @dominic !
I read the neovictorians not as tech bros ... tho now you mention it they weild a lot of power and tech, but what I focused on was there drive to reclaim or restore some values in their community, although ultimately they are failing because they were unable to grow a culture which would persist based just on rules.
the drummers felt quite different to the walkaways to me. I think the main differing aspect would be the lack of consciousness - one of the main characters that gets caught up with them is totally unaware of what is going on with his involvement with the drummers. But they are a force of emergence for a new pattern, which is def in common with walkaway
well his book doesn't point to the butts per se it's just the walkaway net happens to sound a lot like scuttlebutt.
which is funny because I haven't see any cory on here (that I know of)
certainly I'm a fan of the book but if came out after this started and after I'd joined
@mix good point. I think the fool is certainly on the trickster spectrum - the fool is just a less competent trickster. Some characters consistently play the fool (i.e. Homer Simpson, or Tim "The Toolman" Taylor... every sitcom dad post 1990?) others slip into it occasionally (i.e. when an otherwise competent trickster overreaches and fails, for example the death of maui: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C4%81ui_(M%C4%81ori_mythology)#Quest_for_human_immortality_and_death )
Hackworth creates the primer, but it wasn't his idea, and he can't even successfully steal it from himself.
But the expressed (but secret) purpose of the primer is to _educate tricksters.
The main driver of that being Ginkle-McGrawl, some quotes:
I don't exactly know, Finkle-McGraw had said, but as a starting-point, I would like you to go
home and ponder the meaning of the word subversive.
Hackworth didn't have to ponder it for long, perhaps because he'd been toying with these ideas so
long himself. The seed of this idea had been germinating in his mind for some months now but had not
bloomed, for the same reason that none of Hackworth's ideas had ever developed into companies. He
lacked an ingredient
somewhere, and as he now realized, that ingredient was subversiveness.
it seems you are quite write about hackworth not being the trickster.
and in this exchange between Finkle-McGraw and Carl Hollywood:
I had the same idea: Set up a sort of young
artistic bohemian theme park, sprinkled around in all the major
cities, where young New Atlantans who were so inclined could
congregate and be subversive when they were in the mood. The
whole idea was self-contradictory. Mr. Hollywood, I have devoted
much effort, during the last decade or so, to the systematic
encouragement of subversiveness."
"You have? Are you not concerned that our young subversives
will migrate to other phyles?"
If Carl Hollywood could have kicked himself in the arse, he would have done so as soon as
finishing that sentence. He had forgotten about Elizabeth Finkle-McGraw's recent and highly publicized defection to CryptNet. But the Duke took it serenely.
"Some of them will, as the case of my granddaughter
demonstrates. But what does it really mean when such a young
person moves to another phyle? It means that they have outgrown
youthful credulity and no longer wish to belong to a tribe simply
because it is the path of least resistance-they have developed
principles, they are concerned with their personal integrity. It
means, in short, that they are ripe to become members in good
standing of New Atlantis-as soon as they develop the wisdom to
see that it is, in the end, the best of all possible tribes."
So, I put forward that it's about tricksters and their relationship to society at large, while the walkaways do have an interest in society at large (specifically, how egalitarian it is) they are much more concerned with their relationships to the people immediately surrounding them, their community.
@mix I think you are still taking the story too literally. Those things definitely sound like not good things, but are you sure that's really what happened? I mean, whats the source here? maybe all this stuff get revealed after hackworth is brough before some neovictorian court of inquiry, and he puts it like that to avoid seeming like an active participant (he claims he was captured and brainwashed, rather a fugitive in hiding)... I am able to twist the story this way because the particular mindcontrolling aspect of the drummers isn't really very integral to the plot, I mean, you could insert something more like the walkaways into the slot the drummers are in, and keep most of the events of the story the same and it would still work. Like, is it ever explained why the drummers want to liberate the source, other than to create chaos?
Hmm, I think TDA isn't really about the glory of social hierarchy though, that's a backdrop. It's primarily about hackers or tricksters - agents of change slash chaos that exist at the fringes of those social hierarchies, and cause dramatic change to happen (not specifically for better or worse though) - hackworth is certainly that, and the Young Lady's Illustrated Primer is a machine for producing hackers (that somewhat backfires on Mr. X). But I think Stephenson's conception of the trickster is fundamentally individualistic.
But the walkaways arn't like that. They certainly have the technical skills and attitude to pass for characters in a Stephenson novel, but they driven far more by caring for each other, and talk about collaboration and empathy far more than any Neal Stephenson characters I can think of. And most importantly, that's not tacked on, it's integral to the plot, if you removed that aspect of the walkaways it would be a completely different book, whereas I think the drug-cult aspect of the drummers is a only a minor element of the overall story.
@mix reconsidering this, I should have called said techbro/hipster. look at the (co-opted) hipster aesthetic - new fake old shit, "vintage" "artisan" there is a bit in TDA where they meet people who make handmade paper and carpentry - of course, everything is just printable, so something actually hand made means status. Also, steampunks at burningman
Victorians seem stuffy, post sexual revolution, but they were the start of the information revolution - (postal system and telegrams) also, liked to make themselves feel good about "improving" the "lower classes". TDA is essentially told from the perspective of the neovictorians, although via their wayward son, but it's a subjective story about a fictional universe, not an objective fact within that universe (#reject-cannon)
I think how TDA portrays the drummers is a lot like how the Zottas perceive the walkaways (indeed, they see it as a cult - they even need to "rescue" and "deprogram" iceweasel)
And of course, Walkaway paints the neovictorian equity lords as sociopathic control freaks, not part of a proud history of values, not promoting order and civility, but that doesn't preclude them seeing them selves as that.
walkaway-net most certainly is
ssb. But it would be more accurate to say that walkaway and ssb are both about the same ideas.
Here, btw, is an interview where doctorow describes the influences on walkaway. I had also recently read debt:5000 years when before starting ssb. Also, I had already walked away, I mean, literally I was living in a mangrove swamp at the time I became interested in data replication! (ps, let me take this opportunity to seriously recommend swamp living) And I think, operating on a theory that people are basically good, but oppression is getting in the way of that goodness's expression.
It had occurred to me that a computer programmer with a grand vision had the choice to either attempt to implement it, or to write a science fiction novel about it. (got this impression from reading Neal Stephenson's stuff). I chose attempt to implement it, but knowing what I know now I'd say it's not the easy way! In particular I think, the world has to be ready for an implementation more so than a book.
I'd also been thinking about decentralized manufacturing (3d printing, or rather, what it could become) but realized that we needed decentralized information first. Otherwise, you just get "centralized streaming" as in The Diamond Age (published in 2000).
Oh on that note - "the drummers" in the diamond age are a sort of underwater sex cult that create a decentralized version of the 3d printing, and thus disrupt the neovictorians, (i.e. techbros). But the drummers are basically presented as a weird dangerous other in TDA, whereas walkaway presents them as the protagonists.
I wanted to learn more about how it's constructed and what it means.
Found http://fedwiki.org/view/fedwiki-tools but don't see this there. This might be the place: http://www.tim.au.fedwikihappening.net/view/narrative-chart
#mmt are a crew of crypto #weenies
It's one paragraph - but it will jump out at you