Friday, 14 August 2009

Water Wars

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John Urry has presented a detailed sociological analysis of a dystopic "quantum of solace" type future in his book Mobilities. One thinks of J.G. Ballard's Crash and The Drought when reading Urry, as well as Kim Stanley Robinson's California trilogy and, of course, Frank Herbert's Dune. This proves, yet again, how William Gibson was correct when he argued that it is becoming more difficult to write science fiction because the gap between fiction and non-fiction (or social theory at least) is closing too quickly.

Urry foresees the impact of the civilian use of military technologies, such as Global Positioning Systems to monitor car use in addition to acting as travel guides, in ways that also feed into the themes of this blog. Note though that Urry is acting only in the interest of rethinking our priorities to ensure we not only face the following:

"...there is a stark choice for sustaining a planetary future. On the one hand, there is the dystopic barbarism of unregulated climate change, the elimination of many existing 'civilizing' practices of economic and social life, and the brutal reversal of many mobility and network capital developments of the past few decades. And on the other hand, there is the dystopic digital Orwell-ization of self and society, with more or less no movement without digital tracking and tracing, with almost no-one within at least rich societies outside a digital panopticon and with a carbon database as the public measure of worth and status" (p.276).

Be sure to continue browsing though to read how he qualifies "a sociology of the future". To keep the focus tight, I won't be commenting on the new Yes Men film here. If you don't feel like clicking through the Google Books version, read this condensed paper instead.

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