michael naimark

EMERGEncy 1.1
published by www.creativedisturbance.com



Michael Naimark

November 2000



I am delighted for the opportunity to write regularly for EMERGEncy, and for the most part plan to write succinct, focussed editorials and field reports. But recently, given all the mayhem in the air around art, tech, and commerce, I found myself pondering the future and decided to give a shot at a little prophecy. The challenging, and ultimately embarrassing, part about writing predictions is making them clear and specific rather than vague and grandiose. So what the hell: here are my dozen.

Collaborative artworks and performances made by millions of people on the Internet emerge and evolve. But also a new form of mob behavior, "virtual street gangs," emerge as well.

Hackers around the world lobby to make a legal distinction between cyber-crimes and cyber-pranks, protesting that it’s unfair to put them in the same league as thieves, murderers, and racists. The hackers lose, except in Tonga, where cyber-pranks are decriminalized, followed by Australia and Japan.

Tiny, wireless, global, always-on, micro-telephones called "earbuds" appear. One use is as a realtime translation service. You may be in a store in Moscow and your earbud connects you to a retired person, or perhaps someone hospital-bound, awake in Iowa who speaks Russian and earns money this way. But earbuds become a teen fad in the US, where friends keep in touch with each other 100% of the time.

"Witness-cams," live portable wireless webcams, replace AK47s in a small number of dicey places, beginning in Sri Lanka, Chechnya, and the Women in Black movement.

A little later, micro-cameras are grown onto genetically altered flying beetles. Not just a few, but swarms of these appear - "Swarm Cams."

Camera "zappers" are invented, driven by a high market demand to combat invasions of privacy. Zappers are small wearable devices that aim a laserbeam directly back into the camera lens to neutralize any camera aimed in your direction.

A spiritual crisis descends upon the Silicon Valley rich. Multi-millionaires who have gone through eco-tourism, Lamborghinis, trophy art, and trophy marriages wake up and realize "hey, I’m not even 30 yet" and freak out.

The NEA cannot get out of its sorry state, unable to fund anything that anyone may consider controversial. Risky, edgy art is funded by private foundations and collectors. We return to a Medici era.

Indigenousness becomes a hot, booming industry lead by an adopt-a-culture promotion. First-World people can be legally ordained members of real Fourth-World tribes. Maya, Tibetan Buddhists, and Taureg lead the way.

Mongolia becomes the tele-marketing center of the English world. When you hear "L L Bean, can I help you?" you will be speaking with a Mongolian. Other countries where English speakers cannot earn $2 a day become jealous and compete.

TV as we know it does not die, or even change.

Realizing that bits have to safely reside somewhere, new kinds of museums appear, as cultural data banks. These digital collections become a boom for small, remote, and specialized museums.