Monday, August 29, 2005

Singapore Writers Festival: Glimpses

Writers' Festivals are exciting events. Just to see the writers read, speak, laugh, retort and become friendly with their readers and fans is an electrifying experience in itself. It makes me believe that yes, there are still people around who care about writing and writers.

I was looking forward to the Singapore Writers Festival 2005. The event was publicised in different media, including roadside hoardings. It was marketed like any other event. The venue for most of the events is the newly-opened futursitic National Library Building. All exciting stuff!

I could not, however, manage to attend the opening ceremony. The first event I attended was "Writing Sci Fi." The speaker was Bruce Sterling, the well-known American science fiction writer. Bruce was one of the most prominent voices of the cyberpunk revolution. Well, to be honest, I haven't ready many science fiction novels, and definitely none of Bruce's works. So I will not comment on that side. But yes, if you want to know why I was there to listen to a sci-fi writer, the answer is very simple: I had never heard or met a sci fi writer before. All my gods are literary fiction writers and yet I was there to listen to this sci fi writer. I wanted to stretch my imagination.

Bruce, sort of, spoke in a gentle monotone and his observations often contained insights about the future world. Bruce has been teaching futuristic design in an American school for about a year now, apart from writing his novels. He spoke about sustainability, bio hazards, futursitic industrial design, and spy chips. He said that in future, the disctinction between the real world and the online world (internet) will more or less disappear and each and every object on the earth will be traceable, be it solid or liquid. He talked about the need for biodegradibility of material substances. Otherwise, he said, the toxins would seep into our bodies and become part of it, alterning and damaging our systems. He talked at length about the spy chips and how they could come handy for terrorists' purposes. But all these developments, he said, will come at the cost of our privacy. There will be no privacy in the world in future. I shuddered.


Chuang Shyue Chou said...

Yes, Sterling did speak at length of RFID chips. Radio Frequency Identification chips. These chips are slowly replacing barcodes in the commercial world. It's not new or startling. Just this year, there has been a lot of conferences held in this region

Not merely Singapore but in the whole region. South East Asia and East Asia.

Even the library that you went to for the talk is using RFID technology to track books. Gone are the days of the manual barcode with the stripes:,5104,2886,00.html

Here is my observations of the first talk on industrial design:

Of course, our concerns are different.

The talk with Bruce Sterling, Norman Spinrad and Robert Sawyer:

And my trip to a few bookstores to see if the latest Spinrad, Sterling and Sawyer books are available:

Zafar Anjum said...

Thanks for your informative comment Chuang. Hey, I am not a techie man. Didn't know that even the NLB is using RFID technology. Will follow the stories you have suggested.