Archives For Bruce Sterling

No matter how commercial or  ‘mainstream’ people say SXSW has gotten, you can always rely on Bruce Sterling to keep it weird. He used his closing address to quietly scare everyone to death with his prediction for the future (ageing + urbanization + climate change = big problems), before announcing that he was giving up being a ‘science fiction writer’ to become a ‘science fiction maker’.


Sterling, SXSW, climate change


Along the way, he gave us an insightful, eclectic and rather foreboding list of people he believes should be at SXSW in the very near future:

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet: this French politician is educated, feminist, ambitious, environmental, vocal and extremely adept at turning social media visibility into public influence. Sadly, Sterling thinks these are also the reasons she has ‘almost no chance’ of winning the Parisian Mayoral Race.

Gianroberto Casaleggio: Italian web master for the ‘5 star Movement’ (M5S or MoVimento Cinque Stelle). An entrepreneur turned political activist, Sterling sees here an early prototype of what will happen “when smart, connected people with almost no political experience get into power – it’s not going to end well.”

Bruce Sterling, SXSW, climate change

Bruce Sterling has seen the future. It’s not pretty.

Barrett Brown: political writer and satirist, sometimes referred to as the unofficial spokesperson of hacktivist group ‘Anonymous’ and is currently facing 100 years in prison for sharing a link to document relating to the Stratfor email leak. “At the very least, send the guy some books.”

Cody Wilson: a right-wing and free-market anarchist who created Defense Distributed, an organization that created The Liberator, a fully-functioning 3D printable handgun, which has been downloaded 100,000 times. “Thanks to this guy, Austin now has gun stores that accept bitcoins.” 

Ross William Ulbricht: also known as “Dread Pirate Roberts”, the founder of Silk Road: the world’s largest online drugs market, operating on the deep web. “The dark side of all your 2.0 optimism.”

Texas Cryptologic Center: a wing of the NSA that doctors hardware for surveillance and “Answers, really, to no-one.”

Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG): a British government intelligence group that Sterling describes as secret police, agent provocateurs and disruptors of political discourse. “You may well be offered a job by these guys. Don’t accept it. You will not sleep well after this.”

Californians: in huge numbers, due to irrevocable water shortages caused by climate change. “They’ll be incredibly wealthy and they’ll need somewhere to run their tech businesses from. They’ll just move to established cities that have water and buy everything”. If that sounds far-fetched, Sterling reminded us of how California got started in the first place.


I travelled to Austin, Texas to cover SXSW 2014 for Ogilvydo, the digital magazine of thought leadership from Ogilvy & Mather.


About the Author: Barrie Seppings blogs about making things better – for clients, brands, agencies and humans. He is currently Regional Creative Director at Ogilvy Singapore and he likes boards surf, skate and snow. Follow him on the Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, or add him on Google+

About the images: main photograph used with the permission of Martin Ollman Photography. Contact Martin directly for rights and commissions.



One of the coolest things I took away from SXSW was a renewed faith in people. Not just the people on the streets and in the bars, or the locals who took me on a tour of their very happening city, but the visionaries and thinkers who got up and showed us that it’s cool for people – and brands – to care deeply about stuff.

I was deeply impressed by Cameron Sinclair, the self-styled Chief Eternal Optimist for Architecture For Humanity and his take on open-sourced architecture. Fashion designer Marc Ecko became my new personal hero when he rocked a madcap Prezi to take us down the rabbit hole of ‘AWEthenticity’ to a place where we were confronted by the issue of state-sponsored violence in U.S. schools.

Science-fiction author and SXSW veteran Bruce Sterling saved the best for last, launching into an incendiary call-to-arms for millenials. Nothing short of generational change will suffice for a man who, by his own admission, is in the wrong generation.

I fulfilled a life-long dream and got to floor the accelerator of a brand-new Corvette, saw a ‘secret’ Foo Fighters performance at a the official closing party and will forever be seduced by the words ‘breakfast taco’. I’ve got my longhorns cap and my wife scored a shirt from the Driskill hotel. Austin, you were great.

But most importantly, I’ve got some very clear ideas about where our industry (or parts of it, at least) is heading and I’m lucky enough to be in a position to be a part of it. I’ve collected together a lot of the links and resources from SXSW and related coverage here and I thoroughly recommend you start working on your plans to get yourself to SXSW 20112.

This video is part of the video blog series  “10 Things Agencies Can Learn From SXSW” presented by Barrie Seppings, Creative Director at Ogilvy Sydney.