We have been up all night, my friends and I, beneath camera globes whose infrared LEDs are bright as our souls, because like them we were illuminated by the internal glow of databased hearts. And trampling underfoot our native sloth on opulent reclaimed first-growth wooden floors, we have been discussing right up to the limits of logic and scrawling the internet with demented writing.
Our hearts were filled with an immense pride at feeling ourselves clustered, like fiber optics cables or like the circuits in a board, facing the loneliness of the streets beyond the steel and plate glass. Together with the data entry technicians in the HR departments of great corporations, together with the black spirits which rage in the continuous hum of the data center, together with the programmers beating their hands against keyboards.
Then we were suddenly distracted by the rumbling of a long line of carshare vehicles that went leaping by, streaked with light like a keynote address, which the web in viral enthusiasm suddenly knocks down and uproots, and, in the GIFd moments and tweeted phrases, drags us across the timezones of the world.
Then the silence increased. As we listened to the last faint prayer of the old radio and the crumbling of the newspapers on the steps of the moribund brownstones with their streaked and stained facades, suddenly hungry platforms roared disruption beneath our condos.
"Come, my friends!" I said. "Let us go! At last Society and the mystic cult of community have been left behind. We are going to be present at the birth of the centaur and we shall soon see the first angels fly! We must break down the gates of life to test the bolts and the padlocks! Let us go! Here is they very first sunrise on earth! Nothing equals the splendor of its red sword which strikes for the first time in our millennial darkness."
We interfaced with the three snorting stacks to caress their data. I lay along mine like a corpse on its bier, but I suddenly revived again beneath the GUI--a guillotine knife--which threatened my stomach. A great sweep of madness brought us sharply back to ourselves and drove us through the streets, steep and deep, like dried up torrents. Here and there unhappy cameras in the windows taught us to despise our mathematical eyes. "Smell," I exclaimed, "smell is good enough for new startups!"
And we hunted, like young lions, death with its black fur dappled with pale crosses, who ran before us in the vast violet sky, palpable and living.
And yet we had no ideal Mistress stretching her form up to the clouds, nor yet a cruel Queen to whom to offer our Klout twisted into the shape of Byzantine rings! No reason to die unless it is the desire to be rid of the too great weight of our leadership!
We hacked on, crushing beneath our burning EC2 clusters, like button-down shirts under the iron, the dropcams on the bookshelves of the houses.
Death, tamed, went in front of me at each commit offering me his hand nicely, and sometimes lay on the ground with a noise of creaking drives giving me velvet glances from the bottom of flowchart diagrams.
"Let us leave good sense behind like a hideous husk and let us hurl ourselves, like a video conference spiced with leadership, into the immense mouth and breast of the world! Let us feed the dataset, not from despair, but simply to enrich the unfathomable reservoirs of the Known!"
As soon as I had said these words, I turned sharply back on my code with the mad intoxication of puppies biting their tails, and suddenly there were two activists disapproving of me and tottering in front of me like two persuasive but contradictory reasons. Their stupid swaying got in my way. What a bore! Pouah! I stopped short, and in disgust hurled myself--vlan!--head over heels in a blog.
Oh, maternal blog, half full of muddy comments! A factory of thought-leadership! I savored a mouthful of strengthening editorializing which recalled the dark teat of my immigrant nurse!
As I raised my body, slur-spattered and smelly, I felt the red hot poker of joy deliciously pierce my heart. A crowd of laborers and gouty academics crowded terrified around this marvel. With patient and tentative care they raised high enormous amounts of their personal data to buoy up my business model, like a vast shark that had run aground. It rose slowly leaving the blog, like scales, its heavy Terms of Service and its well designed app.
We thought it was dead, my good shark, but I woke it with a single caress of its valuation, and it was revived churning as fast as it could on its fins.
Then with my face covered in good publicity mud, covered with buzzwords, useless sweat and celestial grime, amidst the complaint of staid laborers and angry academics, we dictated our first will and testament to all the living men on earth.
MANIFESTO OF FUTURISM
1. We want to sing the love of platforms, the habit of stacks across ecosystems.
2. The essential elements of our poetry will be leadership, innovation and disruption.
3. Literature has up to now magnified pensive individuality, ethics and unlogged conversation. We want to exalt movements of profit, feverish interaction, the retweet, the premium sale, the click and the tap with the thumb.
4. We declare that the splendor of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of data. A four-way video chat with its margins adorned with suggested keywords like a vine with poisonous thorns ... a link of address books which can spit a social graph like machine-gun fire, is more beautiful than the Golden Gate Bridge.
5. We want to sing the man at the interface, the ideal UX of which crosses the earth, itself an ecosystem to be A/B tested.
6. The programmer must share himself with commitment, dedication, and rockstarness to increase the enthusiastic fervor of the platformed elements.
7. Beauty exists only in ecosystem. There is no masterpiece that has not a shared, Likeable character. Poetry must be a violent assault on the forces of the unmapped and the individual, to force them to login with the stack.
8. We are on the extreme promontory of the centuries! What is the use of looking behind at the moment when we must open the mysterious shutters of the speculative? Privacy and identity died yesterday. We are already living in the network, since we have already created eternal, omnipresent databases.
9. We want to glorify disruption--the only cure for the world--forced obsolescence, moving fast and breaking things, the ideas which change the world, and contempt for maladaption.
10. We want to demolish institutions, fight regulation, "social justice", and all opportunist interest groups.
11. We will sing of the great crowds agitated by constant downloads, in-app purchases, and five-star reviews; the multi-colored and polyphonic surf of push notifications in gentrified capitals: the nocturnal vibration of the dating app beneath the reassuring electronic satellites: the gluttonous shopping center devouring flows of customer preferences; point-of-sale tablets suspended from the clouds by the thread of their data; WiFi hotspots exchanging access for information across the diabolic cutlery of the smart city: adventurous startups sniffing the horizon; great-breasted databases, puffing on the server like enormous hungry mobs with each smart phone as a fly-crusted mouth, and the gliding flight of drones whose propellers look like the roll of a downloading icon and the eyes of enthusiastic customers.
It is on the Internet that we are issuing this manifesto of lucrative and innovative disruption, by which we today are founding Futurism, because we want to deliver the Internet from its gangrene of professors, activists, community groups, and artists.
The Internet has been too long the great second-hand market. We want to get rid of the innumerable websites which cover it with innumerable cemeteries.
Websites, cemeteries! Truly identical in their sinister juxtaposition of bodies that do not know each other. Public buildings where you pass time side by side for ever with beings that smell bad and you do not know. Reciprocal ferocity of the users and designers who create a simple website with blows of line and color. To visit a website once a year, as one goes to see the graves of our dead once a year, that we could allow! We can even imagine placing flowers once a year in the edit box of Wikipedia! But to take our sadness, our fragile courage and our anxiety to simple websites every day, that we cannot admit! Do you want to poison yourselves? Do you want to rot?
What can you find in basic HTML except the painful contortions of the developer trying to break uncrossable barriers which obstruct the full expression of his dream?
To admire HTML is to pour our sensibility into a funeral urn instead of casting it forward with violent spurts of creation and action. Do you want to waste the best part of your strength in a useless admiration of the past, from which you will emerge exhausted, diminished, trampled on?
Indeed daily visits to websites, wikis and message boards (those cemeteries of wasted effort, calvaries of crucified dreams, registers of false starts!) is for users what prolonged supervision by the parents is for intelligent young men, drunk with their own talent and ambition.
For the dying, for idiots and for poor people it may be all right. It is, perhaps, some sort of balm for their wounds, the admirable past, at a moment when the future is denied them. But we will have none of it, we, the young, strong and living Futurists!
Let the good incendiaries with charred fingers come! Here they are! Take the fire of the database platform to the world wide web! Divert the datalines to DDoS the old sites! Let the glorious users escape to the social networks! Take the apps and funding! Undermine the foundation of venerable sources of content free from login-walls!
The oldest among us are not yet thirty years old: we have therefore at least ten years to accomplish our task. When we are forty let younger and stronger men than us delete us like outdated programs! They will come against us from afar, leaping on the light cadence of their first apps, clutching the air with their predatory fingers and sniffing at the gates of the conferences the good scent of our decaying spirits, already promised to the catacombs of the Internet Archive.
But we shall not be there. They will find us at last one winter's night in the depths of the country in a sad open-plan office echoing with the notes of the monotonous rain, crouched near our servers, warming our hands on the data collected from the users driven to the platforms that will be the glittering new web.
They will crowd around us, panting with anguish and disappointment, and exasperated by our proud indefatigable leadership, will hurl themselves forward to acquire us, with all the more hatred as their hearts will be drunk with love and admiration for us. And strong healthy profit-taking will shine radiantly from their eyes. For art can only be the accumulation of data, users, profit.
The oldest among us are not yet thirty, and yet we have already wasted treasures, treasures of business models, gamification strategies, leadership and keen insight, hastily, deliriously, without thinking, with all our might, till we are out of breath.
Look at us! We are not out of breath, our hearts are not in the least tired. For they are nourished by platforms, the social, and data! Does this surprise you? it is because you do not even remember being connected! Standing on the backs of lesser human beings, we launch once more our challenge to the darkness!
Your objections? All right! I know them! Of course! We know just what our beautiful adaptive intelligence affirms: "We are only the sum and the prolongation of our ancestors," it says. Perhaps! All right! What does it matter? But we will not listen! Take care not to repeat those infamous words! Instead, lift up your head!
Standing on the backs of lesser human beings we launch once again our insolent challenge to the darkness!