Bruce Sterling’s Last Viridian Note

His post before embarking on his next project has been getting a fair amount of attention. At the risk of turning Futurismic into all Bruce all the time, here’s one of my favorite bits:

I strongly recommend that you carry a multitool. There are dozens of species of these remarkable devices now, and for good reason. Do not show them off in a beltpack, because this marks you as a poorly-socialized geek. Keep your multitool hidden in the same discreet way that you would any other set of keys.

That’s because a multitool IS a set of keys. It’s a set of possible creative interventions in your immediate material environment. That is why you want a multitool. They are empowering.

A multitool changes your perceptions of the world. Since you lack your previous untooled learned-helplessness, you will slowly find yourself becoming more capable and more observant. If you have pocket-scissors, you will notice loose threads; if you have a small knife you will notice bad packaging; if you have a file you will notice flashing, metallic burrs, and bad joinery. If you have tweezers you can help injured children, while if you have a pen, you will take notes. Tools in your space, saving your time. A multitool is a design education.

As a further important development, you will become known to your friends and colleagues as someone who is capable, useful and resourceful, rather than someone who is helpless, frustrated and visibly lacking in options. You should aspire to this better condition.

OK. Recommendations for a multitool, anybody?

5 thoughts on “Bruce Sterling’s Last Viridian Note”

  1. Multitool? Leatherman is the most common, but I prefer my Victorinox SwissTool. The knives alone would keep Crocodile Dundee amused for some time…

  2. Get a Leatherman WAVE – yes, it can be expensive (I lucked into one for $20; the TSA sells confiscated ones by weight to guys that sell them at flea markets and gunshows, where you can find them at a large discount, but often in need of cleaning). Not only does it have most tools you’d want, but also has an eyeglass tool and you can buy additional bits for the screwdriver tool. Also, every single item locks into place when in use (invaluable, if you’ve had one collapse on you under heavy torque, as I have) and the main blades are accessible without opening up the pliers (this makes using it a much easier process, as you just snap out the blade, rather than open the pliers, snap out the blade, then close both sides of the pliers before using).

  3. I have a nice pen knife which includes 4x blades, magnifying glass, pliers, scissors, 3 x screwdrivers, 2x bottle openers, corkscrew, file, 2x saw blades, and a ruler. However, as the largest knife blade is 7cm in length, I am reluctant to carry the tool in public for fear of accusations of carrying an offensive weapon.

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