Bibliotek: Chapter Three.One

Posted on 15/08/2011 by

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Out on the street from the pub, there were ‘no-go’ zones around the hit, marked by push notifications: ‘Street closed. Follow prompts to detour.’ The notes buzzed the mobiles in their pockets, tingling like a mild electric fence. Graham had never been subject to a public safety announcement before. Nice. He grimaced. There were watch profiles attached to the notices—Graham remembered how weird it was, when not five years ago, he’d seen the authorities slipping into the tweetfeed—‘tweed’—racket. He’d seen whole crowds, signed-on to their feeds, turning as one to peer at a suspected perp moving by on the street. Led blindly by their mobile’s compass to the man’s geo-lock. Citizen action, huh? He knew the profiles would be wanting to trojan in his mobile, to look for likely matches of CCTV shots as taken from around the hit building. Checking against his mobile avatar. Not likely: he deleted the notices. It was still voluntary.

The confetti of scorched bond was still falling under the convection winds. There were sirens blaring distantly. Tattered e-ink posters showed their uniquely stuttered, flip-book video of the crime. Graham tried to match the footage with his own, first person point of view. He couldn’t make it fit, and instead looked over between two buildings, through to the designated ad-space. It was only blank air to unaugmented eyes, but he wondered if seen through a screen, was it tagged with the same public service alert?

‘ERASERHEADS STRIKE! Watch for these men and women, robbing you of knowledge.’ He didn’t want to look around. Not to give himself away. But what else would it mean, travelling with this insane ‘Emlen’? Someone must see them.

God he was tired, it was almost three in the morning. The Collective members had each drunk drugs bonded to electrolytes before the hit. But he’d since pissed a stream of the custom, diuretic stimulants. Clean now for any inspection. Exhausted. Paranoid. Fucked. Watched? Emlen pushed them on and they caught a ped cycling by.

“Their profiles both point to Vauxhall… that’s their projected location… from past evenings, is… yeah, still pretty close to where they are now…” Graham shook. Then continued reading from his mobile. “The feeds say the club they’re at is the ‘Cat of Alexandria.’” Graham didn’t feel bothered by this invasion of privacy—and certainly not now. But whatever they’d disclosed on their list—on which he was authorised—that wasn’t prying. It was a matter of opt-out disclosure, and no one opted-out. ‘Digital privacy’ was a meaningless term. Hell, it was as oxymoronic as ‘published’ privacy. “Oh God! It’s a live word club. I haven’t seen one of those in ages. Desist orders must be rife. The club’s gotta be a legal nightmare.”

The two boys, Adam and Manoj, had been in his Intro to Info Architecture class. Until they were caught with unlicensed bounds. The ensuing case looked like it might’ve become epic, though he’d only been half interested in it at the time: they would have been up for costs equaling the price of the bound, times its projected lifespan, divided by the reading time. That, and a one year text restriction per offence. In the end, they’d settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, but had to take the minimum hundred year text restriction—their crime had been with print-bounds, but the law was too slow to adapt and hadn’t yet made a distinction between that and digital. That did in their studies. He hadn’t seen them around after that.

“I’ve heard of these ‘rebel’ clubs. The new vogue not to be signed to a House. No ‘official’ texts or recordings, only textual bootlegs, so the unofficial recordings only drive audiences to see them talk. The ‘post-publishing’ movement.” Emlen didn’t sound too impressed, though he seemed to know a lot about it, and Graham just squirmed in his seat behind the odorless, hydrogen exhaust of the semi-ped. He was quite uncomfortable with the illegitimacy of it all. “Perfect way to side-step their text restrictions.” Muttered Emlen, then continued thoughtfully, “you know that ‘Catherine’ of Alexandria is actually the patron saint of libraries? And yet this club celebrates impermanence…”

Graham had to laugh, listening to Emlen, the proper use of ‘scathing’ just didn’t come along often enough.

“Where’s your library then, Emlen?”

“Scattered across the shelves of the world—though the owners of the bounds don’t know about it. Hopefully they never will. That’s on my PR. Did I give you a card?” Graham nodded, and patted his breast pocket, while the other man lowered his outlandish goggles back against the wind.

Once they arrived, they climbed from the chrome frame of their rickshaw—while the cycle courier, in her woven ur-leather, took the balance of their fare by geo-attrition; Emlen paid by waving her away with his mobile. The scrawny girl looked around at the advertising dead-space they’d come to, shrugged down onto her pedals, sparking her cells, and raced away unfettered after a gang of free bikes that had swooped by. The cyclists had gotten default routes after too many of them had been cut-up in a murder-meme. Speeding off, Graham wondered about the motor taxis a friend had said they had in Moscow, with full engines instead of half-and-half pedal. Then instead of thinking, he wrinkled his nose against the new-car smell of the water drops that had beaded on him from the exhaust. Fuck it, huh? Without any flickering posters around, the street looked empty as an ill-planned data model. They walked along the street to a blank doorway.

Graham knew that if you held your mobile over the front of the door space, you’d get layers of virtual neon. And that there’d only be an embedded stream of a remote doorman in that virtual layer; they didn’t have an entrance list, instead, would spider for web-recommendations on the go. Now that they were still, hanging outside an illegal club, Graham worried they’d be refused entry—but then they were admitted. He’d been expecting having to beg, or to loiter outside, waiting out there for the two kids to exit. Emlen hadn’t even give a name at the door, only a msgboard address.

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By Paul McLaughlan

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Posted in: Btek, Hyperwork, Paul