[Prospective] William Gibson, streets and tools
La spirale: I noticed that you quote William Gibson's sentence "The street finds its own uses for things" in Jamming The Media. Was he a big influence in your work ? Did this sentence give you the idea to create Street Tech?
Gareth Branwyn: Yes, the idea for Street Tech, and my interest in the DIY aspects of technology, were partially inspired by Gibson. I thought the basic idea of cyberpunk -- that high technology intended for military-industrial use could be put to unintended cultural/political purposes -- was revelatory.
Of course, this idea threads throughout the DIY ethos of the last 30 or 40 years, from things like the Whole Earth Catalog to punk labels to the copy culture of the '80s, and so forth.
What cyberpunk and hacker culture did was offer up the idea that in a globally-interconnected computerized society, a small group of people (or even an individual) could wield a disproportionate amount of power against the status quo (in the way that a practitioner of Aikido uses his/her opponent's force against them). This is, of course, both a good and a bad thing.
The Street Tech website is not quite so noble a "fight the power" effort. It's a commercial effort (my day job, in essence) aimed at providing high-tech consumers with honest, no-bullshit evaluations of computer hardware and other electronics. As the site grows, we do plan on doing more DIY pieces. One guy associated with the site is planning a pirate radio station and will chronicle his efforts, another is building an MP3 system for his car, another person is building a PC from scratch. That sort of thing.