A New Era for Technoccult

As technology embeds itself ever deeper into our lives, the strange relationship between magic and technology is finally gaining widespread attention.
There was the Magick Codes conference late last year, then the Haunted Machines event in Manchester earlier this year, and most recently a panel dedicated to magic and tech at Theorizing the Web in New York last April. Warren Ellis just published a book of talks, and they’re shot through with thinking about magic and myth and their role in technology.
We’re only at the beginning of a series of new conversations about all of this, and Technoccult should be at the forefront of these discussions. I mean, it’s right there in the name. It’s as if finally, after all these years, the site’s moment has finally come. But I’m not the right person to lead the site into these conversations.
That’s why Damien Williams, known to many of you as Wolven, is taking over Technoccult, effective immediately. This will be my last post as editor of the site.
Damien has been writing and speaking about the intersection of magic and technology for years. There are other big names in the current conversation, but few people — if any — have Damien’s track record for covering this topic. And what’s more, he’s a good friend. I can’t wait to see what he does with the site.

Why the change?

Short explanation: As I’ve gotten busier with other work and lost interest in the occult, I’ve been thinking for a while about either shuttering Technoccult or going on some sort of extended hiatus. But after our Mindful Cyborgs interview, I realized it would make more sense to hand it off to Damien. We talked it over at Theorizing the Web in April and agreed that it makes sense for both of us, and for readers. I think of this as a continuation of the spirit of Technoccult rather than an end or shift in direction.
Long version:
I started Technoccult over 15 years ago with the idea of doing a site in the same vein as Disinfo, but with more of a focus on arts and culture than politics and conspiracy theory. Obviously I’ve drifted considerably from those original intentions.
To be honest, I wasn’t even all that interested in the occult when I started the site. It seemed like a cool “cybergoth” sounding name. I had’t read The Invisibles. It was, in fact, learning that the name turned up in The Invisibles that made me read the comic, and start exploring the materials linked in Disinfo’s chaos magic dossier.
Discovering chaos magic and the works of Grant Morrison set me on a course that shaped my life for years to come. Key 23. PDX Occulture. EsoZone. It was through these channels that I met my wife. It was blogging on Technoccult that gave me the clips and confidence to land my first journalism job.
But it’s not my passion anymore. Partially that’s because my journalism career has left me with less time and energy to write here. And partially it’s because my interest in the occult and the constellation of other themes around it has waned. When I do write, it’s often about largely unrelated topics, like the environmental impact of almonds, the state of journalism, or why like to call my neighborhood “Columbia Ridge.” It’s as if Sports Illustrated stopped covering sports and decided to basically cover every other conceivable topic instead. Of course I’ll always maintain some interest in the occult and fringe topics, and I might even feel a calling to write about magic again in the near future. But it’s just not my main focus.
Yet I didn’t want to just let Technoccult die either. It’s outlived dozens of similarly themed sites over the years. Strangers have told me it’s their favorite site. I’ve tried to “rebrand” the site before and it hasn’t really worked out. It feels like it has a life of its own now.
So when I interviewed Damien a few months ago, something clicked. He writes about the intersection magic and technology, transhumanism, and the evolution of human consciousness. All the things that Technoccult readers keep telling me they want to read more about. I thought “why isn’t HE writing the site?” Then I realized: I should just let him take it over. It would give him a broader reach for his writing, give Technoccult readers more of what they’re looking for, and let me resign knowing the site is in good hands. Win-win-win.
Plus, his interest in pop culture analysis brings things full-circle back to the original idea behind Technoccult. Oh, and the first time I met Damien, he was wearing a Luxt shirt. I had Luxt on heavy rotation while I was cobbling together the original Technoccult site all those years ago.
I’m aware that although I’ve brought in other writers in the past, my voice has been the one consistent thing on the site, and that some of you might be happy to have me keep writing here, regardless of what I write about. Some of you might even prefer it. But overall I think Damien’s voice will be more of a continuation of the spirit of the site than mine at this point. And while he’ll surely bring a different perspective on a wide range of topics, I think we have compatible world views.
Yes, I could have just asked him to join the site as an additional contributor. But frankly my attempts at managing other writers have not gone well (and that’s completely my fault). Plus I can’t pay him, and it felt wrong to ask him to work for free on something that has sort of become my personal brand. The only thing that really made sense was to hand it off entirely.
I don’t know where exactly he’ll be taking the site. That’s up to him. I’ll be around in the background for the next few months trying to clean up the technical mess I’ve left. But editorially, it’s in his hands now.

What’s Next for Me

For now my focus will be my journalism work, co-hosting the Mindful Cyborgs podcast and researching the code literacy book I’ve thinking about writing, depending on how the research goes.
I’ve got tons of other ideas as well. Someday I’d like to do a print magazine, or maybe a zine hand printed by mimeograph. I’d love to start an old school dial-up BBS. I’ve still got a good start on a FATE-based pen-and-paper role playing game to finish, and that mutant history book I started researching ages ago. I have fiction ideas running out of my ears. I’ve been learning to draw and want to make a comic, and I’ve been learning to program and would love to make a video game. I have more Psychetect albums in me as well.
If you want to receive sporadic updates on what I’m up to, I’ve started a new newsletter that you can sign-up for here.
So long and thanks for all the Fnords!

Poll: Would You Buy a Technoccult Premium Dossier on Life Extension?

One of the various ways that media organizations make money is by selling special reports. These include technical white papers from Information Week or the various guides from Vice or the very high-end business data from The Economist or the dubious quality “info products” from Internet marketers. I’ve written about this before.
I’ve been thinking about doing something like this for a while, but have never been sure what I could cover that would be of interest here. Then it occurred to me: life extension. I’ve covered a number of studies on how to improve your own longevity, and I’ve been following the transhumanist thing with some interest for years. I could do a “premium dossier” covering everything from practical longevity to Kurzweilian ideas. Studies covered would use the rating system I proposed earlier.
It would probably be between 20 and 40 pages, and cost, say, $23 (it’s called “premium” for a reason). It would be available in multiple formats – PDF, epub, HTML, etc. No copy protection.
It would happen when it happens – I’m still plenty busy writing for ReadWriteWeb, it would take a while to write an extra 20-40 pages on the side. That’s part of why I’m asking in advance about interest.
What do you think?

New Series: 10 Years Ago on Technoccult

Technoccult 2000 site sketch
A sketch of an early layout for Technoccult I recently found in some old papers. It was on the back of a pay stub dated 7/08/2000.
I’m starting a new series of posts on the Technoccult Twitter and Facebook accounts: 10 Years Ago on Techncocult.
You see, Technoccult started out doing dossiers (this was the first), like the early days of Disinfo. But ten years ago today, I added a blog to the site. I straight-up copied the layout of the now defunct political blog Media Jihad, and was also influenced sites like Slashdot, MetaFilter and especially Plastic.
So starting today, I’ll be posting links to the deep archives of the site from Twitter and Facebook. I was going to do this from Tumblr too, but I accidentally already spammed-up Tumblr with the old posts. I was going through and cleaning up the HTML and fixing bad links in the old posts, and didn’t realize that the plugin I use to cross-post to Tumblr was adding those old posts after I saved changes.
PS – I meant to include this song, “Scatterlings and Refugees” by Red State Soundsystem, with my year in review post but forgot. Although it was released in 2009, it was the song that defined 2010 for me.
Scatterlings + Refugees by jzellis

Top 10 Most Popular Technoccult Posts of 2010

I’ve been meaning to do my “year end/new year” type posts for a while, but I’ve been insanely busy. Today is the 11th anniversary of Technoccult, so I thought it would be a good occasion to get these posts out of the way. Enjoy!
So without further ado, here were the most popular 10 new posts of 2010:
1. The Philosophy of Punk Rock Mathematics – Technoccult interviews Tom Henderson
2. 3 Novels To Read if You Liked Inception
3. Who really said “When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and waving a cross”?
4. Twincest: Gay porn’s hottest couple are twin brothers
5. Professor Abandons Grades for Experience Points
6. People with Negative Attitudes More Likely to Learn From Mistakes
7. Hypersigils Reconsidered
8. Beyond Growth – Technoccult interviews Duff McDuffee and Eric Schiller
9. Binaural Beats with SbaGen Developer Jim Peters – Technoccult Interview
10. Cyborg anthropologist Amber Case, the Technoccult interview

Klint blogging at ReadWriteWeb, things may slow down here

If you follow me on Twitter you already know that I’ve joined the ReadWriteWeb team as a writer for the ReadWriteEnterprise channel, where I’ll be covering business technology trends. My first post there is: Massive iPhone Security Issue Could Endanger Enterprise Adoption.
Between my commitments at RWW and my full-time job, I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to commit to Technoccult and Mediapunk in the near future. I’ll certainly still be updating Technoccult, and adding new dossiers, but expect things to slow down considerably. Mediapunk will slow down even more. Hatch 23 is winding down now that LOST is over anyway.

Technoccult dossiers: William S. Burroughs, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison

William S. Burroughs
Alan Moore
Grant Morrison
As I’ve mentioned on Twitter, I’m starting a series of “dossiers” in the style of old-school Disinfo.com. I’ve finished three so far:
William S. Burroughs
Alan Moore
Grant Morrison
The next three will probably be Robert Anton Wilson, Genesis P. Orridge, and Alejandro Jodorowsky. I’m going to focus first on writing up dossiers on people and subjects that have been covered here at Technoccult previously and can mine the archives for links. The idea is to create more accessible portals into previously covered subject matter on the site. As time goes on, I might start to add dossiers on subjects I haven’t covered much in the past.
Each dossier is a work in progress and will be updated as new info comes and as time permits. Please, please, please report dead links – and better yet, include replacement links in the comments.

If Technoccult narrowed its focus, where would you like to see it narrowed to?

In my ongoing attempt to solicit feedback from readers, I would like to pose this question:
If Technoccult were to focus on only ONE area (in effect, stop being a “generalist” site), what ONE area would you want it to cover?
A question to help you answer that question: what do you find here that you don’t find elsewhere?
The reason for this question: The advice most bloggers give on being “successful” (whatever that means) is to have a particular focus and to become an expert on it. I think, however, at least part of whatever success that I’ve had is that I haven’t specialized in one particular topic. And I doubt that I ever will. However, I think really delving into a smaller number of areas might be a good thing. So what I’d really like to know is what you really value at this site – what you would least like to give up, if I were to get more focused.
(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smoovey/3367530271/ / CC License)

Interviews and articles – what would you like to see?

As you can see, for the past few weeks I’ve been putting up more original content and interviews. I’d like your feedback about who else you’d like me to talk to, what you’d like me to write about, and what topics you’d like to see covered more (or covered less).
I can’t make any promises, but I do value your feedback. Feel free to comment on this post and let me know.