Statelessness is a Problem We Created, and One We Can Solve

When Infomocracy was accepted for publication, I decided I would donate a percentage of my earnings from the book to a non-profit working in an area related to the book’s themes. This was partly because I feel so lucky/privileged/blessed to be able to earn money doing something I love (especially since I already have another career I’m pretty happy with as well). The other reason was because I wanted to ground the fictional, futurist world of the book with the real present of its readers. My hope is that knowing a percentage of each purchase goes to support work in a specific area will help readers connect to the issues in the book, and see their relevance—and the potential for changing the status quo—in the world around them.

The Accountability Lab was the perfect fit for Infomocracy, reflecting the novel’s concerns with governance and transparency through their innovative work ...

Are We Heading Towards an Infomocracy?

Micro democracy infomocracy I have lived in, worked in, and visited a lot of countries with on-going separatist movements. (That includes the United States and, in fact, almost any country you might be reading this from). Some are more noticeable than others. When I lived in Sri Lanka, the LTTE had carved out a band of territory off-limits to the Sri Lankan government, complete with its own (limited) public services, radio stations, and time zone (this territory was later violently overrun and no longer exists). When I traveled in Spain, Spaniards were boycotting cava because of Catalonian secession movements, and there were warnings about attacks by ETA, the armed Basque separatist organization. When I worked in Timor-Leste, one of the newest countries in the world was still figuring out things like economy and orthography after centuries of colonialism. A few hundred kilometers to the north, in Maluku, people were still deciding whether ...
Infomocracy Malka Older

Optimism and Access: The Line Between Cyberpunk and Post-Cyberpunk

Infomocracy_full Calling Infomocracy a post-cyberpunk novel wasn’t my idea. I’m happy with the “cyberpunk” part. Infomocracy owes a huge debt to cyberpunk novels (not the least being compared to Snowcrash on its front-cover blurb). When I started writing it I was thinking very consciously about the cyberpunk aesthetic: smooth, capable characters who can pull off some fairly glamorous intrigue but then turn around and show you their gritty, imperfect underbelly as well; a combination of virtual and physical action; a tone with an element of darkness but also a tendency to wink at self-awareness. Also katanas. (In retrospect I don’t really understand how katanas fit into cyberpunk, but they do seem common there, and since I spent two years studying iaido in Japan, I was quite happy to use them.) The characters and the story quickly took over the writing process and went their own way, but I’m grateful for ...

Engaging in the Democratic Process with Infomocracy

Infomocracy_full Infomocracy is based in the late 21st century, in a future when democracy has evolved into micro-democracy and governments compete for dominance across tens of thousands of tiny jurisdictions in a global election. Any centenal of one hundred thousand citizens can vote for any government it wants, and governments knit their scattered constituents together with virtual technology and common laws. It’s an alluring idea. Each community can pick the government it wants. No need for pitched battles between groups with completely different interests in countries that span time zones, climates, and vastly different histories. It’s a vision of customized democracy that aims to increase voter engagement and information that tries to reduce the problem of oppression by majority, if not completely remove it. Nonetheless, the characters who populate Infomocracy find that this system is far from perfect. Voters still fall for style over substance, propelling all-celebrity political parties into ...

Living in an Infomocracy

Print I love the drama of elections. I love the constant polls and predictions, measuring the desperate efforts to slide ahead by even a few points. Then there’s the thrill of tracing the cause and effect between every well-documented micro-event and the tiny ticks up and down in the numbers. Even the way we create those numbers affects those numbers. m_older01 Even the way we try to find out about the numbers affects the numbers. m_older02 Then there are the subtleties and not-so-subtleties of designing, testing, and projecting images. The strategies and the tactics, the gesturing, the jostling, the amplified personalities that do their Punch and Judy show for us under the bright lights of debate stages and in carefully curated interviews. Every detail becomes important. m_older03 Everything is about the projection of information, and controlling information is an attempt to control elections. m_older04 Data powers the world. m_older05 And, like all precious resources, information is ...

Infomocracy: Chapter 5

Infomocracy cover

< p class="frontmatter">It’s been twenty years and two election cycles since Information, a powerful search engine monopoly, pioneered the switch from warring nation-states to global microdemocracy. The corporate coalition party Heritage has won the last two elections. With another election on the horizon, the Supermajority is in tight contention, and everything’s on the line.

With power comes corruption. For Ken, this is his chance to do right by the idealistic Policy1st party and get a steady job in the big leagues. For Domaine, the election represents another staging ground in his ongoing struggle against the pax democratica. For Mishima, a dangerous Information operative, the whole situation is a puzzle: how do you keep the wheels running on the biggest political experiment of all time, when so many have so much to gain?

Malka Older’s debut novel Infomocracy is available June 7th from Publishing. Read chapter five below, or head back ...