In a document promulgated in October, the "Manifesto of January 3, 2000," Sterling dismissed the idea of tackling the polluters head-on with traditional activist political methods: "Those in command of society's resources will immediately tame and neutralize any system of legal regulation." Instead, Sterling felt, he was uniquely equipped to "design a design movement" to help shift the dominant cultural aesthetic toward something a bit healthier: "Contemporary civil society can be led anywhere that looks attractive, glamorous and seductive. The task at hand is therefore basically an act of social engineering . . . Society must become Green, and it must be a variety of Green that society will eagerly consume. . . The world needs a new, unnatural, seductive, mediated, glamorous Green. A Viridian Green."
As he set about bullying this new movement into existence, Sterling fell back on the tools he used over a decade ago to jump-start cyberpunk in Cheap Truth: singling out for praise current efforts with the required "deep Green" tendencies (the rock-and-dirt art installations of Andy Goldsworthy) and drawing up a list of designated "precursors" (William Morris, Buckminster Fuller). He's also been trying out new inducements to Viridian thinking -- strategies that may soon be applied to Dead Media, such as sponsoring contests for the creation of a Viridian type font, with extra points awarded for the design judged "most fungal."
"I like the idea of tackling this challenge," Sterling says, "because, first, I think it is very important, but also because I think we could get it over with in 10 years. It's not like worrying about something like your own salvation, which you can fret over forever. The CO2 problem is very immediate, very technical. It's an engineering problem."
Sterling is currently peddling a proposal for a book on Dead Media, and sees the Viridian List as an oblique extension of that enterprise: "When I am doing Dead Media, I am mostly doing fieldwork. I just want to collect reports. But in order to write the book, I have to have some kind of really broad-scale synthesis about the nature of media, technology, humanity. At the moment, I do not have one. Viridian is a way to try to work that out, to think about all these questions more deeply."