thenextwave

William Gibson – the novelty of ‘non-mediated’ experience

Posted in digital, emerging issues, future, technology by Andrew Curry on 14 August, 2007

There’s an interview with the writer William Gibson in the Q3 futures supplement of New Media Age (subscription only) in which he’s asked, “You’ve written that the web provided a magnificent opportunity to waste time. What else is it good for?”

Sadly, given the wording of the question, he passes up the chance to do an Edwin Starr impersonation and say, “Absolutely nothing”. But his reply is worth reading:

All of the questions we used to ask about cyberspace are now more rewardingly asked about ‘non-mediated experience’ – those increasingly rare moments when we disconnect from all media. The digital is now the rule, while the non-mediated becomes ever more the exception.

The interview is part of Gibson’s promotion for his latest novel, Spook Country, set in 2006.

One of the characters in Spook Country remarks that cyberspace is everting, turning itself inside out, via GPS and related locative technologies, via mobility, via wirelessness. Twenty years ago it was more interesting to interrogate cyberspace because that had the higher novelty factor. We’re approaching a condition in which non-cyberspace, for most of us, will have the higher novelty factor.

(I wrote about the way in which cyberspace was re-connecting itself to the tangible and physical in a recent post and a related article).

Ever since Gibson invented the notion of ‘cyberspace‘ in his novel Neuromancer, he’s had an eye for emerging issues. The emerging issues in Spook Country: “Homeland Security blankets, the wall-thickness of shipping containers, the GPS grid, geohacking, war profiteers, and what a faith-based initiative looks like if your faith is Afro-Cuban in origin.”

Boing Boing’s review of Spook Country thought it possibly his best yet, partly because it was set in the recent past rather than the not-so-distant future. Gibson’s intermittent but persistent blog can be found here.

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2 Responses

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  1. Bryan Loar said, on 16 August, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    It is certainly interesting to see how mediated worlds intersect with real life (RL). I read some time back how Linden Lab hosted a party in RL and folks in Second Life (SL) joined them via flat screen monitors (folks in RL had a video feed of themselves in SL).

    MIT’s Technology Review has an interesting article about how these worlds collide (a href=”https://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/18888/”>Second Earth, July, 2007 – subscription only access). Specifically, it speculates what it would be like if there were a mashup of Google Earth & SL. However, it did indicate that such a mashup would not quite create a metaverse.

    I think Gibson is on the right track, though. I think our environments will continually be digitally renegotiated/mediated. I think it is a logical progression from what we’ve been doing all along–renegotiating reality within our minds.

    Great post! Thanks for adding your blog to WPP.

  2. [...] it.Beyond that, we’re overtaken by a new sense of nostalgia.William Gibson once said in an interview:All of the questions we used to ask about cyberspace are now more rewardingly asked about [...]


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