Eversion

I started writing this a few weeks ago and never got around to finishing it enough to be postable until now.

I mentioned William Gibson’s work before. He said something about the “increasingly atemporal nature of music” (may or may not be an exact quote) meaning that because it’s all out there online, recording artists can gain growing popularity long after they’ve stopped touring/recording/performing.

It came to mind one morning when the clock radio went off. It was telling the story of an obscure singer/songwriter who was tracked down after four decades of inactivity to record new songs.

This idea came from Gibson’s 2007 novel Spook Country. I picked up the audiobook over the weekend and have been listening to it in the car. Gibson is known as a science fiction writer, and he coined the term cyberspace back in the 80s. This book isn’t science fiction, and it was set in the present, around 2006 as he was writing it. But at the same time, it sort of reads like science fiction, in that it involves cutting edge technology. One of the author’s famous quotes is “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.” That shows in novels like this, seemingly futuristic yet contemporary. Except 2006 was a very long time ago in Internet years. The novel now feels futuristic yet quaint in some ways.

Still, there are some interesting discussions of the nature of the web. At one point we get this conversation about the eversion of cyberspace:

“Someone told me that cyberspace was ‘everting.’ That was how she put it.”
“Sure. And once it everts, then there isn’t any cyberspace, is there? There never was, if you want to look at it that way. It was a way we had of looking where we were headed, a direction. With the grid, we’re here. This is the other side of the screen. Right here.”
p. 64

The idea is that cyberspace was something that was online, in the computer or on the web. But now with the mobile web and GPS, it’s in our hands and our pockets and our cars, a ubiquitous thing like the air. With something like Google glass, we could end up looking at the world through the web.

I thought of this again while watching Snowden’s TED thing, where he’s in Vancouver as a roomba-robot, projecting his presence from wherever he is in Russia – online intersecting with real life. It makes me wonder – will the web become so ubiquitous that it’s just part of the environment, something we don’t even notice?

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