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We're Living in a Cyberpunk Novel
Posted Dec 17, 2010 - 9:31:30

William Gibson Novel.Allow me to paint you a picture - the world is interconnected by a vast information network. People carry around interconnected devices (sometimes with headsets) that can not only directly message any other person in the world, but many can use the vast connected network in full.

In this world, a confidential government computer has a vast swath of secret documents stolen. These documents are sent to an organization dedicated to publishing leaks, led by a globe trotting rogue of questionable morals. This man leads a romantic sounding life, traveling the world, but may not be as pure as he seems. His organization is then attacked by politicians, and government lawyers threaten the internet service providers. The organization's site is forced to move, but the documents continue to spread to more and more places.

In protest of those who would try to stop the leaks, a loose affiliation of internet users start internet attacks targeted at the companies that they see as having betrayed the leaking organization. The attacks create more mayhem than anything else, but they continue.

The globe trotting leader of the organization hosting the leaks finally surrenders himself to authorities on charges of sexual assault. Some believe he is guilty of the charges, while others theorize they are trumped up. Regardless, he is taken into custody.

What happens next? I don't know. It's not a book, movie, or short story -- it's the news, and you know that already.

It amazes me that the science fiction stories I read fifteen years ago closely resemble the world we're living in. The Wikileaks story alone would have made a good book, but it's more than that. When William Gibson was writing Idoru, which involves a fictional Japanese Idol, could he have imagined Vocaloid avatars would be giving "live" concerts? Or that people would be trying to marry virtual characters there?

People have decried the downfall of the Cyberpunk genre, as other things like Steampunk have filled in the literary gaps - but is it really still needed as a separate thing when realistic fiction would depict an almost identical world? Sure, no one is getting neural implants right now to directly network their heads into the internet, but is it such a fantastic possibility anymore? I literally have three screens and two computers running on my desk right now, connected to two different ISPs. I work technically from an office 500 miles away from where I am right now. I haven't made new friends in my new town because I'm still connected to quite a few back in my old town.

Heck, this year's Time Person of of the Year, Mark Zuckerberg, is important because he created a Social Networking site used by half a billion people to stay in constant contact with one another. This whole thing just sort of amazes me when I think about it.
- Traegorn

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While we may be living in a cyberpunk novel, I'm currently hoping the next chapters don't go the way of the usual cliched fictional approach in which the evil government (because in fiction, the government is usually always evil) lashes out in poorly thought out ways to re-consolidate its security and power.

Either way, I've been finding the entire Wikileaks scenario fascinating and while I'm a bit scared of how it's going to end, I definitely want to know what happens next.
I think we're in one of the better written ones, where there are no good guys, and everything is a gray area. :P
Cheesy, what novels have you been reading?  The government isn't evil in cyberpunk, just ineffectual.  Usually a puppet of some megacorporation or special interest.
I admit I don't really read cyberpunk myself (I've spent the last few years paging through the Discworld series instead).  My main concern of the Anonymous attacks is that the US Government could use this as leverage to pass laws regarding internet regulation by themselves in order to prevent these kind of things from happening.  The catch would be it could come across as another Patriot Act, which I think most people would see as a bad thing.

It was an attempt to be witty and carry the comparison being made, nothing more.




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