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Breakfast at the dawn of Cyberpunk


Photo: Chemical Brothers Round House, London *

I am sitting here eating breakfast in the morning sun looking over the London skyline.

My wife is checking an eBay auction on her iPhone and I am considering migrating this Posterous blog to a dedicated WordPress blog on one of my domains.

In the distance somebody is trying to set up some music with iTunes but it crashes with a loud system noise… The day is already digital.

It wasn’t always like that though.

As a kid I grew up in a 400 people strong village in a forgotten corner of Denmark. Isolated from any “thought-mates” I spent a lot of time reading books and the dystopian world of Cyberpunk Scifi guided by William Gibson, Bruce Sterling and Neil Stephenson. And I loved it and wanted to live in that world.

Lately Neil Stephenson has been in my mind for his book The Diamond Age which features an interactive book called the Primer which draws parallels to the iPad.

There are lots of lists of how which scifi gadgets are now reality and which aren’t (where are the flying cars?), but in my mind it is not the hardware that is defining whether that cyberpunk world is here or not; It is how we interact with technology and how we have become linked into the information network and become part of it.

It is not whether we have cybernetic implants; It is whether the low sound of information technology is humming in the background.

And it is. The cyberpunk world I dreamt about is here.

I can feel the information flowing around me everywhere in London; People talking into to thin air because they use handless headset for their phones; students with notebooks so familiar to them it is part of their clothes like shoes; Businessmen so addicted to their blackberries they don’t even look up at the hot women walking by and old people on their mobile phones to their families.

A friend of mine once said about the book Pattern Recognition: “William Gibson is best when nothing is happening”. That to me encapsulates Cyberpunk in one sentence.

And that is why Cyberpunk to me is reality now. Information technology was never “here it is, tadaaaaa!” it just came slowly sneaking in underneath us and is now humming hypnotically away in the background… Except the guy finally got his iTunes working outside… not sure I like his playlist.


* The day ended in true Cyberpunk fashion with Chemical Brothers gig. I was hoping to get a good photo of the sea of tiny mobile phone screens pointing to the stage, but my iPhone didn’t do a good job. All things equal, their stage visuals where very 80s Cyberpunk so they’ll have to do.


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