The Sprawl

As I mentioned a while ago, back in the early 80’s I had a subscription to OMNI magazine, and it was there that I read the early work of William Gibson, including “Burning Chrome“, in which Gibson introduced the term “cyberspace“. I haven’t read that story for over 20 years, but I can still remember how excited I was by the idea of plugging your brain into a computer and being instantly transported to a virtual world in which pure information was experienced as unmediated sensual perception.

I have subsequently gone off actually sticking wires into my skull, but I still like the concept of an immersive artificial experience. Part of my disappointment with Second Life has been its failure to live up to Gibson’s vision of cyberspace as “a consensual hallucination … lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind”.

There’s an interesting interview with Gibson on his website, in which he talks about his experience of visiting Second Life, which he compares to “a cross between being in some suburban shopping mall … and the worst day you ever spent in high school”, which chimes with my experience – there’s hardly anyone else around, and the people you do meet won’t talk to you.

It’s well worth reading the whole interview; Gibson touches on a number of interesting points, including the way that the ubiquity of internet access means that everything that is published these days is effectively hyperlinked, and how this alters the relationship between author, reader and text.

Though I guess that authors have always seen their work appropriated as inspiration for other artists.

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