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William Gibson And The Internet Essay, Research Paper
William Gibson and The Internet
The words “Internet” and “world wide web” are becoming everyday use these
days, it has exploded into the mass market of information and advertising. There
are bad points about the “net” as well as good points, this relatively new
medium is growing at such a rate that the media have to take it seriously.
This new form of communication was mainly populated by small groups of
communities, but now that it is getting much easier to access the web these
groups are growing.
The word Cyberpunk is nothing new in the world of the “net” and to science
fiction readers , and it is this term which names most of the online
communities . Within the Cyberpunk cultures there are sub cultures such as
hackers, phreaks ,ravers etc.. all have a connection with new technologies. The
term Cyberpunk was originated in Science Fiction Literature, writers such as
William Gibson tell stories of future worlds, cultures and the Internet.
it is William Gibson and the cyberpunks who have carried out some of the
most important mappings of our present moment and its future trends during the
past decade. The present, in these mappings, is thus viewed from the persceptive
of a future that is visible from within the experiences and trends of the
current moment, from this perpscetive, cyberpunk can be read as a sort of social
The Internet is a network of computer networks, the most important of
which was called ARPANET(Advanced Research Projects Agency NETwork), a wide area
experimental network connecting hosts and terminal servers together. Rules were
set up to supervise the allocation of addresses and to create voluntary
standards for the network. The ARPANET was built between October and December
1969 by a US company called Bolt, Beranak and Newman (BBN), which is still big
in the Internet world. It had won a contract from the US Government’s Department
of Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency , or ARPA, to build a network that
would survive a nuclear attack. Only four government mainframe computers were
originally linked up, Unfortunately, ARPANET was also dependent on the
involvement of hundreds of US computer scientists. Because the ARPANET was a
military project, it was managed in true military style – the project manager
appointed by ARPA gave the orders and they were carried out. It was therefore
easy to tell who “ran” the network. By 1972 it had grown to 37 mainframe
computers. At the same time, the way in which the network was being used was
changing. As well as using the system to exchange important, but boring,
military information, ARPANET users started sending e-mail – to each other by
means of private mail boxes.
By 1983 ARPANET had grown to such an extent that it was felt that the
military research component should be moved to a separate network, called MILNET.
In 1987 the system was opened up to any educational facility, academic
researcher or international research organisation who wanted to use it. As local
area networks became more pervasive, many hosts became gateways to local
networks. A network layer, to allow the inter operation of these networks was
developed and called IPA (Internet Protocol). Over time other groups created
long haul IP based networks (NASA, NSF, states…). These nets too, inter-
operate because of IP. The collection of all of these inter operating networks
is the Internet.
Up until 1990 the Internet was only a complicated and uninteresting text
format of communication and most of the people using the net were either
Computer programmers, students, Hackers, Societies, Governments officials and a
few artists interested the digital media.
Everything changed in 92 when a British programmer came up with “Mosaic”,
a text and graphic based window (web browser) into the net, this programme was
simple to use. The basic structure was in simple page form, Just click on a
button, word or picture and you could cross half the world in seconds, it was
also simple to construct a page. Over the last couple of years, anyone who had
a computer and Internet account has created their own “Web page”.
The growth of the Internet, those machines connected to the NSFNET
backbone has been extraordinary. In 1989, the number of networks attached to the
NSFNET/Internet increased from 346 to 997, data traffic increased five-fold. The
latest estimate, is that 200,000 to 400,000 main computers are directly
connected to NSFNET, with perhaps a total of eleven million individuals able to
exchange information freely. The Internet is still growing and companies are
developing new tools and programmes to speed up the communications so that
immense amounts of data can be transferred in seconds.
“The future of the 20th century, of the 21st century, will be the net.
Its awesome. But on the net, you still have to have someone on the
other side. The poor nerd who sits in front of the computer just
talking to themselves – that’s kind of sad. It’s the contact that’s important,
interpersonal, interactive communication.” [T.Leery (observer
Over the years since the Internet first began, many clubs, organisations,
cultures and societies have grown and congregated on the net. This is probably
because to many users it is a cheap form (even free) of world wide communication,
the new technology has link with their ideas and also because of the freedom of
expression the Internet gives. No single government body or organisation owns
the net and because of its size, no one can fully govern and censor the
So called “hackers” also part of the “Cyberpunk” group, were one of the
first groups of individuals known on the Internet, these were mostly male
students studying computer science, trying to break into government computers or
anywhere they were not supposed to be. Most hackers live by this set of rules,
First, access to computers should be unlimited and total: “Always yield to the
Hands-On Imperative!”. Second, all information should be free. Third, mistrust
authority and promote decentralisation. Fourth, hackers should be judged by
their prowess as hackers rather than by formal organisational or other
irrelevant criteria. Fifth, one can create art and beauty on a computer. Finally,
computers can change lives for the better.
One group i came across in an article call themselves the “Extropians”,
they want to be immortal and travel through space and time. They are also
libertarians who want to privets the oceans and air. One member Jay Prime
Positive wants to upload his consciousness to a computer “I’d probably want to
spend most of my time in data space……i imagine having multiple bodies and
multiple copies of myself. I have problems with gender identification, so I’d
definitely have a female body in there somewhere”.
The group have many idea’s of the future. You perhaps never considered
the idea of setting loose molecule-sized robots in your body to clean out your
A floating free state banged together out of old oil tankers (similar to
the sprawl described in Gibson’s “Mona Lisa overdrive”, a place where freedom
and unrestrained intellect could reign and you could finally get the government
and tax man off your back. the Extropians want to go beyond the limits of
nature and biology and move on up to the stars, they believe that computers have
kick started the human evolution.
The term “Cyberspace” was first coined by the sci-fi writer William
Gibson in his 1984 novel “Neuromancer”. Gibson first identified the emergence
of Cyberspace as the most recent moment in the development of electromechanical
communications, telematics and virtual reality. Cyberspace, as Gibson saw it,
is the simultaneous experience of time, space, and the flow of multi-dimensional,
pan-sensory data: All the data in the world stacked up like one big neon city,
so you could cruise around and have a kind of grip on it, visually anyway,
because if you didn’t, it was too complicated, trying to find your way to the
particular piece of data you needed.
Cyberspace. “A con sensual hallucination experienced daily by billions
legitimate operators, in every nation… A graphical representation of
data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system.
Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the non space of the
mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights,
– William Gibson, Neuromancer.
At the core of Cyberspace is the Internet.
The psychologist/guru Timothy Leery interviewed by David Gale in 1991, is
very clear about Cyberspace :
“What were talking about is electronic real estate, a whole electronic
reality. The problem we have is to organise the great continents of
data that will soon become available. All the movies , all the TV ,
all the libraries, all recordable knowledge… These are the vast natural
crude oil reserves waiting to be tapped, In the 15th century we explored the
planet, now we must prepare once more to chart, colonise and open up a
whole new world of data. Software becomes the maps and guides into
The interesting thing about Cyberspace is the way it creates the idea of a
community. Every subculture needs an image of an outsider’s community to cling
to, to run to. For the Cyberpunk, this community doesn’t actually have a place.
It can be accessed everywhere by modem, but its the nearest thing on earth.
Cyberpunk subculture is the first subculture which doesn’t have a particular
place of congregation . There are now hundreds of bulletin boards around the
world which have a Cyberpunk style, where young cyberpunks discuss the latest
hardware and software. It is familiar to most people as the “place” in which a
long-distance telephone conversation takes place. But it is also the treasure
trove for all digital or electronically transferred information, and, as such,
it is the place for most of what is now commerce, industry, and human
Cyberpunk literature, in general, deals with unimportant people in
technologically-enhanced cultural “systems”. In Cyberpunk stories’ settings,
there is usually a “system” which dominates the lives of most “ordinary” people,
be it an oppressive government, a group of large, corporations, or a
fundamentalist religion. These systems are enhanced by certain technologies ,
particularly “information technology” (computers, the mass media), making the
system better at keeping those within it inside it. Often this technological
system extends into its human “components” as well, via brain implants,
prosthetic limbs, cloned or genetically engineered organs, etc. Humans
themselves become part of “the Machine”. This is the “cyber” aspect of Cyberpunk.
“Cyberpunk hit the front page of the New York Times when some young
computer kids were arrested for cracking a government computer file.
The Times called the kids “cyberpunks” From there, the
performers involved in the high-tech-oriented radical art movement
generally known as “Industrial” ” [ R.U Sirius (Mondo 2000) 64 ]
In the mid-’80s Cyberpunk emerged as a new way of doing science fiction in
both literature and film. The first book “Neuromancer”; the most important film,
“what’s most important to me is that Neuromancer is about the present.
its not really about an imagined future…..” [William Gibson (MONDO
William Gibson is widely considered to be the father of “Cyberpunk”, dark
novels about hi-tech computer bohemians and underground renegades. His first
novel, “Neuromancer”, bears the distinction of winning the Hugo, Nebula, and
Philip K. Dick awards. The first to win all three.
William Gibson parlayed off the success of his first SF ‘Cyberpunk’
blockbuster Neuromancer to write a more complex, engaging novel in which these
two worlds are rapidly colliding. In his novel Count Zero, we encounter teenage
hacker Bobby Newmark, who goes by the handle “Count Zero.” Bobby on one of his
treks into Cyberspace runs into something unlike any other AI(artificial
intelligence) he’s ever encountered – a strange woman, surrounded by wind and
stars, who saves him from ‘flatlining.’ He does not know what it was he
encountered on the net, or why it saved him from certain death.
Later we meet Angie Mitchell, the mysterious girl whose head has been
‘rewired’ with a neural network which enables her to ‘channel’ entities from
Cyberspace without a ‘deck’ – in essence, to be ‘possessed’. Bobby eventually
meets Beauvoir, a member of a Voudoun/cyber sect, who tells him that in
Cyberspace the entity he actually met was Erzulie, and that he is now a
favourite of Legba, the lord of communication… Beauvoir explains that Voudoun
is the perfect religion for this era, because it is pragmatic – “It isn’t about
salvation or transcendence. What it’s about is getting things done .”
Eventually, we come to realise that after the fracturing of the AI
Wintermute, who tried to unite the Matrix, the unified being split into several
entities which took on the character of the various Haitian loa, for reasons
that are never made clear.
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