James Gleick interviews William Gibson

This interview was recorded in 2014 and runs one hour and twenty minutes. If you are not a fan of Gibson’s novels you can skip this. If you are a fan but haven’t read The Peripheral, you should not watch this interview. The interview is notable in that Mr. Gleick doesn’t interrupt Mr. Gibson once. He lets him fully answer each question before asking the next one.

William Gibson Reimagines World After 2016 Election

“Agency,” Mr. Gibson’s next novel, which Berkley will publish in January. The story unfolds in two timelines: San Francisco in 2017, in an alternate time track where Hillary Clinton won the election and Mr. Trump’s political ambitions were thwarted, and London in the 22nd century, after decades of cataclysmic events have killed 80 percent of humanity. In the present-day San Francisco setting, a shadowy start-up hires a young woman named Verity to test a new product: a “cross-platform personal avatar” that was developed by the military as a form of artificial intelligence. Meanwhile, characters in the distant future are interfering with the events unfolding in 2017, through technological time travel that allows them to send digital communications to the past.”

New York Times book review »

Does William Gibson know what’s ahead?

“It’s the music of a disenfranchised, mostly white proletariat, barely hanging on in post-post-industrial America.” William Gibson’s All Tomorrow’s Parties was published in 1999 so the line above was written at least 17 years ago. More so than any other writer, I get the feeling Gibson somehow knows what’s ahead for us. Maybe he gave us a glimpse of that in The Peripheral. Perhaps that future is already here. I wish I could pick up the phone and call Mr. Gibson or Kevin Kelly or James Gleick or (insert name of really smart person here): “I’m sorry to bother you, but what do you think? Is everything going to be okay or not?”

William Gibson interview

William Gibson fans will want to read this short interview by Business Insider. Mr. Gibson talks about ‘The Peripheral,’ the power of Twitter, and his next book set in today’s Silicon Valley.

“I am able to wake up, open Twitter, and sort of glance across the psychic state of the planet.”

What does a writer do when the world gets weirder faster than you can write about it?

“…he world is already that much weirder than it was when I started writing the book. You know the level of freakiness we have experienced in 2016 is so far off the charts, I am having to go back and crank up the weirdness in parts of the book I have already written.”

And it’s only August. Worried about the Middle East? Don’t be.

“And then I see NASA’s climate projection for the Middle East in 2050 or so, when they say none of it will be livable by human beings who don’t have space suits.”

The best thing about the present

“The most fantastic thing about the present time is that we’re actually still here. In the early ’80s, people who knew what their situation was with the Cold War and nuclear armament didn’t necessarily expect that we’d make it this far. We’ve kind of lost that knowledge. Once the threat was gone, it was like we disremembered it as a species. It seldom comes up anymore, which is really odd.”

“The future will probably know more about what we’re actually doing than we do. Because if it stays history long enough, it doesn’t have to be secret anymore.”

From interview with William Gibson

Shoot all the guys wearing combat pants first

Interesting interview with William Gibson. I guess it’s about style and fashion although I doubt he’d describe it thus. “Tech Wear and the Limits of Authenticity” is a pretty good description.

My rule is that if Dick Cheney couldn’t wear it without creating a stir, I shouldn’t either. I like clothing that isn’t easily noticed. […] I’m embarrassed if I think anyone knows exactly what I paid for something, or even where I got it. I want what I’m wearing to feel good on, wear well, and to be extremely functional.

There’s an idea called “gray man”, in the security business, that I find interesting. They teach people to dress unobtrusively. Chinos instead of combat pants, and if you really need the extra pockets, a better design conceals them. They assume, actually, that the bad guys will shoot all the guys wearing combat pants first, just to be sure. I don’t have that as a concern, but there’s something appealingly “low-drag” about gray man theory: reduced friction with one’s environment.

William Gibson, NY Public Library

William Gibson is the author of ten books, including, most recently, the New York Times-bestselling trilogy Zero History, Spook Country and Pattern Recognition. Gibson’s 1984 debut novel, Neuromancer, was the first novel to win the three top science fiction prizes—the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award. Gibson is credited with coining the term “cyberspace” in his short story “Burning Chrome,” and with popularizing the concept of the Internet while it was still largely unknown. He is also a co-author of the novel The Difference Engine, written with Bruce Sterling.

Video above recorded at New York Public Library

William Gibson Wired interview

In the old days, if you wanted to become insanely knowledgeable about something like that, you basically had to be insane — you had to travel around the world, finding other people who were sufficiently crazy to know everything there was to know about that. That would have been so hard to do, dependent on sheer luck, that it kept the numbers of those people down.

But now you can be a kid in a town in the backwoods of Brazil, and you can wake up one morning and say, “I want to know everything about stainless steel sports watches from the 1950s,” and if you really applied yourself, to the internet, at the end of the year you would have the equivalent of a master’s degree in this tiny pointless field. I’ve totally met lots of people who have the equivalent of that degree.

I never wanted to be a collector of anything; I just wanted to pointlessly know really a lot about one thing

My friend Doug Coupland recently tweeted something to the effect that he was once again trying to get into Facebook but he said, “It’s like Twitter but with mandatory homework.” That might be another good way to describe it. With Twitter you’re just there; everybody else is just there. And its appeal to me is the lack of structure and the lack of — there’s this kind of democratization that I think is absent with more structured forms of social media.

Now, last week, 30 years ago? What’s the difference? What does it matter? It’s all there on YouTube. And so I find myself discovering things like a decade late, or I discover things before very many people have found them. It’s atemporal. It’s just all over the long calendar, and that’s going to make things different. But that’s been going on for a long time.

Full interview