Archive for July 2007

‘Annotated version of your head’-William Gibson

One of the things I love about William Gibson is his way with words. Such as below, in which he describes how Google is only really limited by one’s imagination of what to search for.

From an interview: How do you research? If you want to write about, say, GPS, like you do in your new book, do you actively research it and seek out experts, or do you just perceive what’s out there and make it your own?

Gibson: Well, I google it and get it wrong [laughter]. Or if I’m lucky, Cory Doctorow tells me I’m wrong but gives me a good fix for it. One of the things I discovered while I was writing Pattern Recognition is that I now think that any contemporary novel today has a kind of Google novel aura around it, where somebody’s going to google everything in the text. So people–and this happened to me with Pattern Recognition–would find my footprints so to speak: well, he got this from here, and this information is on this site. You’re annotated out there.

Gibson: Yeah it’s sort of like there’s this nebulous extended text. [For one deeply involved annotation, visit Joe Clark's PR-otaku site--and see if you ever come back.] Everything is hyperlinked now. Some of it you actually have to type it in to get it, but it’s all hyperlinked. It really changes things. I’m sure a lot of writers haven’t yet realized how it changes things, but I find myself googling everything that goes into the text, and sometimes being led off in a completely different direction. So are you able to google during your writing day, or do you have to block that off and say, all right–

Gibson: No, I’ve got Word open on top of Firefox. That’s very courageous.

Gibson: It’s kind of the only way I can do it. It’s replaced looking out the window, but I have to have– You need a certain stimulation to work off of.

Gibson: Yeah, I need a certain stimulation. It kind of feels like when you’re floating underwater and you’re breathing through a straw. The open Firefox is the straw: like, I can get out of this if I have to. I can stay under until I can’t stand it anymore, and then I go to BoingBoing or something. I think for some writers, they’d never get back in the pool with Google open to them.

Gibson: It’s not that interesting for me. I’m okay with it because it doesn’t pull me in that much. The thing that limits you with Google is what you can think of to google, really. There’s some kind of personal best limitation on it, unless you get lucky and something you google throws up something you’ve never seen before. You’re still really inside some annotated version of your own head.


On the images found at PlanetHiltron, Gibson writes:

Mesmerizing contra-idoru anti-portraits. A reminder of the extent to which posthumanity is already here, but not evenly distributed. Sweat on the underDepp‘s ringer worth price of admission.