Finding the will's to enter the future
September 11, 2007
On a day when many Americans recall a dark part of the past in the US, we'd invite you to cast your gaze at the future.
We owe a lot of today’s tech to a writer about tomorrow’s, William Gibson. The creator of cyberspace in his keystone novel Neuromancer, Gibson has made a storied career out of stories about the Internet, something most of us call the Web these days.
Now Gibson is taking a step back into the present, even the past, for his more recent writing. His newest book, Spook Country, takes place in Gibson’s own Vancouver in our networked, post-9/11 time, “where shadowy and mysterious characters are using New York's smallest crime family, a sort of boutique operation of smugglers and so-called illegal facilitators, to get something into North America,” according to Amazon.com.
Gibson’s prescience put him at the forefront of Web connections, and so he’s exploring a Web community called Second Life, where nothing exists except on a computer screen, but everything can seem so real. In his last novel Pattern Recognition, the present had caught up with Gibson's future. So much of what he imagined has come true. In that way, Amazon’s interviewer said, “it seems like we're all living in science fiction now.”
The fiction of the HP 3000 ending at Hewlett-Packard keeps trying to turn into fact. But the vendor is once again "visualizing a concept" to keep the company in the support business. Imagination and research are the elements HP's 3000 team and Gibson have in common.
Before you head off to secondlife.com and lose your real life for a few days, consider the looking toward the future in your community. So much of our news imagines what will happen. I found myself typing the word “will” 19 times in a two-page Q&A with HP’s Jennie Hou, who's now in charge of the future decisions about the 3000’s HP endgame. Toss in another handful of “will’s” in my editorial of earlier this week, and you get the picture. What might happen in the next few years seems to earn our keenesinterest.
But look at Gibson, and browse HP’s Web pages about the 3000 programs, and you’ll see a lot of looking back. Success stories, some already years old. Offers still in place, mostly unchanged since 2002. Of late, the 3000 community online in the newsgroup and mailing list is quick to reminisce, like teenaged boy scouts flashing their merit badges or veterans comparing war citations.