Interview with William Gibson to Wired Magazine. Part 3

Original author: Greeta Dayal
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The first part is about why science fiction writers almost always incorrectly predict the future.
The second part is about Twitter, antique watches and Internet addiction.

If punk had arisen today, and not in 1977, how would it penetrate the mass consciousness?

“He would be immediately posted on YouTube. - suggests William Gibson. “Among the trillions of other things that load there daily.” And how then could one find him? ”

In the third and last part of the interview, an outstanding science fiction writer talks about punk rock, Internet memes, the first steps of recording and the sensational clip of South Korean rapper Psy " Gangnam Style ". The video, which scored 170 million views at the time of recording the interview, also hooked it.

"... something generated by a subculture that we would never know anything in our life, gets on YouTube, suddenly gets millions and millions of views, and people around the world say to each other:“ Wow! Did you see that? ” Gibson said.

It is unlikely, he believes, that this video will be anything more than an accidental surge on the pop culture radar that will quickly be forgotten, supplanted by another viral meme. "But," he says with a smile, “you know, I want to "I’ll see it, people on Twitter will not let me miss it."

Wired: In the essay from Punk: An Aesthetic , you wrote that punk was the last pre-digital counterculture. Interesting idea. Can you explain in more detail?

Gibson:It was pre-digital in the sense that in 1977 there were no punk websites [laughs]. There was no web itself in which these sites could be. There was nothing like it in 1977. The music was on records and on cassettes. There was no mp3. There were no such distribution opportunities. The verbal component of that counterculture was distributed in the form of samizdat magazines, which were sculpted by hand and replicated on photocopiers. And then they were sent by mail or sold in small shops with plates and bobbins. It was a pre-digital era. There was no Internet in which all this could be published. The expansion of culture took place rather quickly, but much more slowly than now.

I think - and it’s hardly just nostalgia - that because of this, the punk culture was originally thicker, more concentrated. She could not travel from London to Toronto at the speed of light. Someone had to come to Toronto or somewhere else with a backpack full of disks, cassettes and magazines, and show it all, physically show it to other people. Which is what happened. Compared to how the news is being distributed now, it's a stone age. The real stone age! This was something special, although for those who are looking from the future, it is not at all clear what exactly. In 1977, everything felt different than, say, in 2007.

Wired: But what if punk rock had arisen not then, but now? What would be the difference?

Gibson:It would be immediately posted on YouTube. Among the trillions of other things that load there daily. And how then could one find him? How could he become a Thing, how would a subculture form? I think today this is happening quite differently than before. Bohemia, the countercultural party always somehow separated itself from the rest of society. She was an independent state in the cultural landscape of Western industrial civilization. She was a mysterious country, to which the majority was ordered. To get into it, one had to pay a serious price. And it was cool and exciting. How is this happening now? Where and how to get tickets to this country? I am sure that it exists now, although I no longer have first-hand information. But for sure today is much different.

My first acquaintance with punk rock happened when I arrived in Toronto and visited a couple of parties, which, as it turned out, were the first punk concerts. There were bands from far away, even from Los Angeles, and they played music that I had never heard before. I heard a lot of them and went home to Vancouver thinking: "What was that?"

And then a friend of mine, who was studying at an art school in London, returned from there with a backpack that contained a bunch of punk magazines and a complete collection of Sex Pistols. When he shook it all out of his backpack, the name “Sex Pistols” was completely unknown to me, like anyone else in Vancouver. And by the end of the evening we were just talking about them [laughs]. This is not at all the same as waking up one morning and looking at the Boing Boing homepage.

Wired:Perhaps if punk appeared today, it would become a meme, and a viral video from Sex Pistols would collect millions of views on YouTube.

Gibson: Have you seen the Korean Gangnam Style clip? Just something like that - something generated by a subculture that we would never know anything in our life, gets on YouTube, suddenly gets millions and millions of views, and people around the world say to each other: “Wow! Did you see that?" Very similar to how it all began then. Although it is unlikely that this will have exactly the same continuation. You never know what to expect. But you know, I want to watch their next clip [laughs]. I’ll definitely see people on Twitter will not let me miss it.

Wired: You had interesting thoughts about the origin of the recording, about how strange it was, probably, to suddenly hear the recorded sound. How surreal it was to hear music sounding from an inanimate object.

Gibson: When people first heard her, they were shocked, judging by the reviews that reached us. And today it is much more difficult to imagine a world in which there is no sound recording than many fantasy-fiction worlds with their incredible technologies.

The recording industry played a huge role for us in the old days, and we took it for granted, but now it is gone, it has become completely different from before. Now you can’t become a millionaire simply by selling records. You have to trade in paraphernalia and souvenirs or constantly give concerts.

When I studied antique mechanical watches, I learned one thing. The era of these watches lasted from about 1914 to 1970. Yes, they continue to produce them now, but this makes no sense, because an electronic watch for a couple of dollars is much more accurate than any mechanical watch, except for the very best, which are like a machine. They were also taken for granted, it was a ubiquitous device that counted the exact time for the whole world, and it was absolutely necessary. And now there are no more mechanical watches, they have been replaced by more efficient and cheaper counterparts.

Similarly, the era of sound recording - in the form in which it existed at the time of the Beatles - came to an end when audio cassettes appeared. To make a copy of the record, complex and expensive equipment was needed. And the cassettes destroyed the monopoly and everything rolled downhill ... I don’t know how it will end with paper books, but there are definitely big changes waiting for us.

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