Talk:The Diamond Age

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Stephenson sympathetic to Confucianism?[edit]

My impression is that Stephenson was extremely sympathetic to Confucianism throughout this book, that he seems to agree with the view of the Confucian character Dr. X that the Chinese culture will be able to manage the technology successfully whereas the Westerners will only fall into conflict with it. And, Dr. X seems to regret that the girls have turned into active soldiers, rather than nice obedient housewives, but that doesn't seem to be a complaint that the girls are *too* obedient to Nell. --unsigned (03:54, 8 September 2003 142.177.81.108)

I don't believe that you can infer anything at all of Stephenson's views from his fiction. --DudeGalea 16:55, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
I would also add that I think this would fall under "original research" to come to this conclusion (or to disagree with it) ourselves. However, if there are good sources for this, we could add it. Althena (talk) 07:53, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Themes[edit]

I'm not sure where it would fit in, or if it would at all, but here are some important themes that might be incorporated into the article, along with textual contexts:

  • Privacy vs. security
  • “In an era when everything can be surveiled, all we have left is politeness.”
  • “The media net was designed from the ground up to provide privacy and security so that people could use it to transfer money. That’s one reason the nation-states collapsed – as soon as the media grid was up and running, financial transactions could no longer be monitored by governments.”
  • Feed vs. Seed: Centralization vs. Decentralization
  • “Peasants planted the seeds and had the highest status in the Confucian hierarchy. As the Master said, ‘Let the producers be many, and the consumers few.’ When the Feed came in from Atlantis, from Nippon, we no longer had to plant, because the rice now came from the matter compiler. It was the destruction of our society...”
  • “CryptNet’s true desire is the Seed – a technology that, in their diabolical scheme, will one day supplant the Feed, upon which our society and many others are founded . . . It is their view that one day, instead of Feeds terminating in matter compilers, we will have seeds that, sown on the earth, will sprout up into houses, hamburgers, spaceships, and books . . . Of course, it can’t be allowed – the Feed is not a system of control and oppression, as CryptNet would maintain. It is the only way order can be maintained in modern society – if everyone possessed a Seed, anyone could produce weapons whose destructive power rivaled that of Elizabethan nuclear weapons.”
  • Imposing limits on technology
  • When the capabilities of technology are unlimited, where should society limit advancement, if at all?
  • Moral absolutism vs. moral relativism
  • “You know, when I was a young man, hypocrisy was deemed the worst of vices,” Finkle-McGraw said. “It was all because of moral relativism. You see, in that sort of a climate, you are not allowed to criticize others – after all, if there is no absolute right and wrong, then what grounds is there for criticism?”

Quotes taken from The Diamond Age. The copyrighted material quoted in this comment is contended to be fair use.

Jeff 09:56, 30 May 2004 (UTC)

These sound like plausible themes, but it's up to an outside source to claim this, and to us to quote them, I think. Althena (talk) 07:54, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Mind death[edit]

I was going to fix some of the hell wreaked upon this page, but it's too late and it's too much. Can anyone destroy the analysis section and take out the fancruft, pointless silly opinions, and most importantly POV that is spewing out of that section?--[[User:TheGrza|TheGrza]] 09:35, Dec 21, 2004 (UTC)

Without analysis & opinions, what would be the utility of an entry? Seeing what other people thought of a book is useful; otherwise we could just list the ISBN and give spoilers, self-satisfied for having read it first. That's why I searched for it. I already know the book from my own POV. Brodo 20:13, 29 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Summary[edit]

Is it just me or is the summary of the Book in complete. I don't see a reference to Hackworth's story. --Mtnerd 04:54, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Miss Matheson[edit]

"In a book signing at the Harvard Coop bookstore in Cambridge, Massachusetts on October 8, 2003, Stephenson affirmed the connection." I was at that book signing, and that's not at all what I remember him saying. My recollection is closer to him doing his best to avoid talking about that sort of thing, and leaving it that, if such an interpretation works for you, as the reader, fine, but don't think it's necessarily what he had in mind. --User:maw

there's talk on each one of the pages of zodiac, snow crash, and diamond age that the three books are loosely set in the same universe. If this is so then Hiro protaganist must ALSO be one of amy shaftoe's cousins who does, in fact, have a pair of samarai swords in his trunk. come on people he's just making some indirect references to other books he writes, it's not the same as saying their set in the same universe. so unless your ready to say that cryptonomicon is also set in the same universe, AND BACK IT UP, just let it go. Syzergy 06:01, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

On page 320 of my copy of the book (Penguin UK paperback, ISBN 0-140-27037-x Parameter error in {{isbn}}: Invalid ISBN.) Miss Matheson makes reference to "Chiselled Spam" and when questioned about it, she states "I was just watching the smart wheels and remembering an advertisement from my youth". This advertisement can be found in chapter 3, page 26 of Snow Crash (Penguin UK paperback, ISBN 0-140-23292-3). I'm not sure if this constitutes cast-iron evidence that Miss Matheson was Y.T., but it definitely strengthens the claim. Would someone like to add this to the relevant section of the article? I'd do it myself except I'd make a piss poor job of it. ISnortCrushedPolos 00:16, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

I don't see why they can't be in the same (general) universe and not nave all the characters walking in and out. Like, why (and how) would Hiro be Amy's cousin, it doesn't make sense (especially since I think his parents are black and korean). But it's not just the chiseled spam, its that the Phials are the natural extent of the corporate "countries" that they had in snow crash. As for YT and Miss Matheson, I definitely do think that he intended for them to be the same person, and that there is enough evidence that it could definitely be mentioned, although based on her personality in snow crash I had a hard time believing YT would really grow up to become the head of a Christian girls school. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 140.232.146.171 (talk) 06:28, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

The Book[edit]

I see the main character of the book being the Primer. Lord McGraw desires it to teach his granddaughter. Hackworth wants one for his daughter. Dr. X wants them for his rescued girls. Harv took the Primer for Nell. Fiona and Elizabeth were affected by their Primers in different ways, from each other or Nell.

Miranda's life is changed by the ongoing contract to support the primer (and it's user). Carl Hollywood gets to be a hero because of Miranda's request to find Nell. Hackworth gets to teach and love his daughter via the book, and succeeds in the subversion Lord McGraw seeks.

The Primer shows up early, and it's stories make up a significant portion of the novel. Save for some set up scene (like the whole deal with Bud, which I take to be Neal Stephenson putting a bullet in the back of the head of "cyberpunk" as a genre), the Primer is driving things.

It helps turn Nell into a leader and survivor. It helps give her critical thinking skills. It helps create her army, one she calls with the building display and the logo from the book, giving them the first big sign that they are needed and wanted.

The only place where this idea is tenuous is within the "Hackworth designs the seed, almost" and "Hackworth takes in a show that takes him in" subplots.

But indeed, Nell is using her Primer at the end to figure out where Miranda is, when Carl Hollywood gives it to her, having made the connection.

And in a funny way, the book *is* the seed, not because it can produce things without a feed, but it produces human beings much less dependant of the system set up the Neo-Victorians, humans who can think outside the strictures of their societies.

--Hacksaw


Is it just me, or does anyone else see similarities between the Primer in Diamond Age and the Book Of Wonders Of Urth And Sky in Gene Wolf's Book Of The New Sun?? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jeffgwatts (talkcontribs) 12:56, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

Bicameral mind?[edit]

Huh?? Where? The drummers? I don't think so. There was definitely some talk about such a thing in Snow Crash, but I didn't see it in either this or Zodiac, and it was in the Zodiac article, too. Is someone going around adding it to every article related to Stephenson? — Omegatron 03:06, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

Attempts at restructuring[edit]

I just restructured the article so it somewhat follows the structure of many other Wikipedia articles on novels. I also tried to eliminate some redundancies. However, the plot summary is still incomplete in some important ways and perhaps too extensive in others. I am going to try to find reliable references to cite as well. --Jottce 22:33, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

I have restructured the article in line with Wikipedia:WikiProject Novels/ArticleTemplate. Skomorokh incite 22:06, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Characters[edit]

Isn't Bud Nell's father? — Omegatron 17:27, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

Indeed he is. Thank you for pointing out the gap. --Jottce 17:47, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

Article structure[edit]

Randall Brackett, thank you for editing this article. However, I do feel the need for some discussion. You changed the article structure. I would prefer to keep the section heading (Plot introduction) because it helps to separate levels of detail, though I agree it is perhaps preferable to move it to before "Major themes." I did re-insert the spoiler warnings, since such warnings are established practice on Wikipedia for all articles on fiction. --Jottce 09:12, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

Research[edit]

Parts of this article, but especially the section on "Failure of Artificial Intelligence", are long stretches of reference-free material that read like original research. I hate to see good info go, but I think this needs to find a new home. Anyone else in agreement? Andrew Rodland 22:15, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

I would *like* to see it go; the whole Major themes section is not only original research, but an analysis which not everyone would agree with. For example:

  • some characters [...] hold the belief that certain cultural systems are naturally superior to others: An understatement! It's one of the major assertions of the book. In the book, this belief seems to be explicit to the successful phyles, and the only one who rejects it is Nell's white trash mother (when she kicks out her only reasonable boyfriend).
  • the neo-Victorians are clearly represented as technologically, culturally and economically superior to other "phyles" ... with the Confucians as close rivals: in the book the neo-Victorians are comparable to the Hindi and the Nipponese, there is no Confucian phyle as such, and the Chinese can only beat them by numbers. Doctor X states at some point that they are hopelessly behind; that's why they need Seed technology.
  • an army of Han Chinese girls raised with modified, fully automated clones of the primer with no "parental" human contact become efficient, devoted, but incomplete followers: there is no support in the book for that assertion. They form an efficient army and for some (unclear/magical) reason take orders from Nell, but for all we know they would write poetry, date boys or start heavy-metal bands if they had nothing better to do.
  • An allusion early in the book suggests that the cloned primers were intentionally disabled by the Victorian engineer who designed them, perhaps to foster a propensity for the Chinese children who use the clones to follow the leadership of the Victorian girls who use the original copies.: pure speculation, perhaps to rationalize the unexplicable way they followed Nell later. I am not sure Stephenson himself knows what he intended that to mean (and if he does, this would be a great place for a reference).
  • ... the Confucians, who emphasize duty, honesty and obedience in their training of women: Misleading. I cannot recall any passage about discrimination against women, except from the starving farmers who deserted them.
  • This longing drives Nell to conduct a Turing Test on a central character in her primer's story ...: where does the book say that?

All in all, this section looks vaguely like an analysis of the book, but projects ideas into it that simply aren't there. (It reminds me of the essays I wrote in high school.) JöG (talk) 15:31, 15 May 2010 (UTC)

I would vote against just deleting this section. It seems mostly reasonable what is said and it seems to have gained citations since you wrote this.
That said, I do disagree with the first sentences already: "Many have recognized that a major theme of The Diamond Age involves a distinction between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and human intelligence[...] This theme met with much criticism among AI and nanotechnology enthusiasts." I personally would go so far as to say that the distinction isn't even properly spelled out in the book. To me it read as if everything "Turing" was lumped together into one unrecognizable porridge. Turing test, Turing computability, for what's supposed to be a educational book in the story, there's shockingly little distinction between these concepts in the main character's head and she it is actually described that she jumps to the (false) conclusion that if one fairly complex Turing machine is not capable of emulating human behaviour, none ever will be. Never mind she also calls computers that can be reduced to Turing machines "Turing machines" themselves. Crappy education. Or, more likely, crappy research by the author. So, yeah, it's not just that some scientific community has a different opinion than Stephenson about the validity of the Church-Turing thesis, Stephenson writes things that are simply not true, all with a demeanour that probably makes most readers believe that they are actually being taught something. --Mudd1 (talk) 10:10, 19 March 2013 (UTC)

Elaborate?[edit]

Interesting, and possibly fair. I just looked in Wikipedia Help for the rules about "original research" without finding them, but I've heard of them before, so I know they're somewhere. [CORRECTION: I found them now that there is the big old warning sign.]

I guess the point would be that even if the only "research" was reading the novel and making what seemed like obvious observations, this still qualifies as "original research" if the observations had not first been published elsewhere?

If so, as you say, parts of the article could arguably be violating this rule, including the "Failure of AI" part.

Before I agree or disagree, I have 2 questions:

(1) By "a new home", do you mean a special Wikipedia article concerning the themes in "The Diamond Age", or publication elsewhere?

(2) Would it mitigate things if I simply cut the word count by, say, 50%? 80%? --M. E. Smith 23:19, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

You've got it basically right. If something is obvious enough that you feel you can use the book itself as a cite, then probably nobody will argue it, but if they're your own observations and theories then wikipedia isn't the forum for it. Keep what you can provide good references for, and find some other outlet to publish your other ideas. As per WP:OR, if your ideas become part of a "reliable source" outside wikipedia then you can cite them here, as long as you're sensible about it.
As a side note, if you follow up to a comment of mine, please tag my talk page, I'm likely to notice more quickly. And if you have further questions about editing, please do ask, and someone will do their best to help. Thanks! Andrew Rodland 16:34, 25 January 2007 (UTC)

Andrew..[edit]

I have found some external references recognizing the same things I have recognized in the "Failure of AI", and am working on a new version of the section which I believe will be shorter, cleaner, and better, with external references. --M. E. Smith 17 January 2007 (UTC)

Miss Matheson/ YT age connection[edit]

In the section where it metions that YT and Miss Matheson might be the same person, it says that if they are, the Diamond Age would be set 40-60 years after Snow Crash. While I understand the section is under dispute due to unclear sourcing, I figured I would make it at least slightly more accurate.

YT was 15 in Snow Crash. Miss Mathenson is described "800-900 years old", an exageration, but one indicating she is very old indeed. I find it doubtful that woman who was 55, as YT would have been in 40 years, would be descirbed that way... I think 60-80 would be a more accurate range, if we are going to include that information. Snow Crash was set in the early 2000, based on specific dates given in the book. According to the back of the book of Diamond Age, the book is set in the 21st Century, so this date range, and the connection make sense, even if it isn't provable. 68.49.245.207 03:57, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

Should that be in there ?[edit]

There are some negative things said about the book that are referenced from an anonymous review in a wiki (11, 14: http://bookshelved.org/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?TheDiamondAge). I think there's sufficient debate about the possibility of easily creating AIs (obviously we haven't done it yet) and there's much more doubt about the fairly dubious notion of an impending technology "singularity", which is almost a pseudo-religious notion. So things like this shouldn't be in the article unless it's an obvious contradiction with current existing technology, or if the objection is made by a notable reviewer rather then "some readers". —Preceding unsigned comment added by Helixdq (talkcontribs) 14:49, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

Plot[edit]

The old "Plot" section seemed to be largely a blow-by-blow account, was overlong and rather unreadable. The section formerly labelled "Plot Introduction" already contains a pretty rounded view of the plot and themes so I've removed the old plot section and renamed "Plot Introduction" as "Plot". If there's concise salvageable information from the deletia, do add it back, but please let's not get back to the blow-by-blow stuff. --Tony Sidaway 18:45, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

I updated the first paragraph of the plot section. The old version made reference to the Primer as being some kind of Engineer trainer, which is a skill it did teach Nell but I feel isn't what it was designed for. I added somewhat vague reference to what Finkle-Mcgraw originally commissioned the Primer to accomplish. If anyone has a better way to put it feel free, I was having a bit of trouble enunciating exactly what the Primer is supposed to do without getting into a bunch of detail about the subversive aspects of it's Grimms Fairytales themes, etc. Toddinsb (talk) 23:30, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:Diamond Age Penguin 1998.jpg[edit]

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Image:Diamond Age Penguin 1998.jpg is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in this Wikipedia article constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

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BetacommandBot (talk) 21:24, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:Diamond Age Spectra mass market 1996.jpg[edit]

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Image:Diamond Age Spectra mass market 1996.jpg is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in this Wikipedia article constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

Please go to the image description page and edit it to include a fair use rationale. Using one of the templates at Wikipedia:Fair use rationale guideline is an easy way to ensure that your image is in compliance with Wikipedia policy, but remember that you must complete the template. Do not simply insert a blank template on an image page.

If there is other fair use media, consider checking that you have specified the fair use rationale on the other images used on this page. Note that any fair use images lacking such an explanation can be deleted one week after being tagged, as described on criteria for speedy deletion. If you have any questions please ask them at the Media copyright questions page. Thank you.

BetacommandBot (talk) 21:25, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

Subversiveness[edit]

One of the themes missing from the page is subversiveness, which is surprising, considering how important it is to the the story. Instilling subversiveness in the girls is supposed to be the whole point of the Primers in the first place. This concept is conspicuously absent from the themes section. "I don't exactly know, Finkle-McGraw had said, but as a starting point, I would like you to go home and ponder the meaning of the word subversive." (p.81, in my version anyway) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tyr540 (talkcontribs) 00:22, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

It may be worth noting that the Primer achieves precisely this for its original designated recipent. Elizabeth Finkle-McGraw abandons her Atlantean phyle to defect to the subversive (but apparantly benevolent) CryptNet organization.

Bildungsroman?[edit]

Is this a bildungsroman? I'm not previously familiar with the term, but the wikipedia page on the topic indicates that a bildungsroman ends with the protagonists integration into the society. That didn't occur in this book. --Irrevenant [ talk ] 07:22, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

That's a pretty minor point; the important stuff is all there - '...the author presents the psychological, moral and social shaping of the personality of a (usually young) protagonist.' --Gwern (contribs) 00:29 10 January 2009 (GMT)

Bulleted list of themes replaced[edit]

There was a marker suggesting that the bulleted list of themes be replaced with prose. I have done so. Now somebody can improve it :-) Norman Ramsey (talk) 02:18, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

Judge Fang - Confucian?[edit]

I've skimmed through the article on Confucianism, but somehow I can't combine it with the behaviour of Judge Fang regarding Bud. Am I just misinterpreting things or was he rather cruel and cold, the way he sent Bud to his death without even telling him? I would have thought that Confucianism would have been more humane? (i.e. at least tell him he's about to die and give him the chance to make peace with himself)--Cyberman TM (talk) 10:51, 14 December 2011 (UTC)

It's hard to infer specific practices from overall philosophy. After all, by your opinions, apparently Confucians would never support judicial torture - which has a long history in China. --Gwern (contribs) 14:59 14 December 2011 (GMT)

Improving the plot summary[edit]

I feel that the plot summary section of this page is lacking -- more specifically, it describes the plot rather abstractly, which is not useful for people who want to know the specifics (for example want to be reminded of the plot or the ending after some time). I would like to try and improve it by making it more specific while not much longer.

Would you agree with my assessment or do you feel the current plot summary is superior to a more specific version?

(As you can see, I'm new to Wikipedia editing in general and I aim to avoid the usual "try something bold and you may get reverted fast" pitfall.) BöhmMartin (talk) 00:47, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

Deleting the Major Themes Section[edit]

Is it just me or is the major themes section not from a NPOV? It seems to be all analysis done by the person who wrote it (thus original research) and it all seems pretty objective, since anyone could interpret this book completely differently. Since the section is so long and I'm a new user, I personally don't feel secure in deleting the whole section, but I think that's the right thing to do. Bonifate (talk) 15:31, 13 July 2016 (UTC)

You're absolutely right, it was essentially all unsourced and original research, so I removed the section. There was a single third-party source–SFX (magazine)–supporting the statement "Many have recognized that a major theme of The Diamond Age involves a distinction between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and human intelligence, with AI being depicted in the novel as having failed in its goal of creating software capable of passing the Turing Test". Except in the source, it's a quote from Stephenson talking about his skepticism about AI in general (not specifically in The Diamond Age), plus there's nothing about a Turing Test or critics "recogniz[ing] a major theme". In other words, it doesn't support the claim. And it's probably a copyright violation as the text isn't on the SFX site. Woodroar (talk) 23:49, 13 July 2016 (UTC)