Talk:William Gibson/Archive 3

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Intention to create spoken article

It is my intention to create a spoken version of this article. Dfmclean (talk) 17:36, 15 April 2008 (UTC)

Sterling idea. Would you mind waiting a few days so I can repair the post-FA decay? Skomorokh 23:13, 15 April 2008 (UTC)
That would make sense. If you can let me know on a section by section basis - I can start recording the parts that are known to be clean. Dfmclean (talk) 12:13, 16 April 2008 (UTC)
It's all clean, good to go. Skomorokh 18:54, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

I'm putting up the pieces as I record and edit them. This will allow folks to check them out and comment. It will also make it possible for someone else to pick this up if I am hit by a bus. Dfmclean (talk) 04:58, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

Dfmclean (talk) 03:16, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

I just noticed that at 88kb, this is probably one of the longest featured articles on Wikipedia. A daunting task indeed.Skomorokh 12:19, 26 April 2008 (UTC)
All the more reason to do it a piece at a time and post the pieces. I have to say thought that I've always been inspired by Kennedy's Rice University speach Dfmclean (talk) 12:59, 26 April 2008 (UTC)
I applaud your initiative, sir. Skomorokh 13:24, 26 April 2008 (UTC)
If you're interested, that list is measured off "readable prose size" and so excludes references, images, infoboxes, the sections at the bottom, etc. In terms of prose size I'm guessing William Gibson clocks in at about 40-45k, only about half the length of the longest. --JayHenry (talk) 22:40, 26 April 2008 (UTC)
Reassuring news for our doughty hero! I wasn't aware that so much was left out of spoken articles, or that almost half the article was bells and whistles, interesting. Dfmclean, can you make sure to include the Footnotes (not the References) as you go along? Skomorokh 23:01, 26 April 2008 (UTC)
(Footnote D or IV is missing a link) -- Quiddity (talk) 18:38, 27 April 2008 (UTC)
Eurgh, thanks. Uncorrected for six months despite over 100,000 page views. Skomorokh 00:20, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

Is the claim of SF renewal valid (and its POV anyway, isn't it?)

At the beginning of the article it states that SF was insignificant before Gibson. This is certainly POV. However Gibson certainly felt that his SF was renewing what he saw as a otherwise stagnant genre. I am therefore proposing to edit this sentence to reflect Gibson (and others view) of his work rather than claiming too much. That is unless someone can cite a neutral source for the SF renewal claim, in terms of books published/sold for example just before and after Neuromancer. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dbronstein (talkcontribs) 10:03, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

I'm afraid you misread the article; it does not say that SF was insignificant before Gibson, it says that it was widely considered insignificant. This is not a value judgment but an empirical claim, made not by Gibson but by a reputable scholar and Literary Encyclopedia editor Tatiani Rapatzikou, which is a reliable source. RegardsSkomorokh 14:39, 25 July 2008 (UTC)
You need an in-text citation for that, then. I also thought it was inflammatory POV. Tempshill (talk) 18:47, 25 July 2008 (UTC)
There is an in-text citation for that, the Literary Encyclopedia ref. Regards, Skomorokh 19:10, 25 July 2008 (UTC)
There is no in-text citation for that in the opening paragraph where it states this point - that SF was widely considered insignificant. Could you please add it so that I can follow up the source material. Thanks. I have no axe to grind here. I just think the statement should be backed up. (However, for what is worth - considering it insignificant is a value judgement, no matter how many people hold it, or how educated they are, unless there is some numerical data to back it up. Only then does it become empirical. Referring to someone else's point of view - that they believe it to be insignificant, or they think others believe it - does not make it a fact. That is why I asked for empirical data to back up the claim). Dbronstein (talk). —Preceding undated comment was added at 19:51, 27 July 2008 (UTC)
Yo Dbronstein, this is a little misunderstanding about how lede sections work on Wikipedia, I think. They are supposed to be summaries of the main article, and should not contain references unless the material is unreferenced elsewhere. Claims by subject matter experts that are supported by reliable sources are acceptable, and do not need hard data to back them up, per Wikipedia's verifiability policy. Hope this helps, and please ask if you have any other concerns/questions. Regards, Skomorokh 15:10, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

Speed of sales

Neuromancer's release was not greeted with fanfare, but it hit a cultural nerve,[40] quickly becoming an underground word-of-mouth hit.[34] It [...] sold more than 6.5 million copies worldwide.[41]

It would be valuable data right here to state how quickly these sales were made. Does anyone have access to such data? If most of the sales happened after the first 10 years of release then it will form a different impression of the book's impact than if 90% of the sales were in year 1. Tempshill (talk) 18:47, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

I haven't come across any speed-of-sales stats. I'll clarify the 6.5 million copies claim with a date. Thanks for noticing this Skomorokh 19:12, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

He invented the Internet!

In this conception of the "matrix", he predicted a worldwide communications network eleven years before the origin of the World Wide Web,[45] although related notions had been described elsewhere.

As a big fan, and as a computer guy, I view this sentence as garbage. I want to take it out, and the reference to it in paragraph 1. It is irrelevant that the WWW spec was published 11 years later. Many thousands of people were telnetting, etc., long before the WWW. Tempshill (talk) 19:01, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

Then I suggest you take it up with Mr. Anthony Johnson of Spike. I'm sorry that the article does conform to your pov, but Wikipedia articles rely on reliable sources, not editorial whim. Regards, Skomorokh 19:17, 25 July 2008 (UTC)
"Depiciting" the Internet makes sense but "anticipating and establishing the conceptual foundations of the Internet and the World Wide Web in particular" is nonsense. The Internet was being built--not in fiction but in real life--in the 1960s before Gibson wrote a word. I would suggest the latter phrase be cut from the lead (embarrassing to see it on the main page today by the way). -SusanLesch (talk) 20:04, 25 July 2008 (UTC)
The wording is not mine, but some well-meaning copyeditor's. Simply saying "that's wrong" doesn't cut any weight; here's what the sources say:
"Gibson coined the term ‘cyberspace,’ visualising a worldwide communications net eleven years before the World Wide Web was born." (ref 45)
"Together with [Neuromancer's] sequels, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive , it laid the conceptual foundations for the explosive real-world growth of virtual environments in videogames and the Web. The world would be different without him." (ref 55)
I've reworked the lede to closely reflect the sources. Sincerely, Skomorokh 20:21, 25 July 2008 (UTC)
Much better. Thank you so much, Skomorokh. -SusanLesch (talk) 20:22, 25 July 2008 (UTC)
If pointing out that "sources" make blatant, even hilarious mistakes of fact -- an allegation that can easily be backed with sources -- cuts no weight (cuts no ice? carries no weight?), then there's something seriously wrong with Wikipedia. We now read that fellow author Jack Womack suggests that Gibson's vision of cyberspace may have inspired the way in which the Internet (and the Web particularly) developed, following the publication of Neuromancer in 1984, asking "what if the act of writing it down, in fact, brought it about?" Yes, what if? (What if I am or you are the latest disguise of Ratko Mladić? What if Iraq had "WMD"? What if anything?) To me, such a febrile effusion says less about Gibson or the internet or the web than it does either (a) about Jack Womack (elsewhere in the article referred to as close friend and collaborator, so hardly a disinterested source; and in his own article described as an author of "speculative fiction" and a publicist) or (b) about sloppy thinking in literary essay-writing. -- Hoary (talk) 01:56, 26 July 2008 (UTC)
Verifiability, not truth: yes, there is something seriously wrong with Wikipedia, it is defective by design. Skomorokh 15:28, 26 July 2008 (UTC)
So yes, let's put truth aside and accept that Gibson's "close friend and collaborator", Jack Womack (author of "speculative fiction" and a publicist) verifiably wondered what if Gibson had brought about the development of the net (and particularly the web). What does this tell us about Gibson? -- Hoary (talk) 15:36, 26 July 2008 (UTC)
It is germane to the section topic, specifically the question of whether he simply predicted developments or influenced their development. Any perceived puffery on Womack's part is balanced in the mind of the reader by Gibson's self-deprecating quote later in the paragraph. Skomorokh 15:47, 26 July 2008 (UTC)
But as summarized here, Womack finally doesn't say anything. He merely invites his readers to speculate. This is vapid. Does Womack specify what he means by the development of the net? (Desired email? Unwanted spam? Sales and more sales? Advertising? Porn? General infotainment? Chitchat? Youtube? Napster? Flickr? Encyclopedias?) ¶ Meanwhile, the article still solemnly tells us that In this conception of the "matrix", he predicted a worldwide communications network eleven years before the origin of the World Wide Web. If I'm to believe the Wikipedia article on Cyberspace (risky, I know), I believe that this is 1982. Add eleven and you get 1993. Would it be "original research" if I were to point out that 1993 was the year of the release of NCSA Mosaic and two years after the first website? I do realize that the article cites one Antony Johnson, but Johnson merely states that Gibson coined the term ‘cyberspace,’ visualising a worldwide communications net eleven years before the World Wide Web was born -- he gives no detail that I can see (so the reference in the article even seems a poor representation of what he says), and no sourcing, and there's no sign that he's an expert in web history. -- Hoary (talk) 16:17, 26 July 2008 (UTC)
So as we can agree that Womack's comment is relevant and sourced, the question is whether it adds value to the article (I don't have a copy of the source text at hand, but I think he offers some argument to support the speculation which could be added here). I think it is interesting, but I'm not strongly opposed to removing it if there's consensus to do so. You know very well what's original research I'm sure, and could save both our time by producing a reliably sourced reference of greater credibility than Johnson that contradicts the eleven years claim. I'd be happy to see it removed. Regards, Skomorokh 16:25, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

[Outdenting.] Johnson says that Gibson first used the term "cyberspace" 11 years before we know what. The WP article [unreliable!] on the word dates its first use to 1982, but in order to do this cites a page that is no longer available. Best would be to look it up in the OED, but I am not a subscriber to the online version and doubt that it's in the book, which I also don't have on me. Can I leave that half of the problem to you? As for the other half, here is a pretty authoritative history; please pay close attention to the 1990/1991 area. ¶ Eventually, we'll probably agree that Gibson came up with the word "cyberspace" so many years before the web existed. Next question: So? Surely the word itself has not magical/mystical significance; what matters is what Gibson used the word to refer to, how this referent is related to the web, and what attention is paid to Gibson's idea by people who are historians of the web rather than (or in addition to being) admirers of Gibson. -- Hoary (talk) 16:38, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

"Cyberspace" being first seen in print in 1982 is already referenced. Problem: No Maps For These Territories verifies that Gibson conceived of the underlying concept quite a while before he came up with the phrase, which was presumably quite a while before the story was published. Revisiting Johnson's phrase, he conflates the coining of the phrase with the creation of the concept. It does seem like lazy journalism or at the least a throwaway comment, so I think it's best to leave out the "eleven years" part for now. It would be nice if we could put it into some sort of temporal context, but I'm not familiar enough with the history of the Internet to know what the most appropriate marker is. As you say, the context of the phrase's use is more interesting than the phrase, so if you know of reliably sourced analysis of this, it would be great to add. On a related note, could you have a look at the first two lines of this section for credibility? Signing off, Skomorokh 17:00, 26 July 2008 (UTC)
Other, authoritative references concur that cyberspace first appeared in a story by Gibson published in Omni in July '82. There's no indication in the material that I have here that Gibson did more than mention the word (as part of the name "Cyberspace Seven"); there's also no indication that he didn't discuss it at length. (Maybe you're familiar with the story.) There's also agreement in the materials I have here that the term's reappearance in Neuromancer was significant to its development, but it's not clear how. (Because he developed it further in the novel? Because the novel was far more widely read and discussed? Both?) ¶ Let's put aside for a moment the question of what Gibson was actually writing about: it's an important question, but I have more pressing (Wikipedia/internet-unrelated) matters to attend to for the next few hours. ¶ I am not familiar with No Maps For These Territories, but the WP article on it indicates that it long postdates 1982 and is narrated by Gibson and his friends. This being so, I don't see how it could be a reliable source for what Gibson was up to before 1982. -- Hoary (talk) 05:00, 27 July 2008 (UTC)
I'm not contesting that "cyberspace" first appeared in "Burning Chrome" in Omni; you've correct that it is only explicitly mentioned as "Cyberspace Seven". Warning, original research follows: In my opinion, the story gives a rather well-developed account of Gibson's conception, and both your speculations about Neuromancer are on the mark. No Maps is a documentary on Gibson, in which he was a somewhat reluctant participant. The interviewer asks him at one point about the origin of cyberspace and he describes having a long mental block in trying to articulate the concept, before coming up with "cyberspace"; of course it's not a reliable source. I'm afraid I don't quite grasp which potential changes your last comment has in mind. Regards, Skomorokh 05:50, 27 July 2008 (UTC)

[Left again] Merely to warn that although you -- exhaustedly? if so, I can sympathize -- wrote above that "No Maps For These Territories verifies that Gibson conceived of the underlying concept quite a while before he came up with the phrase", it can't do any such thing. It can show that for example Gibson later claimed to have conceived this well before 1982, but that's about all.

You ask about the two lines: In Neuromancer, Gibson first used the term "matrix" to refer to the visualised Internet, two years after the nascent Internet was formed in the early 1980s from the computer networks of the 1970s. Let's put aside mere facts for the moment. It strikes me as very odd to say that X happened two years after Y happened "in the early 1980s". I mean, if the latter can't be made more specific, we should hardly talk about something happening two years thereafter. And now for the facts: As I understand it, the various networks were already connected via (perhaps creaky) "gateways" by the late seventies, but what we'd now recognize as the, single, potentially ubiquitous internet is a product of the Internet Protocol suite, which consists of various layers that moved through a sequence of recommendation, partial adoption, wide adoption and universal adoption from around 1981 to 1985. However, I only hazily understand this kind of stuff. Given time, I think I could understand enough to write all that's needed for this article (as opposed to one about TCP/IP), but I shan't have time.

We can argue over the exact chronology of the real-world internet, but it's undeniable that Gibson did write early. Just what did he write that did or didn't prefigure the web? Or rather, how has this been summarized by knowledgeable and disinterested writers?

I took a quick look in the library (yes, dead trees) and found very little (which of course doesn't mean that there isn't more to be found). One is Debashis "Deb" Aikat, "Cyberspace of the People, by the People, for the People: Predominant Use of the Web in the Public Sector", in Alan B Albarran and David H Goff, eds, Understanding the Web: Social, Political, and Economic Dimensions of the Internet (Ames: Iowa State UP, 2000; ISBN 0-8138-2527-X). This paper starts off with an account of how Gibson coined the term cyberspace in his 1984 novel Neuromancer to describe the real and cultural dynamics of people and machines working within the confines of computer-based networks. Let's not niggle over the non-mention of the short story; the far bigger problem for me is of what Aikat means by what he does say. To me, it's impossibly abstract. Anyway, he continues: cyberspace is a computer-generated landscape [...] What [the characters] see when they get there is a three-dimensional representation of the information -- great warehouses and skyscrapers of data (Gibson, 1987 [sic]). Now, this is pretty clear, but I'm surprised by two things. First, Aikat has without any fuss segued into a reference to Burning Chrome (Ace, 1987) rather than Neuromancer; secondly, it doesn't sound at all like my own experience of the web or indeed any experience that I've read about. (I mention the latter as distinct because for example I recognize that my own non-use of Facebook etc makes me an unrepresentative user of the web.) But a bigger surprise is in the next sentence: Today, Gibson's imaginary world has been invoked in myriad ways on the World Wide Web. Even granted that Aikat was writing in 1999 or thereabouts, what ways? He doesn't say, but instead jumps on to something else. He then forgets about Gibson till his "Summary and Conclusion", where he writes: William Gibson's vision of cyberspace has become a reality; but he follows this with a straightforward description of the web that lacks any mention of three-dimensional (or similar) representation of info. And he goes on to muse about how the word "cyberspace" was being commonly used to describe the internet.

This is all very unconvincing. It seems to say very little indeed but to suggest the following: Back in the early 80s, Gibson had a remarkable vision of computerish communication or knowledge-flow or a communally projected quasi-hologram or whatever. He called this "cyberspace". This vision has certain (unspecified) similarities with the web of today [i.e. 1999]. We call this web of today "cyberspace". This is Gibson's own word! Ergo, Gibson was prescient.

For the product of a university press, this is underwhelming. (Also: "'My' library paid real money for this?") I hope there's more to Gibson's prescience than what Aikat bothers to explain. -- Hoary (talk) 07:10, 27 July 2008 (UTC)

Sorry, my sloppiness for using "verifies". I really have no interest in promoting the "zomg Gibson invented the internet" line, so I won't object to whatever cited version you want to go with from the internet history angle in the Visionary influence opening section, though I'd prefer if the material explicitly referencing Gibson was left as is. The Aikat material is...interesting, and representative of the sort of vague lyrical scholarship on Gibson in this article. Although it's obviously partially inaccurate, I lean towards including something of it (being of the opinion that as long as it isn't flat out false or contradicted by reliable sources, it's more important to be interesting than true. rationale) To which short story of Burning Chrome does Aikat segue to, do you know? They were written eight years apart, I think, so that might be relevant. What's your feeling on including something of Aikat? Skomorokh 07:56, 27 July 2008 (UTC)
[I've fixed some little mistakes. My fault.]
I don't know what Aikat is talking about; he just cites the book as a whole, via author-year.
For my part, I've no particular interest in promoting any "Gibson fantasized that he invented the internet" (or similar) line.
I think that inclusion of Aikat would be awful. It would just show something like: The mystique of Gibson is such that it reduces even academics to writing apparent non sequiturs such as [....] which is the kind of stuff that I think an encyclopedia article should live without. Let me think a little on this one. -- Hoary (talk) 08:56, 27 July 2008 (UTC)
No problem. Other things on my mind at present! Skomorokh 09:20, 27 July 2008 (UTC)
Ain't that the truth? Meanwhile, I've been thinking: maybe Gibson's "cyberspace" is related to the "worlds" of "Second Life" and so forth. Though I'm rather hobbled here as I've neither read his stuff nor spent any time whatever at such websites. Later, later. -- Hoary (talk) 12:30, 27 July 2008 (UTC)
Skomorokh you lost me here: "Although it's obviously partially inaccurate, I lean towards including something of it (being of the opinion that as long as it isn't flat out false or contradicted by reliable sources, it's more important to be interesting than true. rationale)". Prince's acceptance speech at the Webby Awards, "Everything you think is true" might be right, and some Web indexing is almost fast enough to support fluid facts, but how does this scheme leave anybody time to contradict anything? -SusanLesch (talk) 06:22, 28 July 2008 (UTC)
Sorry Susan; what I meant was that my subjective judgement of the quality of Aikat's work was similar to that of Hoary (talk · contribs)—vague, waffly and of questionable scholarly diligence—but that I found it interesting and possibly worth including nevertheless (as similar to the Rapatzikou (sp?) pull-quote about arcades and whatnot). Re:contradiction, if another source of greater credibility disagreed with Aikat's interpretation, I'd be in favour of using that instead. Sorry for being unclear at first, English is not my first language. Hope this helps, Skomorokh 14:52, 28 July 2008 (UTC)
It's me who should apologize for trying to understand by asking. Thank you by the way for several detours from your link which led to José Ortega y Gasset and others. See you again someday maybe. Best wishes. -SusanLesch (talk) 04:29, 29 July 2008 (UTC)

Precog section break

SF and Gibson aren't about predicting things, they're about imagining what-if, and Gibson fused the technological ideas of his time with punk / Goth fashion imagery and style to create cyberpunk as a lifestyle statement, visualising the WWW as second life on steroids. As shown in the reference I've added while amending the predictions section, Brunner anticipated much of Gibson's "prediction" in 1975, though stylistically it predates punk. Also, the cyborg stud as hero (or antihero) appeared in '68 in Delany's Nova. Yours, Wintermute aka dave souza, talk 13:02, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

Yo Dave, thanks for the added material; I hope you don't mind that I've moved it to a footnote and cited it in the cyberpunk and internet-prediction claims, but it's not directly related to Gibson. The footnote may need to be rewritten to more closely reflect the source , as you seem to have taken liberties that would usually be completely acceptable but are not apprpriate for a featured article. I'm also concerned about the reliability of the source; could you explain how it meets WP:RS? Thanks, and sorry for all the bother.
On your opinions regarding SF and Gibson, I'm afraid I'll have to disagree (as do the sources), if my understanding of how you are using the term "prediction" is correct. If by prediction you mean explicitly stating "I think x will occur in the future", then of course it's impossible for authors to predict through fiction. However, extrapolating from current conditions to create an alternate reality in one's fiction, and then having actual reality converge in some respects to your own in a novel and non-trivial way, would fall under most people's understanding of the concept of prediction, I think. That Gibson has done the latter is completely uncontroversial (as in the many areas the article details).
Regarding the cyborg stud as hero, are you contrasting Delany's character with Molly Millions/Johnny Mnemonic in "Johnny Mnemonic", or the cyborg in "The Winter Market" or getting at something else? Sincerely, Skomorokh 14:52, 28 July 2008 (UTC)
Oops, congratulations about the FA status and apologies for just barging in. I've really liked Gibson ever since reading him in Omni in the early 80s, but to me he was introducing a new style and image for concepts that were already familiar. The problem with "predicted" is that as previously phrased it carried the implication that Gibson originated the prediction of the existence of the World Wide Web, or perhaps the internet, in the same way that Clarke predicted geostationary orbit communications satellites in an article. By visualising cyberspace as an immersive arcade game Gibson created an immensely attractive image for web use, and made cyberspace itself into a great marketing term. However, he obviously did not invent the idea of a world wide network, and in many ways his vision seems to me to be wildly different from technological reality, despite the best efforts of many people to create a virtual representation of his imaginings.
It was obvious to me that Brunner's book provided an earlier "prediction" or visualisation of the web and internet, and a quick googling turned up some examples including Classic Sci-Fi Reviews: The Shockwave Rider which compared it directly with Neuromancer. As the slashdot reviewer puts it, "Almost a decade before Neuromancer, the "hacker" with a mission was already well defined."[1] This example[2] makes a less direct connection to cyberpunk. This dictionary quotes the "Free On-line Dictionary of Computing (26 May 2007) : cyberpunk /si:'ber-puhnk/ (Originally coined by SF writer Bruce Bethke and/or editor Gardner Dozois) A subgenre of SF launched in 1982 by William Gibson's epoch-making novel "Neuromancer" (though its roots go back through Vernor Vinge's "True Names" to John Brunner's 1975 novel "The Shockwave Rider")." From a quick glance at google scholar, Roger Clarke places The Shockwave Rider as the turning point to cyberpunk novels, and here says "the current generation of sci-fi authors, particularly of the cyberpunk genre, are critical to understanding 'cyberspace'. Examples include John Brunner's 'The Shockwave Rider' (1975), William Gibson's 'Neuromancer' (1984), .." No doubt more suitable sources can be found.
Brunner's concepts of a networked society may have originated with Alvin Toffler's Future Shock, but his book is clearly remembered for the web ideas,[3][4] in particular being credited with the idea of worms and arguably viruses.
It's a while since I've read Nova, but the Mouse jacking into the computer control systems while struggling to overcome the social system has something in common with Case as a console cowboy, though the imagery is very different. I notice that the WP article asserts that "Writer William Gibson claimed to be greatly influenced by Delany, and his novel Neuromancer includes allusions to Nova.", but doesn't give a source which is rather a shame. . . dave souza, talk 17:18, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

Refrigerator image

A refrigerator abandoned in the French Quarter of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and appropriated as street art, illustrating Gibson's famous dictum "the street finds its own uses for things" ("Burning Chrome", 1981). [caption altered to be more explicit by Skomorokh].

How is a refrigerator on a sidewalk an example of "the street finds its own uses for things"?? I tried removing it, but I was reverted. Is this supposed to be funny or something? Kaldari (talk) 21:48, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

I must admit I also find the image puzzeling. The caption doesn't seem to fit the picture. Garycompugeek (talk) 01:09, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

Lighten up. The unnecessary photos with their sometimes goofy captions are among the best parts of this long and somewhat numbingly written article. Example: The disposition of arcade gamers toward their consoles, their intensity of focus and posture, and their immersion in the visualised dataflows inspired Gibson's conception of cyberspace. Ooh! -- Hoary (talk) 01:40, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

I've just removed it. The photo's caption that it illustrates that "the street finds its own uses for things" is uncited and seems to be OR. This isn't suitable for any Wikipedia article, and especially not a featured article. For reference I'll post it here so it can be re-added if a citation can be found. Nick Dowling (talk) 02:14, 26 July 2008 (UTC) [moved up by Skomorokh]

The image is of an object ("thing" ) being used (by "the street") for something other than its intended use. This is so trivially obvious I can't believe it needs pointing out. Yes, associating the image with Gibson's phrase is original research, but if you were familiar with that policy, images are acceptable forms of original research. If we required that every image have a citation from a reliable source verifying that it represented what the caption claimed...we would have about a hundred images on Wikipedia. I have altered the caption above in an effort to make the connection more explicit; further suggestions welcome. I understand that you are concerned, but unless any arguments for removal are forthcoming that are based on policy rather than personal whim, I will restore the image. Regards, Skomorokh 15:40, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

We could do without your condescending attitude. I have read all of Gibson's work and would like to think I understand it. The only use I could see the fridge provides is a place for graffiti. That is not what Gibson meant by "the street finds its own uses for things". He did mean some made houses and gadgets out of other people's trash like the sprawl or the bridge. Garycompugeek (talk) 22:28, 26 July 2008 (UTC)
So we are agreed that the fridge is being used for something other than its intended use. So the image is appropriate. Are there better examples? Probably. If you are so concerned with this, and as knowledgeable about Gibson's work as you claim, it shouldn't take you long to find a free, superior alternative on Flickr or Commons. When one is presented, I am most amenable to using it. Regards, Skomorokh 22:34, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

Still waiting chaps. Skomorokh 15:06, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

The fridge should be removed. It is not relevant to this article. I'm removing it again. Tempshill (talk) 19:59, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
Please respond to my argument as to why it is relevant above. If you are not willing to engage in discussion, you should not expect the article to reflect your personal preferences. Skomorokh 20:07, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
Good luck removing the non-present image by the way, really shows you have read and considered carefully the discussion. Skomorokh 20:09, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
One reason it's irrelevant is that the quote is not some super insight into Gibson's work. Finding an image of something "being used for something other than its intended use" is trivial; any photo you find of such an object is likely to be as banal as this example. I dispute that there is a "the street" as one entity that used that refrigerator; this was "used" by probably 1 guy for its new purpose as a graffiti target. The "use" is a very poor example of the quote; it would be more illustrative of what he meant if the fridge had been used as a bridge or a car-crusher or something that is used rather than as a billboard. Are those reasons sufficient? Tempshill (talk) 01:04, 3 August 2008 (UTC)
I think the quote is some super insight into Gibson's work. I think the argument you make is good but insufficient justification for the belief that there are better images out there to illustrate it, but in the absence of evidence to the contrary (i.e. a free image which illustrates Gibson's early work better than this), that belief is unjustified. Yours is certainly an insufficent argument for the claim that the image did/would not add value to the article. Perhaps you'd like to try again? I agree with your recent removal of a clause from the lede by the way; the reworked sentence seemed trivial. Regards, Skomorokh 01:25, 3 August 2008 (UTC)


Could editors not familiar with the development of the article please please discuss here before making what they see as corrections, especially to the lede? I've been exhausted the past week with having to correct or revert well-intentioned "corrections"; dropping a quick note or request for clarification first would save us all trouble and effort. I've[1] tried[2] to[3] keep[4] references out of the lede[5] for presentation[6] reasons,[7] and because the content is already referenced in the article (though thanks are due to those who have boldly corrected the inaccurate representation of the references), but if the recent spate of readers changing whatever they disagree with continues, we're going to have to introduce references for every contested and potentially contested clause. The article is improved for all the changes this week, but the way in which it happened leaves a lot to be desired. I'm not trying to own the article, but editors who have watched and contributed to its development (Jay, Quiddity, Susan, Cannonfodda and myself among others) have a better idea of what was meant by the various claims in the article, and many changes which would be acceptable on most articles are not appropriate for featured ones, the revising of which needs to be more conservative, immediatist and deliberative. Your consideration is a appreciated, and all good faith suggestions for improvement from every pov are enthusiastically welcomed. Sincerely, Skomorokh 15:04, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

As you say, you do not WP:OWN this article, and this request flies in the face of WP:BOLD and good Wikipedia policy. Tempshill (talk) 01:07, 3 August 2008 (UTC)
My point is that those who have written the article know more about what is written (intentions and justifications) than those who happen across the article and think "right, I disagree with that, so I'm going to change it to suit my opinion". The need to maintain the integrity of featured articles means that we need to be much more cautious about well-intentioned but misinformed bold edits. I have no authority here, I am just making a request which no-one is by any means bound to honour. Take a look at the history of the article over the past two weeks and tell me it couldn't have been done better if we'd talked it out first. Skomorokh 01:21, 3 August 2008 (UTC)


'Exciting Imagery' for the World Wide Web? What? I don't see how Gibson's works have much to do with the WWW. The web is just a system of moving and displaying text documents (like this one here), and linking text documents together. It really has very little to do with the 'cyberspace' that Gibson talked about. Talking about imagery for the WWW...doesn't even make much sense on it's own. The web just happens to be the most popular protocol on the Internet, which is a very different beast. I would seriously suggest replacing the former with the latter, to prevent spreading the misconception that the WWW is the internet. --Niten (talk) 03:45, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

Sorry I missed that one, "exciting imagery" is not supported by the references, just some editor's personal interpretation. I've changed it back to "foresaw", which should be supported by the references in the Visionary influence section. Thanks for the comment, Skomorokh 03:53, 30 July 2008 (UTC)
Not sure where you get "foresaw", the nearest I've found in the cited sources is "Gibson coined the term ‘cyberspace,’ visualising a worldwide communications net eleven years before the World Wide Web was born.". Visualising implies creating imagery, foresaw implies a seer, foretelling events. The worldwide communications net was already developing, and the underlying ideas of the Web had already been set out by Tim Berners-Lee in his ENQUIRE project. Gibson's visualisation in Neuromancer has never really happened, but the feel and fashion statement has been hugely influential. By the way, the page of Internet Timeline v8.2 cited here for its mention of Neuromancer also mentions Shockwave Rider by John Brunner in the 1975 section. . . dave souza, talk 11:21, 30 July 2008 (UTC)
Argh, you're right; "foresaw" was some else's recent editorial "improvement". Sorry I'm a bit snowed under trying to keep this faithful to the references and accommodate the conflicting complaints. I'll try and get to this in the next few days. Skomorokh 12:09, 30 July 2008 (UTC)
I just removed imagined a worldwide communications network prior to the emergence of the World Wide Web and from the lead. Obviously it didn't take much imagination to merely come up with this; the worldwide phone network already existed, as did the Internet. Continuing to try to mention the WWW in the lead really smacks of an overenthusiastic fanboy desperately trying to lend Gibson some relevance. Come on, guys, he's made his mark, you don't need to keep trying too hard. I edited the lead to the current well-written and accurate statement that by inventing cyberspace he invented an iconography for subsequent etc. Tempshill (talk) 01:16, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

The future is already here ...

The reference 116 seems to be false. The only reference to Gibson in the The Economist article is :

Pattern Recognition. By William Gibson. Putnam; 368 pages; $25.95. Viking; £16.99
Not, strictly speaking, a business book—but probably the best exploration yet of the function and power of product branding and :advertising in the age of globalisation and the internet.

I don't have any better source about this quotation. Koteks (talk) 12:07, 15 August 2008 (UTC)

Infobox image

Resolved: Barring a change in consensus, it seems like the original image has support. the skomorokh 17:20, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

I agree that the cropped version is superior here. Not only does it offer a higher-resolution copy of the important part (his face) for a reduced overall horizontal resolution, but it also kills off a bunch of black pixels which don't add anything. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 10:32, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

I returned the landscape image before I saw this note; I think a talk page discussion is a good idea if we want to discuss this again. Here's the archived discussion that led to the decision to keep the landscape format. Mike Christie (talk) 10:39, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

I disagree with the idea that the blackspace does not contribute anything; the contrast casts the face in a very striking and compelling light. The fact that Gibson's face is illustrated like this is particulary appropriate, as it is evocative of much of his definitive cyberpunk period (esp. ROM-constructs, The Finn etc.), and illustrates the opening line of the article very well. To crop just leaves us with a poorly detailed diesmebodied head. There are at least three high quality straightforward portraits of Gibson elsewhere in the article; an attempt to reduce Armitage's artistic work to one of these would be pointless. Skomorokh 10:49, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

To me, that's reading very deeply indeed into a series of null pixels. The caption reads "William Gibson in 2007", not "a portrayal of Gibson which is evocative of much of his definitive cyberpunk period". It's there to show what he looks like. And I'd argue that the landscape version is considerably less detailed, what with the result being that the head is 30% smaller in it. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 11:05, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
For the record, since I haven't explicitly stated an opinion in this thread, I agree with Skomorokh. I like the landscape version and believe it should stay. Let's see what others think. Mike Christie (talk) 11:10, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
I wrote the inadequate caption because the image needed a caption for FAC; by all means feel free to reword it. The infobox image should identify the subject; I think Armitage's work does this more effectively than the straightforward photos. On the detail front, my point was that the cropped version would be less detailed than the alternative photos (particularly Image:William Gibson 60th birthday portrait.jpg), not less detailed than the uncropped version. Like Mike says, let's wait for others to pitch in. If there's no real discussion, we can open an RfC. Skomorokh 11:36, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
This was discussed in depth in February: Talk:William Gibson/Archive 2#Picture width. There was a strong consensus for using the original, but an open-ness to seeing proposals for very-gently cropped versions. (to respond to that archived thread: the square 450x450 was cropping far too much, imo also).
The only thing I'd really like to change, is the addition of that magnify/thumbnail icon (not sure if that's possible, in the standard infobox). -- Quiddity (talk) 22:36, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
As before I agree with Skomorokh, Mike, and Quiddity. I would be open to considering a mild crop, but this full crop is in my opinion kind of butchering an evocative, intelligent and potentially iconic photograph. --JayHenry (talk) 22:45, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

Your move, Chris. Are you happy to abide by this consensus of four, or would you prefer to put it before a broader audience or work on a compromise crop? Skomorokh 11:15, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

I prefer the uncropped image. Dfmclean (talk) 12:42, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
I'm not really in a position to go against consensus. I do think that keeping the "evocative" blackspace is misusing the infobox portrait feature to present the subject in an exceedingly flattering way, but if that's the consensus then all I could do is open an RfC and I'm neither convinced that would be effective nor bothered enough. I suppose we'll see what the future brings. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 13:53, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
As you wish, thanks for the civilised discussion. the skomorokh 17:19, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
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