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Network Realism

from BookTwo’s Network Realism: William Gibson and new forms of Fiction:

Gibson’s been talking a lot lately about atemporality, this idea that we live in a sort of endless digital now. In “Zero History” we have an echo of “No Future”: everything compressed into the present. This idea is what Zero History is really about. (This is the Order Flow: the future is defined by the present; who pinpoints the present controls the future.)

While not one to contradict Gibson himself, I’m not sure I buy this exactly: indeed, the wikihistoriography project was, in part, a refutation of this view. But it’s undeniable that something is happening, a network effect produced by the sudden visibility of just how unevenly distributed those futures are.

I want to give it a name, and at this point I’m calling it Network Realism.

Network Realism is writing that is of and about the network. It’s realism because it’s so close to our present reality. A realism that posits an increasingly 1:1 relationship between Fiction and the World. A realtime link. And it’s networked because it lives in a place that’s that’s enabled by, and only recently made possible by, our technological connectedness.

Zero History is Network Realism because of the way that it talks about the world, and the way its knowledge of the world is gathered and disseminated. Gibson seems to be navigating the spider graph of current reality as wikiracing does human knowledge.

Links and formating from the original, and tip of the hat toward technoccult for this one.

If you’ve read anything here, it should be obvious that this is getting quoted primarily for the “1:1 relationship between Fiction and the World” & “our technological connectedness” paragraph – but while I’m at it, I’ll just simply point out that BookTwo’s “wikihistoriography” material does not actually refute Gibson’s “endless digital now” – “Everything should have a history button” is just another way of saying “everything compressed into the present.”

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