I'm a big William Gibson fan. His new book Spook Country -- just arrived and I'm struggling to wait to start it on an upcoming beach weekend instead of plunging in like I did with Harry Potter. It was he - and his book Neuromancer, published in 1984, that led me onto the Internet in the early 90s, well before most of my friends. Once I dove into cyberspace (Gibson coined the word) I never looked back.
Neuromancer was Gibson's first book . Much of his early work was a dark view of a connected world full of data pirates and megacities ("the Sprawl" in the US and "Chiba City" in Japan) with skies, in one of his most famous quotes, "the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." I believed as I read Neuromancer and then all of his subsequent work that it was a preview of a possible future and that parts of it were already on their way.
This appeared in Reuters today: U.S. consumers this year will spend more of their day surfing the Internet than reading newspapers or going to the movies or listening to recorded music, according a study released on Tuesday. The report comes from the highly-regarded private equity firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson, which examined consumer behavior to inform investment strategies. Where would future ad money (hence revenue, hence good investments, I assume) go?
When I began working online, I encouraged clients to include their URLs in their ads and on their business cards. In the 90s, a major LA newspaper ran ad trailers in local movie theaters. Of course I urged them to include their website URL at the end of the ad. Concerned about cannibalizing the print product , they declined to do so. I tell you this just to demonstrate how much has changed and how little many thought leaders realized what was going on around them (I also once heard Michael Eisner - on a public panel - call the Internet a fad - but that's another story.)
The study goes on to report that TV still rules: “in 2006 consumers spent the most time with TV, followed by radio, which together combined for nearly 70 percent of the time spent with media. That was followed by recorded music at 5.3 percent, newspapers at 5 percent, and the Internet at 5 percent.” It then predicts that this year “the Internet will move up to 5.1 percent, while newspapers and recorded music each move down to 4.9 percent.”
Here's a final thought - a little out there but not totally unreasonable considering the Gibson constituency. Wikipedia tells us "in his afterword to the 2000 re-issue of Neuromancer, fellow author Jack Womack goes as far to suggest that Gibson's vision of cyberspace may have inspired the way in which the internet developed, (particularly the World Wide Web) after the publication of Neuromancer in 1984. He asks: What if the act of writing it down, in fact, brought it about?"