I was a bigbig fan of the ‘new wave’ scifi movement of the 80’s, more commonly known as cyberpunk. Well, still am a fan, but for the most part the movement has died out, delegated to cheap cliche in Hollywood (“We’re still inside the game!”) or uberstylized action movies (The Matrix).
The original core of the concept was not Lawnmower Man-esque virtual reality or even computers per se, it was simply the concept of the ‘street’ finding its own uses for technology. Subversion. Counterculture. Jamming. Turning tech to uses other than what it was intended for. Things like that.
Well, 20 years of corporate controlled media passed, and the one thing not even cyberpunk writing could have predicted came about — the rise of the Internet. Now we’ve truly hit the level they’re talking about. Renegade programmers operating under assumed identities fighting major corporations for control of data: information wants to be free. Laws scrambling to cover the gaps with draconian controls and the outlaws on the fringe gleefully hacking away at technology just to be hacking. Activism goes cyber, warez becomes a political statement, and everywhere you go someone’s fighting someone else for control of ones and zeroes…
Now, this movement hasn’t penetrated urban zones like originally predicted — we don’t have immigrant workers with scanning electron microscopes on street corners like in Blade Runner. But sooner or later it’ll trickle down, starting with piracy, and going from there. The suburbs are just the early adopters of the war.
It’s a fun time to be alive. A relatively dangerous one, too. There are going to be casualties and takedowns, but I have little doubt that the movement can’t be crushed. As long as one person somewhere is tinkering with their CBPTDA authorized VCR trying to get the data in the clear so it can be repurposed by the street, it’ll never die