Feb 17, Neal. Stephenson. snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. Author: Stephenson Neal Stephenson, Neal - CRYPTONOMICON. Read more Neal Stephenson - Snowcrash · Read more. Stephenson, Neal - The Baroque Cycle 01 - Quicksilver · Read more Neal Stephenson - Baroque Cycle 3 - The System of the World · Read more.
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Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash; The Diamond Age) hacks into the secret histories of nations and the private obses- sions of men, decrypting with dazzling . THE BAROQUE CYCLE. An unexpected byproduct of CRYPTONOMICON that ended up taking over my life for a number of years. As I was finishing. ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Neal Stephenson issues from a clan of rootless, itinerant hard-science and engineering professors. He began his higher education as.
Stephenson has continued to explore these themes throughout his career, but recently through contemporary settings, rather than the futures of his science fiction. Reamde, like Pattern Recognition, also borrows tropes from the thriller and espionage genres as it spans over a thousand pages and many continents, weaving an international story of adventure, kidnapping and terrorism.
The novel tells the story of Zula, an Eritrean orphan who was later adopted by gun-toting parents from Ohio in the USA. Zula and Peter are kidnapped by the Russians and brought to China where they are forced to help discover the identity of the hacker in order to free the data. As the novel continues some of the key events happen within the world of the game as the stakes that have always been real for the Chinese hackers, making their living through online worlds, become real for Richard and his family as they try to save Zula.
After escaping the Russians, Zula falls into the hands of Welsh terrorist Abdullah Jones and his gang who fly her to Canada before a final showdown in the woods of the northern USA. Like Gibson, Stephenson is reacting to a present that changes too quickly for a future to be extrapolated by moving from cyberpunk to realism, but his novel still performs one of the most important tasks of which science fiction is capable: it considers the potential impact of a current trend in order to allow the reader to question their contemporary paradigms.
Although this desire to make gaming mechanisms marketable was the original impetus behind gamification there have been calls from some proponents to use these techniques in every aspect of life.
What if we started to live our real lives like gamers, lead our real businesses and communities like game designers, and think about solving real-world problems like computer and video game theorists?
Imagine a near future in which most of the real world works more like a video game. This lack of engagement is attributed to the chaos and complexity of contemporary society. For example, Gabe Zichermann claims that: gamification is needed more than ever.
We live in a world of increasing distraction and complexity, where organizations need to cut through the noise and users need systems that can help them achieve their full potential.
Well done gamification has the power to accomplish that and more. However, in doing so, gamification treats engagement as a commodity. A technique that can force consumers to pay attention to certain brands, or encourage employees to be more productive has a high monetary value and gamification seeks to profit from that value.
The applications for gamification are also thought to be limited because goal-oriented models, such as those found in video games, can encourage people to meet a pre-assigned goal, but not to deal with a complex situation.
This is less of a problem if the task is simply to keep a consumer engaged with a brand, or to keep an employee engaged in productive labour. Bogost draws on Harry G. Frankfurt argues that bullshitters, unlike liars, have no interest in the truth and no relationship to it: their words and deeds are designed to create an illusion for their own benefit, to pull the wool over the eyes of their interlocutor in order to achieve their own ends. Through this understanding Bogost concludes that gamification is indeed bullshit as there is no interest in finding out whether gamification has positive potential, only in using it as a marketing tool.
He engages with the gamification of our societies, our relationships and our minds in Reamde, as we will see from a consideration of Zula as the focalising character and the primary locus of morality in the world of the novel. This decision is an important step in understanding the project he undertakes in the novel and the ways in which he criticizes contemporary society. The irony is that science fiction created the future in which we now live, and now it can feed on our contemporary reality while still exploring the same issues.
Other post-cyberpunk writers such as Cory Doctorow often deal with realistic environments that may be set in the immediate future or in an alternate present with only slightly more developed technology than we have today.
Stephenson is very conscious of the role he has to play, as a science fiction writer, in influencing the future. Not only has he influenced the development of virtual worlds thanks to Snow Crash, but he has also helped to set up Project Hieroglyph which aims to bring together science fiction that shows the techno-optimism of the Golden Age and can thereby act as an inspiration to scientists of the future.
Despite this concern with contemporary science fiction, Stephenson issues exactly this kind of warning about the harmful side effects of gamification, via the form of science fiction realism, rather than developing the utopian potential of video games espoused by McGonigal and others.
This should not be misunderstood as a mindless 3 attack on a relatively new medium — Stephenson has spoken publicly about his fondness for video games, particularly Halo 3 Sinclair — but rather as a sceptical approach to the extension of gaming behaviours into physical reality.
While Stephenson still works to promote techno-utopianism in science fiction he has certainly expressed similar sentiments. Gold farming is featured in Reamde as a practice that can be undertaken by the Chinese hackers and other third world communities as employment, a topic that has also been explored by Cory Doctorow in For The Win Video games have become real enough and immersive enough to offer virtual reality in a way that cyberpunk could only imagine in a science fictional context.
They have also been integrated into our cultural understanding so that we can read video game tropes in literature and film as realism without being estranged. Gibson uses the format in Pattern Recognition as Cayce seeks out the creators of the Footage and the two sequels Spook Country and Zero History are in a similar vein as the main character investigates a mysterious shipping container and then a secret clothing brand. Meanwhile, Stephenson shows an almost outlandish affection for this genre.
Zula faces one insane event after the other: capture by Russian mafia, a gunfight, kidnapping by terrorists, murdering a man with a broken DVD of the film Love Actually, and finally surviving in the woods of Canada and the northern USA. This certainly applies to Reamde and its series of incredible events.
Snow crash - Neal Stephenson.pdf
Like science fiction realism, the thriller encourages the reader to recognise that extrapolation is not possible in such a fast-moving world. The real and virtual worlds and the tactics demanded by each do not stay where they belong, but bleed in either direction so that the real world is gamified as the stakes in the virtual world grow higher.
As in Snow Crash, which posited a computer virus that could cause brain death in hackers, the actions which occur in the virtual world can lead to real death for Zula, Peter and the creators of the REAMDE virus. Examples given in the novel are of airport security guards who are paid to watch a stream of people exiting the secure area of the airport all day in order to make sure that no one goes against the tide, or workers paid to spot faulty widgets on an assembly line.
There was no need at all to have human players in the loop. What part of your own statement did you not understand? Stephenson shows that gamifying tasks and environments can render them weaker as the loss of complexity makes systems open for attack, and human beings less equipped to deal with that attack when it comes.
When Richard begins to design the game he does so with these real world uses in mind: Video games were a more addictive drug than any chemical as he had just proven by spending ten years playing them. Now he had come to discover that they were also a sort of currency exchange scheme. These two things — drugs and money — he knew about.
The third leg of the tripod was real estate. In the real world, this would always be limited by the physical constraints of the planet he was stuck on. This is not necessarily an argument against libertarianism more 5 generally - the novel is predominantly kind towards libertarian lifestyles that are often dismissed or derided by liberal thinkers, such as those of the American survivalists — but it does show that the integration of games with other infrastructures can have unintended consequences, such as weakening security systems.
The amorality of the gaming world is highlighted through a discussion of the game mechanics themselves. This exchange shows an important point about the mechanics of the game: they are designed for internal coherence rather than for their impact on external factors so that, while the game can stimulate certain behaviours, this is not based on morality but on the manipulation of the player through rewards and other game mechanics.
The player can react to the prompts of the game world without engaging in moral or ethical contemplation. Richard feels the effects of gaming on his internal experience of his own cognition. Zula, Peter and another hacker named Csongor are given a goal, again, similar to a puzzle in a video game, by the Russian gangsters; to find the Troll so that the Russians can kill him. Now she was playing the game when she should have been calling the cops. She reminds herself as the action moves into the real world: There was a moral aspect to this.
My parents and grandparents witnessed the creation of the airplane, the automobile, nuclear energy, and the computer to name only a few. Scientists and engineers who came of age during the first half of the 20th century could look forward to building things that would solve age-old problems, transform the landscape, build the economy, and provide jobs for the burgeoning middle class that was the basis for our stable democracy.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill of crystallized my feeling that we have lost our ability to get important things done.
Neal Stephenson: Innovation Starvation
The OPEC oil shock was in — almost 40 years ago. It was obvious then that it was crazy for the United States to let itself be held economic hostage to the kinds of countries where oil was being produced. Whatever one might think of the merits of the Carter presidency or of this particular proposal, it was, at least, a serious effort to come to grips with the problem.
Little has been heard in that vein since.
Some progress has been made in those areas, but energy is still all about oil. In my city, Seattle, a year-old plan to run a light rail line across Lake Washington is now being blocked by a citizen initiative. Thwarted or endlessly delayed in its efforts to build things, the city plods ahead with a project to paint bicycle lanes on the pavement of thoroughfares. I had, through some kind of blind luck, struck a nerve. The audience at Future Tense was more confident than I that science fiction [SF] had relevance — even utility — in addressing the problem.
I heard two theories as to why: The Inspiration Theory.
SF inspires people to choose science and engineering as careers. This much is undoubtedly true, and somewhat obvious. The Hieroglyph Theory. Good SF supplies a plausible, fully thought-out picture of an alternate reality in which some sort of compelling innovation has taken place. A good SF universe has a coherence and internal logic that makes sense to scientists and engineers.
As Jim Karkanias of Microsoft Research puts it, such icons serve as hieroglyphs — simple, recognizable symbols on whose significance everyone agrees. Researchers and engineers have found themselves concentrating on more and more narrowly focused topics as science and technology have become more complex.
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A large technology company or lab might employ hundreds or thousands of persons, each of whom can address only a thin slice of the overall problem. The fondness that many such people have for SF reflects, in part, the usefulness of an over-arching narrative that supplies them and their colleagues with a shared vision.
Coordinating their efforts through a command-and-control management system is a little like trying to run a modern economy out of a Politburo. Letting them work toward an agreed-on goal is something more like a free and largely self-coordinated market of ideas.
Continue reading 'Innovation Starvation' Spanning The Ages SF has changed over the span of time I am talking about — from the s the era of the development of nuclear power, jet airplanes, the space race, and the computer to now.
Speaking broadly, the techno-optimism of the Golden Age of SF has given way to fiction written in a generally darker, more skeptical and ambiguous tone. I myself have tended to write a lot about hackers — trickster archetypes who exploit the arcane capabilities of complex systems devised by faceless others. The imperative to develop new technologies and implement them on a heroic scale no longer seems like the childish preoccupation of a few nerds with slide rules.
He refers, of course, to SF writers. The scientists and engineers, he seems to be saying, are ready and looking for things to do. Time for the SF writers to start pulling their weight and supplying big visions that make sense. Hence the Hieroglyph project, an effort to produce an anthology of new SF that will be in some ways a conscious throwback to the practical techno-optimism of the Golden Age.
But those are not fundamentally innovative. A truly innovative program would involve taking risks and accepting failures to pioneer some of the alternative space launch technologies that have been advanced by researchers all over the world during the decades dominated by rockets. Imagine a factory mass-producing small vehicles , about as big and complicated as refrigerators, which roll off the end of an assembly line, are loaded with space-bound cargo, and topped off with non-polluting liquid hydrogen fuel, then exposed to intense concentrated heat from an array of ground-based lasers or microwave antennas.
Heated to temperatures beyond what can be achieved through a chemical reaction, the hydrogen erupts from a nozzle on the base of the device and sends it rocketing into the air.
Tracked through its flight by the lasers or microwaves, the vehicle soars into orbit, carrying a larger payload for its size than a chemical rocket could ever manage, but the complexity, expense, and jobs remain grounded.
For decades, this has been the vision of such researchers as physicists Jordin Kare and Kevin Parkin.
A similar idea, using a pulsed ground-based laser to blast propellant from the backside of a space vehicle, was being talked about by Arthur Kantrowitz, Freeman Dyson, and other eminent physicists in the early s.
If that sounds too complicated, then consider the proposal of Geoff Landis and Vincent Denis to construct a kilometer-high tower using simple steel trusses.The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature.
Who Owns Song Lyrics on the Internet? It's Complicated
To provide some security, it was agreed that Stevenson should read Law again at Edinburgh University and be called to the Scottish bar. The doorman is too busy tapping a fresh Camel on his wrist bone to open the door for me so I do it myself.
Alternatively, as Stephenson highlights with Nell, Cyberpunks can become powerful through learning the system, using educational technology to become Post-Cyberpunks.
Because Nell has become a master, the Chinese have once again become slaves to a single Western authority. Random House, The mega inflation leaves most of the Asian continent in severe poorness.
Something wet and warm sprays into my face.