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Monday, April 20, 2015

An Introduction

Hi there. 

I'm J, and I'm a member of the team at The Weirding.  If you know me at all, it's likely from The B-Raters weekly show. I work in tech when I'm not cracking wise, and my interest in science fiction runs deep and wide. Mr. Lynn has graciously asked me for more involvement in other areas of the network, and so here I am.

I wrote the following about a year ago, and I thought it would be a good way to set the tone for my time here.  Enjoy!

I spend a lot of time thinking about the future.
This has been a frightful habit of mine for as long as I can remember, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I remember my first computer; my first actual computer that wasn't made for simply learning. This was a real Windows 3.0 machine. With a modem.

Naturally the first thing I do is follow a friend's advice and connect to BBSes.  Some of them were even local. Needless to say, my dad wasn't pleased at a couple of those phone bills. Legend of the Red Dragon was a huge, righteous time sink that easily contributed to my first late nights as a preteen.   Dad was a damned good sport about it to be honest; I know he could have really brought the hammer down on me for it.  Now that I'm older, I can't help but wonder if he was just happy at the fact that I was doing something interesting that was beyond what he thought was possible when he was my age.  

I remember the first time I played Doom across a dialup connection with a friend across town. That experience will never, ever leave me.  It's been twenty years since then; a scale of time I have had a hard time grasping until recently.  In that twenty years, so much has changed that the landscape of what we do every day is significantly different from how it looked then.

The stack of CDs I had on my desk when I was eleven eventually expanded to a wall full, then disappeared as I digitized my collection starting in 1999. I kept the autographed ones, the ones from my and my friends' bands, and ones that meant more to me than the money I could get from selling them. Now, I have access to the whole collection from any place that has internet.
My first mobile phone was in 1999.  It was a huge Nokia.  The thing was a tank. Now I have this five-inch glass slab, wrapped in black aluminum.  It has a connection roughly a thousand times faster than the fastest dialup modems available in those days. I barely use it to make a phone call, as those speeds make it easier to do anything but. And when someone responds to my SMS, my Hangouts message, my tweet, anything, it shows up on my watch.  

I'm writing this on a device that's roughly the dimensions of a light paperback book, with processing power equivalent to about eighty of my first computer. It can go online too.  Almost everything can now.

William Gibson was right when he postulated that what we call the Singularity is much more subtle than science fiction has led us to expect. We're not looking at wetware in every skull; that ubiquitous set of 'trodes affixed via a sweatband to our temples. I have wireless bone-conduction headphones that channel the dulcet tones of 80s punk rock directly into my jawbone, bypassing my ears so that I can maintain a conversation.  And letting me know I have a message on my watch. And allowing me to direct voice commands to my phone.  

"OK, Google."
"Send SMS to Robyn: 'drive safe, the roads are terrible.'"
And the music resumes.

This is what I imagined as a kid, reading all that cyberpunk fiction. It's less cinematic, to be sure. But life tends to be that way. Does that make it less amazing that I'm living it?

Hell no, it doesn't.

© Copyright 2015, The Cyberculturalist

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