Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Help Finding A Quote About Data
July 1, 2014 1:06 PM   Subscribe

I need help finding a quote from a novel, likely from a William Gibson novel, regarding how a person generates data throughout their lives.

I'm doing a presentation on individual relation to data and I recall reading somewhere a passage describing people as moving and interacting in a global ocean of information, generating trails of data as they go, then when they die they sink to the bottom of this "sea" still giving off little bursts of data that slow over time.

I'm fairly certain this was in a William Gibson novel, or possibly one by Neal Stephenson. The closest I've found is from Gibson's novel Idoru:
And Slitscan would walk away, he knew; they'd drop the sequence on Alison's actor, if they felt they had to, and the whole thing would settle to the sea floor, silting over almost instantly with the world's steady accretion of data.

And Alison Shires' life, as he'd known it in all that terrible, banal intimacy, would lie there forever, forgotten and finally unknowable.
Also, from the same book:
"Because she knows. She can feel me watching."

"That's impossible, Laney."

"She knows."

"You aren't 'watching' her. You're examining the data she generates, like the data all our lives generate. She can't know that."

"She does."

The white cup clicking down into its saucer. "Then how can you know that she does? You're looking at her phone records, what she chooses to watch and when, the music she accesses. How could you possibly know that she's aware of your attention?"
I don't think these are quite it, though. I remember it being phrased as being about people in general, not this one character, but I could be mistaken. Perhaps I conflated these two passages in my head.

If anyone knows or can find what I'm looking for, it would be really helpful. Thanks!
posted by Sangermaine to Media & Arts (1 answer total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is a common theme in Gibson. You might try his shorts - Johnny Mnemonic has the following:

"We're an information economy. They teach you that in school. What they don't tell you is that it's impossible to move, to live, to operate at any level without leaving traces, bits, seemingly meaningless fragments of personal information. Fragments that can be retrieved, amplified..."

Laney also features in the two other stories in Gibson's Bridge Trilogy, Virtual Light and All Tomorrow's Parties.
posted by mikurski at 3:12 PM on July 1


« Older As a U.S. citizen with no fami...   |  What should I drink during thi... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments