"If poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world, science-fiction writers are its court jesters. We are Wise Fools who can leap, caper, utter prophecies, and scratch ourselves in public. We can play with Big Ideas because the garish motley of our pulp origin makes us seem harmless" writes Bruce Sterling in a preface to "Burning Chrome" (1985), a collection of cyberpunk short stories authored by William Gibson. 19 years later Gibson stands out as the guy who prophetically coined the term 'cyberspace' before the rise of the internet. Another aspect of his writing had a larger, lasting impact on my life.
Growing up in Denmark, a safe scandinavian everybody-is-middle-class nation with one of the largest public sectors in the world, progressive teachers brainwashed children into political activism. Since 8th grade I had wanted to become political scientist, then a politician or at least a public servant that would improve peoples lives. Reading Gibson was to peek into a capitalistic future of all-powerful multinational corporations setting the agenda against a backdrop of weak nations. A both freightning and fascinating outlook. My application for the political science education had been accepted the summer of 1996, but rereading the Sprawl-trilogy changed my mind. It would not be public servants that possesed power to change the future world. Instead the School of Economics and Management would receive a new student, who prepared for the unavoidable apocalypse of the welfare state.
Sterling goes on to note that Gibson "is a devoteee of [...] 'invisible litterature': that permeating flow of scientific reports, government documents, and specialized advertising that shapes our culture below the level of recognition." Traces of Gibsons 'Pattern Recognition' (2002) are seen here, a book set in current time with the feel of a science fiction novel. The main character is a 'coolhunter', a woman with a superhuman sense for the next big thing.
I went on to do a doctoral degree in marketing research, but lacking the sense for brands myself, I utilize math when looking for the patterns that big companies find interest.
A review of 'Pattern Recognition'