Eleven prominent men and women, few of them technologists, suggested a technology or gadget they would like to see invented. One theme in their responses is a desire to break free from the incessant blinking and buzzing and flashing that the digital age has produced. It is a yearning to make technology more responsive to human needs rather than an inchoate web of digitalese existing for its own sake.
Ideas Unlimited, Built to Order by Seth Schiesel, The New York Times, October 30, 2003
One of the people they asked was William Gibson. Gibson's answer was expressed in the amazing lyrical language that he seems to speak naturally. The New York Times may be "the newspaper of record", but the record is not free. After two weeks their archives are only available for a fee. I would hate to see any of Gibson's language become unavailable (or at least difficult to obtain at a resonable price). So I've republished his response here. The response it brief enough that I suspect that it falls under fair use.
I want to PayPal for some nameless download out of an offshore data haven, something that feeds every piece of Web news I read through some unknowable outland server, some swift and anonymous meshing of fuzzy logics cooked up by sleepless programmers in Bangladesh or Burma; some voodoo thing that unfailingly highlights outright lies, spin and misperception - in different colors.
I'd set my Mac to show me the outright lies in Pistachio, the spin in sky-blue Bondi, and the misperceptions in succulent Plum. Large swaths of news would probably be Plum, both that written by journalists and some large percentage of politicians' quotes. Perhaps relatively few Pistachio highlights would appear in the actual reportage, indicating direct mendacity on the part of a journalist, though it would be interesting to find out just how few, or how many.
The Plum of misperception would be heavily shot through with the Bondi of spin, I've no doubt, but the real nuggets, whole Pistachio statements by politicians, would stand out, I would imagine, quite regularly down the screen.
Some people, I suppose, might complain that it took the fun out of guessing. Luddites!
Lies Exposed in Telltale Colors, by William Gibson, The New York Times, October 30, 2003
What would such a tool make of the things that Bush II and his administration say? Statements like "I have no doubt that we'll find Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq" or "The more successful we are in rebuilding Iraq, the more disparate the terrorists get. They hate freedom." or "My tax cut will benifit the average working family". What would Bush II say if he were confronted with vast swaths of his utterances, all colored in Pistachio?