Tuesday, 14 September 2010


Following on from my thoughts regarding the future of e-publishing I got to thinking about the Internet itself.

It seems that fictional reality and factual reality are merging. Whereas before the imaginary was distinct (and readily identifiable from) the real world this distinction – this separation - is now blurring. Viz:

  • When I worked in a hotel it was common for the staff to discuss the occurrences that took place on the previous evening’s soaps as though they were discussing mutual acquaintances – the characters of the soaps had become fiduciary family and friends...they had become real.
  • It is a phenomenon that some individuals operating on the web take on the names and personae of celebrities (live and dead), so much so that it is almost impossible for the veracity of the real celebrity to be accepted or even established.
  • Wiki has become so adulterated by spurious editing that every time you use it you have to question whether what you are reading has been infected by mischief.
  • As even the most spaced-out of wackos has the same ability to spout their nonsense on the web as have 'normal' people everything has at least the veneer of credibility.
The result is that as time passes - as the Internet becomes all-pervasive - fantasy is merging with reality. On the Internet reality and surreality, fact and fiction, rumour and truth have to co-exist but they can’t do this without contaminating each other. The result is sort of nu-reality - a pseudo-reality which is simultaneously truth and lies - and that is what I think is the essence of the story I am trying to tell in the DM: how a virtual world can (will) influence a real world. There was a nice phrase in a recent article in the Sunday Times by Camille Paglia about Lady Gaga (‘What’s Sex Got to do with It?’) which said ‘In the sprawling anarchy of the web, the borderline between fact and fiction has melted away’.

The idea that fact and reality will become mutable and manipulatable is not new (Orwell explored this to great effect in '1984') but what is different today is that it is so easy to do. The real world and the cyber-world are now merging. They are becoming increasingly intertwined creating a Gordian Knot of competing realities which will be impossible to cut through or to disentangle. In the future fact and fiction will become indistinguishable.

This for me is an interesting phenomenon and one I’ll be exploring in a book I’ve just begun, a punk-SF tale called ‘Faction’.

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