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December 22, 2008

'The future is here. It's just not evenly distributed yet.' — An investigation into the origin of this quotation attributed to William Gibson

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On October 16, 2004 Brian Dear decided to investigate the source of this now-ubiquitous quote.

He wrote, "For two and a half years this quote has been attributed to famed sci-fi writer William Gibson. I've never seen an explicit citation to an actual printed page where Gibson wrote those words. I suspect they may have been uttered in an interview, speech, or possibly in the fantastic and worth seeing "No Maps for These Territories" documentary DVD (above) about Gibson and the future. (I seem to recall that's where he said it. Anyone know?) But did Gibson really originate the quote? Is this notion of a not-yet-widely distributed future his?"

His blog post of that day concluded, "OK, it looks like this subject was covered fairly well in a USENET thread from February 2004, wherein one of the participants mentioned that the original quote comes from a 31 August 1993 interview with Terry Gross on NPR's 'Fresh Air.' Alas, the 'Fresh Air' website doesn't have a link to a digital archive of that program, but I'm going to consider this 'case closed.' The fact that the original citation seems to have been a radio program explains a lot about why there are so many variations in the quote and no direct textual citations — there never was one! It was radio!"

I found his deliberate walking back the cat fascinating; you might too.

December 22, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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Comments

Time for some American Zen by Max Ehrmann:

Desiderata:

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Posted by: DefinatelyCreativeEnough | Dec 22, 2008 10:04:09 PM

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