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PREDICTING THE PRESENT

By Cory Doctorow

SCIENCE FICTION WRITERS MAY NOT accurately predict the future, but they’re often excellent predictors of the present — people who notice just how futuristic the world’s become while we weren’t looking.

In my last column, I introduced you to Tom Jennings, the virtuoso queerpunk anarcho-engineer who invented FidoNet, one of the earliest networks for exchanging conversation. For nearly a decade, bulletin boards around the world used FidoNet, until the internet came to the average info-civilian.

Here’s an amazing story from the paleo-internet that Jennings told me, which illustrates what this “predicting the present” business is really about.

William Gibson coined the term “cyberspace” in 1982, describing ...

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