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Professor John Sutherland and the "hyperlinked cloud of annotations"

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Professor John Sutherland, a distinguished professor of English at Universities in both the UK and USA , was intrigued by the idea of the "hyperlinked cloud of annotations" which William Gibson's Spook Country was subjected to by the Node Magazine project, and this blog etc.

See:.

William Gibson's "Spook Country" annotations via Node Magazine, node.tumblr.com and SpookCountry.co.uk - "the future of literary criticism", according to Professor John Sutherland

Interestingly, he has created his own hyperlinked annotation of his own book, eschewing the use of conventional footnotes, for web URLs and an accompanying website.

www.magicmomentbook.com

In the portal, or 'gateway' notes to websites which follow I have, in the main, avoided reference to the obvious wikipedia, IMDb, ODNB and Britannica sites---although in many cases they will be a reader's first port of call. The principal aim of this e-annotation is to thicken the cultural texture of the book: in a number of places by offering audio-visual, as well as conventional annotation.

Conventional annotation aims to encase knowledge, as apparatus criticus. What I have attempted here is something different. William Gibson, the, pioneer of 'cyberpunk', who has pioneered this kind of web-reference, likens the reader to a worm crawling through cheese. The cheese doesn't change, but every worm creates a different passage through it. The following are my suggested wormholings through, and out of, what I have written.

John Sutherland

magic_moments_cover_300.jpg


Magic Moments: The Books the Boy Loved and Much Else Besides
by John Sutherland
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd (25 Sep 2008)
ISBN-10: 1846680786
ISBN-13: 978-1846680786
RRP: £10.99

Professor John Sutherland was the moderator for the Q&A session at the Trades Union Congress conference centre "Evening with William Gibson" last Tuesday 28th August 2007.

John Sutherland is the Emeritus Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at University College London and Visiting Professor of Literature at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, USA.

Node idea

A new science fiction novel is threatening to completely overhaul the way literary criticism is conducted, claims John Sutherland

Friday August 31, 2007
Education.Guardian.co.uk

I have seen the future of literary criticism - and, as John Reed said - 'it works'. Works better, in fact, than Reed's beloved Soviet Union ever worked.

The readership of The Guardian Education supplement will contain a lot of "left wing" academics who are familiar with the allusion to the US Communist journalist John Reed, who was portrayed by Warren Beatty in the Hollywood film "Reds" (1981)

A fuller report and more photos late,

William Gibson mentioned Node website at least twice during his reading, talk and signing session at the TUC conference centre in London:

  • The very first second question the moderator asked about was the impact of the annotations in the Node magazine node.tumblr.com. - William Gibson seemed to be positive about them, but noted that the previous PR-otaku site for Pattern Recognition took about a year to appear after publication, whilst this project, to which I have added my own annotations here on this blog, happened even before the official book publication date.

  • When asked about the impact of "micro-celebrity" and "Web 2.0" technology, William Gibson again cited his meeting with patternboy who made an impact from a small town in Colorado, with the help of international contributors.

William Gibson said that this was one of the few, genuinely new uses of technology he had come across recently.

I met up with some fun loving members of the William Gibson Board - Hacking the Gibson in London !, who brought more than one sophisticated camera each on average. We visited the Science Museum, Covent Garden and then the TUC conference centre.

Here is my snapshot during the biggest WGB Rest Room Invasion photo yet:

TUC_toilet_2.jpg

UPDATE:

The Sci-Fi London co-sponsors of the event have now (September 6th) put up a
streamcast video (needs Flash 9), of the Questions and Answers session, with Professor John Sutherland as moderator.

Thank you patternboy for the Node Magazine and node.tumblr.com project

As patternboy explains his Node Magazine countdown project, publishing some deliberately limited quotations and chapter summaries each day until the official US publication date of Spook Country on August 7th 2007 is now complete.

I have been intrigued by the idea of reading the book in a search engine enhanced hyptext hypetext hypertext manner, and have contributed my own comments and observations on the node.tumblr.com published text.

I would like to thank patternboy for all his hard work, and I share his excitement that the project has attracted the attention of the author William Gibson himself.

William Gibson's recent interviews where he revealed how important the use of web search engines was for his writing process, is almost certainly going to be true for lots of other authors in the future as well.

In terms of technology, this could have been done using a Wiki or blog or bulletin board software which allows comments or edits from other authors, but that does not really matter too much.

This is how many readers will read fiction in the future, just like many of us read non-fiction news and current affairs articles now.

It is noticeable how many of the mainstream media's book reviews (sadly almost all from the USA rather than from the UK where they still seem to be ignoring Spook Country ) also have used Google or other online resources to help write their reviews.

I shall write my own review of Spook Country soon enough, but whilst it crystallises in my mind, I am working on my promised CyberPunk guide to central London, for the benefit of fans who are swarming there from out of town and from overseas, for the book promotion events on 28th and 29th of August.

Node magazine countdown - Spook Country Chapter 83 and 84

Chapter 83. STRATHCONA

"And you’re writing your thesis on Baptists, Mr. Milgrim?"

Chapter 84. THE MAN WHO SHOT WALT DISNEY


'It's not bad,' said Bobby, spilling a little of his second piso mojado as he leaned back in his chair to see the top of Bigend's building through Hollis's helmet.

[...]

She put the helmet on, turned it on, and looked up to where Alberto’s giant cartoon rendition of the Mongolian Death Worm, its tail wound through the various windows of Bigend's pyramidal aerie like an eel through the skull of a cow, waved imperially, tall and scarlet, in the night.


Chapter summaries - may contain plot and character teaser / "spoiler" information, depending on how many reviews, or on how much of the book, you have read so far:

Node magazine countdown - Spook Country Chapter 82

Chapter 82. BEENIE’S

"The unfamiliar ring tone of Garreth’s cell woke her."

Chapter summaries - may contain plot and character teaser / "spoiler" information, depending on how many reviews, or how much of the book, you have read so far:

Node magazine countdown - Spook Country Chapter 81

Chapter 81. IN BETWEEN EVERYTHING

'You can’t give me a number?'

Chapter summary - may contain plot and character teaser / "spoiler" information, depending on how many reviews, or how much of the book, you have read so far:

The pre-publication blurbs and extracts published on William Gibson's blog mentioned Node magazine , a fictional magazine described in Spook Country, which is a vehicle for one of the main protagonists Hubertus Bigend to allow him to get Hollis Henry and others to ask journalistic questions to try to track down Bobby Chombo and the mysterious shipping container. Actual publication of Node or even publicity and marketing "buzz" before launc, seems to be deliberately discouraged.

However, this Node magazine does actually have a presence on the internet, Node Magazine blog courtesy of patternboy, who is also publishing daily chapter summaries and quotations until the official US publication date (tomorrow). These are illustrated and expanded with images and hyperlinks from other web resources, giving life to some otherwise arcane knowledge or obscure brand names.

I sometimes add a bit more commentary from my own web researches and pre-existing knowledge and experience, on these selections - see this blog's node.tumblr.com.

What is interesting is that William Gibson mentions this in two recent interviews:

Node magazine countdown - Spook Country Chapters 79 and 80

Chapter 79. ARTIST AND REPERTOIRE

"'Where’d you say you’re from?' asked the man from Igor’s label, offering Tito an open bottle of beer."

Chapter 80. MONGOLIAN DEATH WORM

"'Business-class lounge for Air Asshole,' declared Inchmale, enthusiastically taking in the central area of the first floor of Bigend’s flat."

Chapter summaries - may contain plot and character teaser / "spoiler" information, depending on how many reviews you have read so far:

Node magazine countdown - Spook Country Chapters 77 and 78

Chapter 77. SLACK ROPE

"The Guerreros were not waiting for him, when he left the dark bed of the truck, blinking under artificial sunlight."

Chapter 78. THEIR DIFFERENT DRUMMER

"My purse,’ she said, as they drove back to Bobby’s."

Chapter summaries - may contain plot and character teaser / "spoiler" information, depending on how many reviews you have read so far:

Node magazine countdown - Spook Country Chapters 75 and 76

Chapter 75. HEY, BUDDY

"Oshosi, scout and hunter, had entered Tito in mid-backtuck. "

Chapter 76. LOCATION SHOOT


Having dropped Tito and driven on, not far at all along the strip of low-lying auto-body repairs and marine supplies, Garreth turned right, into the parking lot of what seemed to be a much taller building, one built on an entirely different scale.

Chapter summaries - may contain plot and character teaser / "spoiler" information, depending on how many reviews you have read so far:

Node magazine countdown - Spook Country Chapters 73 and 74

Chapter 73. SPECIAL FORCES

"Going somewhere she’d never seen, at night, in a van with two men, with equipment, reminded her of the beginning of the Curfew, minus Heidi Hyde."

Chapter 74. AS DIRECTED

"Milgrim had been thinking about offering Brown a Rize, when he spotted the IF walking along the sidewalk."

Chapter summaries - may contain plot and character teaser / "spoiler" information, depending on how many reviews you have read so far:

Node magazine countdown - Spook Country Chapters 71 and 72

Chapter 71. HARD TO BE ONE

"'What do you know about money laundering, Hollis?' the old man asked, passing her a round foil dish of peas and paneer."

Chapter 72. EVENT HORIZON

"'That jacket we put you in, in New York, for the helicopter,' the old man said, walking around Tito, who had just put on a new black hooded sweatshirt that Garreth had given him.


Chapter summaries - may contain plot and character teaser / "spoiler" information, depending on how many reviews you have read so far:

Node magazine countdown - Spook Country Chapters 69 and 70

Chapter 69. MAGNETS

"Garreth took Tito to the far end of the second table, where ten disks, each no thicker than a small coin, and about three inches in diameter, were arranged on a half-sheet of fresh plywood."

Chapter 70. PHO

"Brown took Milgrim to a dim, steamy Vietnamese restaurant, one with no English signage whatever."

Chapter summaries - may contain plot and character teaser / "spoiler" information, depending on how many reviews you have read so far:

Node magazine countdown - Spook Country Chapters 67 and 68

Chapter 67. WARDRIVING

"Milgrim sat beside Brown on one of the two benches in a very small park, under the bare branches of a row of young maples."

Chapter 68. SNAP

"Hollis thought that he looked a little like William Burroughs, minus the bohemian substrate (or perhaps the methadone)."

Chapter summaries - may contain plot and character teaser / "spoiler" information, depending on how many reviews you have read so far:

Node magazine countdown - Spook Country Chapters 65 and 66

Chapter 65. EAST VAN HALEN

"She opened her PowerBook on the counter of Bigend's crypto-kitchen, taking wifi for granted."

Chapter 66. PING

"Tito sat on a paint-spattered steel stool, looking up at a dirty skylight of wire-embedded glass."

Chapter summaries - may contain plot and character teaser / "spoiler" information, depending on how many reviews you have read so far:

Node magazine countdown - Spook Country Chapters 63 and 64

Chapter 63. SURVIVAL, EVASION, RESISTANCE, AND ESCAPE

"Tito watched the old man fold the copy of the New York Times he’d been reading."

[...]

"Gradually, in the crisis of self that your captivity becomes, [the captor] guides you in your discovery of who you are becoming."

Chapter 64. GLOCKING


"'Score some shit,' said Brown, sounding like he'd rehearsed the line, as he handed Milgrim a fold of colorful foreign bills."

Chapter summaries - may contain plot and character teaser / "spoiler" information, depending on how many reviews you have read so far:

Node magazine countdown - Spook Country Chapters 61 and 62

Chapter 61. THE PELICAN CASE

"They took the black plastic Pelican case on in Montana."

Chapter 62. SISTER

"'This is Sarah,' said Odile, when Hollis found her, on the crowded cafe patio of a municipal gallery."

[...]

"[Chombo] implements finite differential methods for the solutions of partial differential equations, on block-structured, adaptively refined rectangular grids".

Chapter summaries - may contain plot and character teaser / "spoiler" information, depending on how many reviews you have read so far:

Node magazine countdown - Spook Country Chapters 59 and 60

Chapter 59. BLACK ZODIAC

"Brown rented a remarkably ugly and uncomfortable black boat called a Zodiac".

[...]

"Cities, in Milgrim's experience, had a way of revealing themselves in the faces of their inhabitants, and particularly on their way to work in the morning. There was a sort of basic fuckedness index to be read, then, in faces that hadn't yet encountered the reality of whatever they were on their way to do."

Chapter 60. ROLLING THE CODES

"Hollis woke on Bigend’s mag-level bed, feeling as though it was the altar atop some Aztec pyramid."

Chapter summaries - may contain plot and character teaser / "spoiler" information, depending on how many reviews you have read so far:

Node magazine countdown - Spook Country Chapters 57 and 58

Chapter 57. POPCORN

"Commercial airlines were like buses, Milgrim decided, staring at the textured ceiling in his room in this Best Western."

Chapter 58. ALPHABET TALK

"The pilot followed the highways."

Chapter summaries - may contain plot and character teaser / "spoiler" information, depending on how many reviews you have read so far:

About this blog

This blog is discusses and analyses the new book Spook Country by cyberpunk author William Gibson, published in August 2007.

This will be primarily from a United Kingdom perspective, as some of the themes of espionage and surveillance and hidden forces really do resonate in our endemic Surveillance Society.

This blog has been described, quite fairly, as "otaku-worthy immersion"

Email Contact

email: blog @ SpookCountry [dot] co [dot] uk

Here is our PGP public encryption key or download it via a PGP Keyserver.

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers

Please take the appropriate precautions if you are planning to blow the whistle on shadowy and powerful people in Government or commerce, and their dubious policies. The mainstream media and bloggers also need to take simple precautions to help preserve the anonymity of their sources e.g.

Spook Country Links

William Gibson Books discussion bulletin board Spook Country *NO SPOILERS* forum

William Gibson Books discussion bulletin board Spook Country - *SPOILERS OK* forum

William Gibson video about "Spook Country" on YouTube and on the official website.

William Gibson Links

William Gibson blog - written by the author himself, on which he has test marketed fragments of his novel Spook Country whilst writing it.

William Gibson Books discussion bulletin board

www.williamgibson.de - William Gibson book promtion website in Germany

William Gibson aleph - lots of resources about William Gibson's works.

The Cyberpunk Project - some online texts of some of William Gibson's writings hosted in Russia.

Wikipedia Links

Wikipedia entry for "Spook Country"

Wikipedia "Spook Country" page edit history RSS feed or Atom feed

The character "Hubertus Bigend" has his own fictional Wikipedia entry in "Spook Country", which has now become now a real one.

Node Magazine

  • Node Magazine - a fictional magazine which "seems to be actively preventing the kind of buzz that magazines normally cultivate before they begin to exist" mentioned in the hints given about the Spook Country book, which has already been created online by a fan (patternboy), before the book has been published.
  • node.tumblr.com - Node Magazine is publishing 2 Chapter Summaries and Quotations each day in the 42 day countdown to the official publication of Spook Country
  • Spook Country blog's "cloud of hyperlinks" in numerical chapter order - commentary and annotations on the node.tumblr.com annotations to Spook Country.

Fictional British TV Spooks

James Bond 007

Stylish, if somewhat far fetched, BBC TV drama based on MI5 the Security Service - Spooks

BBC children's TV series M.I.High

2008 spin off TV series from Spooks [spooks] code 9 , set a few years into the future in 2013, in the Orwellian Police State which has emerged after a nuclear bomb attack on London.

Fictional Spooks

The Spy Wise Blog by Wesley Britton

Real Spooks

MI5 - the Security Service - counter-espionage, counter-terrorism, domestic surveilance

GCHQ - the Government Communications Head Quarters - intercepting and deciphering enemy communications, and protecting UK ones.

MI6 - SIS - the Secret Intelligence Service - mostly foreign intelligence - not quite like depicted in James Bond films.

Ex - Spooks

RichardTomlinson.org - Richard Tomlinson - still being harassed by his former employer MI6. There are also links to Cryptome's archives of articles and alleged, unproven, lists of names of former or mcurrent MI6 agents (including, improbably, some UK Ambassadors), which caused lots of controversy. Tomlinson denies publishing anything not already in the public domain.

Martin Ingram, Welcome To The Dark Side - former British Army Intelligence operative in Northern Ireland.

Operation Billiards - Mitrokhin or Oshchenko ? Michael John Smith - seeking to overturn his Official Secrets Act conviction in the GEC case.

The Dirty Secrets of MI5 & MI6 - Tony Holland, Michael John Smith and John Symond - stories and chronologies.

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

Spooky Info

Cryptome.org - including various spooky documents which some Government agencies would prefer not to be online.

Alan Turnbull's www.secret-bases.co.uk - "An entertaining guide to using Internet-based research tools – Ordnance Survey's maps, Getmapping's aerial photos and Google Earth! to reveal the UK's "hidden" MoD facilities and military sites"

Eye Spy Magazine - " The world's leading newsstand magazine on intelligence and espionage" - photos, articles, book reviews, private sector surveillance equipment and services adverts etc. N.B. Sometimes uncritical articles on various anti-terrorism and espionage topics, presumably in order to keep in favour with their anonymous sources.

Historical Spooks

Science Museum, London - Science of Spying Exhibition - for Spy Kids of all ages until September 2007.

Bletchley Park - "Historic site of secret British codebreaking activities during WWII and birthplace of the modern computer."

Imperial War Museum. London

Spooky CyberPunks and CyberGoths

The Dose is a "free, downloadable PDF zine ranging from industrial and gothic music to indie game development, Japanese visual kei, eyecandy, cyberpunkness" produced in Hungary.The three (so far annual) issues so far, with another promised in July 2007 contain plenty of CyberPunk and CyberGoth images and reviews, with the occasional reference back to William Gibson or other cyberpunk fiction authors.

Spy / Surveillance Art Projects

Spy Box - "A digital camera inside a parcel looks out through a small hole and captures images of its journey through the postal system. The Spy Box was sent from my studio to the gallery taking an image every 10 seconds recording a total of 6994 images these were then edited together to create an animated slideshow." - by artist Tim Knowles

Benjamin Males - "Face Targeting and Analysis System (2008) - Software designed to find and analyse faces in a video stream. First stage in an ongoing project looking at the potential misuse of technology"

London CyberPunk Tourist Guide

As part of the preparations for William Gibson book signing and lecture event promoting Spook Country in London, during August 2007, this "local knowledge" guide to places of interest to cyberpunk fans was compiled, and has been subsequently expanded.

London CyberPunk Tourist Guide - http://CyberPunk.org.uk

Please feel free to add comments or send emails, to keep it up to date.

Zero History

Zero_History_amazon_150.jpg

Zero History blog - ZeroHistory.net - discussion and hyper link cloud enhanced literary criticism of William Gibson's forthcoming novel, entitled Zero History, which is due to be published on 7th September 2010.

See the Fragments of a Hologram Bill thread on the William Gibson Books discussion forum for the snippets of writing which have been released for discussion to the public so far.

Syndicate this site (XML):

Zero History

Zero_History_amazon_150.jpg

Zero History blog - ZeroHistory.net - discussion and hyper link cloud enhanced literary criticism of William Gibson's forthcoming novel, entitled Zero History, which is due to be published on 7th September 2010.

See the Fragments of a Hologram Bill thread on the William Gibson Books discussion forum for the snippets of writing which have been released for discussion to the public so far.

Cover Artwork

US cover art (the design we prefer):
US_cover_April_150.jpg

UK cover art:
UK_cover_February_150.jpg

See how the cover artwork designs have changed slightly over time in the Cover Artwork category archive

"Spook Country" hyperlink cloud annotation

Our "Spook Country" hyperlink cloud annotation - re-orderd into numerical Chapter sequence

The Node Magazine node.tumblr.com, which this was a collaborative online contribution to, was online even before the official publication date of the first hardback edition of the book in August 2007.

This has been commented on by the author William Gibson, and described by Emeritus Professor of English Literature John Sutherland as "the future of literary crticism"

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