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Author William Gibson on non-functioning American democracy, the importance of giving computers to the poor, and the elitist appeal of the Internet

On November 23, 1994 William Gibson came to Stockholm, Sweden, to promote his new book "Virtual Light". I interviewed him for "Rapport", Sweden's largest TV-news program. We talked for about half an hour, but only a small percent of the interview made it to the TV audience. William Gibson deserves better than that, so I hereby realese a transcript of the entire interview on the Web. Enjoy! William Gibson

By Dan Josefsson

Listen to William Gibson's definition of "Cyberspace".
Reasonable sound quality (361 k) Lousy quality, but quick (272 k)

The interview

What is cyberspace?
Cyberspace is a metaphor that allows us to grasp this place where since about the time of the second world war we've increasingly done so many of the things that we think of as civilization. Cyberspace is where we do our banking, it's actually where the bank keeps your money these days because it's all direct electronic transfer. It's where the stock market actually takes place, it doesn't occur so much any more on the floor of the exchange but in the electronic communication between the worlds stock-exchanges.
So I think that since so much of what we do is happening digitally and electronically, it's useful to have an expression that allows that all to be part of the territory. I think it makes it easier for us to visualize what we're doing with this stuff.
Is there any situation when people actually enter cyberspace?
Well, you know, I think in a very real sense cyberspace is the place where a long distance telephone call takes place. Actually it's the place where any telephone call takes place and we take that very much for granted. Otherwise I would say that when people use the Internet, that's when they're most obviously navigating in cyberspace. When you use the Internet you enter a realm in which geography no longer exist.

Is that a good thing?
I think it's a fascinating thing and in any case it's not going to go away. I think that technologies are morally neutral until we apply them. It's only when we use them for good or for evil that they become good or evil.

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Interview copyright © 1995 Sveriges Television AB

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