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London looks to the future

posted 30 Dec 2010, 10:42 by Mpelembe   [ updated 30 Dec 2010, 11:02 ]
In a conversation with Reuters TV during his autumn book tour, author William Gibson explains why he believes the historic city has a distinctive grasp on the future.
UK-LONDON FUTURE -  "Letters from London. Letters to London. A ceaseless stream,"

Long before Twitter and facebook status updates, Londoners enjoyed a culture of rapid communications thanks in part to new technology.

 "Here it is, a tube train especially for mail. Property of the London post office and the only one of its kind in the world."

London's past is a rich source of futuristic thinking according to author William Gibson.

William Gibson, Author, saying):

"The Victorian fascination here with mail delivery. I think they got at least three per day and sometimes more. And everyone wrote to everyone else and they were doing a kind of paper internet for awhile"

And this from the man who coined the term cyberspace.

 William Gibson, Author, saying:

"London retrofits its past and stewards it into the future with more skill than most cities and more verve."

So while Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron concedes that London is playing catch up in its efforts to create a Tech City to foster innovations.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron speaking in November 2010 saying :

"And I don't want anyone to doubt our ambition. Right now, Silicon Valley is the leading place in the world for high tech growth and innovation."

Gibson says London has an abundance of what some newer cities lack.

 William Gibson, Author, saying:

"In North America, we've lived with a mythology of the future that imagines the future is to the west, over the horizon and will be entirely new. New in the way a subdivision can be new. There's nothing old there. Nothing's been retrofitted. Nothing's been painted over. It's never been the truth about how America arrives at any of its futures...we always live in someone elses past and someone elses future. And it doesn't arrive all in a box but London knows that and London's known that forever."

However, Gibson who lives in Vancouver did use a fresh approach to fact-checking his latest book Zero History which is set in London, asking his Twitter followers to help him out with a few details.

William Gibson, Author, saying:

"The stuff would just come pouring back within the hour."

Quite a change from his earlier science fiction work, where he wrote about cyberspace using a typewriter.

Matt Cowan, Reuters