Private: Pattern Recognition

I’m reading William Gibson’s excellent new book Pattern Recogntion . Can’t recommend it highly enough.

I did a short opinion roundup on the predictive powers of sf lit a few months back, and I queried Gibson for his take on the current sf scene. He wrote back:

I don’t know. I haven’t read much sf over the past decade or so.

And Pattern Recognition is definitely NOT science fiction, although its present day setting often feels otherworldly. But judging from his protagonist Cayce Pollard’s profession, Gibson has read Malcolm Gladwell’s seminal 1997 article The Coolhunt . I think that “The Coolhunt” is one of the greatest magazine pieces I’ve ever read. It’s as influential as Tom Wolfe’s “Me Generation” piece was to the 1970s, and gives just as much insight into the zeitgeist, maybe more.

Gladwell expanded the essay into a full length book, and he’s become a hero to businesspeople who want to pinpoint trends and make money. When Intel rolled out their pink-and-blue-branded Centrino technology, they hired Gladwell to speak at the launch event, in the hopes that he’d deem that Wi-Fi was a trend that had fully arrived. But journalists will cite Gladwell on anything related to coolness, especially stuff like trucker caps.