Cyberpunk

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Cyberpunk is as much as a philosophy as it is also a theme used in fiction, fashion, music, and technological design.

The idea behind cyberpunk culminates from the idea that technology, philosophy, religion, intelligence, and human interaction will someday meld together in cyberspace, a digital realm created expressly for the purpose of hosting every aspect of your life virtually: meetings, conversations, games, emotions, communication, research, and so on.

The origin of the cyberpunk concept is usually credited to William Gibson, and his book Neuromancer, although other books have indulged into this concept and have defined particular realms within. The actual first appearance of the word "cyberpunk" occurs in Bruce Bethke's short story "Cyberpunk", first published in AMAZING Science Fiction Stories, Volume 57, Number 4 of November 1983.

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson is probably the second-most referred to body of work that integrates the idea of existence in both the modern and highly commercialized real-life universe and a hacker-oriented metaverse where society continues as an extension of itself.

Visually, Ridley Scott's film Blade Runner (based on a Philip K. Dick novel entitled "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?") gave birth to an environment ideal of the cyberpunk universe.

A related concept is cypherpunk, a group focused on uses of cryptography that could create social change.

Integration of technology

Part of the core idea behind cyberpunk was the idea that technological influence would be almost seamless, ubiquitous and relatively advanced. Much of the digital computer and communications equipment actually available during the early eighties and nineties was not as much advanced or compact, but there were items available that allowed this merge to happen primitively: virtual worlds, helmet-mounted displays (HMDs), and virtual reality simulators. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the advancements made in cell phones and cellular communication technologies started a trend toward the realization of wireless mobile computing.

Modern Cyberpunk

Although the idea behind "cyberpunk" peaked in the early to mid 1990s, movies such as The Matrix trilogy, Lawnmower Man, and anime shows such as ".hack" have continued these themes that were established during its popularity[1]

Most material produced now is sometimes called "post-cyberpunk" science fiction, because it is produced after the height of cyberpunk. But it still retains the title due to the highly advanced nature of the product and the ideas involved (for example, the neural interface conveyed in the Matrix: the concept of "jacking in" through a direct link between the communications network and the brain; see wetware).

Cyberpunk influence in Fashion

The visual design philosophy of cyberpunk has been a recurring theme in the integration of fashionable items that maintain electronic functionality. In 2005, Burton, a manufacturer of "extreme" sportswear teamed up with Motorola to produce a line of winter wear known as the "Audex": a jacket, padded hat, and helmet that integrated Bluetooth technology and speakers so that the wearer could enjoy music or manage phone calls without having to manipulate the hardware stored inside of a pocket.[2]

Some of the direct challenges in these advancements are the safe integration of electronics into the fabric (without harming the wearer), the management of power to the electronics (providing seamless power supply or reducing its bulk), and the daily potential use/abuse of the material when worn (exposure to elements, etc).

A comment on this from the Jargon File:

Since 1990 or so, popular culture has included a movement or fashion trend that calls itself `cyberpunk', associated especially with the rave/techno subculture. Hackers have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, self-described cyberpunks too often seem to be shallow trendoids in black leather who have substituted enthusiastic blathering about technology for actually learning and *doing* it. Attitude is no substitute for competence. On the other hand, at least cyberpunks are excited about the right things and properly respectful of hacking talent in those who have it. The general consensus is to tolerate them politely in hopes that they'll attract people who grow into being true hackers.[3]

References

  1. Internet Movie Database query of Keyword:Cyberpunk (arranged by date of release). (2007-11-07). Retrieved on 2007-11-07. The majority of movies displayed in the query start from around 1982 with Ridley Scott's 'Blade Runner', and continue until 2006.
  2. Motorola Audex Helmet, Jacket, Padded Hat. Motorola US, Inc (2005). Retrieved on 2007-11-14.
  3. http://www.jargon.net/jargonfile/c/cyberpunk.html