Tag Archives: William Gibson

Walled City….why the name?

For me, even before I read William Gibson’s “Bridge Trilogy”, which is made up of “Virtual Light”, “Idoru” and “All Tomorrow’s Parties”, all of which I would recommend, the Walled City I thought of was Kowloon’s.

Wikipedia has  a page on it, which gives you the gist, and there are some extraordinarily expensive books* on the place if you go to Amazon.

Kowloon's Walled City
Kowloon’s Walled City

What’s really always fascinated me is how it was allowed to exist and function for all those years until they tore it down.

My point, I suppose, is that once it had established itself, it was more or less autonomous, in that the police didn’t go in, and it managed itself to a degree. It was an enclave within an enclave, answerable to no-one but itself. At least until they tore it down.

That all said, once I’d read “Idoru”, it did begin to crystallise for me.

If you’re interested, check out the concept of Temporary Autonomous Zones, it’s a tad hipsterish, “Burning Man” gets mentioned in this context, and in the end, Kowloon’s Walled City ended up more of a Permanent or Semi Permanent Autonomous Zone, but it does represent pockets of the universe which manage to sneak out from under the control of normal law and government, and this fits in with my views on decentralisation and privacy.

I would like to think that some of the material I post on here will, in a grand combination of all the odds and sods, come together as some sort of Cyberpunk style thoughts.  Cyberpunk extols anti-control concepts and principles, and for many, ubiquitous and all-powerful technological presence in life.  Expect to see more of that here.

Although, there’s an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote which I’ve always loved,

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

And I’ve always had a nasty penchant for thinking about both sides of the Control coin.  On the one hand, control is bad.  It restricts our ability to function, to be “free” however you measure that particular metric, but on the other hand, we need an amount of control for safety and so on.  I look for interesting ways in which people are fighting control, but I spend time imagining ways in which the systems involved could work better, and tie into each other better.  I guess so long as I don’t actively participate in those, maybe I’ll be ok?

I can’t imagine myself only thinking of one side of the coin.  I’ll always have to look at both sides.  Of course, there’s always the chance that both sides are “Heads”.

So, I’ll chalk this one up as a success, 2 posts in as many days.

* see “City of Darkness: Life in Kowloon’s Walled City”