In case you had been wondering whether William Gibson was jealous, you don’t need to wonder any more.
William Gibson is commonly credited with creating cyberpunk, not because William Gibson did anything very noteworthy, but because William Gibson was the first guy to get RECOGNIZED BY OTHERS for writing cyberpunk.
Gibson was given too much credit. And now he’s not in the spotlight and he’s not really happy about it. Disrespecting mainstream cyberpunk as “generic” has been a bad habit since 1989, and Gibson has never been free from that bad habit.
Gibson was always a literary geek and never a computer geek, so I don’t think he appreciates how much goes into making a GTA-style game. This is the same guy who tried to copy-protect his poetry so that it could be read once, and would then delete itself before it could be copied. It was a cute gimmick to camouflage a cash grab, but it failed. It got cracked. Everyone has access to that poetry Gibson tried to protect.
A particularly well-received work by Gibson was Agrippa (a book of the dead) (1992), a 300-line semi-autobiographical electronic poem that was his contribution to a collaborative project with artist Dennis Ashbaugh and publisher Kevin Begos, Jr. Gibson’s text focused on the ethereal nature of memories (the title refers to a photo album) and was originally published on a 3.5″ floppy disk embedded in the back of an artist’s book containing etchings by Ashbaugh (intended to fade from view once the book was opened and exposed to light — they never did, however). Gibson commented that Ashbaugh’s design “eventually included a supposedly self-devouring floppy-disk intended to display the text only once, then eat itself.” Contrary to numerous colorful reports, the diskettes were never actually “hacked“; instead the poem was manually transcribed from a surreptitious videotape of a public showing in Manhattan in December 1992, and released on the MindVox bulletin board the next day; this is the text that circulated widely on the Internet.
Since its debut in 1992, the mystery of Agrippa remained hidden for 20 years. Although many had tried to hack the code and decrypt the program, the uncompiled source code was lost long ago. Alan Liu and his team at “The Agrippa Files” created an extensive website with tools and resources to crack the Agrippa Code. They collaborated with Matthew Kirschenbaum at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities and the Digital Forensics Lab, and Quinn DuPont, a PhD student of cryptography from the University of Toronto, in calling for the aid of cryptographers to figure out how the program works by creating “Cracking the Agrippa Code: The Challenge”, which enlisted participants to solve the intentional scrambling of the poem in exchange for prizes. The code was successfully cracked by Robert Xiao in late July 2012.