Don’t you hate it when you can’t track down a citation? Amazon’s full text search of books shows that William Gibson’s Neuromancer certainly doesn’t contain the words “the street finds its own use for things” or any sentence, in fact, with the words street, use or uses and things in it. The line is all over the web, though, always attributed to Gibson, and usually to Neuromancer. Where it is not. And me, well, I like the line, which makes me think of Neuromancer, and I want to use it!

7 thoughts on “faulty attributions?

  1. derik

    Could be that Amazon’s search is less than reliable. I can’t believe Gibson didn’t use the word “street” at all in that book.

  2. Jill

    Oh, he used street a lot, just not close to “use” and “things”, that’s all 🙂

  3. Tama

    The quote is actually from an article Gibson wrote called “Academy Leader” in the collection Cyberspace: First Steps. Transcript here.

  4. Martin GL

    That’s from his second novel, too. Count Zero. I think it’s the scene where Turner is out in the desert, talking to the Asian doctor from the medical lab.

  5. Tama

    Martin GL is quite right: “The street tries to find its own uses for things, Mr. Turner.” (p. 69 of the Amazon link above). Since Count Zero came out first (1987), Gibson must have been quoting himself in the “Academy Leader” article. Of course, either would do nicely for a reference. 🙂

  6. Jill

    You guys are awesome! Thank you so much!!!

  7. Jose Angel

    There’s a nice connection between that sentence and Stephen Jay Gould’s notion of “exaptation” as an evolutionary principle (e.g. wings became an instrument for flight not by design but because of a collateral use). Although perhaps the connection is an instance of exaptation, too.

Leave a Reply to Tama Cancel reply

Recommended Posts

Machine Vision Presentations

Drones in Society conference

I’m (virtually) attending Elisa Serifinalli’s conference Drones in Society: New Visual Aesthetics today, and will be presenting work-in-progress exploring how drones are presented in the 500 novels, movies, artworks, games and other stories that we have analysed in the Database of Machine […]

Machine Vision

Cultural Representations of Machine Vision: An Experimental Mixed Methods Workshop

Call for submissions to a workshop, Bergen, Norway
Workshop dates: 15-17 August 2022
Proposals due: 15 June

The Machine Vision in Everyday Life project invites proposals for an interdisciplinary workshop using qualitative approaches and digital methods to analyse how machine vision is represented in art, science fiction, games, social media and other forms of cultural and aesthetic expression.

Digital Humanities Machine Vision

What do different machine vision technologies do in fiction and art?

For the Machine Vision in Everyday Life project we’ve analysed how machine vision technologies are portrayed and used in 500 works of fiction and art, including 77 digital games, 190 digital artworks and 233 movies, novels and other narratives. You can browse […]