The Virus and the Hobbyist

William Gibson is about as good as anyone at predicting (and shaping) the future. So naturally, when he admits he got something very wrong it’s pretty interesting. In this case he’s talking about viruses and how rather than traditionally being tools of states (stuxnet is the impetus for the editorial), they’ve been tools of hobbyists:

Virus-writers seemed, at least at first, to be in it for anything but money. The outcome was simply vandalism, as dull as someone smashing out the light fixtures in a bus shelter. Random bits of software or pieces of equipment would temporarily quit functioning. Random strangers were anonymously discommoded. Somewhere, I assumed, someone had a rather abstract giggle.

I wasn’t impressed, however arcane the know-how that was required. But I was embarrassed at how thoroughly I’d missed this in my fiction: the pettiness of most virus-writing, the banality of the result. I had never depicted, much less imagined, anyone doing anything as pointlessly ill-intentioned. (I began to try, on the margins of my work, to remedy that oversight, if only for the sake of naturalism.)

Reprinted from

Noah Brier has some super secret stuff Percolating. He is responsible for Brand Tagslikemind, and My First Tweet. Follow him on Twitter @HeyItsNoah or at his blog,