Readersforum's Blog

May 24, 2013

How do you write about life when it’s lived on computers?

Eastern Standard TribeFiction writers face a challenge in depicting the ubiquitous 21st-century experience of virtual existence.

By Damien Walter

We live more and more of our life through the screens of laptops and smartphones, but how do we represent this on the page? In his 2004 novel Eastern Standard Tribe, science fiction author Cory Doctorow explored what it meant to live in a world where our relationships were scattered around the globe, and our lives lived through computers. Doctorow’s novel was published just two years before the release of the iPhone in 2006, and the explosion in smartphone and tablet computer usage which has moved millions of real people are living the kinds of life Doctorow predicted.

Walk in to any public space today, from a waiting room to a coffee shop, and note the disturbing absence of voices. We are there, and we are elsewhere. Our discussions are mediated via social networks, and conducted through touchscreen interfaces. Can we call them friends, this network of professional and social contacts we interact with through computers?

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