I just read a story in The New Yorker that totally made it clear that William Gibson was not writing about the future, that the future is so strange that he could never have predicted it. The article was about a new literary craze in Japan, the keitai shosetsu, the "cell-phone novel", and it is online here. Japanese people (mostly women) compose novels on their phones that are hundreds of pages long, and share them online for free. Many of them are then made into highly successful manga, movies, and print novels (some of which keep the same form as the cell texts, including frequent line breaks and non-traditional text orientation*) and they sell millions of copies.
The descriptions of what the author claimed to be representative work struck me as incredibly vapid and what I'd call "anti-feminist"--apparently they are mostly tragic love stories about rape and disease. This is probably sad (not my culture, I don't know enough to say for sure) but is apparently a very common theme in Japan. This, and the entire culture that it describes, seem very alien to me.
In this age of the "La Royale with Cheese", it's easy for me to imagine that there are no real foreigners--just Americans in foreign countries with odd accents. And it's true that, in many ways, people across the world have more in common culturally than they've ever shared before. I'm a big believer in "strength through diversity", and so no matter how little I like the sound of these novels, the mere fact that they come from a large, vibrant culture that is so drastically different from my own makes me happy.
There was a bit at the end of the article that described an award ceremony for keitai shosetsu authors. The final contestants were all dressed in a wide array of bizarre fashions. The MC was a Buddhist nun. A young woman dressed in orange tights won first prize (twenty thousand dollars and a publishing contract) which was presented to her by "a popular Ping-Pong champion". Gibson simply had no idea.
*Traditional Japanese text, the article reminds me, is read top to bottom, right to left. Cell phones are read horizontally, left to right, and many of these novel are published this way.