Did a 1975 novel predict the Wikileaks controversy?

Illustration for article titled Did a 1975 novel predict the Wikileaks controversy?

A group of idealistic young hackers and computer whizzes exposes all of the government's secrets - sound familiar? It's the plot of John Brunner's 1975 novel, Shockwave Rider, which some are calling a precursor to Wikileaks.


In Shockwave Rider, activist Nick Haflinger creates a computer worm (this novel invented that word) which is designed to "destroy all secrecy," and when it's released, details of all of the government's clandestine doings are released to the public, sparking outrage and charges of unpatriotic behavior.

People have been comparing Wikileaks to Shockwave Rider all over the Internet — it's hard to tell where the meme got started.

In late November, Technovelgy posted, "Hey Wikileaks! Where's my Shockwave Rider App?", noting that the similarities include the fact that Wikileaks is "available to anyone with a web browser," while the worm in Shockwave presents its government secrets "to the user during ordinary computer use." Around the same time, Runa.com CTO Robert J. Berger tweeted that "Brunner's Shockwave Rider predicted much." But since then, the comparison has turned up a lot of other places, with people seeming to make the comparison spontaneously. Actually, the earliest mention of the parallels I can find dates from last August, in the comments section here.

Concludes Technovelgy, "So, what we need now is a suitable mash-up app for our phones that will pull down appropriate WikiLeaked data during our web surfing. Developers?"



Technically the first cyberpunk story as well... The Sheep Look Up is as prescient.