Disneyland with the Death Penalty

"Disneyland with the Death Penalty" is a 4,500-word article about Singapore written by William Gibson. His first major piece of non-fiction, it was first published as the cover story[1] for Wired magazine's September/October 1993 issue (1.4).[2][3]

The article follows Gibson's observations of the architecture, phenomenology and culture of Singapore, and the clean, bland and conformist impression the city-state conveys during his stay. Its title and central metaphor—Singapore as Disneyland with the death penalty—is a reference to the authoritarian artifice the author perceives the city-state to be. Singapore, Gibson details, is lacking any sense of creativity or authenticity, absent of any indication of its history or underground culture. He finds the government to be pervasive, corporatist and technocratic, and the judicial system rigid and draconian. Singaporeans are characterized as consumerists of insipid taste. The article is accentuated by local news reports of criminal trials by which the author illustrates his observations, and bracketed by contrasting descriptions of the Southeast Asian airports he arrives and leaves by.

Though Gibson's first major piece of non-fiction, the article had an immediate and lasting impact. The Singaporean government banned Wired upon the publication of the issue, and the phrase "Disneyland with the death penalty" became a byword for bland authoritarianism that the city-state could not easily discard.

Disneyland with the Death Penalty
Nightscape of the article's subject, Singapore

Synopsis

There is no slack in Singapore. Imagine an Asian version of Zurich operating as an offshore capsule at the foot of Malaysia; an affluent microcosm whose citizens inhabit something that feels like, well, Disneyland. Disneyland with the death penalty.
— Gibson, William. "Disneyland with the Death Penalty"[2]
The Neuromancer
William Gibson
Raffles Place Skyscrapers
Skyscrapers in Raffles Place in the Central Business District
Kowloon Walled City
An aerial shot from 1989 of the squat enclave Kowloon Walled City, which Gibson contrasts favourably with Singapore

The title "Disneyland with the Death Penalty" refers to the subject of the article, the Southeast Asian city-state of Singapore, whose strictly guarded sterility Gibson describes with horror.[4] After opening the article with the Disneyland metaphor, Gibson cites an observation attributed to Laurie Anderson that virtual reality "would never look real until they learned how to put some dirt in it" in relation to the immaculate state of the Changi Airtropolis, Singapore's international airport. Beyond the airport, he notes that the natural environment has been cultivated into "all-too-perfect examples of itself", such as with the abundance of golf courses. Singaporean society is a "relentlessly G-rated experience", controlled by a government akin to a megacorporation, fixated on conformity and behavioural constraint and with a marked lack of humour and creativity.[2]

Gibson finds it painful to try to connect with the Victorian Singapore, of which few vestiges remained. In an attempt to uncover Singapore's underlying social mechanisms, the author searches fruitlessly for an urban underbelly, rising at dawn for jetlagged walks on several mornings only to discover that the city-state's "physical past ... has almost entirely vanished".[2][4] He gives an overview of the history of Singapore from the founding of modern Singapore by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 to the Japanese occupation and the establishment of the Republic in 1965. He concludes that modern Singapore, effectively a one-party state and capitalist technocracy, is a product first and foremost of the vision of three-decade Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.[2] As an aside, he quotes a headline from the South China Morning Post detailing the trial of a cadre of economists, a government official (current Deputy Prime Minister, Tharman) and a newspaper editor for divulging a state secret by revealing the Singaporean economic growth rate.[2]

Gibson deplores the absence of an authentic metropolitan feeling,[4] something which he blames for the "telling lack of creativity".[2] He gives a psychogeographic account of the architecture of the city-state, noting the endless parade of young, attractive and generically attired middle class through the host of shopping centers, and comparing the city-state to the convention district of Atlanta, Georgia. He finds the selection in music stores and bookshops unrelentingly bland, musing whether this is partially attributable to the efforts of the Undesirable Propagation Unit (UPU), one of several state censorship agencies. Amidst the near total absence of bohemianism and counterculture, Gibson finds no trace of dissidence, an underground, or slums.[2][4] In the place of a sex trade, the author finds government-sanctioned "health centers" – in fact massage parlours – and mandatory dating organized and enforced by government agencies. "[T]here is remarkably little", he writes of the city-state "that is not the result of deliberate and no doubt carefully deliberated social policy."[2]

The creative deficit of the city-state is evident to the author also in the Singaporeans' obsession with consumerism as a pastime, the homogeneity of the retailers and their fare, and in what he characterizes as their other passion: dining (although he finds fault with the diversity of the food, it is, he remarks "something to write home about").[2] He returns then to the theme of the staid insipidity of the city-state, observing the unsettling cleanliness of the physical environment and the self-policing of the populace. In detailing Singaporean technological advancement and aspirations as an information economy, Gibson casts doubt on the resilience of their controlled and conservative nature in the face of impending mass exposure to digital culture – "the wilds of X-rated cyberspace".[2] "Perhaps", he speculates, "Singapore's destiny will be to become nothing more than a smug, neo-Swiss enclave of order and prosperity, amid a sea of unthinkable ... weirdness."[2]

Toward the end of the essay, Gibson briefly covers two applications of the death penalty by the Singaporean justice system; he excerpts a report from The Straits Times about Mat Repin Mamat, a Malay man sentenced to death for attempting to smuggle a kilogram of cannabis into the city-state, and follows this with a description of the case of Johannes van Damme, a Dutch engineer found with significant quantities of heroin with the same consequence. He expresses reservations about the justice of capital punishment and describes the Singaporeans as the true bearers of zero tolerance. After hearing the announcement of van Damme's sentencing, Gibson decides to leave, checks out "in record time" from the hotel, and catches a cab to the airport. The trip is conspicuous for the absence of police along the road, but there is an abundance of them at the Changi Airtropolis, where Gibson photographs a discarded piece of crumpled paper, incurring their ire. Flying into Hong Kong he briefly glimpses the soon-to-be-destroyed shantytown Kowloon Walled City at the end of one of the runways at the chaotic Kai Tak Airport, and muses about the contrast with the staid and sanitized city-state he has left behind. The essay ends with the declaration "I loosened my tie, clearing Singapore airspace."[2]

Impact and legacy

Cover of Wired issue 1.04 September October 1993
Cover of Wired issue 1.4, where the article debuted

The Singapore government responded to the publication of the article by banning Wired from the country.[3] The phrase "Disneyland with the death penalty" became a famous and widely referenced description for the nation,[5][6][7][8][9][10][11] adopted in particular by opponents of Singapore's perceived authoritarian nature.[12] The city-state's authoritarian and austere reputation made it difficult to shake the description off;[13][14] Creative Review hailed it as "famously damning",[15] while The New York Times associate editor R. W. Apple Jr. defended the city-state in a 2003 piece as "hardly deserving of William Gibson's woundingly dismissive tag line".[16]

Reviewing the work in a 2003 blog post, Gibson wrote:

That Wired article may have managed to convey the now-cliched sense of Singapore as a creepy, anal-retentive city-state, but it didn't go nearly far enough in capturing the sheer underlying dullness of the place. It's a terrible *retail* environment. The endless malls are filled with shops selling exactly the same products, and it's all either the stuff that kicks Cayce into anaphylactic shock or slightly sad local-industry imitations of same. You could easily put together a smarter outfit shopping exclusively in Heathrow.[17]

"Disneyland with the Death Penalty" was assigned as reading on the topic of "Singaporean progress" for a 2008 National University of Singapore Writing & Critical Thinking course.[18] The piece was included in a 2012 compilation of Gibson's non-fiction writing, Distrust That Particular Flavor.

Critical reception

Rem Koolhaas
Architect and urban theorist Rem Koolhaas, who criticized the article as being patronizing towards Singaporeans.

The article provoked a strong critical reaction. The Boston Globe characterized it as a "biting piece on the technocratic state in Singapore".[19] It was recommended by postmodern political geographer Edward Soja as "a wonderful tour of the cyberspatial urbanities" of the city-state.[20] Journalist Steven Poole called it a "horrified report", and argued that it showed that the author "despises the seamless, strictured planes of corporate big business" and is "the champion of the interstitial".[21] In a review of Gibson's 2010 novel Zero History for The Observer James Purdon identified "Disneyland" as one of the high points of Gibson's career, "a witty, perceptive piece of reportage, hinting at a non-fiction talent equal to the vision that had elevated Gibson to digital-age guru".[22]

Philosopher and technology writer Peter Ludlow interpreted the piece as an attack on the city, and noted as ironic the fact that the real Disneyland was in California—a state whose "repressive penal code includes the death penalty".[23] Urban theorist Maarten Delbeke noted that Gibson cited the computerized control of the city-state as responsible for its sanitized inauthentic character, a claim Delbeke called "a conventional, almost old-fashioned complaint against technocracy".[4] In a 2004 article in Forum on Contemporary Art & Society, Paul Rae commented that "[w]hile an ability to capture the zeitgeist is to be taken seriously in a context such as this one, Gibson's journalistic reportage is inevitably unrefined", and cited the accusation of Singapore-based British academic John Phillips that Gibson "fails to really think [his critiques] through".[24]

In S,M,L,XL (1995), urbanist and architectural theorist Rem Koolhaas took issue with the acerbic, ironic tone of the article, condemning it as a typical reaction by "dead parents deploring the mess [their] children have made of their inheritance".[4][25] Koolhaas argued that reactions like Gibson's imply that the positive legacy of modernity can only be intelligently used by Westerners, and that attempts such as Singapore's at embracing the "newness" of modernity without understanding its history would result in a far-reaching and deplorable eradication.[4]

Singaporean Tang Weng Hong in turn wrote a critical response to both Gibson and Koolhaas.[26]

See also

References

  1. ^ Cover of Wired issue 1.4 in which Disneyland with the Death Penalty originally appeared
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Gibson, William (September–October 1993). "Disneyland with the Death Penalty". Wired. No. 1.04. Condé Nast Publications. Retrieved September 23, 2008.
  3. ^ a b Mehegan, David (March 1, 1995). "Multimedia Animal Wired Visionary Nicholas Negroponte is MIT's Loud Voice of the Future". The Boston Globe. The New York Times Company.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Delbeke, Maarten (1999). "The Transformation of Cyberspace in William Gibson's Neuromancer: From Highrise Grid to Hive". In De Meyer, Dirk; Versluys, Kristiaan. The Urban Condition: space, community, and self in the contemporary metropolis. Rotterdam: Uitgeverij 010 Publishers. pp. 408–410. ISBN 978-90-6450-355-9.
  5. ^ Culshaw, Peter (February 26, 2005). "You will now be creative!". The Telegraph. Retrieved September 23, 2008.
  6. ^ Freeman, Jan (September 15, 1993). "The Crusoe Game; Baby Boomers Get Re-Wired". The Boston Globe. The New York Times Company. Gibson's travel report is not bad, but it's pretty much summed up by the line the editors stole for the cover: "Disneyland with the Death Penalty".
  7. ^ Mian, Imran-Vincent (September 16, 2005). "Singapore's other side; Toeing the line". International Herald Tribune. The New York Times Company. Retrieved September 23, 2008.
  8. ^ Vest, Jason (April 15, 1994). "Justice Under the Lash; Did Singapore Beat a Confession Out of a Young American?". The Washington Post.
  9. ^ Hilsum, Lindsay (October 5, 2007). "Why Burma Was Crushed". Channel 4. Archived from the original on January 24, 2013. Retrieved September 24, 2008. He turned Singapore into an immensely rich, alarmingly clean, politically repressive city-state, described by the science-fiction writer William Gibson as "Disneyland with the death penalty".
  10. ^ "Safe in the Lion City: Singapore's sterile image has been mocked over the years, but Beverley Fearis discovers that being security conscious could pay dividends in today's stressful climate". Business Traveler. February 1, 2003. Famously referred to as "Disneyland with the death penalty" by writer William Gibson, Singapore has had its fair share of criticism.
  11. ^ McCullagh, Declan (August 1, 2003). "Something's in the air: liberties in the face of SARS and other infectious diseases". Reason. Another explanation for Singapore's comparative success in containing SARS is its single-minded determination to take whatever steps necessary, with scant regard for such individual liberties as the right to travel and associate freely. This is the city-state the cyber-punk writer William Gibson once described as "Disneyland with the death penalty": While free trade is largely embraced, chaos is verboten.
  12. ^ Parsons, Tony (November 4, 2002). "Comment on litter fines". The Mirror.
  13. ^ Adams, Laur L. (September 7, 2007). "Globalization of Culture and the Arts". Sociology Compass. 1 (1): 127–142. doi:10.1111/j.1751-9020.2007.00024.x. Retrieved September 24, 2008.
  14. ^ Chong, Terence (2005). "From Global to Local: Singapore's Cultural Policy and Its Consequences". Critical Asian Studies. 37 (4): 553–68. doi:10.1080/14672710500348455.
  15. ^ Sinclair, Mark (August 1, 2004). "A decade of decadence: the authoritarian society of Singapore turned four ex-military policemen into rebel designers. Mark Sinclair meets Phunk Studio". Creative Review. But with prosperity has come blandness: the stereotypical view of Singapore is of a financial hub, an ex-pat paradise, a strictly run, litter free state with little cultural activity or interest. Disneyland with the death penalty is one famously damning description.
  16. ^ R.W. Apple, Jr. (September 10, 2003). "Asian Journey; Snacker's Paradise: Devouring Singapore's Endless Supper". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved September 23, 2008.
  17. ^ Gibson, William (May 22, 2003). "S'PORE, IN RETROSPECT". WilliamGibsonBooks.com. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  18. ^ "University Scholars Program". National University of Singapore. Archived from the original on October 3, 2008. Retrieved September 24, 2008.
  19. ^ Gilbert, Matthew (September 18, 1994). "Getting Wired: This San Francisco Magazine is the Rolling Stone of the Digital Revolution". The Boston Globe. The New York Times Company.
  20. ^ Soja, Edward (2000). "Six Discourses on the Postmetropolis". Postmetropolis: critical studies of cities and regions. Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers. p. 336. ISBN 978-1-57718-001-2.
  21. ^ Poole, Steven (October 3, 1996). "Virtually in love". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved October 8, 2009.
  22. ^ Purdon, James (September 12, 2010). "Zero History by William Gibson". The Observer. guardian.co.uk (Guardian Media Group). Retrieved September 12, 2010.
  23. ^ Ludlow, Peter (2001). Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias. Cambridge: MIT. p. 386. ISBN 978-0-262-62151-9. Since these articles are an attack on Singapore, it is ironic that the real Disneyland is in California—whose repressive penal code includes the death penalty
  24. ^ Rae, Paul (2004). ""10/12": When Singapore Became the Bali of the Twenty-First Century?" (PDF). Forum on Contemporary Art & Society. No. 5. Singapore: Substation. pp. 218–255. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-01-07. While an ability to capture the zeitgeist is to be taken seriously in a context such as this one, Gibson's journalistic reportage is inevitably unrefined
  25. ^ Koolhaas, Rem (1995). "Singapore Songlines". S, M, L, Xl. Rotterdam: OMA. pp. 1009–1089.
  26. ^ What is Authenticity? Singapore as Potemkin Metropolis" a response to Gibson and Koolhaas by Tang Weng Hong (archive)

External links

Capital punishment in Singapore

Capital punishment is a legal penalty in Singapore. The city-state had the second highest per-capita execution rate in the world between 1994 and 1998, estimated by the United Nations to be 13.83 executions annually per one million people during that period. The highest was Turkmenistan (now an abolitionist country) with 14.92. However, since the 2010s, execution has become far less common, with some years having no executions at all. No one was executed in 2012 and 2013, and two persons were executed in 2014. Nevertheless, in recent years, executions have started to increase again: in 2018, 9 people were executed, the most since 2003.Each execution in Singapore is carried out by long drop hanging in Changi Prison at dawn on Friday, except once on 20 May 2016 when the execution of Kho Jabing was carried out at 3:30 pm after his appeal for a stay of execution was dismissed that morning. In a survey done in 2005, reported in The Straits Times, 95% of Singaporeans believe that their country should retain the death penalty.Singapore has had capital punishment since it was a British colony and became independent before the United Kingdom abolished capital punishment. The Singaporean procedure of hanging condemned individuals is similar to the methods formerly used in the United Kingdom.

In 2012, however, Singapore amended its laws to exempt some cases from the mandatory death sentence.

Criminal law of Singapore

Although the legal system of Singapore is a common law system, the criminal law of Singapore is largely statutory in nature. The general principles of criminal law, as well as the elements and penalties of common criminal offences such as homicide, theft and cheating, are set out in the Penal Code. Other important offences are created by statutes such as the Arms Offences Act, Kidnapping Act, Misuse of Drugs Act and Vandalism Act.In addition, there is a perception that Singapore society is highly regulated through the criminalization of many activities which are considered as fairly harmless in other countries. These include failing to flush toilets after use, littering, jaywalking, the possession of pornography, the sale of chewing gum, and sexual activity; such as oral and anal sex between men. It has been claimed that one of the results of such heavy regulation is that Singapore has one of the lowest incidences of violent crimes in the world. In 1996, the National Crime Prevention Council of Singapore started its annual publicity campaign with the anti-crime campaign tag-line "Low crime does not mean no crime".Singapore retains both corporal punishment (in the form of caning) and capital punishment (by hanging) as punishments for serious offences. For certain offences, the imposition of these penalties is mandatory. More than 400 people were executed in Singapore, mostly for drug trafficking, between 1991 and 2004. Statistically, Singapore has one of the highest execution rates in the world relative to its population, surpassing Saudi Arabia. Science fiction writer William Gibson famously described Singapore as "Disneyland with the death penalty".

Distrust That Particular Flavor

Distrust That Particular Flavor is a collection of non-fiction writing by the speculative fiction author William Gibson. It consists of twenty-six pieces written over a period of more than twenty years. The anthology includes a range of formats, including essays, magazine pieces, album reviews, and forewords from other published works.

EPCOT (concept)

The Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT) was an unfinished concept developed by Walt Disney. Its purpose was to be a "real city that would 'never cease to be a blueprint of the future,'" designed to stimulate American ideas for urban living. The city was planned to be a company town. The "EPCOT idea" was part of Walt Disney's original plan for the property purchased near Orlando, Florida. After his death in 1966, the property became the Walt Disney World Resort in 1971 and a theme park based on the idea opened in 1982. A portion of the original architectural model of the concept is on display on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, located in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom.

Johannes van Damme

Johannes van Damme (1 June 1935 – 23 September 1994) was a Dutch engineer and businessman executed in Singapore for drug trafficking. He was the first European to be executed in Singapore since its independence.

Kowloon Walled City

Kowloon Walled City was a largely ungoverned, densely populated settlement in Kowloon City in Hong Kong. Originally a Chinese military fort, the Walled City became an enclave after the New Territories were leased to Britain by China in 1898. Its population increased dramatically following the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong during World War II. By 1990, the Walled City contained 50,000 residents within its 2.6-hectare (6.4-acre) borders. From the 1950s to the 1970s, it was controlled by local triads and had high rates of prostitution, gambling and drug abuse.

In January 1987, the Hong Kong government announced plans to demolish the Walled City. After an arduous eviction process, demolition began in March 1993 and was completed in April 1994. Kowloon Walled City Park opened in December 1995 and occupies the area of the former Walled City. Some historical artefacts from the Walled City, including its yamen building and remnants of its South Gate, have been preserved there.

List of awards and nominations received by William Gibson

William Gibson is an American-Canadian writer who has been called the "noir prophet" of the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction. Since first being published in the late 1970s, Gibson has written more than twenty short stories and nine critically acclaimed novels. His early works are bleak, noir near-future stories about the relationship between humans and technology – a "combination of lowlife and high tech". Several of these garnered critical attention and popular acclaim, receiving Hugo and Nebula Awards nominations in the categories of best short story and best novelette and being featured prominently in the annual Locus Awards reader's poll.

The themes, settings and characters developed in these stories culminated in his first novel, Neuromancer (1984), which proved to be the author's breakout work, achieving critical and commercial success and virtually initiating the cyberpunk literary genre. It became the first novel to win the "triple crown" of science fiction awards – the Nebula and the Hugo Awards for best novel along with the Philip K. Dick Award for paperback original, an unprecedented achievement described by the Mail & Guardian as "the sci-fi writer's version of winning the Goncourt, Booker and Pulitzer prizes in the same year". It also won the Ditmar and Seiun awards, received nominations for the year's "outstanding work" Prix Aurora Award and the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) award for best novel, topped the annual Science Fiction Chronicle poll and finishing third in the standings for the 1985 John W. Campbell Award.

Much of Gibson's reputation remained associated with Neuromancer, and though its sequels in the Sprawl trilogy – Count Zero (1986) and Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988) – also attracted Hugo and Nebula nominations for best novel, major award wins eluded the writer thereafter. "The Winter Market", a short story first published in November 1985, was well-received, garnering Hugo, Nebula, Aurora, and BSFA nominations and finished highly in the Locus, Interzone and Science Fiction Chronicle polls. Having completed the cyberpunk Sprawl trilogy, Gibson became a central figure in the steampunk subgenre by co-authoring the 1990 alternate history novel The Difference Engine, which was nominated for the Nebula, Campbell, Aurora and BSFA awards and featured in the Locus poll. His most recent novels – Pattern Recognition (2003) and Spook Country (2007) – put his work onto mainstream bestseller lists for the first time, and the former was the first of Gibson's novels to be shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Gibson was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2008.

List of works by William Gibson

The works of William Gibson encompass literature, journalism, acting, recitation, and performance art. Primarily renowned as a novelist and short fiction writer in the cyberpunk milieu, Gibson invented the metaphor of cyberspace in "Burning Chrome" (1982) and emerged from obscurity in 1984 with the publication of his debut novel Neuromancer. Gibson's early short fiction is recognized as cyberpunk's finest work, effectively renovating the science fiction genre which had been hitherto considered widely insignificant.At the turn of the 1990s, after the completion of his Sprawl trilogy of novels, Gibson contributed the text to a number of performance art pieces and exhibitions, as well as writing lyrics for musicians Yellow Magic Orchestra and Debbie Harry. He wrote the critically acclaimed artist's book Agrippa (a book of the dead) in 1992 before co-authoring The Difference Engine, an alternate history novel that would become a central work of the steampunk genre. He then spent an unfruitful period as a Hollywood screenwriter, with few of his projects seeing the light of day and those that did being critically unsuccessful.Although he had largely abandoned short fiction by the mid-1990s, Gibson returned to writing novels, completing his second trilogy, the Bridge trilogy at the close of the millennium. After writing two episodes of the television series The X-Files around this time, Gibson was featured as the subject of a documentary film, No Maps for These Territories, in 2000. Gibson has been invited to address the National Academy of Sciences (1993) and the Directors Guild of America (2003) and has had a plethora of articles published in outlets such as Wired, Rolling Stone and The New York Times. His third trilogy of novels, Pattern Recognition (2003), Spook Country (2007) and Zero History (2010) have put Gibson's work onto mainstream bestseller lists for the first time.

Media censorship in Singapore

Media regulation in the Republic of Singapore is carried out by the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) and effected by various laws.

Media of Singapore

The Media of Singapore refers to mass communication methods through broadcasting, publishing, and the Internet available in the city-state. Singapore's media environment is considered to be highly controlled by the government. Comprising the publishing, print, broadcasting, film, music, digital, and IT media sectors, the media industry collectively employed about 38,000 people and contributed 1.56% to Singapore's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2001 with an annual turnover of S$10 billion. The industry grew at an average rate of 7.7% annually from 1990 to 2000, and the government seeks to increase its GDP contribution to 3% by 2012.

S,M,L,XL

S,M,L,XL (ISBN 1-885254-01-6) is a book by Rem Koolhaas and Bruce Mau, edited by Jennifer Sigler, with photography by Hans Werlemann.

Singapore

Singapore ( (listen)), officially the Republic of Singapore (Malay: Republik Singapura; Chinese: 新加坡共和国; Tamil: சிங்கப்பூர் குடியரசு), is an island city-state in Southeast Asia. It lies one degree (137 kilometres or 85 miles) north of the equator, at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, with Indonesia's Riau Islands to the south and Peninsular Malaysia to the north. Singapore's territory consists of one main island along with 62 other islets. Since independence, extensive land reclamation has increased its total size by 23% (130 square kilometres or 50 square miles). The country is known for its transition from a developing to a developed one in a single generation under the leadership of its founder Lee Kuan Yew.In 1819, Sir Stamford Raffles founded colonial Singapore as a trading post of the British East India Company. After the company's collapse in 1858, the islands were ceded to the British Raj as a crown colony. During the Second World War, Singapore was occupied by Japan. It gained independence from the British Empire in 1963 by joining Malaysia along with other former British territories (Sabah and Sarawak), but separated two years later over ideological differences, becoming a sovereign nation in 1965. After early years of turbulence and despite lacking natural resources and a hinterland, the nation developed rapidly as an Asian Tiger economy, based on external trade and its workforce.

Singapore is a global hub for education, entertainment, finance, healthcare, human capital, innovation, logistics, manufacturing, technology, tourism, trade, and transport. The city ranks highly in numerous international rankings, and has been recognised as the most "technology-ready" nation (WEF), top International-meetings city (UIA), city with "best investment potential" (BERI), world's smartest city, world's safest country, second-most competitive country, third least-corrupt country, third-largest foreign exchange market, third-largest financial centre, third-largest oil refining and trading centre, fifth-most innovative country, and the second-busiest container port. The Economist has ranked Singapore as the most expensive city to live in, since 2013. It is identified as a tax haven. Singapore is the only country in Asia with an AAA sovereign rating from all major rating agencies, and one of 11 worldwide. Globally, the Port of Singapore and Changi Airport have held the titles of leading "Maritime Capital" and "Best Airport" respectively for consecutive years, while Singapore Airlines is the 2018 "World's Best Airline".Singapore ranks 9th on the UN Human Development Index with the 3rd highest GDP per capita. It is placed highly in key social indicators: education, healthcare, life expectancy, quality of life, personal safety and housing. Although income inequality is high, 90% of homes are owner-occupied. According to the Democracy Index, the country is described as a "flawed democracy".

The city-state is home to 5.6 million residents, 39% of whom are foreign nationals, including permanent residents. There are four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin Chinese, and Tamil; most Singaporeans are bilingual and English serves as the nation's lingua franca, while Malay is the national language. Its cultural diversity is reflected in its extensive ethnic cuisine and major festivals. Pew Research has found that Singapore has the highest religious diversity of any country. Multiracialism has been enshrined in its constitution since independence, and continues to shape national policies in education, housing, politics, among others.

Singapore is a unitary parliamentary republic with a Westminster system of unicameral parliamentary government. The People's Action Party has won every election since self-government began in 1959. As one of the five founding members of ASEAN, Singapore is the host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat and Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) Secretariat, as well as many international conferences and events. It is also a member of the East Asia Summit, Non-Aligned Movement and the Commonwealth of Nations.

The Gernsback Continuum

"The Gernsback Continuum" is a 1981 science fiction short story by American-Canadian author William Gibson, originally published in the anthology Universe 11 edited by Terry Carr. It was later reprinted in Gibson's collection Burning Chrome, and in Mirrorshades, edited by Bruce Sterling. With some similarity to Gibson's later appraisal of Singapore for Wired magazine in Disneyland with the Death Penalty, as much essay as fiction, it depicts the encounters of an American photographer with the period futuristic architecture of the American 1930s when he is assigned to document it for fictional London publishers Barris-Watford, and the gradual incursion of its cinematic future visions into his world. The "Gernsback" of the title alludes to Hugo Gernsback, the pioneer of early 20th century American pulp magazine science fiction.

William Gibson

William Ford Gibson (born March 17, 1948) is an American-Canadian speculative fiction writer and essayist widely credited with pioneering the science fiction subgenre known as cyberpunk. Beginning his writing career in the late 1970s, his early works were noir, near-future stories that explored the effects of technology, cybernetics, and computer networks on humans—a "combination of lowlife and high tech"—and helped to create an iconography for the information age before the ubiquity of the Internet in the 1990s. Gibson notably coined the term "cyberspace" in his short story "Burning Chrome" (1982) and later popularized the concept in his acclaimed debut novel Neuromancer (1984). These early works have been credited with "renovating" science fiction literature.

After expanding on Neuromancer with two more novels to complete the dystopic Sprawl trilogy, Gibson collaborated with Bruce Sterling on the alternate history novel The Difference Engine (1990), which became an important work of the science fiction subgenre steampunk. In the 1990s, Gibson composed the Bridge trilogy of novels, which explored the sociological developments of near-future urban environments, postindustrial society, and late capitalism. Following the turn of the century and the events of 9/11, Gibson emerged with a string of increasingly realist novels—Pattern Recognition (2003), Spook Country (2007), and Zero History (2010)—set in a roughly contemporary world. These works saw his name reach mainstream bestseller lists for the first time. His more recent novel, The Peripheral (2014), returned to a more overt engagement with technology and recognizable science fiction concerns.

In 1999, The Guardian described Gibson as "probably the most important novelist of the past two decades," while the Sydney Morning Herald called him the "noir prophet" of cyberpunk. Throughout his career, Gibson has written more than 20 short stories and 10 critically acclaimed novels (one in collaboration), contributed articles to several major publications, and collaborated extensively with performance artists, filmmakers, and musicians. His work has been cited as an influence across a variety of disciplines spanning academia, design, film, literature, music, cyberculture, and technology.

Wired (magazine)

Wired is a monthly American magazine, published in print and online editions, that focuses on how emerging technologies affect culture, the economy, and politics. Owned by Condé Nast, it is headquartered in San Francisco, California, and has been in publication since March/April 1993. Several spin-offs have been launched, including Wired UK, Wired Italia, Wired Japan, and Wired Germany. Condé Nast's parent company Advance publications is also the major shareholder of Reddit, an internet information conglomeration website.In its earliest colophons, Wired credited Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan as its "patron saint." From its beginning, the strongest influence on the magazine's editorial outlook came from techno-utopian cofounder Stewart Brand and his associate Kevin Kelly.From 1998 to 2006, Wired magazine and Wired News (which publishes at Wired.com) had separate owners. However, Wired News remained responsible for republishing Wired magazine's content online due to an agreement when Condé Nast purchased the magazine. In 2006, Condé Nast bought Wired News for $25 million, reuniting the magazine with its website.

Wired contributor Chris Anderson is known for popularizing the term "the Long Tail", as a phrase relating to a "power law"-type graph that helps to visualize the 2000s emergent new media business model. Anderson's article for Wired on this paradigm related to research on power law distribution models carried out by Clay Shirky, specifically in relation to bloggers. Anderson widened the definition of the term in capitals to describe a specific point of view relating to what he sees as an overlooked aspect of the traditional market space that has been opened up by new media.The magazine coined the term "crowdsourcing", as well as its annual tradition of handing out Vaporware Awards, which recognize "products, videogames and other nerdy tidbits pitched, promised and hyped, but never delivered".

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