Short Story #19: “Spew” — Neal Stephenson (1994)
Back in its heyday, Wired rarely ran fiction —but it made an exception for Neal Stephenson’s “Spew.” Put it on the cover, in fact. Ostensibly a cyberpunk story about hackers in the near future, it has proven surprisingly prophetic regarding social media and the way it mines for our personal data.
“Spew” follows a tech-savvy slacker who’s hired as a cool hunter by a major media corp to find the next big thing — only the author never stoops to such lame jargon because he’s Neal-fucking-Stephenson. For all it’s hep terminology and ironic detachment however, the story is a fundamentally sad one, a cautionary tale about desire and technology, and the culture shock one experiences when aging out of a desirable demographic. Most importantly, “Spew” reminds you that corporations, no matter how hard they try, can never truly bottle youth — or happiness.
You could track down an old copy of Wired magazine on eBay, or you can go read an online copy here.