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Move Over Al Gore: Kurt Vonnegut Invented the Cloud

March 29, 2013

If you weren’t already convinced of Kurt Vonnegut’s brilliance, get a load of this passage from Sirens of Titan:

“His duty, when he was elected to represent Tralfamadore, was to carry a sealed message from ‘One Rim of the Universe to the Other.’ The planners of the ceremonies were not so deluded as to believe that Salo’s projected route spanned the Universe. The image was poetic, as was Salo’s expedition. Salo would simply take the message and go as fast and as far as the technology of Tralfamadore could send him.

“The message itself was unknown to Salo. It had been prepared by what Salo described to Rumfoord as, ‘A kind of university—only nobody goes to it. There aren’t any buildings, isn’t any faculty. Everybody’s in it and nobody’s in it. It’s like a cloud that everybody has given a little puff of mist to, and then the cloud does all the heavy thinking for everybody. I don’t mean there’s really a cloud. I just mean it’s something like that. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, Skip, there’s no sense in trying to explain it to you. All I can say is, there aren’t any meetings.” (Kurt Vonnegut, Sirens of Titan, 1959. 2009 Dial Press Trade Paperback Edition, 274.)

I’m not going to expand at all, because I think this passage speaks for itself. Clearly Kurt Vonnegut figured out “the cloud” and its essence fifty years before “the cloud” even existed.

So stay tuned in for future commentaries less insightful than Vonnegut.

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