William Gibson has a justly-deserved reputation as the novelist of the Internet; commencing with Neuromancer in 1984, and sustained by his latest, Pattern Recognition. Although Gibson's work has been labeled "cyberpunk," there's little punk about it. His latest novel is a mature work with all the literary prerequisites: characters, theme and ample plotting.
The core idea in the story is a film-noir which is being released, piece-meal via the Internet, one short scene-clip at a time, non-chronologically. Around this "footage" has grown an intricate community of blogs, forums, otaku geeks and tech-hack fans. Cayce Powell, a global consultant to marketing companies, is a "coolhunter"—and also a footagehead. Her job involves identifying what will be perceived as cool next month, so advertisers can connect it to their products. Her hobby (which is about to become a job of its own) is to figure out whether the footage scenes are part of a completed movie that has been hacked up, or whether they are an ongoing creation.
Gibson has made clear the link between tight-focus attention to minutiae and the "discovery" of message. Cayce's mother is a devotee of EVP (the phenomenon celebrated in the recent movie White Noise); Cayce keeps getting eMails from her Mom about messages from her father, who was associated in some way with the CIA until he disappeared in the vicinity of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. She can ignore these messages, but then her father appears to her in a dream with cryptic advice dredged out of her subconscious.
Cayce makes her own attempts to sort signal out of noise, in her life as well as in the footage. She is driven by her need to avoid logos, but compelled to recognize the ways in which the city-scapes she inhabits are the same (even when they are subtly different.) So she calls London and Tokyo "mirror-worlds" of her comfortable New York City, and seeks out the places (Starbucks, for example) where they are most alike.