In the cyberpunk book "Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson there is a character that I felt was both cool and prescient. A character that was an eternal data collector, a data "hoover" that drank in all data around him to extract a valuable nugget.
Here is my rendition of this new breed of Paparrazi ... but this one is not the lower dredges of this profession but the elite, the upper echelon of prized data collectors that know how to separate the wheat from the chaff ... this is the collector called "Lagos"...
Unfortunately, I had to scan, then shrink the original drawing which caused some nasty pixelation... but you get the main idea. As I have time, I will add some new views and scenes around this character.
Here is how Neal Stephenson depicts the character (quoted from his book),
"It's a gargoyle, standing in the dimness next to a shanty. Just in case he's not already conspicuous enough, he's wearing a suit. Hiro starts walking toward him. Gargoyles represent the embarrassing side of the Central Intelligence Corporation. Instead of using laptops, they wear their computers on their bodies, broken up into separate modules that hang on the waist, on the back, on the headset. They serve as human surveillance devices, recording everything that happens around them. Nothing looks stupider, these getups are the modern-day equivalent of the slide-rule scabbard or the calculator pouch on the belt, marking the user as belonging to a class that is at once above and far below human society. They are a boon to Hiro because they embody the worst stereotype of the CIC stringer. They draw all of the attention. The payoff for this self-imposed ostracism is that you can be in the Metaverse all the time, and gather intelligence all the time.
The CIC brass can't stand these guys because they upload staggering quantities of useless information to the database, on the off chance that some of it will eventually be useful. It's like writing down the license number of every car you see on your way to work each morning, just in case one of them will be involved in a hit-and-run accident. Even the CIC database can only hold so much garbage. So, usually, these habitual gargoyles get kicked out of CIC before too long.
This guy hasn't been kicked out yet. And to judge from the quality of his equipment -- which is very expensive -- he's been at it for a while. So he must be pretty good.
The laser that kept jabbing Hiro in the eye was shot out of this guy's computer, from a peripheral device that sits above his goggles in the middle of his forehead. A long-range retinal scanner. If you turn toward him with your eyes open, the laser shoots out, penetrates your iris, tenderest of sphincters, and scans your retina. The results are shot back to CIC, which has a database of several tens of millions of scanned retinas. Within a few seconds, if you're in the database already, the owner finds out who you are. If you're not already in the database, well, you are now.
Of course, the user has to have access privileges. And once he gets your identity, he has to have more access privileges to find out personal information about you. This guy, apparently, has a lot of access privileges. A lot more than Hiro.
"Name's Lagos," the gargoyle says." - (c) Neal Stephenson.
So ... if you think we have information overload now ... surf's up because the Data Tsunami is just beginning. In the future, the key to data and another driving force behind metadata will be to conserve attention.