In a prophetic passage written in 1990, Salman Rushdie paints a vivid word picture of the Ocean of the Streams of Story that I’ve suggested is an uncanny envisioning of the yet-to-be-created Web. Right now, the evolution of the Web seems to be speeding up, and two recent commentaries, one on the Twitter/Facebook world, and one on Google Book Search, suggest that the Web may be fast growing into the sort of place imagined in Rushdie’s Stream metaphor. I’ve described and excerpted Rushdie’s passage and the two commentaries in other articles, so in this article, I’ll bring the three “streams” together, by excerpting a few lines from each.

Salman Rushdie, describing the Ocean of the Stream of Stories:

It was made up of a thousand thousand thousand and one different currents, each one a different color, weaving in and out of one another like a liquid tapestry of breathtaking complexity … it was much more than a storeroom of yarns. It was not dead but alive.

Nova Spivack suggests that the new metaphor for the Web will be the Stream:

Something new is emerging … I call it the Stream … The Web has always been a stream of streams. … with the advent of blogs, feeds, and microblogs, the streamlike nature of the Web is becoming more readily visible.

Peter Brantley, writing on Google Book Search, says:

We stride into a world where books are narratives in long winding rivers; drops of thought misting from the sundering thrust of great waterfalls; and seas from which all rivers and rain coalesce, and which carry our sails to continents not yet imagined.

What an interesting story the Web itself is! — The Stream imagined by Rushdie 19 years ago looks like it might finally be flowing together with Spivack’s Stream and Brantley’s long winding river.

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Eric Rumsey is at @ericrumsey

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