back to article IBM brains ponder universe, say kids will go nuts for STEAMPUNK

Big Blue wants to show off its ability to chew on Facebook pages and Twitter feeds to predict the next big mainstream fashion: steampunk. So now you know what your kids will want for presents this year: don't be surprised if they want to suddenly build dirigibles instead of rockets and ask for a steam-powered, gear-driven …

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  1. g e

    Glaring omission

    Bioshock.

    That is all.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Glaring omission

      The Chaos Engine, Shirley?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Glaring omission

        Yep, definitely The Chaos Engine from the Bitmap Brothers (of the age that bought you Sensible Software, Team 17, some of Codemaster's best efforts, Psygnosis ditto, Delphine, Bullfrog...)

        William Gibson is also an influence on Steampunk, as is some Japanese anime such as Steamboy

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steamboy

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Glaring omission

      I think Bioshock would be more accurately considered to be dieselpunk, given the Art Deco stylings and early-mid 20th Century setting.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        @Loyal Commenter

        Did...did you just hipster steampunk?

        I need a lie down...

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: @Loyal Commenter

          Did...did you just hipster steampunk?

          Steampunk was already hipstered. It was hipstered before it was cool.

          Slightly more seriously, I think IBM's sentiment analysis needs its Markov models re-trained. Steampunk went "mainstream", at least in the US, years ago. It's shown up in mainstream TV shows (as an object of mild derision, like Renaissance Faires and the like), and as a quick browse of Regretsy's "This is not steampunk" category demonstrates, people are using the label to peddle all sorts of crap.

          It'll probably be recycled into "retro" before 2020.

    3. Pat 4

      Re: Glaring omission

      The Difference Engine

      1. Euripides Pants Silver badge

        Re: Glaring omission

        The Mutant Chronicles

        http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0490181/

    4. Minophis
      Thumb Up

      Re: Glaring omission

      The Diamond Age?

    5. Nightkiller

      Re: Glaring omission

      Time after Time (1979) with Malcom McDowell and David Warner

  2. FartingHippo
    Boffin

    So, those new airships...

    It's all starting to make sense now. Next up, EMP-resistant clockwork battle-droids.

    The icon is wearing aviator goggles, natch.

    1. Ragarath

      Re: So, those new airships...

      The aim is to make sure you wind them all up before the other guy?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: So, those new airships...

        >The aim is to make sure you wind them all up before the other guy?

        The Golden Army from Hellboy 2...

  3. wowfood

    pfft

    the day I'm ahead of the trend is the day the world blows up. I've been a fan of steampunk for god knows how long. Also dieselpunk.

    Although I do look forward to finally being able to buy some steampunk items without going "Bugger off, I'm not paying £80 for THAT!" (in reference to a 'replica' lever which had no function whatsoever)

    1. Psyx
      Stop

      Re: pfft

      *slow clap*

      Amazing prediction IBM.

      Next they'll be telling us Abney Park are going to make some music about it all.

      1. Helldesk Dogsbody
        Thumb Up

        @Psyx

        Your marvellous taste in music certainly deserves more than one upvote but I'm afraid that's all I'm allowed

        1. Psyx
          Pint

          Re: @Psyx

          There are people who *haven't* heard of Abney Park?

          Next you'll be telling me that the kids haven't heard of Wolfsheim and the Cruxshadows!

          1. hplasm Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: @Psyx

            Or Steam Powered Giraffe...

    2. Psyx
      Alert

      Re: pfft

      "buy some steampunk items without going "Bugger off, I'm not paying £80 for THAT!""

      Great: I can buy some mass-produced plastic shite as owned by four thousand other people, instead of grossly undervaluing the efforts of someone developing, designing and making something by hand!

      Damn all those hobbyists: They should totally work for the same amount as someone in a sweatshop. /sarcasm.

  4. EddieD

    And after the mass market has made a quick buck

    ...the fad will vanish underground again...

    "Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."

  5. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Boffin

    we're completely over it now

    Not while Girl Genius is still online, we're not!

    1. frank ly Silver badge

      Re: we're completely over it now

      Is it just me, or has it been going around in a climactic battle spiral for the past couple of weeks and slowly not getting anywhere in particular? It's as if it's run out of steam, or perhaps the Foglios are stoking the boiler ready for something special...... ?

      1. Anonymous Bosch

        Re: we're completely over it now

        The Foglios are stuck in a time warp. They have been stuck in "Adventure with Boris" since about October. But we shouldn't complain, they do this in their spare time from working as rocket surgeons.....

      2. Isendel Steel
        Terminator

        Re: we're completely over it now

        I think "it" might just be waking up....

      3. Andrew Moore Silver badge

        Re: we're completely over it now

        Girl Genius- The story that's going nowhere and taking forever to get there.

  6. S4qFBxkFFg
    Meh

    I might be too much of an old fart, but this all looks horrendously contrived, in an "I glue brass gears to Victorian stuff, I are steampunk!" way.

    Not there really was any "real" steampunk, but it would be nice if there was a little bit more thought to it all.

    1. TheOtherHobbes

      "this all looks horrendously contrived"

      Yep - that's Steampunk.

      The rest of the world has already moved on to Seapunk (see above) and Space Goth - which are also contrived, but at least they're not also deadly dull.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        "The rest of the world has already moved on to Seapunk (see above) and Space Goth - which are also contrived, but at least they're not also deadly dull."

        Bye-bye hipsters. Don't hurry back.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          @ Loyal Commenter - SUPERB!

          That YouTube link- excellent!

          He's channelling Viv Stanshall!

    2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      @S4qFBxkFFg

      Agreed, but some people do get it aesthetically right and functional, like this telescope, which I think you might appreciate.

      1. Naughtyhorse
        Thumb Up

        Re: @S4qFBxkFFg

        befucks!

        im in love

    3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
  7. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Vampires are now soooo 1830s, dear!

    Wasn't Steampunk over once William Gibson and Bruce Sterling had issued the caleodoscopic "Difference Engine"?

    ...and that Microsoft guy had his own Difference Engine delivered to his living room?

    1. Andrew Moore Silver badge

      Re: Vampires are now soooo 1830s, dear!

      That's what I thought too. However I think we are coming into the 'Gangnam Style' phase of Steampunk; The rest of us can just sit back and say, "yeah I was into that back when it was still cool"

      1. Silverburn
        Coat

        Re: Vampires are now soooo 1830s, dear!

        Gangnampunk FTW!

        Steam-powered brass robots doing "that dance".

        Nooooooooooooo.....

        1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
          Gimp

          Re: Vampires are now soooo 1830s, dear!

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_NqVd5Wqv0

          Whitby Gothic Style!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Vampires are now soooo 1830s, dear!

      I'm afraid I'm going to have to come right out and say it - I thought The Difference Engine was a bit shit.

      I know I should have loved it, and the techy bits were interesting, but the rest of it felt like there was a good story in there somewhere, it just couldn't find its way out. Instead it was buried by tedious characters and sub-par writing.

      I feel bad admitting it as everyone tells me it was brilliant, but no, it was just... a bit shit. Can anyone recommend any steampunk books which actually do live up to the hype? Boneshaker is already on my 'to read' list.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Vampires are now soooo 1830s, dear!

        You could try http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Ice ... I don't know if its any good, but Stephen Baxter is usually okayish.

        I found it by scanning through http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_alternate_history_fiction

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: Vampires are now soooo 1830s, dear!

          Anti-Ice is not particularly hot compared to Difference Engine, really. The plot device of "frozen stuff that becomes antimatter when thawed" is a bit contrived. It sure helps to heat boilers though.

          YMMV.

          Dr. Gunn's Organic History Supplement for The Difference Engine, a novel by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. May also be administered as Dr. Gunn's Patented History Restorer.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Vampires are now soooo 1830s, dear!

            Oh well. Give me Cat's Cradle by Vonnegut then.

      2. Don Jefe

        Re: Vampires are now soooo 1830s, dear!

        I agree. The Difference Engine was shit. I was quite disappointed.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't recognise actresses in the cinema, but...

    Am I imagining things, or is that Faye Reagan in the costume to the right of the one linked?

    1. Crisp Silver badge

      Re: I don't recognise actresses in the cinema, but...

      While it looks quite like her, I don't think it is. Probably just some random redhead.

      1. Crisp Silver badge

        Re: I don't recognise actresses in the cinema, but...

        On closer inspection. No. Definitely not.

        http://www.partycity.com/product/steampunk+vickey+and+steampunk+jack+couples+costumes.do?sortby=ourPicks&size=all&from=Search&navSet=steampunk

  9. ukgnome Silver badge
    Holmes

    It had better not, currently I am the only person in the building that has a bow tie and a pocket watch. If this becomes mainstream I will lose my erm appeal.

    <-------that's not a pipe, it's a Smith and Hawkins synergist force insufflater.

    1. Natalie Gritpants

      Remember people: A bow tie is a cry for help.

      Just like orange hair.

  10. Crisp Silver badge

    Steampunk is back again?

    Awesome. Brass cogs for everyone!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hate Steampunk.

    There's nothing punk about it (and nothing steam either, really*) . The so called Steampunks spend all their time cos-playing aristos and posh adventurers.

    * Just one steampunk item of clothing that does something rather than having all those cogs randomly stuck on it, is that too much to ask? Maybe a clockwork fascinator?

    1. AbortRetryFail

      Re: I hate Steampunk.

      There never has been anything "punk" about it. It stems from William Gibson's cyberpunk stories, and the ?-punk name just kind of went from here. Hence steampunk, dieselpunk, biopunk, <insert name here>punk, etc.

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: I hate Steampunk.

      Some of the most interesting and intelligent people I know are fellow steampunks. There is a world of difference between sticking cogs on something and what steampunk actually is.

      For example, this:

      http://www.crabfu.com/steamtoys/r2s2/

      Until you manage to produce something equally awesome, I think that maybe you are not in a position to trivialise other people's hobbies.

      I believe the saying is, "haters gonna hate."

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: I hate Steampunk.

        It's an R2D2 that looks like the copper from a Czech brewery... okay.

        Many Czech breweries were built by Skoda, a firm who enjoyed a good reputation for quality before the communists days made them a joke. Lots of polished brass and copper.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: I hate Steampunk.

          "It's an R2D2 that looks like the copper from a Czech brewery... okay."

          With the exception that no brewing vessels that I know of literally (in the correct sense of the word) move around under their own steam, under radio control.

    3. Helldesk Dogsbody

      Re: I hate Steampunk.

      There are plenty of functional items made in the same style, it's about a bit more than the odd article of clothing. Try this for example: http://steampunkworkshop.com/victorian-all-one-pc

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: I hate Steampunk.

        >With the exception that no brewing vessels that I know of literally (in the correct sense of the word) move around under their own steam, under radio control.

        I think you've just found your next project! : D

        Actually, if you visit The Beer Engine pub and micro-micro brewery between Exeter and Crediton, you'll see a lot of comic paintings on the walls that play on 'beer engine' (the name for the hand pump assemblies) and 'steam engine', featuring breweries on rails...

  12. Natalie Gritpants
    Facepalm

    Please lose the sepia

    There were lots of bright and cheery colours in the Victorian age, we're just left with sepia prints because that is what the majority of surviving media consists of. Go the a museum and look at the fabrics. And all that lovely mahogany.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Please lose the sepia

      Its well worth learning about the period, the Arts and Crafts movement and the excitement of new technology. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is probably as good a place to start as any.

      Or, Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome, hilarious... he visits the British Library to self-diagnose in the way hypochondriacs now consult the internet!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I say..

    While people are busy arguing about what is or isn't steampunk, and deciding how shameful it is, have some delightful chaphop to lighten the mood:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eELH0ivexKA

    (I believe it's fitting, and the advice is sound)

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: I say..

      I've had the opportunity to meet him on a couple of occasions, and a frightfully decent chap he is too.

  14. Alfred
    Happy

    Punk?

    IAW rule 34, I find that steamspunk is far more satisfying. Ladies dressed up in posh frocks, and then... less so.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You heard it here first.

    The next big fashion is going to be Printpunk. 3D-printed accessories and artefacts.

    Lots of people will have individual designs for a short period until a sub-set of patterns become dominant and are mass produced for people to choose their "individuality" on an industrial scale. Bit like the Arts & Crafts movement all over again and somewhere a 21st century William Morris will get rich. But who will it be?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You heard it here first.

      >somewhere a 21st century William Morris will get rich. But who will it be?

      Depends on the perception of value, and its motivation... people will spend £10,000 on a Damien Hirst print - a print, not an 'original' of which there are tens of thousands. Back in the saner realms, there are well-off people who will happily spend money on items crafted in the local area, such as furniture, or a bespoke kitchen. Being a patron to the arts (and the artisans) is a way of softening your image - see the Medici banking family who commissioned great artworks.

      3D printing? I've assisted established artists in making artworks with a CNC machine and a 3D printer (despite there existing quicker and easier ways of achieving the same ends), but the client is looking for exclusivity, thought and finish.

      This might give you an idea of what can sell:

      https://www.othercriteria.com/browse/all/unique_items/

      (glass replicas of plastic bottle bongs, as found in hedgerow near you, selling for £2,300... I have no idea)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You heard it here first.

        http://web.media.mit.edu/~neri/site/projects/projects.html

        Neri Oxman is probably a good one to start with.

  16. jake Silver badge

    "Imagine modern tech but powered by hot air."

    Uh ... Do I really have to point out the obvious?

    Enjoy your iFads, sheeple ;-)

  17. John L Ward

    Is it me?

    "Imagine modern tech but powered by hot air."

    Yes, seen a lot of that in my time, with Oracle probaly at the front of the queue - step forward Mr Ellison and recieve your brass and gunmetal self-adjusting tiepin.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Is it me?

      More vapourware?

  18. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Well if you are going to split hairs, your iPhone case appears to be "Clockpunk".

    And if one is going to celebrate Steampunk Aesthetic one would be barking mad to ignore the work of Rowland Emett. His Lunar Cycle, demonstrated by Patrick Moore on the occasion of the first moon landing, was the very essence of the movement, and his wondrous Aqua Horological Tintinnabulator can still be seen , I understand, in Nottingham's Victoria Centre.

    No, he didn't call what he did Steampunk, but it is so obviously in the genre he deserves celebrating as one of its stars.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      "Well if you are going to split hairs, your iPhone case appears to be 'Clockpunk'."

      Well, there you go - a hipster version of Steampunk for a hipster phone.

  19. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    WTF?

    Erm.... why?

    So, you have a massive analytics capability, shedloads of cash (squeezed from poor mainframe owners), and instead of aiming it at something useful, like gene sequencing, or solving complex molecular structures for medicines, or just economic predictions to help the Germans bail out the PIIGS, instead they have a stab at predicting fashion? And miss. The first thing you learn after five minutes in any "social media" is that it has no reflection on the real World whatsoever. What a waste of time and money, TBH.

  20. sisk Silver badge

    I hope they're right

    Steampunk fashion would be a massive improvement over what passes for fashion right now. Maybe it's just me, but there's a certain classiness to steampunk that really appeals to me. That's probably just a reflection of the fact that people in the Victorian era wanted to look good while a lot of today's trendsetters just want to be the center of attention.

  21. arrbee
    Holmes

    This could explain why a BOF like me is always bemused by the fuss about the latest high street phenomenon - it turns out that fashion trends are 15 years out of date !

  22. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Joke

    Referencing itself...

    "Imagine modern tech but powered by hot air."

    Doesn't that pretty much sum up El Reg?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Cog-hopper

    Can we have a scandal about all these sub-genres of alternative fashion and call it "Punkgate"? That way we can coin the most meaningless word of all time.

  24. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Duscussions?

    In 160 characters per reply? And in whatever Farcebook allows?

    That's clearly a definition of "discussion" which I wasn't aware of previously.

  25. envmod

    Bas-Lag

    Chine Mieville must be mentioned when considering steampunk.

    Perdido Street Station

    The Scar

    Iron Council

    All excellent steampunk (amongst other things) novels.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Steampunk:

    It's what happens when goths discover brown.

  27. The FunkeyGibbon
    Unhappy

    Why is it...?

    That somebody has to knock things that other people like for the sake of it? I'm not a massive Steampunk aficionado, although I did enjoy The Difference Engine, Chaos Engine and even newer stuff like Dishonoured (http://www.dishonored.com/).

    However I'd never consider talking crap about something I've no interest in because that's just rude. I can't really listen to Country and Western without smirking, I find it impossible to take it serious but I know people who love it and why the heck not? Are they going to be persuaded by me slagging it off? No. Am I going to annoy them for no real reason? Yes.

    So why the 'hate' people? I think it's far better to say "I don't get why you think this is cool but that's fine because it's your thing not mine."

    The Victorian's, steam-punk or not, knew a few things about manners and there are a few here that could stand to learn that from them at the very least.

  28. DaveLeeTravis

    @AC 14:38

    They are daft as a brush, but for a steampunkish romp I am absolutely loving Chris Wooding's trilogy: The Tales of the Ketty Jay. Well worth a read.

  29. Belardi

    Check out the steampunk band: Steam Powered Giraffe on youtube, some pretty good stuff.

    But I doubt Steampunk will be mainstream... anymore than anime.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Imagine modern tech but powered by hot air....

    No need to imagine it. It's real and it's known as twitter and facebook.

  31. MNB

    hmmmm...

    "IBM says that the amount of yammering and bickering about steampunk has increased by a factor of eleven in the past three years"

    Given the growth of twitter, facebok, social media and the general cloud of tw@ts that inhabits them, could this statement not be true about almost anything at all... such as "the amount of bickering and yammering about creationism has increased eleven fold over the last three years"... doesn't mean I'm going to buy an iPhone case with a picture of Adam, Eve and a "friendly" dinosaur on it anytime soon.

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