Introducing a new pantheon of tech gods Melanie Baker May 12, 2016 Columns, M-Theory Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is being made into a TV series. They were filming in Guelph last week. (Definitely a recommended read.) Reading that book was one of those weird moments for me in my youth where I realized that I may not be the first or only person to have an amazing idea. In this case it was the concept that deities’ power and vitality could be tied to levels of belief and worship. (I’m not spoiling anything here.) Another strong theme in the book was how, as times change and cultures evolve, so do gods, or at least what gets worshipped. This idea also pops up in Good Omens, written with Terry Pratchett. (Also recommended, along with the delightful BBC radio play.) For example, in American Gods, along with deities of Norse, West African and other ancient origins, we’re introduced to The Technical Boy. Or in Good Omens, the pale rider among the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is no longer Death, but rather Pollution. So it got me thinking. If the tech sphere was in the market for a new pantheon, who would be in it? I humbly propose a few for our modern age. Attention Tremendously powerful… for brief periods of time. Utterly amoral, cares not a jot for how demonstrations of power unfold. Often grouchy and waxes nostalgic for the days when people could be held rapt by spectacle or storytelling for hours. Or hunters would single-mindedly track prey for days. Nowadays, though, it’s a good day when someone engages long enough to read 140 characters and dash off a barely considered response. Or gets more than 30 seconds into a video. Or scans the headline and first paragraph of an article. Innovation Believed to be a love child of Chaos. Brilliant but fickle. Difficult to find and impossible to summon. Known as “Disruption” in some circles. Depictions vary widely among cultures, but strongest worship is among the “Bro” cults. Shows favour by planting “What if…?” ideas in the heads of intermittently chosen mortals, then stands back and enjoys the fireworks. Usually cares little for trifles like legality, workers’ rights, diversity, etc. Constant thorn in the side of his cousin, Sustainability. Righteous Indignation and Poor Impulse Control Twins with mixed imp and troll blood, also likely love children of Chaos. Always bickering and unable to carry on a civil conversation. Highly contagious (primarily via the Internet) with some mystical infectious agent to which both of them and most of humanity are susceptible. Initial exposure never confers immunity, likely because of their complete lack of long-term memory. They find it wildly entertaining to observe their influence play out among the mortal population, though are largely clueless as to their level of blame. Ultimately aspire to be more like their distant relations, the pure-blooded Trolls. Bandwidth and Wifi Not siblings, but typically depicted as a cocky youth and his pet feline, who is rumored to be a sibling of the Cheshire Cat. Prone to fits of extreme generosity, but typically only to a few mortals at a time, while electing to punish others with dribs and drabs of information flow. Very popular (and thus powerful) in some countries, though only a minor deity in others. Same with the familiar, Wifi, who is worshipped nearly as much as Bandwidth in some cultures and locales. (Arguably most amongst Western travellers and coffee drinkers.) Virality Only ever glimpsed and never clearly depicted. Plenty claim to have summoned her but none have ever been able to prove it. One of the few who can influence Attention and mortals alike, which feeds her power substantially. Vain and fragile, she often sinks into moodiness when her powers fail her without warning. Like Innovation, she favours and manipulates mortals fairly randomly. Also loves cats. Community Elder sister of Sociality, also commonly known as Humanity or Fellowship among non-Internet-inclined cultures. Typically depicted as female and motherly (in sharp contrast to the youthful and trendy Virality). Can intermittently wield enormous power, with an ability to draw thousands, even millions of mortals into action for a specific cause or goal to (the perceived) benefit of humankind. Unfortunately, these spectacles tend to be irresistible for Righteous Indignation and Poor Impulse Control, who have been known to run amok. Limiting Internet use in Community endeavours can help prevent infestation, but is a double-edged sword that also limits mortal reach and involvement. Unicorn Not one of the gods, but their most cherished and favoured mount. Highly desirable, but no one seems to know exactly where they come from, how many there are, or how to go about procuring one. Believed to feed mainly on mortal sanity, they are immensely expensive to maintain, personally and professionally. Considered highly desirable by mortals who have only glimpsed one from afar, proximity tends to cause compulsive publishing of navel-gazing missives on Medium. Bonus: Autocorrect Nearly powerless and largely unknown a few decades ago, Autocorrect has grown and evolved to become a force to be reckoned with. His name in old English was Typo, and his primary source of sustenance was the frustration of making and discovering errors in painstakingly manually typed documents. With the proliferation of computers, cellphones, tablets and other typing-intensive gadgets, Autocorrect’s presence and influence has become nearly ubiquitous globally. The power imparted by the confusion, hilarity and offence that are the result of textual accidents is vastly more sustaining and nourishing than manual typing ever was. Autocorrect flirts outrageously with Emoji, but refuses to commit. M-Theory is an opinion column by Melanie Baker. Opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Communitech. Melle can be reached @melle or firstname.lastname@example.org.