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"Cyberpunk worked when the Internet was in its hand-wound crystal radio phase, when you had to be a sort of hobbyist to do e-mail, and it all had a very steep learning curve. Those days are over."
- William Gibson

Raisin  
  A small device like a hearing aid that fits inside the external part of the ear; combines an intelligent agent and wireless access to the network.  

John uses the "raisin" not just to be his helper, his intelligent agent in completing tasks on the network. He also uses it as his mentor; he relies on it for advice.

John did not know if they had tried to decrypt his raisin. He could only hope that if they did then they would trip the raisin's self-destruct routines.
Technovelgy from Nanotime, by Bart Kosko.
Published by Avon Books in 1987
Additional resources -

The technology of hearing aids has come a long way since the versions of the 1960's that were the size of a portable cd player; see Digital Hearing Aids - the Way of the Future for more information on the receiving part of a "raisin." John had trained his raisin using the works of John Stuart Mill. Apparently, the raisin is intelligent on its own, not just in contact with the network.

A sample quote from JS Mill:

"Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage which it contained."
An interesting analogue to this idea is the "Green Bullet" from Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Nanotime
  More Ideas and Technology by Bart Kosko
  Tech news articles related to Nanotime
  Tech news articles related to works by Bart Kosko

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