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"I do think there is a link in that in both cases, writing fiction or writing a computer program, at any given moment you're focusing on a very specific and particular thing—one word, one line of code, whatever."
- Neal Stephenson

Toposcope  
  A special helmet used in a form of sleep teaching.  

The "schoolroom" was a large, gray, featureless chamber devoid of blackboard or desk; its only furniture consisted of a number of couches scattered about the floor. Nor were there any teachers; the only adults present were called monitors, and their duties appearaed to be partly those of an usher, and partly those of a nurse, but none pertinent to teaching in any sense of the term Chris had ever encountered. They conducted you to your couch and helped you to fit over your head a bright metal helmet which had inside it what seemed to be hundreds of tiny, extremely sharp points which bit into your scalp just enought to make you nervous, but without enough pressure to break the skin. Once this gadget, which was called a toposcope, was adjusted to their satisfaction, the monitors left, and the room began to fill with the gray gas.

...his fullest attention [was paid] to the visions and voices which were poured directy into his mind through the shining helmet of the toposcope.

...the torrent of facts that came from the memory cells of the City Fathers into the prickly helmet was overwhelming and merciless.

From Cities in Flight, by James Blish.
Published by Avon in 1957
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