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"The SF approach: an awareness that things could have been different, that this is one of many possible worlds, that if you came to this world from some other planet, this would be a science fiction world."
- Neal Stephenson

Data-Net  
  An early mention of the idea of a nationwide data network.  

Three hundred million people with access to the integrated North American data-net is a nice big number of potential consultees.
From The Shockwave Rider, by John Brunner.
Published by Harper and Row in 1975
Additional resources -

The idea is mentioned throughout the book; here are some additional quotes:

According to recent report, there were so many worms and counterworms loose in the data-net now, the machines had been instructed to give them low priority unless they related to a medical emergency...

Meantime, taking advantage of the corporation's status, he could gain access to data-nets that were ordinarily secure...

"Healthy adults like yourself capable of doing things that have never been done before, such as writing a complete new identity into the data-net over a regular veephone..."

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Shockwave Rider
  More Ideas and Technology by John Brunner
  Tech news articles related to The Shockwave Rider
  Tech news articles related to works by John Brunner

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