IBM supercomputer analysis says steampunk is a trend to watch.

You can use supercomputers for many things, but this has to be one of the coolest – by using their supercomputer to monitor social networks and the internet, Big Blue has been tracking various social trends. And they now realise that steampunk is the ‘new new thing’ on the block.

Dr. Trevor Davis of IBM Global Business Services says, “The trajectory for steampunk as a popular social and cultural trend is on the rise. From 2009 to 2012 the amount of social media chatter about steampunk rose by an astonishing 11 times. Recently, the 2012 Paralympics closing ceremony put the global spotlight on steampunk when singer Rihanna made her entrance on a steam sailing-ship to a world television audience of 3.4 billion. In addition, Lady Gaga has been photographed in neo-Victorian garb. Now a US television network is writing a steampunk-inspired TV show for the fall 2013 season. As this trend gains momentum, the business opportunity around steampunk is being capitalized on by forward-looking retailers.  Perhaps most notably is the current Prada Fall/Winter collection for men – elegant, stripped-back steampunk fashion modelled by Gary Oldman, Garrett Hedlund, Jamie Bell, and Willem Dafoe.  Where high fashion leads, everyday fashion follows quickly in a season or two.”

“For steampunk, the tipping point came in October 2010, when NYC ComicCon and a NYC Haunted House Halloween event both featured steampunk themes. Two months after that exposure, the level of social chatter more than doubled. Shortly thereafter, US department stores and specialty retail shops began to feature steampunk-inspired window displays and steampunk-inspired clothing and accessories as ways to increase footfall.”

We guess the good doctor’s not particularly genre literary, or he would have mentioned that 2007, 2008 and 2009 saw the first three books of Stephen Hunt’s Jackelian series come out around the world from HarperCollins (The Court of the Air, Kingdom Beyond the Waves, The Rise of the Iron Moon)… and their mass-market success created a slew of other steampunk-novels, which in turn led to the steampunk jump-starting Davis noticed at the NYC ComicCon. Ah, super-computers. They can watch trends, but they still don’t read books, do they?

There’s a steampunk timeline in Adobe PDF format here, for those that want to see the genre the Doctor was talking about in more detail.


And above is the IBM infographic (click to embiggen).


Colonel Frog is a long time science fiction and fantasy fan. He loves reading novels in the field, and he also enjoys watching movies (as well as reading lots of other genre books).

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