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Steampunk to go mainstream predicts supercomputer

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  1. With the resurgence of fashion trends from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, many of today’s mainstream looks could easily be mistaken for those of the past.

     

    According to IBM’s recent analysis of more than half a million social media postings, that won’t be changing any time soon. In fact, if their algorithm’s predictions are correct, mainstream retailers could soon be taking inspiration from the clothing, technology and science-fictional interpretations of Victorian society.

    If you haven't yet been familiarized with Steampunk, you may want to read up. Apparently, it's the next big thing.
  2. The Steampunk subculture is a difficult one to define, but its members have been actively celebrating it for decades through gatherings, online fandom groups and at conventions.

    At Comic-Con 2012, the Steampunk panel was reported to have drawn a crowd of more than 500 goggle, gadget and lace-clad fans.
  3. Steampunk Canada opts to let Wikipedia define the genre with a link on their website to an entry that reads:

    "Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century..." and later, "Steampunk also refers to any of the artistic styles, clothing fashions, or subcultures, that have developed from the aesthetics of steampunk fiction, Victorian-era fiction, and films from the mid-20th century."

    The stories of Jules Verne and H G Wells are often cited as inspirations for works within the genre.
  4. "From 2009 to 2012 the amount of social media chatter about Steampunk rose by an astonishing 11 times,” wrote IBM consumer products expert Dr. Trevor Davison on the company's Smarter Planet Blog. “Steampunk isn't just about fiction any more, and it isn't just for fans.”

    Davison's assertion is based on findings from IBM’s Social Sentiment Index, a tool that aggregates and gauges public opinion through blogs, forums, Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels.

  5. A report released by IBM Monday shows that its computers predict mainstream fashion, furnishing and accessories industries will incorporate Steampunk aesthetics into their products by 2014.

    "Through its sentiment analysis, IBM has found that steampunk is evolving into a cultural ‘meme’ via a series of leaps across cultural domains (such as fiction, visual arts, etc)." reads the release. "A combination of science fiction and fantasy, steampunk is a sub-genre based around gothic machinery and the industrialized civilization of the 19th century."

  6. Davison cites several instances in which the subculture has bubbled up to the visible mainstream in recent years to prove the point in his analysis.

    One such example he gives took place during a concert celebrating the 2012 Paralympic games, when singer Rihanna made her entrance on a steam sailing-ship.
  7. He also points to some of Lady Gaga's neo-Victorian inspired costumes and Prada Fall/Winter 2012 men's collection, which was widely reported upon as being Steampunk-inspired.

  8.  "Where high fashion leads, everyday fashion follows quickly in a season or two," said Davison.
  9. But not everyone agrees with the style forecaster's prediction.

    "As most fashion followers know, simple analytics cannot accurately predict the changing tastes and interests of groups of individuals based on mentions alone. If that were the case, we'd all be dressing like Psy," writes Refinery29's Gabriel Bell.

    "Honestly, we sort of feel bad for IBM, which obviously has all the tools to accurately predict what the fashionable will be wearing in two years, but not the situational awareness to apply them properly. It's like your grandma trying to be hip and buying you a tube top post-1995. We appreciate the effort, guys, but you're doing it wrong."
  10. Reactions of both Steampunk fans and fashionistas on Twitter are mixed, but most seem unimpressed by IBM's prediction.
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