Reverse-engineer science-fiction from the past / imagine sci-fi of the past

An interesting quote from William Gibson in this interview in Wired UK:

"When I was a kid in the late fifties and the late sixties reading a lot of science fiction from the 1940s, I used to simultaneously reverse-engineer the history of the world from whatever version of it that science fiction writers were implying in their imaginary futures, and I was patching bits in my own imagination to not have the story spoiled by some ludicrous anachronism. So I sometimes imagine children doing that to Neuromancer. If you wanted to do an interesting thought experiment, try to imagine writing a science fiction novel in 1981 that would have had a representation of the cell phone in society in exactly the way we use it today.

If I could have got that word from the future to my unconscious somehow, I don’t think it would have worked, I don’t think I would have been able to sell it. I would have been writing a novel in 1981 in which everyone talked to each other constantly on little pocket radios and sent each other messages through the telephone system. I can’t imagine that being the stuff of a sensible narrative. It would have seemed so bizarre and incredibly indulgent on the writer’s part."

Why do I blog this? I like this kind of thought experiment, perhaps I should try it with design students in my course about the evolution of interfaces.