Tag Archives: cyberspace

Cyberspace

Cyberspace. What is it exactly? Wikipedia ascribes a Dr. Don Slater as describing it as a “social setting that exists purely within a space of representation and communication”. I don’t know how reliable this quote is or if this dude actually wrote this in a paper. What I do know is that this phrase sums up to me quite elegantly a cyberspace which exists today and which I can comprehend (though perhaps I can only really comprehend it because it exists). What are web pages but the translation of code into color and shape? Just as the meaningless syllables we string together somehow constitute a deep and complex communication, a chunk of letters, dashes, and squiggles can convey information that is more than the data itself (or rather very few people can see the result from the hard data itself, and to most it is quite magical that a few keystrokes here can transform itself into a unicorn leaping across the page every ten seconds).
[“The matrix is an abstract representation of the relationships between data systems.” Gibson]

But while this kind of cyberspace exists, and we interact with it everyday, I don’t think we exist within it. To be in cyberspace involves a third dimension to what we have that just does not exist yet. What I think of is something more along the lines of the Metaverse from Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash (the book was truthfully the first thing that came to mind when I read the heading for this section of the class). In “Burning Chrome” there are strong visual analogs for technical happenings that give me this feeling of immersion much like the Metaverse, though not quite. In fact the narrator explicitly compares it to a 3-D chessboard, giving coding, something we know of as purely 2-D, a much more tangible impact in a physical sense. It reminds me of cartoons when a character falls into the television or the computer or a video game; a very Matrix like scene generally follows where the new existence is pure data, composed of binary bits, ones and zeros, stretching in all directions.

Anyways sorry if my ramblings were a bit unintelligible, I am half asleep at this point in time.

The matrix is an abstract representation of the relationships between data systems. Legitimate programmers jack into their employers’ sector of the matrix and find themselves surrounded by bright geometries representing the corporate data.

Towers and fields of it ranged in the colorless nonspace of the simulation matrix, the electronic consensus-hallucination that facilitates the handling and exchange of massive quantities of data. Burning Chrome, page 549

 

This passage stuck out to me in particular because I have no idea what it’s talking about. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be visualizing here. Maybe, like, Tron? “Bright geometries” and “towers and fields” seem to suggest some sort of actual physical dimension to the representation of data, like cyberspace really occupies space. Except it doesn’t in real life, at least not in that sense of space, but then it would probably be a lot less interesting to try to describe a bunch of big electronic rectangles sitting around. I guess having some implication of cyberspace as an actual location (even though it’s “nonspace,” it’s just an agreed-upon digital visualization of data) makes it more probable as the setting for the action of hacking it? To me this is the most jarring, unfamiliar thing about the story. There’s that weird omnipresence to technology, the scary-but-exciting idea of cyberspace existing somewhere other than inside the computer.